To the list of good reasons to get out of the house, you may now add another: evotourism. This new concept in travel is the brainchild of senior editor Mark Strauss, who worked with senior editor Laura Helmuth on the evotourism special issue you hold in your hands.
We present ten places, including three in the United States, where you can see the powerful evidence of evolution in action or contemplate how a great mind added to our understanding of the process. You’ll find more evotourist destinations, plus travel tips, videos and photographs, at Smithsonian.com/evotourism.
Evotourism is not as bizarre as it might sound. Evolution and travel are closely related, after all. Charles Darwin’s voyage from England to the Galápagos Islands in the 1830s later crystallized for him the main mechanism of evolution, natural selection. Today in the Galápagos you can walk in his footsteps—some of them anyway. Many areas are off limits, to protect wildlife and the environment. That’s another benefit of evotourism: Like its “eco” cousin, it creates incentives to preserve wild spaces and historic sites.
Other profound journeys are featured in this issue. In 1635, the Massachusetts Bay Colony banished the minister Roger Williams, setting in motion a journey that culminated in the first articulation of a core principle of American democracy—the separation of church and state. As the author John M. Barry makes clear, Williams wasn’t concerned that religious thinking would interfere with government; he sought to keep government out of religion.
The photographer Annie Leibovitz, known for inventive celebrity portraits (think Whoopi Goldberg in a bathtub full of milk), went on many journeys to create her new book, Pilgrimage. We’re delighted to publish several images. Urging us to look again at historic places and objects to which we’ve perhaps become indifferent, Leibovitz shows them in a new light, so we see them as if we were making the journey for the first time.
Terence Monmaney is the Executive Editor.