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The United States is a very developed place. Sometimes this can prove to be challenging when trying to find a place to get away from everything, especially east of the Mississippi where I reside. I am pretty sure the answer is likely somewhere western (Montana maybe), but what is the most remote place in the contiguous US?

So let's define remote:

  • Furthest distance from civilization or any signs of it including anything man-made like roads, forest service facilities, huts/shelters...

  • Furthest distance from medical care or rescue if something goes wrong; difficult terrain could trump the distance.

  • Number of visitors recorded? Or other USFS data...

  • Essentially, no visible traces of humans, or "untouched" if that's even possible these days.

Now, I know this could seem like an opinionated question to some folks, but I'm really looking for places that can be backed up and grounded with as much factual data as possible.

Edit: I previously said "continental" US, when the correct term is "contiguous." Oops. Please bear that in mind regarding my comments below.

  • I need to source it, but there is a trail in Yellowstone, in the south part of the park, wherein at one point you are 36 miles from any road whatsoever. That is the furthest from civilization anywhere in the lower 48. – Affable Geek Dec 13 '14 at 14:19
  • Your message implies that you want to visit a place like this. What you have to understand is that a TRULY remote place like this will not be survivable for long. You probably couldn't carry enough water over the terrain that you would be required to cross to get there in the first place. Even if the ONLY thing you carried was water, and nothing else, you couldn't stay in the remote places very long – Unknown Coder Dec 13 '14 at 23:10
  • Yes, my question does imply that by my introduction, but that isn't necessarily what I'm wanting to know. Maybe I should re-word that. I don't necessarily want to visit whatever may be the most remote location, depending on what that location is. I really just want to know what's the most inaccessible location in the States? (not including the obvious Alaska, which is not continental) – manoftheson Dec 14 '14 at 2:35
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    Wouldn't the criteria of "furthest distance from anything man made" disqualify any trail? – nhinkle Dec 15 '14 at 6:04
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    Technically, yes. Still would be good info though. – manoftheson Dec 15 '14 at 6:16
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Project Remote was started by a scientifically-minded couple to quantitatively determine the most remote locations in each of the 50 states mainly using the distance to the nearest road or town and whether cel phone coverage is available. They've cataloged quite a few states already east of the Mississippi, which you can check out here: Project Remote. The caveat is that the exact coordinates are kept secret to protect the area's remoteness, although the general location is specified.

Here is a map of what they found. Each documented state (light green) has a pretty extensive report of the area, along with distance to nearest road, cel phone coverage, and accessibility issues: enter image description here

Here are the states with the most remote spots discovered so far:

  1. Montana: 18.0 miles from nearest road, no cel coverage
  2. Idaho: 17.6 miles from nearest road, no cel coverage
  3. Florida: 17.0 miles from nearest road, no cel coverage
  4. Minnesota: 14.3 miles from nearest road, no cel coverage
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    I think we might have a winner! This is pretty much exactly the type of thing I was looking for. And so far, it looks like my casual mention of Montana was a good guess. – manoftheson Dec 14 '14 at 22:41
  • This sounds really cool, I wonder if there's a project like this in Canada, one that preferably excludes the parts of Canada that are permanently frozen... – ShemSeger Dec 15 '14 at 6:29
  • I heard about the project from a podcast awhile ago--it's an interesting story: soundcloud.com/thedirtbagdiaries/the-remotest – shimizu Dec 15 '14 at 13:59
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    The remotest spot in Arizona looks suspiciously close to Page. – saltface Nov 18 '15 at 15:30
  • I can't tell for sure but it appears these don't include national parks yes? – William Sep 13 '16 at 10:05
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The answer to your question is: the middle of the Selway-Bitteroot/River-of-No-Return Wildnerness in Idaho. These are actually two wilderness areas joined together (separated by a single dirt road) which together form the largest roadless area and the largest wildnerness in the Continental US. The Selway Bitterroot is where the author of "A River Runs Through It" spent his youth as a Forest Ranger. If you look on a electrical power-line map of the United States, you see a huge area in Idaho in which powerlines are completely absent, the largest such area devoid of electrical transmission lines in the continental US.

enter image description here

These mountain areas are also known for thwarting the Lewis and Clark expedition due to how rugged they are.

River of No Return

Selway Bitterroot

12

Most of the "untouched" places left in North America are that way for a reason, no one wants to touch them. There are loads of barren desserts in Nevada, Utah, New Mexico and Arizona that people don't bother going to because it's dead, there's nothing there but heat sand and rocks.

The easiest way to figure out what parts of the USA are isolated from people, is to look at a cell phone coverage map. Those white areas, there aren't many people living there. Some of them are National Forests, some are deserts, others are reserves. The hard thing to find would be an area that doesn't have any roads or tracks going through it. Even the most barren of desserts typically have a freeway to get you to the other side. Looking at different Human Geography maps will give you a broad idea of which parts of the country are most isolated. You can then do some region specific research to find out more about what makes those area so isolated. The only truly large wild country is in the Canada part of the USA, up in Alaska.

Cell Phone Coverage enter image description here

Population Density enter image description here

Point population density Interactive version here enter image description here

Roads enter image description here

  • Yeah, I intentionally said 'continental US' because Alaska is a no brainer answer if you say just 'US.' And if you broaden the question to North America, then Canada is a shoe-in for have the most remote place. – manoftheson Dec 14 '14 at 2:33
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    Depending on where you are there may be some "untouched" Canadian wilderness a lot closer to you than the US areas. – ShemSeger Dec 14 '14 at 4:33
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Northern Maine, there's a stretch of the Appalachian Trail nicknamed the hundred mile wilderness, I don't believe I seen a soul for at least 3 days

2

Absaroka Mountain range in Wyoming right next to the trident plateau. National Geographic named it the most remote place in the lower 48. I lived there for 29 days, backpacking with NOLS... it's doable, trust me, and by far the most secluded section of wilderness I have ever set foot in.

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    Existing answers have much more support for their answers. Can you include a link to your reference and supporting reasons for the rating? – James Jenkins May 11 '17 at 15:46

protected by Reinstate Monica Jun 21 '18 at 19:52

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