The Wildest Places in North America

If you’re looking for uninhabited and extensive wild places, North America isn’t a bad place to start. In fact, the two principal countries of the continent – the U.S. and Canada — have some of the most varied and well preserved outdoor areas in the world. From the ancient forests of the northern sections of the continent to the sweltering deserts in the southwest, you can experience almost every type of climate and geographic profile right within the boundaries of North America. Read on to find out some of the most undisturbed, naturally stunning spots to see.

  1. Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. When you think of this northern U.S. state, the first thing that comes to mind is likely Detroit and the automotive industry. But on the northern side of Lake Michigan, a huge peninsula juts out from Wisconsin into the Great Lakes. Though it contains over 25 percent of Michigan’s total land area, roughly 3 percent of the state’s population makes their home there. Of course, there is good reason for this. Michigan’s Upper Peninsula is a very cold, very wild place. Lake effect snow drapes the heavily wooded area almost continuously for several months in the wintertime. In the summer, locals and tourists alike venture out onto the waters of Lake Superior and Lake Michigan in addition to the peninsula’s dense deciduous forests.
  2. The Great Basin. Covering parts of Utah, Nevada, California, and even southern Oregon, the Great Basin is a large, mostly dry area in the rain shadow of the Sierra Nevada Mountains. Aside from being very low in human population concentration, this vast expanse is far from barren. Unique plants like Junipers and Methuselah trees speckle the landscape. In addition, wildlife seen almost nowhere else – including wild mustangs, tarantulas, and a wide variety of exotic reptiles – inhabits the rocky basin. Outdoor adventurers who enjoy being truly “in the middle of nowhere” will likely find their ideal right here.
  3. The Everglades. Tucked into the central portion of southern Florida, the Everglades are one of the last bastions of truly wild areas in the so-called “Lower 48”. Though typically associated with swampland, the Everglades also have wide areas of grass prairies and dense subtropical forests populated with many Mangrove trees. The area is notorious for some creepy critters, including water snakes and alligators. And though it’s not quite as well known, the Florida Everglades are also a haven for those seeking exotic birds and fish. For those who can stand the humidity, the Everglades offer a plethora of natural wonders.
  4. The Pacific Northwest. Outdoor adventurers looking for a more temperate climate than deserts, swamps, or snowy forests might find themselves more comfortable in an area like the Pacific Northwest. The region includes Washington, Oregon, and British Columbia, and is known for its mountainous yet densely forested terrain. Because it lies on the Western side of the Rocky Mountains, it’s a very wet place – which allows for a wide range of plant and animal life to thrive there. Native species include wild salmon, river otters, and even the occasional wolf. So if you happen to be enjoying a trek through the Pacific Northwest’s forests, tread carefully.

Though recent population levels have been growing at exponential levels in North America, these spots remain nearly untouched by today’s standards. If it’s the pure, simple pleasure of being in the unadulterated outdoors that you’re seeking, these last few truly wild places on the continent will almost certainly satiate that desire.