By Kate Siber (additional reporting by Justin Nobel and Alison Sherbach)
A slow float through Utah’s canyons. A meditative moment on the Tibetan Plateau. A chance encounter with a hawksbill sea turtle. We looked into dozens of adventures and picked eight of the most tempting, responsibly-planned, low-impact journeys from some of the most forward-thinking tour operators. Most of these companies offset their emissions, and many of them reinvest a portion of their profits in conservation groups and other nonprofits, or use their purchasing power to foster community development. Some do both. All go well beyond recycling soda cans in their commitment to sustainability.
San Juan River, Utah
Use gravity as your motor on a six-day rafting trip down Utah’s San Juan River organized by O.A.R.S. This stretch of the river meanders through crimson cliffs along the northern border of Monument Valley, and the long glide is interrupted by occasional rapids as well as hikes to ancient cliff dwellings. At night, camp on sandy banks under a sky thick with stars. All outfitters in this region follow the rules of the U.S. Bureau of Land Management, including limits on the number of rafters plying the river, but O.A.R.S. stands out for its offsets program and contributions to conservation projects.