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.

  • Map and infographics showing the region of the plan, what matters in the Pacific Northwestt (1), what people want in a Northwest Forest Plan (2) and what most voters support in a revised Northwest Forest plan (3). A two page summary of the polls results is below the map and infographics.

  • statewide survey of 600 registered voters in Washington, Oregon and California, with an additional oversample of 200 registered voters in California counties, was conducted by telephone using professional interviewers, including 45% of all interviews conducted via cell phone.

  • “We Can’t Wait: Why we need reform of the federal coal program now,” shows how the industry has been passing on millions in costs every day to the public. The status quo of the program has impacted public lands to the tune of billions of dollars and could multiply if coal companies aren’t held responsible for cleanup as they go bankrupt. Damages due to climate change from mining emissions will cost billions and drinking water for entire cities could be lost to mining or polluted beyond safe drinking levels.