Forever Mighty: Conscientious (and fabulous) travel in Utah
A trip to stunning Utah will whisk away everyday concerns. Whether you are surrounded by astounding red rock hoodoos beneath an endlessly starry night, exploring the urban, or enjoying the Greatest Snow On Earth® (folks, this is science, not mere hyperbole), you’ll have no trouble staying put in the present. Not that Utah’s past won’t also reel you in. There is much to explore, for instance, in ancient petroglyphs, rock dwellings, or dinosaur fossils.
When it comes to the future and responsible travel, Utah also leads the charge. The beehive state (named after the solidarity and industriousness of bees) embraces a travel ethos called Forever Mighty which protects its natural wonders and vibrant cultures for generations to come.
1) Leave No Trace
Utah’s Forever Mighty ethos incorporates the seven principles of Leave No Trace: plan ahead and prepare, travel and camp on durable surfaces, dispose of waste properly, leave what you find, minimize campfire impacts, respect wildlife and be considerate of others.
In some places like the Red Cliffs Desert Reserve, protected species rely on a fragile living microbe-covered surface to keep their ecosystem healthy. Sticking to the marked trails is key to protecting the living landscape. Even in less sensitive areas, small actions like taking your garbage with you (including leftover food, which visitors sometimes misguidedly leave behind for animals) is key to preserving the balance of natural areas for generations.
Visit Utah offers many responsible travel how-to guides, including ones like how to camp responsibly, how to prevent fires, and even how to poop in the outdoors (don’t worry – for those who like their amenities you don’t have to go without).
2) Respect the power of nature
Utah’s outdoors is beautiful and there are countless ways to enjoy it (hiking, cycling, rafting, ATV, snowshoeing, you name it). However, nature can be unpredictable, and good preparation is responsible travel. The last thing you want is a day of fun that turns into a rescue scenario. Before heading out for an activity, check the weather conditions, bring layers of clothing for temperature changes, and always pack enough water. For the more adventurous activities, familiarize yourself with your equipment, pack the right provisions, and know the hazards particular to your terrain. Whatever you need, you can be sure there will be local outfitters to help you with your preparations and provisions. If you’re in one of the five national parks, you can check with a park ranger to make sure you are good to go, or hire one of many trustworthy local guides.
3) Honour local community, history, and heritage
Did you know that Utah is home to approximately 60,000 Native Americans, representing more than 50 Tribal Nations? Each has their own contemporary traditions, festivals and lifestyles. You can find out whose land you are on and learn about the past and present of the tribal nations who still enjoy this land by reading, visiting local museums, and being a respectful and curious visitor.
Another way to honour local is to support local. You will have a more personalized experience while also helping to strengthen local economies.
Travelers can also consider the way social media is used when visiting a place. There’s a growing trend, especially among photographers and locals, to not disclose the geographical location of lesser-traveled areas and, instead, encourage using a guide. This helps to slow visitor flow, conserve fragile areas and boost local businesses (Read: “Perks of Going with a Guide“).
Read more of the ways you can have the visit of a lifetime while keeping Utah Mighty Forever.
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