DEATH VALLEY, Calif. – May The Fourth – (April 2023, on Earth) –Lights, Camera, Vacation! While set-jetting may be one of the biggest trends this year, movie fans have been vacationing at The Oasis at Death Valley for decades on a quest to visit location sites “a galaxy far, far, away” from the 1977 movie Star Wars. These visits start inevitable tales of when the movie’s director came to this true American Oasis in 3.4 million square miles of desert, oasis and mountain national park to film and transport people to another galaxy.
In celebration of the epic tale and Hollywood franchise, “Star Wars,” The Oasis at Death Valley hyper-spaced an exclusive map for guests leading them to the filming locations that are easily accessible via car.
Past generations of employees have shared stories with newer generations and certainly know where the movie locations are. These include the breathtakingly and picturesque locations throughout Death Valley National Park including Dante’s View, Mesquite Flat Sand Dunes, Desolations Canyon, Artist’s Drive and Golden Canyon – all just a quick 20-to-40-minute drive from the Resort – the only resort in Death Valley National Park.
Just two hours from Las Vegas through the desert and more than four hours from Los Angeles, the nearest town or pretty much anything is at least an hour’s drive at a high-speed limit and no traffic lights.
And if you want to explore the universe, this is the place – it’s one of the only gold-tier designated International Dark Sky Parks in the United States where stargazers can see the Milky Way with the naked eye.
While Death Valley may seem like another universe to vacationers, those in the know have also found an “oasis-like planet” that is the luxurious AAA Four-Diamond The Inn at Death Valley and the family-friendly The Ranch at Death Valley both part of the recent $150 million renaissance at the Oasis at Death Valley. Death Valley is usually sunny (there is almost no rain). There are few bugs. It’s also beautiful and the Oasis boasts massive swimming pools, gardens, golf, tennis, horseback riding, numerous restaurants, a date palm grove, a general store, post office and ample lush lawns to run and play or do just nothing but take in the stunning scenery during the day and stars at night. There is a resort, a hotel, private casitas, and 80 new cottages.
The town of Taos, New Mexico has fewer than 7,000, is a UNESCO heritage site known for its culturally significant Taos pueblos and homes. Taos also has limitless outdoor recreation opportunities for curious and adventure loving families and on Earth Day, is showcasing its eco-friendly and sustainable attractions:
UNESCO world heritage sites and art museums- From the rich Native and Spanish cultures to the characters of the Old Wild West, Taos museums can also take you on a walk-through history. Taos Pueblos are a UNESCO heritage site and a sovereign Pueblo Indian community.
Earthship Tours – See sustainable homes built with bales of straw, old tires, bottles, and cans. An earth ship is an off-the-grid and self-sufficient home that is made from primarily natural and recycled materials like earth-rammed tires, cans, and bottles.
Casa Gallina is committed to being a good steward of the environment and does so through their sustainable practices such as conserving water through drip irrigation and the usage of acequias.
Taos Goji is an eco-lodge that has a strong emphasis on the full cycle of sustainability at their onsite farm. Goji’s fruit and vegetables are pesticide free and organically cultivated. Their water comes from deep wells, fed by mountain aquifers.
Seconds EcoStore is a retail store selling stylish recycled, solar powered and green gifts, featuring lots of local design. This store has seen an unfurling of adventurous recycled redesign and an evolution of new ideas birthed from the waste stream.
Moxie is a store that supports the local economy by purchasing locally and supporting nonprofit organizations.
Taos Acequia Association is committed to ensuring the long-term sustainability of Taos’s traditional agricultural community by protecting water rights, preserving, and strengthening the acequia system.
Taos Earthships is an off the grid community including more than 300 acres of land using solar and wind power exclusively. Each earthship is a self-sufficient dwelling built with natural and recycled materials with energy conservation in mind and some of the homes can be rented out by the night.
Bespoke travel specialist Audley Travel firmly believes that carefully planned travel creates local jobs, supports conservation projects and shares stories – which all contribute to memorable travel experiences for clients.
Audley’s Environmental Social Governance (ESG) Framework (launched in 2021) has guided many of the business’ actions in the past year – and will continue to do so. Audley was delighted to receive the silver World Responsible Tourism Award for Decarbonising Travel & Tourism at the end of 2022, which acknowledged its efforts to reduce carbon emissions.
Audley’s ESG Framework
The ESG Framework identifies five key areas (the environment, workplace, communities, market place and governance) in which the business has set 36 goals and annual targets which are either aligned to the UN Sustainable Development Goals or with Audley’s internal priorities. The targets form a long-term journey where small sustainable steps over extended periods of time continue to deliver change to benefit the communities in Audley’s destinations.
Building on 2021’s achievements, Audley has made strong progress against its 2022 ESG targets with 33 of the 36 met, and the remaining three being a continued focus for 2023. Highlights of the achievements include:
Responsibleproduct – Audley continued to review its offering to identify sustainable product that goes beyond above and beyond to give back to local communities and the environment, with 133 additional accommodation and experiences meeting the operator’s assessment criteria and having a particularly positive impact (taking the total to 158). Audley’s goal is to use this work to offer clients more sustainable choices to make the most of the positive impact they have when they travel.
Employee volunteering – Employees dedicated over 2,296 hours to volunteering in 2022 with 57 per cent of staff donating at least half a day (exceeding the target of 40 per cent).
Insight – As part of its commitment to a goal to support education for all, Audley’s Insight initiative uses the knowledge of employees and suppliers to support young people exploring career opportunities in the travel industry. Two sessions were run in Boston as well as two in London and one in Witney (UK) as reaching 112 students from populations historically shut out of the industry.
Long term carbon strategy – Audley’s long term carbon reduction work continues, with the operator taking on its biggest challenge yet: calculating the carbon footprints of clients’ trips. The bespoke nature of Audley’s trips meant this wasn’t an easy task. Working closely with carbon reduction consultant, ecollective, Audley calculated that 98.4 percent of its total carbon footprint comes from Scope 3 emissions and roughly 90 percent of total emissions come from client travel. With ecollective’s support, Audley has identified ways to reduce emissions with a goal of reducing the carbon footprint of an Audley trip on a per person, per night basis. Audley has also submitted carbon reduction targets to the Science Based Targets initiative (SBTi).
Heather Magnussen, Responsible Travel & Sustainability Manager at Audley Travel, says: “Responsible travel has always been part of Audley’s DNA and we remain committed to preserving and restoring the environments and communities our clients visit. This is a long-term journey for us and we will continue to develop and build on the progress made so far throughout this next year, and beyond.”
The “Grandest Railway” to Grand Canyon and the “French Fry Express” (an environmentally sensitive 100-year-old steam engine still chugging)
A 150-Year-Old Narrow Gauge Railroad (small tracks and trains) that many some say is the “Holy Grail” of RR preservation
There are places in America where you can travel on a historic steam train, its engine running at speed (go fast), where you can climb America’s only accessible 14,115-foot mountain (higher than Machu Picchu), ride on a 150-year-old railroad lost in time and coming back to life in the beautiful valleys of central Pennsylvania. This is where open windows, swaying cars, sounds, smells and movement are as fun as the rides found at Coney Island. Here’s a ticket to ride this summer on four of the most interesting, unique, and even if one has small trains and tracks (but offers a mighty experience) called a narrow gauge.
A Pikes Peak Cog Railway train approaching the summit at 14,115 feet in Colorado
THE BROADMOOR MANITOU & PIKES PEAK COG RAILWAY (Manitou, CO to the summit at Pikes Peak – 14,115 feet)
Climb every mountain. Well, there is only one 14-thousand-foot mountain in the US that you don’t have to climb. You can take the train. A unique train – a cog. At The Broadmoor Manitou & Pikes Peak Cog Railway, America’s highest railway reaches a height of 14,115 feet. This is where the words to the song “American The Beautiful” were composed. Completely rebuilt, it’s back and better than ever climbing’ up America’s Mountain. This iconic railway is one of only two cog railways in the U.S.
Originally built in 1891 and owned and operated by The Broadmoor since 1925, this historic railway is the highest railroad in America, the highest cog railway in the world, one of Colorado’s top attractions, and one of the nation’s most unique experiences.
The Railway runs every day. For information and reservations, hop onboard at www.cograilway.com
4960 pulls a train on Grand Canyon Railway
THE GRAND CANYON RAILWAY (Williams, AZ on Rt. 66 to steps from South Rim, Grand Canyon)
Grand Canyon Railway has been taking people to the South Rim of the Grand Canyon since 1901 when it was built by the legendary Atkinson, Topeka and Santa Fe (ATSF). Grand Canyon Railway runs daily from Williams, AZ on historic Rt. 66 to within steps of the Grand Canyon South Rim and El Tovar. The pristine train, comprised of railcars from the 1930s, 1940s and 1950s, including luxury dome cars and an open platform observation car, as well as vintage coaches with opening windows, departs at 9:30 a.m. and returns at 5:45 p.m. with a 2.5-hour layover at South Rim of Grand Canyon. The train rolls directly into Grand Canyon National Park daily, taking an estimated 70,000 cars off the road each year.
During most of the summer and into early fall, the Railway pulls the train once a month with a massive 100-year-old steam engine built in 1923 that runs on waste vegetable oil. There is no extra charge. It is believed that Grand Canyon Railway is the last standard gauge passenger railroad in the US where steam engines are still scheduled to pull revenue trains.
Save 30% on train tickets when you book in conjunction with any 1 or 2-night stay at The Grand Canyon Railway Hotel.
Visit www.thetrain.com or call 1-800-THE-TRAIN (1-800-843-8724) for updated and current information on both the hotel and the train. It is now also possible to charter an entire luxury private railroad car or even an entire private train complete with chefs, bartenders, entertainers, and staff. These are ideal for “milestone” moments such as graduations, family reunions, anniversaries, weddings, birthdays. For charters call 928-635-5700 or visit www.thetrain.com/charters.
Newly restored locomotive, No. 16, pulls into the historic Orbisonia Station
The East Broad Top Railroad (Orbisonia, Central Pennsylvania) A 150-year old, and the only narrow-gauge railway East of the Mississippi, is an American treasure. This is one of the true treasures of American railroading. And while you can simply enjoy a scenic train ride, it is far more of an experience…allowing visitors to immerse themselves in a National Historic Landmark that is almost completely frozen in time.
The railroad is considered by the Smithsonian to be one of the best-preserved examples of 19th century American narrow gauge railroads (the rails less than 4 feet apart so the trains, and everything is smaller than “standard” railroads) and industrial complexes in the country.
The East Broad Top Railroad (EBT) located in Orbisonia, PA is nestled in the rolling hills and farmlands in the central part of the state. The EBT will start running again in May, with a recently restored steam engine that sat dormant for nearly 70 years, pulling one-hour train rides with space available in comfortable enclosed passenger cars, open air cars, or even a vintage caboose. Trains run on a nine-mile round-trip ride from the historic station in Orbisonia to a picturesque picnic grove and back through a classically beautiful Pennsylvania valley, nearly untouched by the rushing, modern and worried world.
Prices begin at $20 for adults and $18 for children. Guided tours of the railroad’s remarkably intact late 19th/early 20th century machine shop complex are also available every day that trains operate. Reservations are strongly suggested as the renaissance of this railroad is drawing national and international attention. For information and reservations visit www.eastbroadtop.com or call 814-447-3285.
A rafting adventure through Desolation Canyon is ideal for families with children as young as 5. Western River Expeditions offers weekly departures June through August.
SALT LAKE CITY, UT – Ranked one of the “The 25 Best New Trips” in the World by National Geographic Adventure and one of the “Best Whitewater Rafting Trips in America” by Outside Magazine, a 5-day rafting journey down this legendary canyon with Western River Expeditions in 2023 is something to seriously consider.
And this may be the year to do it. The snowpack covering the watersheds of the Green and Colorado rivers is 143.59% of the historic March 28th average. The best it has been in over ten years.
Whether a seasoned rafter or a first-timer, this 84-mile stretch of the Green River provides an unforgettable journey through some of the most spectacular landscapes in the American West. Here are 11 fun facts about Utah’s Desolation Canyon.
Utah’s Desolation Canyon, carved over millennia by the 730-mile Green River (spawned by glacial melts on the Continental Divide in the wilds of northern Wyoming), was traversed first in its entirety by the Smithsonian Institution that sent Major John Wesley Powell in 1869 to explore the canyon.
Nearly 100 years later, Desolation Canyon, one of the most remote areas in the lower 48 states, was named a National Historic Landmark in 1968 as part of the centennial celebration of the Powell expedition. It is also listed on the National Register of Historic Places (NRHP).
Desolation Canyon and the surrounds of its accompanying Green River compose one of the most remote (no roads, towns, cell service) destinations in the continental United States.
At 290,845 acres, the Desolation Canyon Wilderness Study Area (WSA) is the largest WSA managed by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) in the contiguous 48 states.
At its deepest point, a relief of over 5,000 feet (1,500 m) exists from river level to the unseen rim of the Tavaputs Plateau. This display is a result of Nature’s handiwork over 40 million years.
The entire eastern side of the river and canyon (river left on descent) sits entirely on Ute Tribal Lands of the Unita-Ouray Reservation, the second largest Indian Reservation in the U.S.
There are around 75 discovered archaeological sites throughout the canyon. Fremont (people foraged and planted corn here from the 7th to the 13th centuries) and Ute pictographs and petroglyphs are abundant.
Fremont granaries, as well as several abandoned homesteaders’ ranches, testify to the agricultural potential of riparian alluvial fan landforms sited between steep slopes and valleys. The landforms are larger in Desolation Canyon than in any other canyon of the Colorado – Green River system.
Over 60 named class two and three rapids challenge boaters. The gradual increase in size and difficulty of rapids make it an ideal place for beginner to intermediate boaters to develop their skills.
Elk were transplanted into the area in 1988. Today, Rocky Mountain bighorn sheep frequent the WSA. Other inhabitants are cougar, black bear, mule deer, endangered bald eagle, and peregrine falcon.
David McPherson started ranching with his family up Florence Creek in 1889. The McPherson homestead sat right along the path of the Outlaw Trail, used by the infamous robbers Butch Cassidy and the Wild Bunch. Cassidy, George “Flat-Nose” Curry, Ben Morrison and Josie Bassett all spent time in the canyon hiding from the law.
A rafting adventure through Desolation Canyon is ideal for families with children as young as 5. There are weekly departures June through August, with availability on many 2023 dates. A 5-day/4-night adventure begins and ends in Moab, Utah, and includes a scenic flight that lands atop a dramatic desert plateau where the group begins a short descent on foot to the river put-in. The per person rate for adults (age 16 and up) is from $1,955 and for youth (age 5-15) from $1,255. For details see https://www.westernriver.com/desolation-canyon
Guests may choose to paddle themselves in two-person, inflatable kayaks or to relax in a guide-powered oar boat. They enjoy deluxe camping on broad, sandy beaches along the river bank after savoring delicious meals prepared by trained guides. Whether on the river, enjoying a hike, or chatting by the campfire, the absence of digital access to the outside world mandates that attentions focus on what’s real and natural. It’s a time to disconnect from the chaos of daily life and reconnect with what matters most.
For a copy of Western River Expeditions’ 2023 catalog, questions, availability and reservations call toll-free: 866.904.1160 (Local: 801.942.6669) or visit the website at: http://www.westernriver.com/.
Western River Expeditions is an adventure travel company headquartered in Salt Lake City, with operations and offices in Moab, Utah and Fredonia, Arizona. Annually from March through October it escorts more people down rivers on professionally guided rafting trips in Utah, Idaho and Arizona than any other company. It is the largest licensed outfitter in the Grand Canyon and the largest single tour provider in Moab, UT, through its division Moab Adventure Center (http://www.moabadventurecenter.com/).
Western River Expeditions, providing Grand Canyon rafting, Utah and Idaho rafting, and international multi-sport trips, was founded in 1961 by Colorado River rafting pioneer Jack Currey. It has been named one of the “Best Adventure Travel Companies on Earth” by the editors of National Geographic Adventure magazine. The company is the proud recipient of the “Best of State” award through Utah’s Premier Recognition and Awards Program for the past nineteen consecutive years (2004-2022).
(Turin, Italy) — Friuli Venezia Giulia (often shortened to Friuli) is a northeastern Italian border region tucked between Slovenia and Austria where travelers will find the cultural and culinary imprints of all three countries.
On Tourissimo’s NEW 7-day Chef Bike Tour of Friuli Venezia Giulia hosted by Chef Brooke Williamson and her husband Nick Roberts, guests will cycle from Tarvisio along the Tagliemento River Valley via the Alpe-Adria Bikeway, one of the first long-haul rail-to-trail projects in Europe. The rest of the biking will be on secondary country roads with many interesting and tasty stops. Chef Williamson will play an important role in understanding the local cuisine, which reflects the varied cultures that surround this region. Prices start at $4,995 per person double. Companions that are non-riders are welcome. E-bikes are available upon request.
“We are fond of Friuli not just because it is cycling heaven, but also because it is a must-visit destination for gourmands and wine lovers, and is finally being recognized as such,” said Beppe Salerno, co-founder of Tourissimo. “It is the perfect destination for someone who has been to Italy several times and is looking for something new and different.”
Born and raised in Los Angeles, California, Brooke Williamson has carved out an impressive resumé full of leading roles and professional achievement, such as being the youngest female chef to ever cook at the James Beard House, winning Bravo’s “Top Chef” Season 14 in Charleston, and most recently, being crowned the first winner of Food Network’s “Tournament of Champions” in spring 2020.
Scenic Alpe-Adria Bikeway
Wine tasting at a family-run winery that includes the rare and up-and-coming Schioppettino
Cividale del Friuli (UNESCO World Heritage Sites), and Venzone (National monument)
Stunning cycling along rolling hills covered with vineyards and with the Julian Alps in the backdrop
Grado’s golden beaches
Palmanova and Aquileia
Regional food that combines Mediterranean and Mitteleuropean influences
Dinner at a Michelin-starred restaurant with cooking demonstration
The tour takes place June 25-July 1, 2023, $4995 pp.
Moab Adventure Center in the red rock playground of Moab, Utah, is prepared to guide its clients through the National Park Service’s (NPS) second consecutive season of requiring advance permits to access Arches National Park.
“If you snooze you may lose,” underscores Sierra Schmutz, General Manager of the Moab Adventure Center. “However, people who are unable to get permits in a timely fashion can still count on our popular, daily guide-led programs that offer entry to Arches on a space available basis.”
Moab Adventure Center’s tours showcase the more accessible of more than 2,000 arches, the highest concentration of arches on the planet. Driving and hiking through this Jurassic-aged wonderland provides a glimpse back in time when gentle geologic forces from deep below the surface bulged upward to crack the surface sandstone into fins that over time morphed into arches.
Two of Moab Adventure Center’s most popular tours are morning and sunset adventures led by professional guides who share information and wisdom about their experiences in this magical landscape. Each trip is 4 hours. Rates include snacks, water and Park entrance fees. Guests relax in a bus or a Sprinter Van with high ceilings and large picture windows for maximum viewing comfort. There are several stops to get up close with the terrain on short, scenic hikes. The rate is $108 for adults and $88 for ages 5 to 18.
Also available is a 30-minute airplane tour at $159 for adults and $120 ages 3-12. Rivers, canyons, and arches, plus the vast sweep of this slice of America’s west are revealed to guests from a bird’s eye perspective who are always welcome to share their questions with the pilot.
What began as a trial run policy in 2022 to upgrade the visitor experience by eliminating overcrowding will now take effect as an NPS standard operating procedure. This means that from April 1 to Oct. 1, 2023, visitors will need to secure in advance a timed entry reservation in order to enter Arches National Park between 7 a.m. and 4 p.m. The window for booking reservations opened January 10, 2023. Reservations are accepted on a first-come, first-served basis on Recreation.gov.
Reservations must be secured three months in advance of the anticipated date of visiting Arches. A single booking of a timed entry ticket covers each registered visitor (an individual, couple, group or family). Guests may enjoy the park all day, entering and re-entering at will with the validated ticket. The only cost visitors incur is a $2 Recreation.gov processing fee to obtain the ticket as well as paying the standard park entry fee. (It may also be possible to obtain a limited number of tickets through Recreation.gov up to midnight the day before planning to visit the park.) See more information on Arches National Park reservations and timed-entry tickets.
Moab Adventure Center (www.moabadventurecenter.com) is a division of Western River Expeditions (http://www.westernriver.com/) an adventure travel company headquartered in Salt Lake City, Utah with operations and offices in Moab and Fredonia, AZ. The company is the largest single tour provider in Moab, Utah. The Moab Adventure Center is located at 225 South Main St., Moab, UT 84532.
For information and reservations call (435) 259-7019 or (866) 904-1163. The center also has a 2,000-square-foot retail space selling adventure related gear, clothing, maps and souvenirs.
While most of North America reels under hot summertime temperatures, the North Rim of the Grand Canyon offers a wonderful high-altitude escape. Providing gently rolling terrain of lung-expanding dimensions, the North Rim has been long-held as sacred ground to hikers and cyclists alike.
Escape Adventures is offering a family-friendly, 5-day camping and mountain bike adventure that includes riding singletrack to Monument Point, hiking into the canyon on backcountry trails, pedaling across Kaibab Plateau, and conquering Rainbow Rim trail before descending to Indian Hollow. Prices for this adventure start at $1,349 per person and multiple departures are available May-October.
“For trekkers and active travelers of all levels, this tour is nothing less than the opportunity of a lifetime,” said Escape Adventures Founder Jared Fisher. “Gazing over the Canyon’s 9,200-ft North Rim, the immediate reaction of our guests runs from fear to reverie, and all agree that the old Arizona and Rainbow Rim Trails are the best ways to experience the Grand Canyon.”
Another benefit: the North Rim is much less crowded with tourists than the South Rim.
WILLIAMS, ARIZONA, April 2022 – It sounds counter-intuitive: a 100-year-old steam engine will chug into Grand Canyon National Park to celebrate Earth Day on Saturday, April 22, 2023, but it will showcase how ingenuity can thrive for future generations. The Grand Canyon Railway (GCR) may be the last daily standard gauge U.S. railroad to run steam engines in scheduled regular service – a rare sight and sound to behold.
The Grand Canyon Railway (GCR) is using recycled waste vegetable oil as fuel on No. 4960, a steam engine built in 1923. On select days from now through October, this massive steam engine will pull the daily train running from Williams, AZ to South Rim, Grand Canyon and at no extra cost to the passengers and guests. What saved it from static museum display? Waste vegetable oil (think oil used for French fries and chicken wings and fried shrimp). While such a diet may not be beneficial to the health of most of us, not only does the nearly century old engine run better, but by using recycled fuel (and captured snow melt for water in the boiler where possible) the great machine has a neutral carbon footprint.
As a matter of fact, it is estimated that the Grand Canyon Railway, built and running since 1901, reduces the number of cars in the national park to the tune of around 70,000 per year. Now we’re talking double green vision.
The other ingredient is good old-fashioned ingenuity inspired by the innovation of car mechanics to run vehicles on waste vegetable oil. The Railway strives to utilize biodegradable lubricants on the steam engines wherever possible. GCR is also the first tourism railway in the US to receive ISO 14001 third-party certification of its environmental management system.
For more information about the Grand Canyon Railway, visit thetrain.com or call 1-800-843-8724.
At a time when globetrotters are increasingly choosing eco-friendly trips in an effort to reduce their footprint on earth, Xanterra Travel Collection®, which operates many of the hospitality operations and concessions in and around the national parks, is making inroads to meet this imperative.
These include The Oasis at Death Valley, Glacier National Park Lodges, Cedar Creek Lodge, Grand Canyon National Park Lodges, Grand Canyon Railway Hotel, The Grand Hotel at The Grand Canyon, Mount Rushmore National Memorial, Rocky Mountain National Park, Yellowstone National Park Lodges, and Zion National Park Lodge. Xanterra also owns and operates upscale biking (VBT Bicycling Vacations), walking (Country Walkers), a railway (Grand Canyon Railway), touring (Holiday Vacations), and cruising (Windstar Cruises) companies with itineraries on six continents.
That also brings a responsibility and an obligation to protect the environment while making bucket-list vacations a reality –whether that is riding a mule into the depths of the Grand Canyon to Phantom Ranch, climbing the majestic ruins of Machu Picchu, taking a small-ship cruise through the islands of French Polynesia, or cycling through the Italian countryside.
Here are some of the most innovative, groundbreaking, and just curious ways Xanterra’s travel properties help minimize their impact on the environment and support a cleaner, greener future.
When One Bad Apple Does Good: When do bad apples help our planet? When they’re fed to the famous mules in the Grand Canyon and come out as manure used by local nurseries and farmers. Since 2013, a mule named Vista along with 147 of its fellow park mules have feasted on 31 tons of shriveled apples and other food scraps such as melon rinds, broccoli stalks, and carrot peelings generated by Grand Canyon National Park Lodges restaurants. Not only does that keep the food waste out of landfills, but those hard-working mules also produce up to 2 million pounds of manure per year. Through Operation Shrively Apples, Xanterra has returned tons of food back to the earth by using their beasts of burden to lighten the load we put on our planet.
All Aboard the “French Fry Express”: Hop on the best — and most eco-friendly — way to arrive at the Grand Canyon National Park and help keep 50,000 to 70,000 cars outside of the park each year. Ride the Grand Canyon Railway from Williams, Ariz., on a scenic 65-mile 2.5-hour route across the Colorado Plateau to the edge of the canyon’s South Rim. But this train does more than just replace those polluting cars, thanks to French fry oil. The big steam engine #4960 turns 100 this year and runs on recycled waste vegetable oil collected from the Grand Canyon’s own restaurants, Instead of using coal or diesel fuel, each locomotive uses about 1,200 gallons of vegetable oil per round-trip journey, significantly reducing the C02 emissions compared to using ultra-low sulfur diesel.
In addition, the train harvests rainwater and snowmelt to operate its steam locomotives, taking advantage of a renewable water resource in this water-stressed area. As a result, it has reduced potable water consumption by more than 1 million gallons to date.
Old Presidents Under Bright Lights: Who better to preside over efforts to reduce greenhouse gases than great visionaries like George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt, and Abraham Lincoln? Just a few years ago, Xanterra built a 975-panel solar carport at Mount Rushmore under the watchful eyes of these past presidents. This structure now generates nearly half the electricity used by the restaurant and gift shop, while 54% comes from a nearby wind farm. Along with buying carbon offsets for the remaining emissions, Mount Rushmore is now a carbon neutral operation.
Sun and Water: The Oasis at Death Valley, a beautiful eco-resort in the middle of the 3.4 million-acre Death Valley National Park, has plenty of sun but not much water. So the property harnesses the power of one while carefully conserving the other. It generates reliable solar energy with the hospitality industry’s largest solar photovoltaic system. And because the park is the driest place in North America (averaging less than two inches of rainfall a year), the resort recycles the precious water from its own natural springs to feed two pools, water the golf course and gardens (planted with native drought-tolerant species), and eventually return it to nature’s watershed. Plus, it reduces the need to water the world’s lowest-elevation golf course by using natural dye on the dormant Bermuda grass in winter.
Pulling Carbon Out of the Big Sky: Feast on sustainably raised beef at the Yellowstone National Park Lodges restaurants and help support native grasslands in a first-of-its-kind project in the U.S. Xanterra helps four ranches outside the park participate in a 209,000-acre project to improve soil health, provide forage for cattle, and remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere to help reduce the effects of climate change. The project also offsets all the emissions from electricity used at the lodges while restoring a damaged ecosystem and improving biodiversity. All from regenerative ranching practices.
Starry, Starry Nights: Xanterra, along with the National Park Service, helps the stars at night shine big and bright in the Grand Canyon National Park. By reducing light pollution and greenhouse gas emissions, Xanterra preserves views of the dazzling night sky and protects nocturnal animals and ecosystems in the park. Because nearly 2,000 light fixtures have been replaced since 2013 — nearly half by Xanterra — the International Dark-Sky Association recognized Grand Canyon as the International Dark Sky Place of the Year in 2019.
Xanterra uses similar outdoor lighting best practices at The Oasis at Death Valley, Waterton-Glacier International Peace Park (which contains Glacier National Park), and Zion National Park, which helped them all become designated International Dark-Sky Parks by the International Dark-Sky Association.
Purple Pipe Majesties: Xanterra’s many national park operations boast some of the most inspiring scenery on Earth: stunning vistas, deep canyons, and desert peaks. But purple plumbing pipes? Yup, they’re used for reclaimed water, one of the key ways to reuse and conserve this precious resource in Grand Canyon National Park. Quite simply, reclaimed water is wastewater that is treated and reused for a variety of purposes, such as drip irrigation and toilet flushing in the lodges, such Grand Canyon’s Bright Angel Lodge. By reusing water rather than pumping it from the nearby springs or aquifer, the Grand Canyon lodges used about 3.6 million gallons of reclaimed water in 2021 and plan to switch another 3.9 million gallons a year from potable to reclaimed within the next two years.
Eat Your Greens While Going Green: When you eat at Xanterra’s 56 restaurants, you can expect food that not only tastes good but does good. That’s because the eateries strive for 70% of food and beverages to be sourced locally (within 500 miles) and sustainably, while reducing chemical additives, saving water, reducing transportation, protecting local ecosystems, treating animals humanely, and reducing waste. Locations such as Zion National Park and Mount Rushmore have even created on-site gardens to provide hyper-local produce and compost waste to enrich the soil and avoid synthetic fertilizers. In fact, in 2021 Xanterra composted 23.5% of its total food waste in five national parks, preventing 90% of it from heading to landfills in Zion alone. Meanwhile, at Glacier National Park, composted food waste nourishes the flower beds at Lake McDonald Lodge and Many Glacier Hotel — a lovely example of beautifying the environment by preserving it.
What’s more, only 23 (out of 650) Certified Green Restaurants in North America hold the coveted, highest 4-star certification. And three of them are Xanterra-operated restaurants in Yellowstone, Grand Canyon, and Mount Rushmore (whose Carvers Café is the second greenest restaurant in North America according to the Green Restaurant Association) — thanks to on-site gardens, compostable tableware, water reduction, solar power, recycling, and more.
Using Suds for Suds: Instead of simply recycling empty beer bottles into pulverized glass, the Yellowstone National Park Lodges partner with Bayern Brewery in nearby Missoula, Mont., which washes, sanitizes, refills, re-labels, and puts them back into the supply chain. To date, the park has kept about 140,000 bottles in circulation. That’s about 30 tons of glass kept out of the landfill or recycling stream, which saves resources and energy — all by using sudsy water to refill bottles with suds.
The Big Stretch: In a case of bigger is better, three of Windstar’s small cruise ships were audaciously lengthened and re-powered to improve their environmental performance on the high seas. Star Breeze, Star Legend, and Star Pride were each cut in two to insert a new middle section, which features more-efficient and less-polluting propulsion and generator engines along with new cabins and restaurants. This increased the capacity on each ship from 212 to 312 passengers, reducing fuel use and greenhouse gas emissions by about 20% per-passenger nautical mile. The ventilation systems on the three ships were also upgraded to include HEPA filters and UV-C disinfecting lights to purify the air. Plus, onboard incinerators were removed to eliminate their air emissions. It was a stretch, but it was worth it.
Xanterra Travel Collection®, one of the oldest legacy travel companies in the US, tracing its roots back to the Fred Harvey Company founded in 1875, has long been committed to the preservation and protection of the environment by providing legendary hospitality with a softer footprint. From reducing pollution and conserving water to transitioning to renewable energy and fighting climate change, it has been honored with 42 green awards or certifications.