The naturalist and preservationist John Muir famously said, “The mountains are calling, and I must go.” This quote is recited so frequently because it captures that feeling precisely. (We know you’ve heard the call or you wouldn’t be reading this!) Alaska’s wild beauty pulls us all in — like a magnet. And at the same time, that attraction awakens our desire to protect this special place for generations to enjoy.
The good news is that you can do both: explore Alaska’s magnificent landscapes and ensure that your impact on the destination is positive. Whether you’re new to the concept of sustainable travel or have been an eco-conscious traveler for years, Adventure Green Alaska is your go-to resource when planning Alaska trips.
Adventure Green Alaska is the only Alaska-based certification program for tourism businesses operating sustainably in the state. For you, that means the more than 60 travel operators and accommodations that have voluntarily paid to go through the AGA certification program believe that outstanding Alaska experiences can also be sustainable and of benefit to all. These businesses range from tours in Denali to wilderness lodges near Homer or fishing lodges near Ketchikan to Juneau whale watching tours or Prince William Sound day cruises to kayak tours in Seward to multi-day guided trips all over the state. You can easily spot them in TravelAlaska.com’s directories with the green and black AGA logo emblazoned on their listings. No matter what is on your Alaska bucket list, you’ll find an option here.
But wait, there’s more! AGA also offers guidelines you can use to be more sustainable while on vacation:
- Immerse yourself in the local culture. Take time to get to know the locals, learn the area history and visit museums or cultural centers.
- Support locally owned and operated businesses. From restaurants and boutiques to tour operators and art galleries, many businesses have been built by Alaskans to share an authentic experience. Your support helps the local economy thrive.
- Shop local. Look for three symbols that guarantee the product was “Made in Alaska,” “Grown in Alaska” or made by Alaska Native artists through the “Silver Hand Program.”
- Leave no trace. Alaska’s national parks, state parks and national forests cover the vast majority of the state and we encourage you to explore them. Following a few principles helps to lessen the impact on the environment.
- Reduce, reuse, recycle. Just like at home, carrying reusable bags, water bottles and even straws and utensils helps to reduce plastic waste.
- Be a responsible wildlife viewer. Alaska’s Department of Fish and Game established a code of ethics for those observing wild animals in their natural environment.
If you want to take things a step further, the new Juneau Carbon Offset Fund helps you calculate the carbon impact of your Alaska vacation package (flights, cruise and/or excursions) and purchase offsets to account for your activities.
Looking ahead to 2020, AGA’s certification program for accommodations and tour operators will be revamped with more stringent criteria that was recently recognized by the Global Sustainable Tourism Council (i.e. the experts who set the global standards for sustainable tourism). We believe in the importance taking care of our state and we know our travel operators want to take their sustainability practices to the next level.
When it comes down to it, there’s no wrong way to visit Alaska. But if you are as passionate about preserving the state as we are, we hope you’ll use the above resources as an Alaska trip planner. And now really… the mountains are calling, we have to go.
Looking for more travel inspiration? Check out some of our locals’ favorite things to do in Alaska.