Best Wilderness Documentaries

Ellen Grant
• Thursday, 03 December, 2020
• 9 min read

From the golden sands of Australia, the snow-covered peaks of Chile, and the barren, beautiful wastelands of the great white north, all the way to the provincial expanses of middle America, we’re going to outline a handful of our favorite outdoor documentaries of all time. In 180 Degrees South, Johnson follows in the footsteps of his childhood heroes, Avon Cunard and Doug Tompkins, as he gains passage to Chile’s impeccable wild lands via ship, resulting in exhilarating visuals, an understanding of the isolationist’s pursuit of wanderlust, and the introspective nature of travel.

wilderness spent
(Source: www.30secondfilm.co.za)


Travis Rice is widely recognized as one of the world’s greatest snowboarders, and his highly praised 2011 documentary, The Art Of Flight, gave viewers around the globe an insider’s perspective of what a cinematic adventure sports biopic could achieve. In his most recent film, The Fourth Phase, Rice takes a far more profound approach than his last endeavor, joining Pat Moore, Cam Fitzpatrick, and Ben Ferguson to slay the slopes in some of the world’s most intensive locations.

Yosemite Valley has quickly become one of the most sought after destinations for rock climbing on the planet, but if you think that the vast majority of the area’s most competitive lines weren’t being scaled decades ago, you’re in for a surprise. While the most recent documentary outlining the area’s staunch rock climbing history might be a tad bit sensationalized, Valley Uprising brings to light the very real personalities, ideals, and anachronistic views that were a trademark of the climbing world in the early days of Yosemite.

From old classic hits to new independent films, here is a complete list of the best hiking movies for some outdoor inspiration. Based on the true story of Christopher McCandless, a young man who walked out on society to live alone and survive in the Alaskan Wilderness.

Story made famous from the book written by Jon Kramer. A girl takes a nearly 2,000-mile walk across the Australian desert with four camels to keep her company.

Follow a father (Emilio Estévez) in search for inner peace after the death of his son. Based on the true story of Cheryl Strayed hiking the Pacific Crest Trail as a path to recovery.

(Source: chriscostello.design)

This one is about a group of men escaping from a Siberian labor camp and trekking a dangerous 4,000 miles to India. Bill Bryson (Robert Redford) hikes the Appalachian Trail in this lighthearted tale.

But, the profound impact of the book deems it worthy a spot nonetheless. Half a dozen hikers document their journey along the Pacific Crest Trail from Mexico to Canada.

One of the more well produced thru-hiking docs, funded from a Kickstarter campaign and featured on Netflix. Five friends take on the 210-mile-long John Muir Trail in California.

A homemade documentary on the Appalachian Trail from Georgia to Maine. Does a nice job showcasing the states, hikers, history and the “feel good” hiking community vibe.

Well produced, beautiful shots, brief historical accounts and a down to earth hiking couple. Vast landscapes and a heartfelt story surrounding Native Americans.

(Source: www.youtube.com)

An amazingly true story about an Austrian mountain climber who ran away from his military duties in World War 2. Heinrich (Brad Pitt) finds refuge in Tibet alongside the Dalai Lama.

Either way, this is a great film about a man (Tom Hanks) surviving on a remote beach with his precious volleyball. If the plot alone is not enough to entertain, the Montana (and part of Wyoming) scenery will.

Filmed in the Appalachian hills of North Carolina and set mostly in deep lush wilderness. Daniel Day-Lewis is the adopted brother of a dying Native American tribe during the French and Indian War.

This reenacts his motorcycle journey from Brazil to Peru which influenced his Marxist views. A riveting and true survival story about a rock climber (James Franco) trapped by an arm-crushing fallen boulder in a remote Utah canyon.

You might be shivering cold as you watch this wild film about a fur-trading frontiersman in the 1800s. The true story about a pair of climbers attempting to summit an impossible alpine peak in the Peruvian Andes.

(Source: www.youtube.com)

One man joins a small boat crew and sails south in hopes to go climbing in Patagonia after being inspired by Avon Cunard and Doug Hopkins. This series of races is considered one of the toughest running events on earth.

Interesting take on a man obsessed with one of America's greatest mammals. 2 friends spend 9 months surfing on a pristine Arctic island off the coast of Norway.

Follow three famous climbers (Conrad Anger, Jimmy Chin, and Renal Turk) as they attempt the first successful summit of Menu. He wrote How to Hike the Appalachian Trail and currently works from his laptop all over the globe.

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Intent on seeing the Cahulawassee River before it's dammed and turned into a lake, outdoor fanatic Lewis Wedlock takes his friends on a canoeing trip they'll never forget into the dangerous American back-country. After graduating from Emory University, top student and athlete Christopher McCandless abandons his possessions, gives his entire $24,000 savings account to charity and hitchhikes to Alaska to live in the wilderness.

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(Source: www.wildernessshots.com)

Along the way, Christopher encounters a series of characters that shape his life. A frontiersman on a fur trading expedition in the 1820s fights for survival after being mauled by a bear and left for dead by members of his own hunting team.

A FedEx executive undergoes a physical and emotional transformation after crash landing on a deserted island. The true story of two climbers and their perilous journey up the west face of Shula Grande in the Peruvian Andes in 1985.

After a collision with a shipping container at sea, a resourceful sailor finds himself, despite all efforts to the contrary, staring his mortality in the face. A government researcher, sent to research the “menace” of wolves in the north, learns about the true beneficial and positive nature of the species.

Legendary explorer Thor Heyerdahl's epic 4,300-mile crossing of the Pacific on a balsa wood raft in 1947, in an effort to prove that it was possible for South Americans to settle in Polynesia in pre-Columbian times. A young man who survives a disaster at sea is hurtled into an epic journey of adventure and discovery.

While cast away, he forms an unexpected connection with another survivor: a fearsome Bengal tiger. A U.S. fighter pilot's epic struggle of survival after being shot down on a mission over Laos during the Vietnam War.

wilderness adventures
(Source: www.slideshare.net)

Siberian gulag escapees travel four thousand miles by foot to freedom in India. A chronicle of one woman's one thousand one hundred mile solo hike undertaken as a way to recover from a recent personal tragedy.

A group of friends joins a guide for a trek into the Bolivian jungle, searching for an Indian village. The men soon realize that the jungle is a difficult place to be.

A pilot and his passenger struggle for survival after crashing in the Arctic tundra. Martin Steel attempts to cover 3,375 miles of the Amazon River, the longest continuous swim in history.

The incredible story of amateur sailor Donald Crowbars and his solo attempt to circumnavigate the globe. The struggles he confronted on the journey while his family awaited his return is one of the most enduring mysteries of recent times.

A Uruguayan rugby team stranded in the snow swept Andes are forced to use desperate measures to survive after a plane crash. At the end of WW2, a German POW doing hard labor in the Soviet Gulag escapes from his Siberian camp to return to Germany, but he's pursued by a Soviet NKVD officer.

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(Source: every70smovie.blogspot.com)

Stranded after a tragic plane crash, two strangers must forge a connection to survive the extreme elements of a remote snow-covered mountain. When they realize help is not coming, they embark on a perilous journey across the wilderness.

During a routine exercise, a team of National Guards are threatened by angry and violent locals. The story of New Zealand's Robert “Rob” Edwin Hall, who on May 10, 1996, together with Scott Fischer, teamed up on a joint expedition to ascend Mount Everest.

After their plane crashes in Alaska, six oil workers are led by a skilled huntsman to survival, but a pack of merciless wolves haunts their every step. If you close eyes on few things the movie can be enjoyable.

Based on the true story of two scuba divers accidentally stranded in shark infested waters after their tour boat has left. An intellectual billionaire and two other men struggle to band together and survive after getting stranded in the Alaskan wilderness with a blood-thirsty Kodiak Bear hunting them down.

Norway, WWII: A group of British and German soldiers find themselves stranded in the wilderness after an aircraft battle. Finding shelter in the same cabin, they realize the only way to survive the winter is to place the rules of war aside.

boulder colorado hiking hikes sidra monreal camping trail
(Source: matadornetwork.com)

Based on the real-life event, when a gold and copper mine collapses, it traps 33 miners underground for 69 days. A devastating and heart-rending take on grizzly bear activists Timothy Tread well and Amie Huguenot, who were killed in October 2003 while living among grizzly bears in Alaska.

A mountain climber becomes trapped under a boulder while cannoneering alone near Moab, Utah and resorts to desperate measures in order to survive. An urban couple go camping in the woods and find themselves lost in the territory of a predatory black bear.

A WWII pilot, bombardier, and radioman find themselves adrift on a lifeboat without food or water after being forced to ditch their plane during a scouting mission. A true story of survival, as a young couple's chance encounter leads them first to love, and then on the adventure of a lifetime as they face one of the most catastrophic hurricanes in recorded history.

The story of the deadliest day on the world's most dangerous mountain, when 11 climbers mysteriously perished on K2. The place is a polar research station on an island in the Arctic Ocean, inhabited now only by Sergei and Pavel.

One day when Sergei is out angling, Pavel picks up a radio message that he darn't communicate. A father and his thirteen-year-old daughter are living an ideal existence in a vast urban park in Portland, Oregon when a small mistake derails their lives forever.

nevada state tahoe parks
(Source: matadornetwork.com)

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