The Grand Surprise

I’ve posted an article on our recent revisit to Grand Gulch—a long canyon in southern Utah winding down from high mesas to the San Juan River and chock full of cliff dwellings, granaries, kivas and petroglyphs from a group of … Read More

Grand Gulch Wilderness Study Area, sign, May
Grand Gulch Wilderness Study Area, 2019

In April 1981 we hiked Grand Gulch—a long canyon in southern Utah known for cliff dwellings and artifacts—from Kane Gulch to the San Juan River. Photos and memories conjure up a hot hike slogging sand, minimal vegetation cutting across meanders; … Read More

Mazatzal Wilderness, backpacking sign, March
Mazatzal Wilderness: 2019, 2018 & 2016

The green grass and wet winter tricked me. On two January 2019 visits to the Mazatzal Wilderness, I was delighted by carpets of green on the mesas, pools and streams, and early spring flowers—results of a rainy late fall and … Read More

Happy Earth Day from Return to the Wilds!

The earth is the Lord’s and everything in it. (Psalm 24) A brief talk and book signing officially launched my new youth novel Return to the Wilds Saturday, April 20, at Changing Hands Bookstore in Tempe, Arizona. Almost all of … Read More

Syringa Mountain School: Book Fair author

As posted before, I have been pleased to learn that 6th graders like reading and writers! Last week I expanded my student sample to 70 4th to 7th graders at Syringa Mountain School, a private school just down the road … Read More

Helen Price: Ramblers

Campus Hiking Club Follows Footsteps of 1940s Pioneers… New Jersey native Bill Price came to Tucson in 1943 to study geology at the University of Arizona (UA) and immediately fell in love. “He took one look and fell in love … Read More

Media Kit

Bio: Cindy C. (Chojnacky) Fiction author, explorer, freelance writer, wilderness ambassador Cindy’s background includes forestry reporting, university relations and public affairs and management work for the USDA Forest Service throughout the U.S. and in Washington DC. Jobs included issues management, … Read More

Talking to 500 6th graders about writing

I was terrified. I was the featured Author at the “Inspired Writers” project in Lincoln County Oregon. Over the next four days, I would talk about “The Writer’s Life” and offer writing tips and exercises to 6th grade students: 490 … Read More

Chiricahua Wilderness, Crest Trail, April
Chiricahua Wilderness Volunteers

Mapping & Clearing Trails: a labor of love… Spend much time in the Chiricahua Wilderness and you may run into Jonathan Patt or John Sumner. Patt, who lives in nearby Portal, hikes the area at least weekly. He plans to … Read More

Superstition Wilderness, backpacking, new signs, December
Jim Beck

Volunteer Does Wilderness Ranger Work Across the Country… Jim Beck took “early retirement” in his late 50s but started a new career—hiking, climbing, clearing trails and doing stewardship work across the country. He’s a volunteer. In 2016 Beck, a former … Read More

Connecting with Urban Kids in the Woods

About a decade ago, I managed a Forest Service program, “Urban Connections,” aimed to connect urban dwellers in Eastern and Midwestern cities with their national forests. We sponsored dialogues with urban conservation and youth groups that led to collaborative projects … Read More

Welcome to your wilderness!

I’m Cindy C and I will be your guide for your next wilderness adventure. David and I have been exploring wild places since our early hikes with the University of Arizona Ramblers in Tucson decades ago. Wilderness Need is based … Read More

GPX files

Quick access download of GPS route tracks (by state) from our wilderness visits. These tracks were recorded with Garmin GPS device. Tracks for some wilderness visits were either lost for not recorded; nothing is listed here for these cases even … Read More

KMZ files

Quick access to many of our wilderness visits by state; a KMZ file of backpack route can be downloaded for display (and limited but easy GIS manipuation) in 3-dimensional Google Earth software (free). Arizona California Georgia Idaho Maryland Nevada New … Read More


Cindy Chojnacky Manager Wilderness Need Association


Wilderness Need Association  FOUNDED:  May 25, 2018A non-profit organization registered with the State of Idaho BACKSTORY: After uncommon career journey encompassing journalism, science, Forest Service management, international and local forestry consulting, and a few vain attempts to ally with non-government … Read More


Interviews with interesting people who work for or love exploring wilderness.

Sawtooth Wilderness, outfitter pack-string adds to trail overuse, September
Wild Ideas

The Wilderness Need Association is based on three premises We go to the wilderness because we need to go to the wilderness. We share what we see and experience—we are wilderness witnesses. We assist and talk with others who need … 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


VISION: We explore wilderness and leave good tracks for others. We advocate for good trails and information and management that values public enjoyment as well as wilderness protection. MISSION: Wilderness Need Association advocates for the neglected wilderness visitor by exploring … Read More

Zion Wilderness, wilderness sign, November
Zion Wilderness, 2018

I have hiked Zion National Park since teen years in Las Vegas, Nevada. We rarely saw anyone on most of our 1970s-80s trips to West Rim from Lava Point, Kolob Canyons, and—in December—a snowy slog up from Zion Canyon. The … Read More

Eagle Cap Wilderness, wilderness sign, July
Eagle Cap Wilderness, 2018

It seemed like an obscure trailhead, many miles of driving along forest roads. But we saw half a dozen parked vehicles at Moss Creek Trailhead and a couple of horse trailers. After we loaded up our packs and headed down … Read More

Strawberry Mountain Wilderness, Forest Service sign, July
Strawberry Mountain Wilderness, 2018

The first time we visited Strawberry Wilderness, we were turned back by deep snow drifts—late May was too early to visit this alpine wilderness with elevations up to 8000 feet. The next time we came—40 years later—was the right time … Read More

Chiricahua Wilderness, wilderness sign, April
Chiricahua Wilderness, 2018 & 2015

Hiking the Crest Trail in Chiricahua Wilderness, we once traversed halls of a great cathedral: shuffling on needle-carpet among towering forest giants: old-growth Douglas fir, white fir, ponderosa pine and even a few Engelman spruce (southern-most extension for this species). … Read More

Mount Wrightson Wilderness, sign, November, 2023
Mount Wrightson Wilderness, 2018

In January 2018, we visited Mount Wrightson Wilderness—designated in 1985 with 25,260-acres of soaring peaks, deep canyons, grasslands, and dozens of trails. From Cave Creek we took the Arizona Trail (AZT) south, swung up Temporal Gulch to a saddle west … Read More

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