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Family Travel Files Ezine Family Vacations Resource
Earth-Friendly Family Vacations The Greener, The Better. With Earth Day celebrations scheduled throughout April, planning a green family vacation makes perfect sense and our Green Spots folder is loaded with earth-friendly, family-friendly vacation ideas. Green Family Vacations at Mammoth Cave National Park

Here’s the scoop. Earth Day celebrations provide participants with ways to take action and make the planet greener, bluer, safer, and healthier through daily actions. To improve the health of our planet those choices include family free time.  Earth-friendly (responsible) family vacations that do not add to carbon emissions, contaminate water supplies, drain energy, or cause extra waste. They include sharing natural beauty and engaging in activities which nurture respect for the planet. 

As always there are many shades of green giving parents or grandparents choices. I have featured green family vacation ideas for several years and appreciate those who have shared their own favorite “green” vacation place. Choices span the globe from the Us to Canada and Costa Rica to Switzerland. They include basic camping experiences, farm stays, hostels, lodges, all-inclusive resorts and green luxury in the city. Just how green do you want your family vacation time to be?Mammoth Cave National Park Family Advenyure
 
Mammoth Cave Hotel in Kentucky. Mammoth Cave is the longest cave system in the world and a most remarkable destination to share with children. In addition to guided NPS spelunking adventures for kids 10 or older, creative Junior Ranger activities, and awesome NPS cave day tours for families, the area is ideal for hiking, horseback riding, boating, trail biking, and fishing. Green points: Mammoth Cave Hotel is a terrific family vacation property managed by Forever Resorts, a company known for implementing the comprehensive Forever Earth program to benefit guests.  The hotel resort complex has 20 rustic woodland cottages located in a grove of trees a short distance from the hotel and includes a certified “green” restaurant. Wait for it! Families can tour Mammoth Cave by lantern light on the Violet City Lantern Tour or the evening Star Chamber Tour. Location on the planet: In the Green River Valley of south central Kentucky at 1 Mammoth Cave Parkway, Mammoth Cave, KY 42259. Information (270) 758-2180 or reservations toll-free 1-877-386-4383 or Mammoth Cave National Park.

Jekyll Island in Georgia. Life on a barrier island is always shades of green and blue because the fragile relationship between manmade activities and Mother Nature is always in flux. I like Jekyll Island because they keep the green side  balance while making it easy for visitors to feel a sense of place. The island maintains more than 20 miles of paved bike trails, a fishing pier, miles of water pathways for kayaking, canopied horseback riding trails, and more than 10 miles of clean (not so crowed) public beaches. Sleeping options a varied but I like Jekyll Island Campground as a green vacation base. Located on the Island’s north end amid 18 wooded acres, it is family-friendly and just minutes from Driftwood Beach. Green points: University of Georgia 4-H Tidelands Nature Center offers visitors experience hands-on learning activities for all ages.  From the Center guests may enjoy to marine life in touch-tanks; kayak through Jekyll wetlands; rent a canoe or take guided nature walks. Wait for it! From early June until the end of July Georgia Sea Turtle Center offers nightly turtle walks. Location on the planet: Opposite Clam Creek picnic area on Jekyll Island. (912) 635-3021 or www.jekyllisland.com.Grand Canyon North Rim Earth Friendly Cabins
 
Grand Canyon Lodge North Rim in Arizona. Grand Canyon National Park, a World Heritage Site, rests on the Colorado Plateau in northwestern Arizona and spans five life zones. The steep-walled canyon divides the park making the North Rim less popular because access is not as easy. Less crowded than its southern counterpart, the location offers a different earth-friendly perspective. During the summer months earth-friendly Junior Ranger programs are available for ages four to 14 are offered daily. Activities include writing observations, drawing pictures, creating poems, and attending one of our ranger-led programs. Green points: The Grand Canyon Lodge has an assortment of vintage looking cabins (updated), and motel rooms, steps from the rim. The lodge's restaurant has been certified as a green restaurant since 2009. Wait for it! Mules enable visitors to enjoy guided one-hour to half-day rides trail rides along canyon pathways. Here’s the deal! A rim-to-rim bus operates daily from May to November and a one way trip takes about 4 ½ hours. (Trans Canyon Shuttle at (928) 638-2820) Location on the planet: End of Highway 67, North Rim, Arizona 86052. (928) 638-2611, toll-free 1-877-386-4383 (877-Fun-4-Ever), outside the United States, please call (480) 337-1320 or www.grandcanyonforever.com.

New Glarus Woods State Park in Wisconsin. The state of Wisconsin has an extensive directory of green businesses including vacation properties ideal for families. Because Wisconsin is my home state I have my favorite spots – too many for this article but New Glarus Woods State Park, a comfy (no frills) family place is worth mentioning. The Park has more than 400 acres and is made for camping plus the wooded campsites provide easy access to 24-mile long Sugar River State Trail - ideal for family hiking or biking. Wildlife population includes deer, squirrels, wild turkeys, fox, gophers, and oodles of song birds and woodpeckers. And the stargazing is free. Green points: Both the park and the trail are Travel Green certified. More than 80 acres of native prairie have been restored and over 10,500 trees have been replanted to restore woodlands, and the park supports “Leave No Trace” principles. Wait for it! While bison no longer roam on this prairie, a special trail is dedicated to their history including a life-sized bison statue and a swinging bench. Location on the planet: W5446 County Highway NN New Glarus, WI 53574. (608) 527-2335 or Green Wisconsin.

Abram's Creek in West Virginia. Swim in an old swimming hole; sleep in a geo dome with your kids; hunker down in a woodland tipi; listen to the sounds of forest and nearby whitewater. Abrams Creek defines earth-friendly offering families a truly green vacation base. Summer activities include tubing, kayaking, canoeing, hiking, boating, snorkeling, and swimming. Saturday and Sunday evenings the Lodge House is the location of a communal bonfire and cookout, definitely the possibility for s’mores. Green points: If time in Mother Nature is not enough, it is possible to arrange a stream-side massage session. Wait for it! The added bonus is the campground’s proximity to Mt. Storm Lake- an awesome thermal lake just 10 miles away. Location on the planet: Just off U.S. Rt. 50, 3 miles east of Mt. Storm, WV 26717. (304) 825-3555, 446-5383, (710) 755 - 0607 or www.abramscreek.com.
 
Riverside Campgrounds and Cabins in Big Sur, California. Plunk your family down in the middle of a redwood forest and feel the power of green. The Riverside complex offers both tent and RV sites as well as 12 cabins nestled along the Big Sur River with beach access and hiking trails not more than 10 minutes away. Picnic tables and fire pits are part of each campsite. The complex includes hot showers, laundry facilities, and restrooms. In addition to tide pool adventures guest may also  swim in, or inner-tube down the river. Green points: Riverside maintains green policies including a recycling program in place. They use green cleaning and laundry products, recycled paper products and have implemented a strong energy saving program. Location on the planet: Located 22 Miles south of Carmel by the Sea at 47020 Highway One Big Sur, CA 93920. (831) 667-2414 or www.riversidecampground.com.

Content researched and posted by Nancy Nelson-Duac; images courtesy ForeverResorts, and Mammoth Cave National Park. Copyright 2014. 

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