Interest in sustainable travel continues to grow. Insights gleaned by Booking.com from more than 33,000 travelers across 32 countries reveals that nearly 75% of U.S. travelers think sustainable travel is important, with 44 percent saying that recent news about climate change has influenced them to make more sustainable travel choices. Great, but where do you start? Eco-friendly camping checks many boxes with the benefit of being in nature, not adjacent to it or worse, removed from it.
For obvious reasons, campgrounds are less carbon-intensive than traditional hotels and home rentals. They use minimal energy, less water, and overall, are less invasive to the surrounding environment. Most campers drive to campsites instead of flying, avoiding the impact air travel has on the environment (responsible for 3% of global carbon emissions), a benefit boosted if you’re driving a hybrid, plug-in, or EV.
However, camping still has room to improve, says Dan Yates, founder and managing director of Pitchup.com, a London-based online campsite and holiday park booking website started in 2009.
“Although camping is inherently more eco-friendly than hotel stays, and rarely involves air travel, many campgrounds are working hard to take their park to the next level as demand for sustainable travel grows” says Yates.
“On Pitchup.com we are seeing campgrounds introduce renewable energy and recycling points for example, and we make it easy to filter for these eco-conscious parks. Fourteen percent of campgrounds listed with us currently offer renewable energy and 60 percent have recycling facilities, with this number growing every year” he adds.
Yates points to additional initiatives campgrounds are incorporating including selling local produce, offering pick up from public transport, electric vehicle charging points, and providing a haven for local wildlife.
Here are five eco-friendly American camp sites for your next trip.
Eco-Ranch Sustainable Living Center, Alpine, Texas
This campground’s name speaks for itself. Located 25 miles from Big Bend National Park, Eco-Ranch Sustainable Living Center is a working poultry ranch that prides itself for its self-sustaining model using repurposed materials, renewable energy, recycling facilities and safe rainwater collection using triple-use filtration. Thanks to its secluded location and unpolluted skies, campers can enjoy pristine vistas for stargazing and sunrises, with tent and trailer sites renting for $26/night on Pitchup.com.
Allicins Ranch, Moyie Springs, Idaho
Located on a small organic farm known for its garlic along with other seasonal fruits and vegetables, this campground provides an authentic rural experience to slow down and enjoy the stunning landscapes of the Kootenai Valley, which boasts some of the best hiking, biking and rafting found in the inland northwest. The campground offers tent sites for $35/night and basic amenities like compostable toilets. Allicins Ranch’s neighbors are another organic and honey bee farm, so campers have easy access to the area’s organic produce to help support local farms and sustainable agriculture.
Happy Regenerative Farm, Elgin, Texas
At Happy Regenerative Farm, campers can spread out on 19 acres of a Texas ranch, located just a half-hour from downtown Austin. The campground’s sustainable offerings include an up-cycled wooden amenities block, recycling bins, and composting toilets that help replenish the ranch’s soil. Plus, there’s no electricity onsite (don’t forget a flashlight for night-time wanderings!). Tent and trailer sites start at $28/night.
D Acres Permaculture Farm, Rumney, New Hampshire
D Acres Permaculture Farm is a not-for-profit organic farm tucked away in New Hampshire’s scenic White Mountains that operates as a sustainable farming community and a campground. The campground encourages visitors to experience farm life firsthand through their range of educational group activities, which span from wood-fired cooking and taking care of livestock, to learning about eco-forward technology like solar hot water heating and composting toilets. Tent sites are bookable for $24/night and up.
B Berry Farms, Elkland, Missouri
Boasting over eight acres of fields filled with five different berry varieties, B Berry Farms runs on solar energy and even sells natural skincare products so campers can bring an eco-friendly wellness souvenir back home. Visiting campers can affordably roam the berry-spotted fields or explore the nearby horseback riding trails that weave through the thick of the woods, with tent and trailer sites starting at just $7/night.