August 17, 2012


For many years now I’ve been somewhat obsessed with the National Parks. Incredible places, no doubt, but sometimes a trip to a national park can end up being more like a trip to an amusement park, big crowds and gift shops (pretty cool gift shops, though).  I like amusement parks, don’t get me wrong, but when I’m attempting to be in the beautiful natural world a large part of that for me aims for an experience with a certain amount of solitude or the ability to hear my footsteps or picture this landscape when there were hundreds of millions less people than occupy it now.  

The best places to get these special opportunities to find yourself in perceived emptiness amongst a huge landscape is in Wilderness Areas. These areas can exist wholly or partially inside National Parks or National Forests, but they are far from the roads and lodges.

Wilderness areas generally start a couple miles in on trails and they are marked by these signs like these 4 in this post, so when you get to one of these signs you’ve already sorta accomplished something and now you are crossing a threshold to a special place. It’s funny though, because its not like the landscape immediately changes as soon as you pass the sign.  It’s not like walking into a funhouse or art museum or something.  The placement of the signs almost seems arbitrary, but they are important mental markers.  

Sometimes its important to mark seemingly arbitrary lines of distinction.

Love live the Wilderness Areas and their wooden signs in the woods.

List of US Wilderness Areas (by state)

List of US Wilderness Areas (by size)

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