Rainbow Trout in the Metoilus River / Photo by Brian O'Keefe

Sustainable Travel Initiatives in the Central Cascades

Sustainable travel is a cornerstone of geotourism, a form of travel that aims to sustain or enhance the geographical character of a place—its environment, culture, aesthetics, heritage and the well-being of its residents.  The Central Cascades Geotourism Mapguide is an important component of Oregon and Washington’s ongoing sustainable tourism plans.  Other initiatives are highlighted below.

Oregon Sustainable Travel Initiatives

Since passing America’s first bottle deposit law back in 1971, the State of Oregon has been a trailblazer in both land preservation and sustainability.  In 2003, the Oregon Tourism Commission commissioned research on national and international best practices in tourism to shape a set of sustainable tourism principles to guide local tourism planning.

These principles have since been refined by the by the Oregon Sustainable Tourism Advisory Committee and reviewed by the Oregon Tourism Commission.

Today, Travel Oregon is putting these principles into practice in many ways.  Initiatives include:

  • Adoption of sustainable practices in the daily operation and programs of Travel Oregon, including reduction of the office’s carbon footprint
  • Establishment of the Oregon Rural Tourism Studio to assist rural communities interested in sustainable tourism development through an intensive 8-day training program.
  • Development of new sustainable tourism offerings throughout the state, including:
  • Education of Oregon travelers on how to be sustainable, “green” travelers
  • Promotion of Oregon as one of North America’s most sustainable tourism destinations

Washington Sustainable Travel Initiatives

The desire to conserve and celebrate Washington’s spectacular natural beauty is evidenced early on when, in 1899, President McKinley created Mount Rainier National Park, the fifth national park in the system. Today, Washington is a mosaic of public lands, vibrant cities, small towns and rural communities with the authentic character and attractions that geotourists seek.

Beyond public lands, many projects, both public and private, contribute to supporting Washington’s geotourism assets. Among these are the following:

Tips for Sustainable Travel

Geotourism is a way for people to explore and experience new environments and cultures that leaves them unspoiled for future generations. In the Central Cascades of Washington and Oregon, where breathtaking beauty can be found at every turn, we strive to promote the principles of geotourism every day. So as you take your journey to some of the most captivating places on Earth, we hope that you not only will be enriched by the experience but will be inspired to conserve and protect it—so you and all those who follow can
enjoy it time and again.

  • Honor Protected Areas

    Follow advisories and regulations when visiting protected areas (such as staying on established trails), and respect the rights of private landowners. Remember the usage fees you pay support local management programs and conservation efforts necessary to protect and maintain these areas.

  • Leave No Trace

    Follow all principles of the Leave No Trace program—from preparation to preservation to respect for wildlife and others. Minimize your impact for the good of everyone. For Leave No Trace tips and ethics, please visit lnt.org.

  • Keep Wildlife Wild

    Help protect this region’s abundant wildlife. Maintain a respectful distance, use binoculars and telephoto lenses, refrain from feeding wild animals, and protect wildlife and your food by securely storing your meals and trash, especially when camping.

  • Be Prepared, Stay Safe

    Learn about local conditions and regulations before venturing out: What’s the weather forecast? How are the roads? Are open fires permitted or camp stoves required? Remember that many mountain roads are gravel or single lane, and always carry tire chains during the fall, winter, and spring. Dress in layers—it’s not uncommon to experience several seasons during the same day. Consider hiring a local guide for challenging activities.

  • Shop Local

    Support the true regional character you’ve come to see by consciously spending your time and money at local businesses with local employees, who offer locally produced food and products, handicrafts, and art. Your dollars will benefit the region and also help communities preserve traditions and protect natural resources.

  • Respect Local Cultures

    Be aware that you may encounter cultural differences. Research local customs, social norms, and environmental issues before you arrive, especially when visiting tribal reservations.

  • Reverse Your Route

    Visit popular places at off-peak times and travel popular itineraries in reverse order. Seek unique experiences at lesser known attractions.

  • Mind Your Resources

    Help conserve the natural resources you’ve come to visit by following the principles of reduce, reuse, and recycle. Support tour operators, outfitters, and service providers that incorporate green practices in their operations.

  • Park the Car

    Explore the area by getting out into it—try walking, cycling, or taking public transportation for a portion of your travels. Rent fuel-efficient or hybrid vehicles when a car is necessary. For additional traveler tips and tools for offsetting your carbon footprint, visit sustainabletravelinternational.org.

  • Give Back

    Enhance the value and meaning of your visit by volunteering your time to a local cause or project while you’re in the area. Make a financial donation to an organization that supports environmental stewardship and community well-being in the region.

National Geographic