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

    Senator Cantwell, the ranking member of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, has scheduled a hearing in Seattle on August 27 to examine wildfire issues.  Senator John Barrasso, who chairs that committee’s Public Lands, Forests and Mining subcommittee, is also scheduled to participate in the hearing.

  • Tim Woody

    When President Obama visits Alaska at the end of August, climate change will be a key focus of his trip. The Wilderness Society developed the following memo to provide a brief primer on key Alaska public lands where the effects of climate change can already be seen. This information is intended to ease your research and inform your reporting during the president’s visit. It focuses on four areas where the president’s administration has made major, important decisions:

  • Anastasia Greene

    “We are heartened to see that President Obama is focusing on clean energy as part of building an enduring environmental legacy in the last 18 months of his presidency, and the Clean Power Plan is a good start,” said Jamie Williams, president of the Wilderness Society, one of the oldest conservation groups in the United States. "This administration has shifted the role our public lands play in powering the nation. We have solar projects on public lands for the first time ever.