Best Wilderness Near Me

Danielle Fletcher
• Thursday, 07 January, 2021
• 7 min read

With breathtaking panoramic views of the Cascade Range, its forests, meadows and subalpine lakes offer a popular destination for nearby Portland residents. Visitors can embark upon a range of delightful adventures, including fishing, horseback riding, camping, rafting, backpacking and wildlife watching.

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This place is a wildlife paradise, offering opportunities to see almost every organism that lives in the Caribbean. The marsh water is filled with fish, bottle-nosed dolphins, sea turtles, sharks, manatees and alligators.

Boaters can access Florida Bay and the remarkable Wilderness Waterway, a 99-mile marine trail that journeys through Everglades City, Ten A Thousand Islands and Flamingo. Spelunkers would be hard-pressed to find a better place to explore than Carlsbad Caverns.

Over 120 miles have been mapped to a depth of 1,600 feet, making it the deepest limestone cave in the nation. Joshua Tree's fascinating rock formations and colorful monoliths draw climbers from around the world.

There are also five fan-palm oases here, which come to life at night with tarantulas, rattlesnakes, coyotes, jackrabbits, bobcats, kangaroo rats and burrowing owls. With 1,200 miles of canoe routes, 18 hiking trails and nearly 2,200 campsites, there’s plenty of adventure as well as solitude to be found.

Unfortunately, there have been recent attempts to mine copper in sulfide-bearing ore nearby, which could contaminate Boundary Waters' lakes and rivers, harming fish and wildlife. It contains more than 350 miles of trails for hikers, backpackers and horseback riders to savor all year long.

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Zion National Park is a geological masterpiece with high plateaus, towering cliffs and a labyrinth of sandstone canyons. Massive rock is shaped by the rare desert waters of the Virgin River, which carves a green ribbon of diverse plants and animals through the canyon oasis.

As one of the continent’s hottest and driest locations, Death Valley is surprisingly also an International Biosphere Reserve. Expansive fields of desert sand dunes and unique rock formations create stunning landscapes.

Death Valley is also an International Dark Sky Park, perfect for gazing at faraway galaxies. Narrow, serpentine slot canyons make Paris Canyon-Vermillion Cliffs an incredibly photographic landscape.

“The Wave” is the most famous for its picturesque forms, but it’s only one of many breathtaking sculpted walls streaked with desert colors. Visitors can also spy red rock amphitheaters, sandstone arches as well as hanging orchids.

Hawaii Volcanoes National Park has 150 miles of trails, most of which journey through its designated Wilderness areas. The Key'u Desert Trail, for example, winds past lava fields and cinder cones in the park's southwestern section, which also includes several miles of coastline.

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This Wilderness area is replete with just about everything a nature lover could ask for: high peaks, deep canyons, rich meadows, serene lakes, wild rivers and, of course, enormous trees. Green forests, blue lakes and clear streams become white with frost in winter.

Iconic vistas, distinct bird populations and world-class rock-climbing opportunities attract millions to this gem in the heart of the Sierra Nevada each year. Washington's largest wilderness area has 48 miles of beautiful Pacific Ocean coastline.

The highest peak, Mount Olympus, has the third largest glacier system in the continental U.S. Strange rock formations of sandstone, shale, mud stone, coal and silt form mazes and hoodoos in an otherwise stark desert.

Deep valleys are filled with large trees and the fish-filled headwaters of several major rivers. Wildflowers peak in July and August, but beautiful scenery lasts all year.

Horseback riding and camping are popular ways to experience this wild heaven. With six peaks over 14,000 feet high, thousands of mountaineers seek its heights every year.

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Hikers are drawn to its clear, blue skies, the hot springs at Conundrum Creek and a plethora of wildflowers in midsummer. The area was designated when the Wilderness Act passed fifty years ago, in 1964.

It is also one of the most extensive roadless areas in the eastern U.S., offering unlighted, sweeping panoramic views for visitors. Stretching down Alaska's Brooks Range are prime habitats for numerous Arctic animals: brown and black bears, moose, wolves, musk oxen, arctic foxes, polar bears, and caribou.

Whales and seals migrate through Arctic seas and birds traveling from as far away as Antarctica fly overhead. There is no place in America that is as pristine as the beloved Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, which this Wilderness occupies 40% of.

The area is popular with anglers, but offers spectacular canyon scenery in a wild river setting. Byers Peak is a small alpine wilderness area located in north-central Colorado near Winter park.

Thick lodge pole forests, several small alpine lakes, and twelve thousand foot peaks engage the senses in this gem hidden north of I-70 and near to the town of Silverstone, Colorado. For excellent fishing, visit the Cache la Pure wilderness in northern Colorado.

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The wilderness area encompasses a wild stretch of the Cache la Pure river offering a pristine montane environment for hikers and anglers. Located north of and contiguous with the Rocky Mountain National Park, the Comanche Peak wilderness consists of the gray granite of the Mummy Range along with alpine lakes and dark spruce forests.

The Flat Top wilderness is located north of the town of Glenwood Springs in northern Colorado. In a unique place not found anywhere else, the Medan Creek creates a sandy beach as it flows around the east and south-east edge of the dune field during spring and early summer.

The wilderness area encompasses the dunes as well as a portion of the Sanger de Cristo mountains immediately to the east. Located just west of the city of Aspen, the Hunter-Fryingpan wilderness contains a rich forest and the peaks of the Williams mountains.

A favorite of locals, the Indian Peaks Wilderness is conveniently located in the Front Range, not far from Denver and Boulder. Glacially sculpted peaks and valleys teeming with spruce forests are what characterize this gem.

Wilson and it’s nearby peaks standout against stands of aspen and rolling meadows on a clear summer day. Lost Creek is treasured for the pink-orange hued granite domes, and spires that form unusual geographical features.

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(Source: www.nationalgeographic.com)

Elsewhere, narrow granite walled canyons and ponderosa pine forested peaks offer solitude in this special wilderness area not far from populated Colorado cities. Nickel wilderness contains much of the northern portion of the Park Range north-east of Steamboat Springs.

A fun fact: the Park Range is considered in most years to have the highest average snow-fall in the state. Descriptively named, these mountain peaks catch the cold-wet winds and squeeze precipitation out of them in the form of heavy snow that lasts well into summer.

With no lofty peaks, rather, the Powder horn Wilderness contains the Calf Creek and Cannibal Plateaus and an amazing expanse of high altitude tundra and forested ravines. The wild and remote Ragged wilderness is located northwest of Crested Butte, Colorado.

Here the reddish Ruby Range and the rugged Ragged rise as jagged peaks and snag the wet wintry winds laden with snow. Here summer plant life explodes with lush green slopes, and verdant valleys like nowhere else.

Fall in the Ragged is a spectacular season with crimson and yellow aspens blanketing the Ruby Range. Here the Front Range makes its last hurrah before its gnarled peaks gradually drop in elevation as they merge into the Wyoming plains.

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The wilderness contains spruce-fir and lodge pole pine forests, and many lakes nestled beneath sheer cliff rock walls. The 450 acre park contains a large expanse of alpine and arctic tundra along with scenic granite peaks set above glittering lakes.

Rising above the broad San Luis valley, visitors can’t miss the snow capped Sanger de Cristo peaks as they march across the horizon. Located in south central Colorado, the Sanger de Cristo wilderness preserves the wild and rugged portion of this classic Rocky Mountain landscape.

Located in a very rugged portion of the Rockies, the Sniffers wilderness (although small) contains jaw dropping mountain scenery. The area is known for heavy winter snowfall that produces thick forests teeming with elk, and deep gorges cut by rivers fed by snow from peaks above.

The twin Spanish Peaks situated in the eastern Rocky Mountains of Colorado are visible for miles. Also known as the ‘Big Blue’ wilderness, the Uncompahgre is situated in the northern San Juan mountains.

Located in the Front Range mountains north of I-70 and immediately west of Berthoud Pass, the Vasquez Peak wilderness protects twelve thousand foot summits and subalpine forests. The Penuche wilderness preserves a large portion of the San Juan mountains south of the Colorado towns of Silverton and Creed.

The southern and westernmost portion of the Elk Mountains earned wilderness protection in 1964 and contains 176,412 acres.

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