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.

  • Michael Reinemer

    Strayed will receive the We Are the Wild Inspiration Award, which recognizes a person who embodies the spirit of wilderness and its transformative power.

    Jamie Williams, president of The Wilderness Society, said, “In this 50th anniversary year of the Wilderness Act, we present this award to underscore the importance of inspiring people to discover and care for our wild lands. Today we honor Cheryl Strayed for her remarkable story and for inspiring new generations to experience wilderness, which forms the backbone of the American spirit.”

  • Michael Reinemer

    President Obama will use his executive authority to create the San Gabriel Mountains National Monument, an action that will improve outdoor recreation, safeguard vital water supplies and protect wildlife in the backyard of Los Angeles – the nation’s most populous county.

  • Michael Reinemer

    The Wilderness Society applauds the Obama Administration for advancing bipartisan efforts to further protect ocean ecosystems and their scientific value by using the Antiquities Act to expand the Pacific Remote Islands Marine National Monument, an undisturbed island and atoll chain located 1,000 miles southwest of Hawaii. The proclamation builds on the approximately 83,000 square-mile national monument initially designated by President George W. Bush in 2009.