Wilderness Quotes

Below is a collection of some of our favorite wilderness quotes. Have we missed one of your favorites? Let us know!

“The nation behaves well if it treats the natural resources as assets which it must turn over to the next generation increased, and not impaired in value.
Theodore Roosevelt

“The richest values of wilderness lie not in the days of Daniel Boon, nor even in the present, but rather in the future.”
Aldo Leopold

“I have found that people go to the wilderness for many things but, the most important of these is perspective. They may think they go for the fishing or the scenery or companionship but, in reality it is something far deeper. They go to the wilderness for the good of their souls.”
Sigurd Olson

“. . . wilderness begins where the road ends; and if the roads never end, there never will be any wilderness.”
Sen. Frank Church

“The long fight to save wild beauty represents democracy at its best. It requires citizens to practice the hardest of virtues–self-restraint.”
Edwin Way Teale

“Conservation is a state of harmony between men and land.”
- Aldo Leopold

“Wilderness is an anchor to windward. Knowing it is there, we can also know that we are still a rich nation, tending our resources as we should–not a people in despair searching every last nook and cranny of our land for a board of lumber, a barrel of oil, a blade of grass, or a tank of water.”
- Senator Clinton P. Anderson of New Mexico in American Forests, July 1963

“What a country chooses to save is what a country chooses to say about itself.”
- Mollie Beattie, Director, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service 1993-1996

“Without wilderness, we will eventually lose the capacity to understand America. Our drive, our ruggedness, our unquenchable optimism and zeal and elan go back to the challenges of the untrammeled wilderness. Britain won its wars on the playing fields of Eton. America developed its mettle at the muddy gaps of the Cumberlands, in the swift rapids of its rivers, on the limitless reaches of its western plains, in the silent vastness of primeval forests, and in the blizzard-ridden passes of the Rockies and Coast ranges. If we lose wilderness, we lose forever the knowledge of what the world was and what it might, with understanding and loving husbandry, yet become. These are islands in time — with nothing to date them on the calendar of mankind. In these areas it is as though a person were looking backward into the ages and forward untold years. Here are bits of eternity, which have a preciousness beyond all accounting.”
- Harvey Broome, co-founder, The Wilderness Society

“The action and tone of his statement leads me to conclude that [Interior] Secretary [James G.] Watt’s idea of wilderness is a parking lot without lines.”
-Don Edwards, U.S. Representative, Progressive, March 1981

“If future generations are to remember us with gratitude rather than contempt, we must leave them something more than the miracles of technology. We must leave them a glimpse of the world as it was in the beginning, not just after we got through with it.”
- President Lyndon B. Johnson, on the signing of the Wilderness Act of 1964

“The wilderness and the idea of wilderness is one of the permanent homes of the human spirit.”
- Joseph Wood Krutch, Today and All Its Yesterdays, 1958

“Wilderness is the raw material out of which man has hammered the artifact called civilization. Wilderness was never a homogenous raw material. It was very diverse. The differences in the product are known as cultures. The rich diversity of the world’s cultures reflects a corresponding diversity. In the wilds that gave them birth.”
- Aldo Lepold

“In wilderness I sense the miracle of life, and behind it our scientific accomplishments fade to trivia.”
- Charles A. Lindbergh, Life, 22 December 1967

“Earth and sky, woods and fields, lakes and rivers, the mountain and the sea, are excellent schoolmasters, and teach some of us more than we can ever learn from books.”
- Sir John Lubbock

“There is just one hope of repulsing the tyrannical ambition of civilization to conquer every niche on the whole earth. That hope is the organization of spirited people who will fight for the freedom of the wilderness. In a civilization which requires most lives to be passed amid inordinate dissonance, pressure and intrusion, the chance of retiring now and then to the quietude and privacy of sylvan haunts becomes for some people a pyschic neccesity. The preservation of a few samples of undeveloped territory is one of the most clamant issues before us today. Just a few more years of hesitation and the only trace of that wilderness which has exerted such a fundamental influence in molding American character will lie in the musty pages of pioneer books … To avoid this catastrophe demands immediate action.”
- Robert Marshall, co-founder, The Wilderness Society

“There is just one hope for repulsing the tyrannical ambition of civilization to conquer every niche of the whole earth. That hope is the organization of spirited people who will fight for the freedom of the wilderness.”
- Robert Marshall

“Wilderness is a necessity … They will see what I meant in time. There must be places for human beings to satisfy their souls. Food and drink is not all. There is the spiritual. In some it is only a germ, of course, but the germ will grow.”
- John Muir, conservationist and founder, The Sierra Club

“Everybody needs beauty as well as bread, places to play in and pray in, where nature may heal and give strength to body and soul.”
- John Muir

“Wilderness itself is the basis of all our civilization. I wonder if we have enough reverence for life to concede to wilderness the right to live on?”
- Margaret Murie, author, conservationist and member of The Wilderness Society Council

“I hope that the United States of America is not so rich that she can afford to let these wildernesses pass by. Or so poor that she cannot afford to keep them.”
- Margaret Murie

“The wilderness holds answers to questions man has not yet learned to ask.”
- Nancy Newhall quoted in John McPhee’s “Encounters with the Archdruid”, 1971

“Wilderness to the people of America is a spiritual necessity, an antidote to the high pressure of modern life, a means of regaining serenity and equilibrium.”
- Sigurd Olson, conservationist, author and member of The Wilderness Society Council

“The more civilized man becomes, the more he needs and craves a great background of forest wildness, to which he may return like a contrite prodigal from the husks of an artificial life.”
- Ellen Burns Sherman

“How much wilderness do the wilderness-lovers want? ask those who would mine and dig and cut and dam in such sanctuary spots as these. The answer is easy: Enough so that there will be in the years ahead a little relief, a little quiet, a little relaxation, for any of our increasing millions who need and want it.”
- Wallace Stegner, This Is Dinosaur, 1955

“Something will have gone out of us as a people if we ever let the remaining wilderness be destroyed; if we permit the last virgin forests to be turned into comic books and plastic cigarette cases; if we drive the few remaining members of the wild species into zoos or to extinction; if we pollute the last clean air and dirty the last clean streams and push our paved roads through the last of the silence, so that never again will Americans be free in their own country from the noise, the exhausts, the stinks of human and automotive waste.”
- Wallace Stegner, The Wilderness Letter, written to the Outdoor Recreation Resources Review Commission, 1962 and subsequently in “The Sound of Mountain Water” (1969)

“We simply need that wild country available to us, even if we never do more than drive to its edge and look in. For it can be a means of reassuring ourselves of our sanity as creatures, a part of the geography of hope.”
- Wallace Stegner, the Wilderness Letter

“In wildness is the preservation of the world.”
- Henry David Thoreau, speech at Concord Lyceum, 23 April 1851 and subsequently, in Thoreau’s essay “Walking”, Atlantic Monthly, June 1862 (v.9 no. 56)

“It is imperative to maintain portions of the wilderness untouched so that a tree will rot where it falls, a waterfall will pour its curve without generating electricity, a trumpeter swan may float on uncontaminated water – and moderns may at least see what their ancestors knew in their nerves and blood.”
- Bernard De Voto

“Love is a powerful tool, and maybe, just maybe, before the last little town is corrupted and the last of the unroaded and undeveloped wildness is given over to dreams of profit, maybe it will be love, finally, love for the land for its own sake and for what it holds of beauty and joy and spiritual redemption that will make [wilderness] not a battlefield but a revelation.”
- T.H. Watkins, Redrock Chronicles: Saving Wild Utah, 2000

“Without enough wilderness America will change. Democracy, with its myriad personalities and increasing sophistication, must be fibred and vitalized by regular contact with outdoor growths — animals, trees, sun warmth and free skies — or it will dwindle and pale.”
- Walt Whitman

“If you know wilderness in the way that you know love, you would be unwilling to let it go…. This is the story of our past and it will be the story of our future.”
Terry Tempest Williams, Testimony

The idea of Wilderness needs no defense, it only needs defenders”
Edward Abbey

“If wilderness is outlawed, only outlaws can save wilderness.”
Edward Abbey