We don’t often remember federal documents for the beauty of their words. However, the Wilderness Act of 1964 stands out with its poetic and lyrical vision of what an expanse of protected land can be: “an area where the earth and its community of life are untrammeled by man, where man himself is a visitor who does not remain.”
Both Grand Teton and Yellowstone National Parks also contain areas that are designated as Wilderness. These are difficult to access (no roads), often in challenging terrain (mountains, canyons), and remain primitive in every sense (no toilets, running water, or meaningful access to help or rescue). So for most visitors to these areas, we never step foot on the Wilderness – but that doesn’t mean we don’t benefit from it being there.
Even on a day tour through these parks, we SEE the Wilderness. It’s in every view of the craggy peaks of the Teton Range, it’s the sweeping vista over a valley with no sign of humans below, it’s the still waters of a glacial lake, or the sweeping sagebrush sea beckoning us to look closer for the wildlife it contains. Each expansive, uninterrupted, untouched, and untrammeled view is Wilderness – where man himself is a visitor who does not remain.