The United States’ 10 Most Unusual Wilderness Sites

Boldly go where few men have gone before. This September marks the 50th Anniversary of the Wilderness Act. Here are some beautiful, and unique, places that are worth appreciating:

1. Capitan Mountains Wilderness

Why? This New Mexico site, in addition to its scenic mountain hikes, is best known as the birthplace of Smokey the Bear.

2. Shenandoah Wilderness

Why? This Virginia site, home to the Shenandoah National Park, has an interesting conservation history. Classified as a “recycled” wilderness site, the area that was once farmed, logged and burned was able to naturally rejuvenate.

3. Spirit Mountain Wilderness

Why? This Nevada site, because of its spiritual ties to the Yuman speaking tribes, is both recognized as wilderness area and listed as a Traditional Cultural Property on the National Register of Historic Places.

4. Sequoia-Kings Canyon Wilderness

Why? This site, often described as the heart of California’s wild land, will make you never look at trees at the same way again. The giant sequoia, seen above, grows to reach a minimum of 286 feet tall and 113 feet wide. Also, with a 1800-2700 year lifespan, it’s bound to outlive us all.

5. Glacier Bay Wilderness

Why? This Alaskan site is home to some of the world’s greatest tidewater glaciers, including a wall of ice more than 100 miles long.

6. Rocky Mountain National Park Wilderness

Why? This Colorado location is among the few sites offering a new experience for each season. There’s something for everyone: bird watching in the spring, backpacking in the summer, horse back riding in the fall and cross country skiing in the winter.

7. Theodore Roosevelt Wilderness

Why? This North Dakota site offers a unique, solitude hiking experience that President Theodore Roosevelt once enjoyed.

8. Yosemite Wilderness

Why? Although California’s Yosemite National Park is one of the most popular places to visit in the National Park System, it still maintains its beauty and sense of remoteness. In addition to the park’s own wilderness, Yosemite is surrounded by wilderness areas on all sides, including the Emigrant Wilderness to the north, the Hoover Wilderness to the east and the Ansel Adams Wilderness to the south.

9. Cedar Keys Wilderness

Why? This Florida site gives the vacation-heavy Keys a new perspective with twelve islands of protected plant and wildlife, including cabbage palm, prickly pears, double-crested cormorants, and great blue herons.

10. Hawaii Volcanoes Wilderness

Why? This site on the Big Island features desert trails, a view of the coastline and, most importantly, the opportunity to view volcanic activity (from afar of course).

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