Originally created in 2012 by then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, World Wildlife Conservation Day is celebrated on 04 December and aims to address, eradicate and overcome the escalating issues the planet faces with regards to wildlife tracking and trade. Take the pledge to show your support and discover 13 sustainability initiatives and non-invasive wildlife experiences in the US and Canada, as sustainable travel remains a key travel trend in 2020. Where to go in 2020 and see wildlife and nature responsibly:

Wildlife Experiences

Become a citizen-scientist in Paradise Coast, Florida

Named one of 100 Places That Will Change Your Child’s Life by National Geographicget up close and personal with the ocean’s liveliest creatures in their natural habituate in Marco Island. The largest of Ten Thousand Islands, Marco Island is located on Florida’s Gulf Coast and home to some of the world’s most beautiful beaches and diverse wildlife. You can take a ride on the Dolphin Explorer to observe these marvellous creatures and partake in the only research of its kind that engages and involves members of the general public. Assist the onboard biologists by spotting dolphin pods and noting their behaviour before handing the data to onboard biologists. paradisecoast.com

Bottlenose dolphin calf

Bottlenose dolphin calf. Photo: Emily Cunningham

 Visit the largest ecological reserve in Southern California – Newport Beach, California

Known to the locals as Back Bay, the Upper Newport Bay Nature Preserve and Ecological Reserve draws naturalists and scientists from around the world over 35,000 migratory birds and 200 endangered species make their home on the coastal wetlands spanning 1000 acres and with an abundance of activities including kayaking, stand-up paddle boarding and cycling. A recent project removed tons of sediment and helped clean up the water while limiting predator access to sensitive areas in the bay. visitnewportbeach.com

Newport Beach california where to go in 2020

Newport Beach

Spot wild western elk – Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado

Rocky Mountain National Park, the third most visited national park in the USA, encompasses over 250,000 acres of beautiful mountainous scenery – there are over 300 miles of hiking trails to explore, providing opportunities to spot wildflowers, wildlife and pristine lakes. Herds of wild elk live in the park and can be seen grazing in the meadows all year round but one of the best times to visit is between May – June when elk calves are born.

A resident herd of elk in Rocky Mountain National Park. wildlife tour

A resident herd of elk in Rocky Mountain National Park. Photo: Matt Inden

Paddle alongside wildlife in SLOCAL, California

The best way to experience wildlife in its natural habitat in SLO CAL is on Central Coast Outdoors’ half-day kayaking tour of Morro Bay. Dependent on tides and recent wildlife activity on the bay, the three-hour tour includes visits to harbour seals, a heron rookery and an oyster farm, with the chance of seeing fluffy sea otters that their home in the quiet bay. slocal.com

Monterey Kayak Seals

Monterey Kayak Seals

Black bear observation in Whistler, Canada

Whistler and the Blackcomb Mountains are home to over 60 black bears and offer visitors the chance to observe the animals their natural habit. Travel in a comfortable 4×4 through snow-covered terrain while traversing the largest concentration of bear ranges in the region. Take an even closer look with a short walk to feeding sites and wander through forests where bears have hibernated through the winter. whistler.com

Asiatic black bear

Asiatic black bear (Ursus thibetanus), with mouth open.

Join the festival of whales in Dana Point, California

Dana Point has some of the best whale watching opportunities in California and is known for its year-round sightings. So much so, the region holds an annual Dana Point Festival of Whales every March in celebration of these gentle giants. The Ocean Institute is a leader in the conservation and education of California’s marine life – travellers are invited to visit the fascinating maritime history museum and join a Whale and Marine Life Tour, where passengers embark on a marine life exploration cruise to learn everything there is to know about what lies beneath the sea.

Newport Beach Whale california

Photo: Newport Beach

Discover America’s favourite birding destination in Santa Cruz, California

Santa Cruz is well-known for its phenomenal wildlife viewing opportunities with year-round whale watching, birding, otters, elephant seals and seasonal monarch butterflies that have put Santa Cruz County on the map for nature enthusiasts. Santa Cruz County also celebrates its important role as a habitat for many creatures on land and sea with events, including Monarch Migration Festival, Hummingbird Days, World Ocean Day and the Monterey Bay Birding Festival. santacruz.org

Santa Cruz - CREDIT - Jim Kirklin

Santa Cruz. Photo: Jim Kirklin

Cruise California’s central coast in Monterey County, California

The rocky shores of Monterey County creates an ideal habitat for otters and local bountiful kelp forests. Kayak out into the sea and enjoy watching sea otters in their natural habitat. The Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Sea Otter Program has studied the southern sea otter since 1984 to understand threats to the population and promote its recovery. The aquarium also rescue, treat and release injured otters through their surrogate program and seek homes for sea otters that are unable to return to the wild.

sea otters california romantic California getaways

Sea Otters, California

Sustainable culinary experiences

Sustainable wine tasting – Tri-Valley, California

For every two bottles of wine made there is one bottle of grape waste produced. Several wineries in Livermore Valley, one of California’s lesser-known wine regions, have committed to practices with social and environmental responsibility in mind. Wente Vineyards is not only one of the oldest family-owned and operated vineyards in California, but also one of the few establishments in the state that possess certificates of sustainability for their winery, vineyards and wines. Some of the efforts include reducing energy and water usage, recycling glass, cardboard and plastic and using composted fertiliser. visittrivalley.com

California Tri Valley Vineyard Dinner - 1024 x 683

California Tri Valley Vineyard Dinner

Enjoy sustainable dining in Portland, Oregon

Portland, Oregon is renowned for being green and promoting sustainability. With a local bike-sharing scheme, an abundance of hike and bike trails within the city limits and the majority of conscious home-owners recycling their homeware (including skateboards, tyres and eyewear), it’s only natural that this space is growing in the culinary scene. Sustainable micro-restaurant Fermenter, part of the innovative vegan and vegetarian pioneers Farm Spirit, source ingredients for their lunch menu from within 150 miles of the restaurant. Other sustainability measures, including using refundable-deposit food containers and glass jars contribute to the clean living and re-usable ethos that runs in the green veins of the city. travelportland.com

Sustainable Destinations

America’s most sustainable ski town – Mammoth Lakes, California

Mammoth Lakes is the most sustainable ski town in the US, according to a study from Teton Gravity Research. The resort earned a NSAA Silver Eagle Award for Excellence in Water Conservation and is using sustainable development, regulatory compliance and education to improve their local environment. Less than half of the population drives to work alone, and 45.5% of Mammoth Lakes residents only owns one car, resulting in the towns low emissions status compared to other US resorts. visitmammoth.com

Mono Lake california where to go in 2020

Mono Lake – Mammoth credit Josh Wray

Where sustainability is old news – Yosemite Mariposa County, California

Designated a World Heritage site in 1984, Yosemite National Park is internationally recognised for its granite cliffs, waterfalls, clear streams and biological diversity. With almost 95% of the park considered designated wilderness, Yosemite takes its dedication to sustainability seriously. The region has been ahead of the curve for decades with several programs in place to keep the park pristine, including local food sourcing, limiting energy usage, water conservation, waste minimisation and reduction of emissions and fuel consumption. yosemite.com

Photo: Rajapal via Flickr

The wild Pacific Northwest – Eatonville, Washington State

Just a short drive from Seattle lies Northwest Trek Wildlife Park, where you can spot bears, birds, bobcats and more. The park is a leader in green practices and aims to protect its land in a number of ways, such as using energy-efficient vehicles, a combination of LED and motion-sensitive lighting, compositing animal waste, printing on recycled paper and switching to reusable bags in the gift shop. Northwest Trek also conducts studies to ensure the animals are protected and well looked after throughout the year. visitseattle.org

Love these conscious travel locations for where to go in 2020? See:

Stunning Monterey and Carmel Tour

Best Yosemite and Giant Sequoias Tour