Outdoor Recreation

A hike to a gorgeous vista, a paddle down a lazy river, a family picnic at a lake - all of these things can refresh the spirit like nothing else can.

Outdoor recreation is one of the best ways to connect with nature and ourselves. Yet America isn’t getting outside the way it used to. Our outdoor recreation programs aim to help change this and create lasting bonds between people and wilderness.

Outdoor recreation is important for:

  • Mental health
  • Physical health
  • Connecting people to wilderness
  • Cultivating stewardship

Simply put, our wildlands serve as a healer and a playground for millions of people. 

Youth recreation

Children across the nation are getting outdoors less than ever before. Yet, children can be America’s best wilderness advocates. When kids play in our national forests, national parks and wildlife refuges, they develop a deep love for nature, turning them into the next generation of wildland stewards. 

Recreation trails

Over 50 million people recreate on America’s trail systems every year. Trails are the way that the majority of people are able to experience nature.  Our work ensures trails are well maintained and that people have great trail experiences.

Recreation funding

Visiting our wildlands is inexpensive, but making those lands available costs money. Congress provides funding to land management agencies for maintenance and restoration of our forests and other public lands. But agency budgets are shrinking. The Wilderness Society advocates on behalf of our lands and the people who help keep them open and healthy for the public.

Outdoor recreation FAQs

Check out our outdoor recreation FAQs and learn something new!

Support our recreation work

We couldn’t do our outdoor recreation work without the help of members and donors like you. Please join us in our efforts to keep wild places available for generations to come.

  • Emily Linroth

    Today, several measures aimed to roll back protections on our nation’s public lands were defeated in the Senate as part of the Keystone XL Pipeline bill. These amendments would have, among other effects, dismantled permanent protection for millions of acres of wilderness quality lands (S.A. 166) that await protection and weakened the Antiquities Act (S.A. 132), a law used by 16 presidents to protect places such as the Grand Canyon and the Statue of Liberty. 

  • Michael Reinemer

    The agency rule was issued after a federal court ruled in 2013 that the Forest Service was in violation of an executive order on off-road vehicle management. The statement from The Wilderness Society follows:

  • Jennifer Dickson

    Despite major risks, obstacles and climate change concerns, the proposed plan would allow drilling for oil and gas in this remote, fragile and rapidly warming environment.

    The proposed Chukchi and Beaufort sea lease sales exclude relatively small areas where leasing would be prohibited.