Wilderness areas are key for providing unmolested habitats for robust ecosystems, and have the added benefit of serving as recreation areas. In the contiguous United States designated wilderness areas (the highest level of land protection) encompass a mere 2.7% of land area, compared to the nearly 1% of land area that has been paved. More than 97% of the contiguous U.S. is within three miles of the nearest road. Globally, wilderness is threatened, as wild area declined ten percent between 1993 and 2009.
The Bridger-Teton Wilderness area, south of Yellowstone National Park and east of Grand Teton National Park is one of the best-kept ecosystems in the lower 48, one of the areas most remote from roads, and is renown for a high concentration of grizzlies, though plenty of other wildlife may be found there as well.
Visiting at the end of May proved challenging, as hiking trails were still muddy or snowed over, and snow melt caused stream levels to rise to near flood stage. Still, the hiking provided almost perfect isolation from other hikers. Wildlife was abundant, with the presence of a moose, lots of elk, and plenty of bear tracks in the mud.