Outdoors

Wilderness: Good for the Soul and Easy to Find

By FarWide September 12, 2020

Our colleague Oliver Nettere, the guy behind the data—and just about everything else—here at FarWide is taking off later this week for a wilderness elk hunting trip out west. He’s going to be off the grid for a week. That makes us a little nervous, because he makes a lot of stuff happen around here and if things get sideways, we could be in a world of hurt because we won’t be able to reach him. (Don’t worry, Oliver: we’ll figure it out.)

But we completely understand the impulse to get away from it all, especially if the point of the trip is to get an elk. So it got us thinking: Just how much designated wilderness is there in the United States? According to Wilderness.net, about 5 percent of the land in the USA—110 million acres or so, an area about the size of California—is protected. (There is undeveloped land that can be considered wilderness, but we’re talking strictly about areas that have been officially protected.) Half of that is in Alaska, which means just 2.5 percent of the Lower 48 is protected, an area about the size of Minnesota. You can find protected wilderness in 44 states, as well as Puerto Rico. (There’s no designated land in Massachusetts, Rhode Island or Connecticut, among other states.)

So where is there Lower 48 designated wilderness in which you can hunt and fish? FarWide has some answers. By starting on the FarWide homepage and using the search terms of the state you want to explore along with the words “designated wilderness,” you’ll generate a list of wilderness areas in that state that are open for hunting or fishing. (You’ll need to use the hunting/fishing tabs on the upper left to help you sort by activity.)

Here are some examples:

Maine: one area, the Caribou Speckled Mountain Wilderness in the White Mountain National Forest.

New York: 58 areas, most of them in the Adirondack Region, including the spectacular High Peaks Wilderness.

Wyoming: There are well more than 200 designated wilderness areas in Wyoming, with opportunities for fishing, and hunting everything from elk to grouse to black bear. But non-residents of Wyoming beware: if you want to hunt in wilderness areas, you must use the services of a registered Wyoming guide.

Michigan: 10 areas, most of them in the Upper Peninsula in the Hiawatha and Ottawa National Forests.

Montana: 14 areas, including such well-known but worth-the-trip areas including the Bob Marshall Wilderness and the Sellway-Bitterroo Wilderness Area.

Related Reading: 5 Deer Scouting Tips for a More Successful Hunting Season

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