Geotourism Collage

Geotourism is defined as "tourism that sustains or enhances the geographical character of a place - its environment, culture, aesthetics, heritage, and the well-being of its residents." 

Geotourism goes beyond "drive through" travel. It involves regional communities in providing the visitor with an authentic, enriching experience. It acquaints tourists with local culture and traditions and offers them in-depth opportunities to enjoy the area's unique natural beauty and biodiversity.

Geotourism benefits the environment by encouraging sound destination stewardship that keeps growth to sustainable levels and limits negative impacts such as overcrowding and resource pollution. It benefits residents by promoting local services and employment. It benefits visitors by informing residents about their needs and expectations.

National Geographic experts collaborate with hand-picked locals to develop unique travel resources to help visitors plan more enriching journeys through interactive online maps, guides, and virtual tours; tuck-in-your-pocket print formats; even mobile apps. All filled with inside insights and advice on exploring these legendary locations and tips on where to find the most awe-inspiring natural beauty; outdoor adventures; ways to engage and volunteer in communities; home-grown festivals and events; museums, galleries, theaters, and interpretive centers; plus favorite spots to stay, eat, and drink.

Explore a sampling of our Geotourism projects below, and contact us if you are interested in developing a Geotourism program for your region.

Geotourism Yellowstone

Greater Yellowstone:

The Greater Yellowstone region encompasses some 20 million acres of rugged mountains, picturesque river valleys, high desert plains, and distinctive small towns and cities. It is a land of scenic landscapes, rich biodiversity, captivating history, a mosaic of cultures, and vibrant, friendly communities. Straddling Wyoming, Montana, and Idaho, the region is centered around Yellowstone and Grand Teton national parks and the surrounding core of public wildlands.

Geotourism Crown

Crown of the Continent:

At the narrow waist of the Rocky Mountains, where Alberta, British Columbia, and Montana meet, sprawls one of the wildest, most diverse and intact ecosystems in the temperate zones of the world. In the early 1890s, conservationist and Glacier Park advocate George Bird Grinnell dubbed this transboundary region the "Crown of the Continent," highlighting the region's geographical importance as the headwaters of the continent, spilling cold, clean waters to the Pacific Ocean, Gulf of Mexico, and Hudson Bay.

Geotourism Tennessee

Tennessee River Valley: | Download Free App

The Southeast Watershed Forum has partnered with the National Geographic Society to coordinate an effort to capture the history and heritage of the Tennessee River Valley through an interactive Web site. The Tennessee River Valley Geotourism Project seeks to celebrate the Tennessee River Valley region as a world-class destination, while contributing to the economic health of the region by promoting sustainable tourism. History buffs and adventurers, backpackers and foodies, birders and sightseers can discover unique destinations based on recommendations from those who know best—residents of the Tennessee River Valley region.

U.S. Gulf Coast States

Gulf Coast States:

The USA Gulf States Geotourism Program seeks to capture and promote the culture and heritage of this extraordinary region through the voices and stories of the people that live there. As a result of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in early 2010, and to support efforts to rekindle visitation to the region, this project will help to capture the warm and welcoming persona of the gulf coast through an informative National Geographic Society co-branded print map, online interactive map and app that presents the sites and stories of the region in the words of its’ residents.

Eastern Newfoundland

Mississippi River:

The Mississippi River and its tributaries constitute the largest river system in North America, with a meandering route from its northern headwaters to the Gulf of Mexico, the river has served as the backbone of the United States’ historical and economic development for over two centuries, and represents a veritable cross-section of the ecological, geographic, and cultural diversity of the country.

Geotourism Sierra

Sierra Nevada: | Download Free App

The Sierra Nevada Conservancy and Sierra Business Council have partnered with the National Geographic Society to capture the history and heritage of the Sierra Nevada region through this interactive Web site and print map. History buffs and adventurers, backpackers and foodies, birders and sightseers can discover unique destinations based on recommendations from those who know best—residents of the Sierra Nevada.

Geotourism Lakelocks

Lakes to Locks Passage:

Midway between Manhattan and Montreal, this inter-connected waterway shaped the destiny of the United States and Canada. By bike, foot, boat, train or car, Lakes to Locks Passage provides access to charming cities, rural landscapes and Adirondack hamlets. Through all four seasons, you can travel through numerous historic, natural, cultural and recreational experiences along the scenic waterway that links upstate New York to southern Quebec.

Heart of the Continent

Heart of the Continent:

Northeast Minnesota and Northwest Ontario offer epic outdoor adventures and authentic cultural experiences in a region steeped in natural beauty and rich history. Through the Heart of the Continent Geotourism Program, National Geographic has partnered with local organizations, businesses, and individuals to map and showcase the most authentic places to go and things to see and do here. 

Sedona Verde Valley

Sedona Verde Valley:

From mountains to spectacular red-rock formations, mysterious canyons, vast grasslands, verdant riparian environments, forests, and chaparral, the Sedona Verde Valley region boasts an amazing array of picturesque and ecologically important landscapes. These landscapes play an important role in the local economy and are intimately tied to the region’s rich Native American and Western Culture, vibrant artist communities, vineyards, spiritual ties, and southwestern culinary splendor..

Geotourism Balkans

Scenic, Wild Delaware River:

Discover a hidden gem only few hours’ drive from New York City, Trenton, and Philadelphia—yet a world away. Explore friendly towns steeped in culture and history, nestled in a postcard landscape from a bygone era. Swim, canoe, and amble along a river that’s carved a course through geologic time and human history. Watch eagles soar overhead and deer roam through forests and fields. Enjoy waterfalls that make the heart leap, learn to catch a fish, picnic along the river’s banks. Stay with us a while and savor the Scenic, Wild Delaware River, where New Jersey, New York, and Pennsylvania meet..

Geotourism Fourcorners

Four Corners Region:

The Four Corners Region Geotourism Stewardship Council has partnered with the National Geographic Society to capture the history and heritage of the Four Corners Region through an interactive Web site and print map. The Four Corners Region Geotourism Project seeks to celebrate the Four Corners Region region as a world-class destination, while contributing to the economic health of the region by promoting sustainable tourism. History buffs and adventurers, backpackers and foodies, birders and sightseers can discover unique destinations based on recommendations from those who know best—residents of the Four Corners Region.

Geotourism Bahamas


The Bahamas Family of Islands represent the less populated, yet equally intriguing, island gems of The Bahamas island chain. These islands comprise of a mixing-pot of unique natural sites, cultures, history and geographies. For centuries, from well before European visitors first arrived, the islands have been a crossroads for commerce, travel and livelihood. Linking vast expanses of water with idyllic beaches and authentic island life. Each island is unique, but they are all related through a common geography, interlacing environments, history and people that connect them together and make them appealing to travelers looking for an authentic, local Bahamian experience. .

Geotourism Tequila

Tequila, Jalisco:

Tequila is a rich, biologically diverse destination surrounded by the Cerro Azul (Blue Hill) and the magnificent agave landscape. Just an hour northwest of Guadalajara, you'll find vast mountain ranges and the Tequila Volcano in the Valley of Tequila, a region many Mexicans consider the pride of Mexico. Here you'll come across the agave plant, recognized as part of the national identity and known for its sweet qualities and vital economic impact in the State of Jalisco. Tequila's streets are aligned with traditional artisan distilleries and historic churches, while nearby municipalities produce some of the most impressive opal crystals nationwide. The breathtaking agave landscape is a part of UNESCO's World Heritage Site, and the area includes archaeological ruins of the Teuchitlan cultures that date back to the sixteenth century. 

Geotourism Caribbean Colombia

Caribbean Colombia:

San Andrés, Providencia and Santa Catalina are part of an archipelago that covers 115,831 square miles (300,000 sq km) and plays an important strategic role in representing Colombia’s sovereignty in the western Caribbean Sea. These islands are a core part of the Reserva de la Biósfera Seaflower (Seaflower Biosphere Reserve)—one of the world’s largest biosphere reserves. Created in 2000, it is named in honor of the vessel that brought the first English who, along with their Jamaican slaves, first colonized these isles in 1631. This archipelago later became a base for pirates and privateers. Cutthroat pirate Henry Morgan is said to set out from here to sack Panama..

Geotourism Honduras

Go Blue Honduras:

Roatán is the largest and most popular of the Bay Islands in Honduras. About 64 kilometers (40 miles) long and just 4 kilometers (2.5 miles) wide at its widest point, the island is surrounded by over 97 kilometers (60 miles) of living reef, making it a paradise for divers and snorkelers. Part of the world's second largest barrier reef system, Roatán's waters are teeming with colorful coral and marine life. Dozens of world-class diving and snorkeling sites are accessible from idyllic beaches around the island and through numerous tour operators, primarily located in West End village..

Geotourism Sri Lanka

Eastern Sri Lanka:

One of the joys of visiting Eastern Sri Lanka is that it offers so many pleasures. White coral beaches and shrines to deities, surfing and wild elephants, long ago shipwrecks and endless lagoons to wade in. Your visit may not be long, but rest assured, it will be fulfilling. Eastern Sri Lanka is a unique and inviting destination, an enchanting blend of pristine beaches, sacred temples, colonial architecture, and world class surf. Quaint villages, white sand beaches and colorful colonial buildings hug the coastline. Arugam Bayan offers an unforgettable surfing experience. Trincomalee offers stunning natural and cultural highlights.




Interested in a Geotourism Site for Your Area?

Jim Dion is the Sustainable Tourism Program Manager for Solimar International, a partner with National Geographic Maps. His work involves linking the world’s most important tourism destinations to the design capabilities of National Geographic Maps to create innovative maps and interactive websites to increase knowledge about sustainable tourism and foster destination stewardship of cultural, historic, and natural resources.

Before joining Solimar International, Jim helped run the Center for Sustainable Destinations at National Geographic. Prior to that, he directed international ecotourism programs for conservation NGO’s in Mexico, Central America, and Asia, and has lectured at the Technical University of Graz in Austria. James’ interest in linking tourism to conservation and community development is an outgrowth of his more than 15 years of experience as a professional river and wilderness guide/outfitter. He founded and developed locally run sustainable tourism businesses in Europe and North, Central, and South America.

Jim Dion
Solimar International in partnership with National Geographic Maps
Sustainable Tourism Program Manager
Washington, D.C.
Tel: (202) 604-2487
E-mail: [email protected]