National Parks: America’s Greatest Treasure

The Advent of Ecotourism

The+Grand+Prismatic+Spring%2C+the+largest+hot+spring+in+the+United+States%2C+is+part+of+the+Midway+Geyser+Basin+at+Yellowstone+National+Park.+It+is+also+the+third+largest+in+the+world%2C+following+New+Zealand%E2%80%99s+Frying+Pan+Lake+and+Dominica%E2%80%99s+Boiling+Lake.

Manu Kondapi © 2013

The Grand Prismatic Spring, the largest hot spring in the United States, is part of the Midway Geyser Basin at Yellowstone National Park. It is also the third largest in the world, following New Zealand’s Frying Pan Lake and Dominica’s Boiling Lake.

Manu Kondapi, Associate Editor

Ecotourism or ecological tourism is the idea of traveling to delicate, pristine, and often protected areas. It is perhaps best described as ecologically responsible travel. This kind of travel strives to be low-impact and small-scale. It helps educate the traveler and provides funds for conservation. In other words, it is the kind of travel that must be encouraged. Being a conservationist, I recognize the need for balance. I do not believe that everyone must visit natural havens all the time. But, I do believe that whenever possible, we must make the effort to do so. Places like Yellowstone National Park are perhaps the most popular travel destinations for ecotourists; beautiful in scenery and rich in wildlife, Yellowstone provides the perfect blend for travelers.

Ecotourism appeals to those who are ecologically and socially conscious and is a brilliant concept. However, it has yet to be widely publicized. In developing countries, there seems to be a common misconception that to attract tourists, one must build high-tech cities. If we could change the mindset of tourists, this fallacy will be changed. If visitors flocked to parks rather than cities, the outlook on travel itself would change.  Rather than tearing down forests to construct cities, forests will be preserved and people will continue to live a greener lifestyle in towns and villages. In America, compared to other countries, there is a surge of ecotourism. This may be due to the fact that going green equates with being chic. If we could expound on this mentality and share it across the world, just imagine the benefits.

National parks protect the most beautiful sights of America. Located in almost every state and territory, and embodying the spirit of America, they help us keep close to our past while moving into the future. And for this exact reason, the American populace must work together to support and preserve these natural wonders.