Vermont Life’s Editor in Chief writes “It’s been said that New England is what America once was, Vermont is what New England once was, and the Northeast Kingdom is what Vermont once was.”

In 2006, National Geographic’s Center for Sustainable Destinations named Vermont’s Northeast Kingdom a geotourism destination – a place which offers an authentic experience to travelers because of its rich cultural and natural heritage.

Montgomery lies at the gateway to the “Northeast Kingdom” – the area comprised of Orleans, Caledonia and Essex Counties. The area has been called the “the Kingdom” ever since the state’s revered George Aiken (1941 – 1975) said on a visit, “You know, this is such beautiful country up here, it should the Northeast Kingdom.”

Jonathan B. Tourtellot, in 1997, while a Senior Editor at National Geographic, developed the idea of geotourism and the associated idea of sustainable tourism that focuses on an area’s human culture and history. It is predicated on the idea that the traveler support local businesses that themselves emphasize the special character of their surroundings—promoting and using local products and services. And, all the while doing this with an awareness of how everything in their area fits together in a symbiotic relationship benefitting the uniqueness of the area as a whole—its geography, wildlife, human history, by promoting “best practices” based on First, do no harm.

This approach leads to local residents appreciating what they have in their backyards and to the education of travelers in an area’s special value in human history.

As an example, we at the Phineas Swann use the products and services of local residents whenever possible. We ourselves eat at the restaurants, suggest other businesses in the area to our guests, and always, always are ready with information about our area—its history, attractions, geography. We are conscious of our incredible fortune that allows us to live in an area that still retains so much of its historical character. We want to communicate this to our guests. And, of course, we recycle as much as possible and in every way, and try to waste as little as possible.

To assist the Northeast Kingdom in its efforts for sustainable tourism, a permanent geotourism alliance was formed, in collaboration with the National Geographic Society, to serve the region. This alliance is made up of local partners led by the Nulhegan Gateway Association. The project is funded in part by a Rural Business Enterprise Grant from the USDA.

With these efforts, Vermont’s Northeast Kingdom joins Norway, Romania, the Cook Islands, Appalachia, and the Sonoran Desert region in adopting the geotourism approach.  Other countries and regions around the world are currently working with the National Geographic Society to also adopt the geotourism approach to sustainable travel, and Vermont’s Northeast Kingdom is very proud to have been among the first regions in the world to see the value of working with the National Geographic Society to promote sustainable tourism.


About Sustainable Tourism


  • Sustainable tourism does not abuse its product which is the destination
  • It respects local culture and tradition
  • It conserves resources
  • It aims for quality, not quantity.

What Geotourism Gives Us

  • A community of relationships
  • All elements of geographical places combine for a rich travel experience
  • Residents discover the value of where they live
  • Residents associated with area travel businesses work together to use and promote local services, workers, and suppliers
  • Integrity of place is supported when businesses emphasize the character of the locale.
  • And, for the traveler, it means great trips!


Free Northeast Kingdom Geotourism Maps and Guides

geotourism-mapYou can request the National Geographic Geotourism MapGuide and other guides of our area from the Northeast Kingdom Travel & Tourism Association.

This MapGuide, produced by the National Geographic Society, highlights just a few of the truly stunning villages, mountains, streams and byways that invite exploration that lie to the north, east, and south of Montgomery in Vermont’s stunning Northeast Kingdom. The map highlights biking loop heads, boat accesses, covered bridges, hiking trails, public fishing areas, state forests, wildlife management areas, and points of cultural and historical interest. Not only are these maps and guides educational, but they also will help you plan your trip to experience the best our area of Vermont has to offer!

The Northeast Kingdom Travel and Tourism Association also sponsors an information-packed website that showcases geotourism in our area—Vermont’s Northeast Kingdom Geotourism Program. This website answers questions about sustainable destinations and illustrates what geotourism gives to communities and travelers alike.