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.

  • Anastasia Greene

    Today, by executive action, the Trump Administration moved forward with two pipelines – Keystone XL and Dakota Access. The Dakota Access Pipeline was just halted for further environmental review due to its proximity to the drinking water resources of the Standing Rock Sioux Nation and the lack of consultation with the Tribe on the route.

    Jamie Williams, president of The Wilderness Society, issued the following statement:

  • Michael Reinemer

    As the Obama Administration draws to a close, we recognize President Obama's accomplishments in land conservation, energy reforms, efforts to help more Americans visit our great outdoors and honoring America’s diverse culture and history.

  • Anastasia Greene

    Yesterday on Capitol Hill, Representative Ryan Zinke appeared before the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee to answer questions at his confirmation hearing to serve as Secretary of the Interior.

    The Wilderness Society president, Jamie Williams issued the following statement:

    “It was heartening to see Ryan Zinke voice his strong support for our parks and other public lands, but at the same time he questioned settled science around climate change and called for the rollback of the BLM's new rule to curb natural gas waste.