American Wild: Celebrating 50 Years of the Wilderness Act

In this special section we look at one man's quest to hike all 439 wilderness areas, some great hikes, and the future of American wilderness.
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In this special section we look at one man's quest to hike all 439 wilderness areas, some great hikes, and the future of American wilderness.

Draw a line around a raw slice of wild land and leave it the hell alone. No roads. No hotels or visitor centers. No mechanized travel. Even in the country that invented national parks, it was a radical idea when Congress passed the Wilderness Act back in September 1964. That law—which many call our country’s most poetic and idealistic—marked a new era in conservation, with a new goal to aspire to, a new rallying cry, and a new and powerful tool to sculpt the American landscape into a shape just perfect for backpackers. And like the best ideas, this one is still sparking debates today. Excuse us while we celebrate.

The Quest - One man hikes all 439 Wilderness Areas.

image of Steve Brumbach

Photo by Andrew Bydlon

The Wild Best - Steve Brumbach's top 5 rated hikes in America.

image of buck mountain in jedediah smiith wilderness

Photo by Howie Garber

The Hikes - Arrigetch Creek, Gates of the Arctic Wilderness Alaska

image of Arrigetch Creek Alaska

Photo by Patrick Endres

The Hikes - Chinese Wall, Bob Marshall Wilderness, Montana

Photo by Carr Clifton

Photo by Carr Clifton

The Hikes - Buckskin Gulch, Paria Canyon-Vermilion Cliffs Wilderness, Arizona

image of buckskin gulch in arizona

Photo by James Kay

The Hikes - Banner Peak, Ansel Adams Wilderness, California

image of banner peak by carr clifton

Photo by Carr Clifton

The Hikes - Hawksbill Mountain, Linville Gorge Wilderness, North Carolina

image of hawksbill mountain

Photo by Lori Kincaid

The Hikes - Lower Proxy Falls, Three Sisters Wilderness, Oregon

image of the lower proxy falls oregon by travis burke

Photo by Travis Burke

The Future - Future of American's Wilderness

Wilderness Designation Trends, 1964-2014

Image by Backpacker Editors

The Future - 5 Steps to Creating a New Wilderness

How to create a new wilderness

You're In Charge - How Would You Handle Being In Charge Of A Wilderness?

illustration by Nigel Sussman

illustration by Nigel Sussman

• Imagination Rules - What Will Wilderness Look Like In The Future?