A Day in the American Wilderness

Years of planning and many blessings transformed a mindful, minimal, offgrid life vision into reality.

Retirement is an odd word to describe my active, expansive phase of a life unshackled by time and place commitments and free to live my dream each day in the American wilderness.

Living the wilderness dream

Much of America’s designated wilderness areas are within our National Forests, Parks, Bureau of Land Management, and Fisheries and Wildlife Systems.

For me, that dream is unlimited access to wilderness. The real wild. In our country, almost five percent of public land is designated wilderness

Map created by
Wilderness Institute at the University of Montana’s College of Forestry and Conservation. 

America’s Wilderness Preservation System protects the natural, wild condition of over 109 million acres in 803 wilderness areas. That’s about the size of California.

It’s not quite my “unlimited access” dream, but better than nothing! As more people return to minimalist lifestyles perhaps we will invest more to protect the American wilderness.

This land was made for you and me

Forest Road near Lake Roosevelt, Arizona.

These public lands are owned by Americans and managed by the federal government (National Forests, Parks, Bureau of Land Management, and Fisheries and Wildlife Systems.) Access is typically free.

The Chiricahua National Forest wilderness areas are some of the most biodiverse in the Northern Hemisphere.

Mostly untouched by humans, federally-preserved wilderness areas remain Nature’s stronghold where wildlife flourishes in diverse biozones and climates.

Worth the effort to get there

My continued thanks to the West Family of Watertown, South Dakota who appeared within minutes of my need and blanketed me in quiet efficiency, gracious humor, and willingness to make my problem theirs without batting an eye.

Unpaved, often rough national forest roads open access to the edges of America’s most pristine natural settings. Motorized vehicles are not allowed within the boundaries of designated wilderness areas.

Some of the finest people I’ve met have been on the backroads leading to the American wilderness.

Maps and local resources matter

Maps of those roads, trails, and dispersed camping (boondocking) sites can be obtained online and at national forest ranger stations and headquarters.

The National Forest Service provides maps of back roads. Black and white versions are free, while more detailed, topo maps are available for $14. Many other publications are available at ranger stations. Local rangers also know their territory and are happy to share.

Once within the wilderness boundaries, locomotion is by foot or hoof. Motorized vehicles are not allowed. 

Amazing, unexpected amenities

There are no services, but fantastic opportunities to experience our country, our deepest selves, and greatest capacity when we dare to go beyond the comfort zone of civilization. 

The world’s best wilderness companion and coach Rocky the Rockstar rescued me in 2008 and is crucial in helping build and maintain the dream.

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MiracleUpdate

Cindy Cason has been a print and broadcast journalist, magazine writer, communications director, and consultant. At home, she was a single mom to four busy and amazing kids. In a blink, they launched and she faced a quiet, empty home and another decade until retirement. She opted to sell the farm and embarked on a solo journey into the American wilderness, traveling in a tiny, offroad teardrop trailer pulled by a Subaru Outback. Today she spotlights the beauty of life in nature, hoping to inspire you to passionately live every phase of your own authentic life. Especially retirement...

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