The Ecotourist’s Guide to Phoenix, Arizona

Maricopa Trail

It’s tough being green in a desert state like Arizona. But with an environmentally responsible hotel and inspiring natural attractions, there’s no reason you can’t have a memorable vacation while satisfying your eco-conscious.

Certified Green Hotels

Many Arizona resorts have made sustainable practices a priority. The Sanctuary Camelback Mountain Resort and Spa in Scottsdale maintains its native desert landscaping with drip-water irrigation and drought tolerant plants, while ecotourists will enjoy the organic toiletries in the guest rooms. Feel refreshed in the pools at the Matterhorn Inn in Sedona that have been comfortably heated by solar power or unwind with a book under the glow of CFL and LED lighting in your guest room. If you’re driving to Tempe, stay at Aloft hotel and receive preferred parking for your hybrid car.

If you’re considering a hotel not listed above, check the Arizona Lodging and Tourism site to see if it’s “Certified Green”.

Grand Canyon Lodges

The Grand Canyon Lodges are known for breathtaking views and award-winning sustainability. Bottled water is not sold at these lodges. Instead, guests use hydration stations to re-fill reusable bottles. Additionally, almost 30 percent of on-site food comes from local sustainable farms.

Heat and Budget Relief in the Spring and Fall

Arizona

Image via Flickr by Panos Photographia

The hot temperatures in Arizona can lead to high energy use for air conditioning. That’s why it’s best to avoid the hotter summer months. Summer is also the low season in Arizona and is typically when you will find the best prices. For the most eco-friendly and budget-friendly season, book in the late spring or in the early fall: just as prices are dropping for the summer or just before prices spike for the winter.

Immerse Yourself in Nature

Grand Canyon

Image via Flickr by Abhi Here

The most renowned Arizona attraction, the Grand Canyon, has nearby organizations that actively conserve and protect it. With constant efforts to support the ecological balance and clean air, this attraction is an obvious ecotourism destination. Hiking trails, white water rafting, and mule rides are all available for exploring this natural wonder of the world.

If you’re looking for active sightseeing, strike out on the Arizona Trail. The trail, stretching from Mexico to Utah, offers more than 800 miles of mountain ranges, lakes, dams, and parks.

Located on the U.S.-Mexican border, the San Bernardino National Wildlife Refuge offers birdwatchers sightings of more than 270 species, while the Desert Botanical Garden in Phoenix hosts 139 species of rare and endangered plants.

Eco-Volunteer

Maricopa Trail

Image via Flickr by Al_HikesAZ

Want to leave Arizona in better environmental shape than before you visited? Take advantage of the many volunteer opportunities available. The Grand Canyon Trust leads volunteer backpackers into the Paria Canyon to remove invasive tree species, while the Arizona Game and Fish Department is always looking for help with their adopt-a-ranch program. Look for other volunteer roles with The Nature Conservancy.

Visiting Arizona doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice your environmental values for a great vacation. With more hotels and tour companies committed to reducing their ecological footprint, it’s easier than you might think to travel ecotourism style.

Author Bio:

A former video-journalist and news anchor, Tammy Banfield is now a freelance travel writer. Tammy has written editorials for more than 2,000 hotels and has traveled across Canada and the United States. When she’s not scouring the web for the best travel experiences, Tammy can be found running with her dog or organizing her next book club meeting.

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