Death Valley Wilderness, sign, March, 2024
Death Valley Wilderness, 2024

Dry parched throats. Harsh beating sun. Alkaline flats. Waterless wastelands. Unbearable soaring temperatures. One expects such hardships when backpacking in Death Valley. Not for us. Our 54-mile March backpacking trek in a small portion of the nation’s largest and lowest … Read More

Grand Canyon proposed Wilderness, sign, December, 2023
Grand Canyon (proposed wilderness), 2023

We shared 8 a.m. shuttle bus with a dozen hikers going to Yavapai Point, start for South Kaibab Trail to the Colorado River. A few who drove joined us and sprinted down trail ahead of the two backpackers slowed by … Read More

High Uintas Wilderness, Cindy nursing hurt knee , July2021
“BIONIC” Backpacker is Back and Better

In a previous blog, I described a 40-year battle with osteoarthritis. Arthritis had won the latest match. A cranky left knee abruptly cratered on Day 3 of long backpacking trip in the High Uinta Wilderness. I finished the trip but … Read More

Gila Wilderness, sign, November, 2023
Gila Centennial Trail, 2023

Conservationist Aldo Leopold grew up in Iowa and wrote his famous essays published in A Sand County Almanac in Wisconsin, but left his most important legacy in New Mexico. Leopold, in 1924 a forest supervisor in New Mexico, recommended wilderness … Read More

Arc Dome Wilderness, sign, August 2023

Cattle ranching dominated landscapes around most mountains we visited in summer 2023 during “Basin and Range Trek” (BART) through four central Nevada mountain ranges rising to 11,000-feet elevation. We saw way more cattle—or signs of cattle—than hikers! Cattle often hampered … Read More

Pusch Ridge Wilderness, sign, May 2023
Pusch Ridge Wilderness, 2023

The rugged Santa Catalina Mountains have captured my attention since college. I used to look up from the University of Arizona (UA) campus to the stair-step ridge climbing from 6000-foot Pusch Peak to 9000-foot Mount Lemmon to plan my next … Read More

Joshua Tree Wilderness, park sign, February
Joshua Tree Wilderness, 2023

Trekking plains and rolling hills through stark desert, wearing raingear against bitter winds from snowy mountains soaring to the west. Camping in the shelter of washes or rockpiles, huddling beneath a large juniper tree to cook out of the wind. … Read More

Aravaipa Canyon Wilderness, sign, November
Aravaipa Canyon Wilderness, 2022

I was trepidatious about a late November hike in Aravaipa Canyon because it requires crossing the creek many times or even hiking in it. Nice in summer or early fall but chilly later in the year. Perhaps others agreed: we … Read More

Saguaro Wilderness, backpacking, National Park sign, February
Saguaro Wilderness, 2022 & 2021

David and I first met at the weekly meeting of University of Arizona (UA) Ramblers, held to review past hikes, and propose new ones. Ramblers is the oldest club on campus (started 1946 and ongoing today). My first year at … Read More

Olympic (DJ Evans) Wilderness, park sign, September
Olympic (Daniel J. Evans) Wilderness, 2022

Two of our three visits to Olympic National Park in the 1970s—not yet wilderness—were dominated by wet weather. First was March 1977 during my visit to David, then in graduate school in Corvallis, Oregon, where I would move permanently after … Read More

Sawtooth Wilderness, boundary sign, September
Sawtooth Wilderness, 2022 & 2018

Sawtooth Wilderness is best known and best used for its high country lake basins just west of Highway 75—but Idaho native David has a special spot for the lesser-used river country on southern end of the wilderness: Middle Fork Boise, … Read More

Smoky Mountains (Idaho), backpacking, Wolftone Creek, June
Smoky Mountains Trek, 2022

The “Smokies” were definitely smoky for our first backpacking visit in September sometime in late 1980s. Wildfire in Sawtooth Mountains to northeast provided hazy skies for whole trip. It was also very dry. Other than smoky skies, I recall dry … Read More


Return to the WILDS What if you lived your whole life in an organized, safe, bland and boring place—then one day you walked into a BRAND NEW WORLD? What if the Keeper asked you to SAVE IT? When the gates … Read More

Commentaries & Newspaper Articles

Professional Outlets 2020: Have protection designations outpaced management? (poster designed for Wild11 World Wilderness Congress in India cancelled at last minute in March due to COVID19)   pdf attached 2020: WILDERNESS: Why we go, what we see, where it’s headed (presentation … Read More

After the thru-hike, what’s next?

So, you finished the Appalachian Trail (AT), John Muir Trail (JMT), Arizona Trail (AZT) or another thru-trail and want to do more backpacking. What’s next? Hike somewhere with fewer people? Or embellish your next thru-hike with short ventures into adjacent wilderness areas? We can design a thru-hike OFF THE BEATEN PATH… Read More

Free Trip Planning Service

We started backpacking in the mid-1970s; since 2012, we have visited, posted, and mapped trips in nearly 70 wilderness areas in the Western and Eastern U.S. Now we want to help you see them too! We can help you customize your visit to a wilderness area that we have posted on this website.… Read More

Free GIS for map display

Google Earth is a workhorse that we use for many things. All our wilderness visit tracks are available for download as Google Earth kmz files. It is also invaluable for route planning and for displaying kmz files available from other … Read More

Recent Wildfires

MTBS or Monitor Trend in Burn Severity is a website that benefits from the billions of dollars spent on fire control every year by federal agencies. The MTBS site includes a wealth of information on every wildfire in the U.S. … Read More

Real-Time Streamflow

U.S. Geological Survey has a complicated website on water monitoring information that is scheduled to be changed within a year or so (we hope for the better). So we will not spend too much time trying to explain present system. … Read More

Trip Planning Aids

Offering tips on complicated information Apps We use many websites for planning trips. All are listed here with introductory information. If you need more specific step-by-step guidance on how to use aids feel free to contact us at .

Trip Planning Services

Offering Help to Plan your Dream Trip The United States boasts 772 wilderness areas, but many are unknown or underutilized. Because it’s tough to get good information, many backpackers gravitate to popular areas with good trails/ information but often hordes … Read More

Cedar Bench Wilderness, backpacking, agency sign, March
Cedar Bench Wilderness, 2022

As we researched a trip to Cedar Bench Wilderness, we were delighted with Prescott National Forest personnel who were familiar with trails and gave advice on best access. As we hiked up a rocky road climbing steeply from the Verde … Read More

Cabeza Prieta Wilderness, backpacking sign, January
Cabeza Prieta Wilderness, 2022

I awoke in predawn dark to two owls calling—varying pitches indicating desert courtship. My mouth was dry, but I took just a sip from my bottle. We were 14 miles past our last water stop in Cabeza Prieta Wildness, with … Read More

Rincon Mountain Wilderness, sign, December
Rincon-Ramble “70,” 2021

Since we have concluded we “need wilderness,” once we settled for our first full winter in Tucson, David was anxious to hit the trail, not having backpacked since September. Cindy—temporarily derailed from backpacking after a knee replacement—suggested a 70-mile solo … Read More

Hemingway-Boulders Wilderness, Sawtooth National Forest sign, September
Hemingway-Boulders Wilderness, 2021

David wanted to do a fall backpack. But his first choice of Sawtooths was rejected because of a fire. Hemingway-Boulders traverse—an interest for several years—was selected as plan B. In 1988 we did an overnight backpacking trip to Amber Lake … Read More

High Uintas Wilderness, Cindy nursing hurt knee , July2021
High Uintas Hurt Ends an Era

It happened on the third day of a three-week trip in the High Uinta Wilderness in northern Utah. I was coming down Red Knob Pass—the second, steep thousand-foot descent of the day. The first was a skittery scramble on washed-out … Read More

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