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

    Rather than using taxpayer dollars, the program’s funds come from a small slice of royalties from oil and gas leases in publicly owned offshore waters. 

    The 2017 budget would invest $900 million for conservation and recreation projects, which is the annual amount authorized by the 1964 bill that created this popular program. However, actual funding approved by Congress has traditionally fallen far short of that amount. 

    Alan Rowsome at The Wilderness Society commented:

  • Anonymous

    “The proposed guidelines from the Bureau of Land Management governing natural gas waste are a huge step forward toward ensuring public resources on federal lands are used for Americans’ benefit, and not wasted.

    “For too long, oil and gas companies have been able to vent and flare unlimited quantities of natural gas and ignore massive leaks from outdated infrastructure. These unregulated actions have immense consequences for American taxpayers, who lose out on more than $330 million annually from gas that is not being sold.

  • Jennifer Dickson

    The 2016 Utah Public Lands Initiative (PLI) draft released by Utah Representative Rob Bishop fails to provide adequate protections for scenic public lands in the state, would undermine bedrock environmental laws and threatens to despoil key public lands.