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Jonathan Stull | 02.17.2017

Here we are in the middle of February in a year that is flying by, and this week’s #52WeekAdventureChallenge brings us to wilderness areas.

With the stroke of a pen, the Wilderness Act passed in 1964 under the administration of Lyndon B. Johnson protected 9.1 million acres of federal land for the sake of wilderness, “an area where the earth and its community of life are untrammeled by man, where man himself is a visitor who does not remain.” The Wilderness Act was enacted to preserve wilderness of a certain type—at least 5,000 acres where dominate the forces of nature, where the imprint of humankind is unnoticeable, and where the opportunity exists for “solitude or a primitive and unconfined type of recreation.”

Johnson, one of the most prolifically active and effective presidents of the 20th century, protected 9.1 million acres of federal land from any sort of commercial enterprise. Unless by special provision, no roads were to be built, no use of motorized transit or equipment allowed, no building of structures of any kind. In other words, nature preserved for nature’s sake. Since 1964, protected land has grown to encompass 109.5 million acres of federal land across the United States, including many of our most beautiful national parks, like Mount Rainier, Yosemite, Sequoia and Kings Canyon, and Rocky Mountain National Park.

No better opportunity exists for camping, hiking, fishing, climbing, or mountaineering than in the wilderness areas protected by the Wilderness Act. For those who carry with them a reverence for wild spaces, wilderness areas encompass the few remaining pockets of land where the idea of nature in its original condition persists, and along with it the sense of limitless potential inherent in the human spirit. This idea is the foundation the American idea, it has forged and reforged our society, and presidents from Teddy Roosevelt to Lyndon B. Johnson have recognized its importance—culminating in the many millions of acres that we have inherited and will pass to our children.

Certain rules apply: You won’t be able to find the amenities of a national park unless you’re in one, but you’ll have the opportunity to rely on your own wit and grit. You’ll have to travel on foot. Most of the time you’ll be out of cell phone service, but you’ll get to use the old map and compass. You’ll survive, and you'll experience a modicum of what it felt like to arrive on North American shores, cross golden prairies and summit the mountains of the West in search of something greater.

Below are just a few of the beautiful wilderness areas that have inspired generations. Take advantage of them!


Northern California

High Sierra

Southern California






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