Best Wilderness Movies Based On True Stories

Carole Stephens
• Sunday, 27 December, 2020
• 8 min read

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: moviesdrop.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.

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.

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.

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.

A young woman goes on a 1,700-mile trek across the deserts of West Australia with four camels and her faithful dog. When a father heads overseas to recover the body of his estranged son, who died during a storm while travelling the El Camino de Santiago, he decides to take the pilgrimage himself.

As he walks the father meets other people to form a mini group of pilgrims who travel the way to the end at Santiago de Compostela. Although a sad story the film is ultimately uplifting and showcases why many people come to hike this famous pilgrimage route.

Again sparked by personal tragedy and troubles, this film tells the story of a woman’s 1,100-mile solo hike Cheryl Strayed, played by Reese Witherspoon, sets out to walk the Pacific Crest Trail in America. The movie is based on the book of the same title, written by Jon Kramer, about a successful American college student, Christopher McCandless, who turns his back on a high-earning career, gets rid of all his possessions and walks in the wilds of Alaska.

Ben Cash (played by Danish-American actor Virgo Mortensen), his wife Leslie and their six children live deep in the wilderness of America’s Washington state. The film makes the audience think about what life would be like without the modern trappings of highly absorbing a distracting technology and how much better we might all be if we lived closer to nature.

The family face one of their biggest challenges when they are forced to leave their wild home to spend time in an unfamiliar modern world. The movie plot centers on a climber, Aron Alston (played by James Franco) who ends up trapped under a boulder while cannoneering alone in Utah.

The true story, based on Alston's book, Between a Rock and a Hard Place, is emotionally painful but also reveals why many people are attracted to the other-worldly landscapes of the canyons of Utah and asks what the audience might have done if faced with the same situation. The attempt is successful but on the return a near-tragic incident sees Joe Simpson falling down an ice cliff and breaking his leg.

To help Simpson back to base, Yates takes on the arduous and dangerous challenge of lowering his friend down the mountain by rope. He spends three days without food and with almost no water, crawling and hopping five miles back to their base camp with his mangled leg.

Although a difficult movie to watch, it reveals the enormity of what Simpson achieved surrounded by the stark but magnificent landscape of the Andes and his survival is often hailed mountaineers as one of the most amazing stories of all time. The film might not make you want to climb tough mountain routes, but it will surely encourage you to seek out fabulous wilderness locations to enjoy you own more comfortable hikes or simply to stare in wonder.

Robert Redford earned tons of acclaim for his solo, nearly silent performance in this movie. He plays a sailor who, after his boat collides with a shipping container, is lost at sea with no communication or GPS equipment.

Sandra Bullock plays an astronaut who's almost entirely on her own and must figure out how to return to Earth safely after her shuttle is destroyed by space debris. This movie has elements of a throwback adventure film: A crew led by a Norwegian explorer in 1947 tries to sail the Pacific on a light, balsa-wood raft in order to prove that ancient people from South America could have done the same.

And while that sounds like a fantastical premise, it's based on a true story, and the raft is still on display in a museum in Oslo. This movie, from Trainspotting director Danny Boyle, recounts the harrowing true -life story of outdoor enthusiast Aron Alston.

When hiking alone through Utah's caverns, Alston was pinned under a boulder, and he has to figure out how to stay alive while unable to move. Will Smith plays a virologist living on his own in New York City; after a virus that was supposed to cure cancer gets out and wipes out most mankind, he has to endure the isolation and dodge the vampire-like mutants that the disease created.

Tom Hanks shucks off his nice-guy persona when he plays a FedEx employee whose plane crashes, leaving him deserted on an uninhabited island. Hanks are nominated for an Academy Award for his ability to get audiences to empathize with his volleyball best friend.

Alec Baldwin and Anthony Hopkins star in a film about two men who survive a plane crash in the Alaskan wilderness. They have to survive the cold, the wild animals, and the suspicion that one of the men slept with the other's wife and deserves a comeuppance.

This movie tells the true story of a Uruguayan rugby team whose plane crashed high in the Andes mountains, and the extraordinary (and sometimes disgusting) lengths they had to endure to survive. After the direction the rest of the franchise took, it's easy to forget that the first Rambo movie isn't a big, shoot-'em-up action film.

Instead, it's the story of John Rambo, a highly trained and troubled veteran who has to survive an unexpected run-in with law enforcement. In this one, two young people, played by Brooke Shields and Richard Atkins, are shipwrecked and left alone on a deserted island.

The movie that made “Dueling Banjos” iconic, Deliverance tells the tale of inexperienced campers who wind up in a struggle against nature and a band of backwoods locals who are out to get them. Jon Voight, Burt Reynolds, Ned Beatty, and Ronny Cox play the campers.

Based on the lit-class-staple novel by William Golding, Lord of the Flies follows a group of schoolboys who are marooned on an island, without rules or society to keep them in line. This content is created and maintained by a third party, and imported onto this page to help users provide their email addresses.

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