We’re well into our busy season and have had such a great time guiding rafters from all over down the Pigeon River. However we couldn’t do what we do without the beautiful surroundings provided to us by Mother Nature. When you are vacationing in East Tennessee, or anywhere in the world, you can have a fantastic experience while protecting the environment at the same time. From the Smoky Mountains to the Seven Wonders of the World, we want to help you preserve these destinations for generations to come.
Whether you’re headed to the beach or the mountains, to get lost in nature or visit a big city, one of the first steps in planning can be to choose environmentally friendly accommodation. Look for hotels and other accommodations with effective waste treatment systems, that recycle, that are energy efficient, and, where possible, that use environmentally friendly energy sources such as solar energy or hydroelectric power. Between relaxing and adventure, you can take environmentally friendly transport, such as trains, buses or bikes between locations. And don’t forget your feet! Explore your surroundings and get a little exercise at the same time.
Once you’ve arrive, you might be tempted to let your green guard down. Help conserve water by taking showers instead of baths and minimizing your use of personal care products and detergents to wash linen. If you are staying at a hotel, reuse your towels and bed linens as you would at home. To stay hydrated on the go, focus on reusable water bottles. Not only are they better for the environment, they also provide the added bonus of helping you avoid inflated prices on bottled water.
Be a responsible guest and respect the local environment by staying on trails and public footpaths. Do not remove plants (this is a crime in National and State Parks) and never litter. Your waste items introduce foreign materials into the ecosystem of the area you visit and will remain long after you return home. Instead, find opportunities to recycle and reduce your waste during your trip. Recycle newspapers, magazines and your beverage containers (many can be returned for refunds), and reduce the number of bags, napkins and disposable cups you use when you’re eating locally.
While you focus on filling your memory card with landscapes and escapades, resist the urge to feed animals - even the cute ones. We all know that feeding bears can be dangerous, but did you know that simply feeding the chipmunks can be deadly for them? Even if others are feeding the animals remember that you don’t want to teach the animals that humans are a source of good. They’ll be better prepared to fend for themselves in the off season if you let them be.
Finally, avoid damaging recreational activities. Avoid sports or tours that have a significant harmful impact on the environment, such as clearing natural vegetation, or choose more progressive establishments, such as golf courses that recycle water and use native grasses, to help support establishments with your eco-friendly values. At Outdoor Raft Adventures, we strive to provide an exhilarating white water experience that honors and shows off all the Pigeon River has to offer. We make sure all our guides are properly trained each year so we preserve the river’s natural beauty and we hope you will too!