I'm looking for the farthest point from any road (paved or not) in the 48 states. I'm thinking that it should probably be in either the Bob Marshall Wilderness or in the Frank Church River of No Return Wilderness. But if someone knows for sure, please post.
I suppose that using the definition of a road marked on a map is the only reasonable method, since any other definition would require field-checking. I'm thinking to include such things as forest service roads.
A friend of mine who is usually right about this kind of stuff told me several years ago that this place was near the SE corner of Yellowstone National Park and that the straight-line distance to the nearest road was much closer than I thought. I think it was under 10 miles. I have not checked out the maps to confirm this.
According to several wilderness studies, the furtherest point in the Lower 48 from any road including jeep trails is in the Book Cliffs-Desolation Canyon(aptly named!)Complex in East-Central Utah. The maximum straight-line distance from the nearest 4wd road is just over 15 miles. The area is also part of the Uinta and Ouray-Hill Creek Extension Indian Reservation.
There are further locations than the one I mentioned from a road, if you count lakes and islands. Certainly there are no roads in the middle of Lake Superior or the other Great Lakes! Some of the Channel Islands off the coast of California are a ways from the nearest road!
Wilderness statistics along with maximum straight line distances to a road.
January 27 2004, 7:59 PM
OK, I dug up some more info. Here it is.
A study from the UWC gives the maximum distance of 15.4 miles from the nearest road (jeep, dirt, gravel, paved, any road) in the Desolation Canyon-Book Cliffs Complex that I mentioned earlier.
This figure is also given as 15 miles in Wild Utah (Falcon series) on roadless areas, and mentions the furtherest point from any kind of road in all areas. The Falcon "Wild Series" is the source of all information below:
Book Cliffs-Desolation Canyon Complex-15 miles from the nearest road.
The Maximum from a road on public land was 11 miles from a road in the Uinta Mountain Wilderness.
Yellowstone-Greater Yellowstone has a maximum distance of 8.1 miles. This was bested by several areas in Wyoming including the Fitzpatrick Wilderness with a maximum distance of 12.8 miles from a road, and the greatest distance in Wyoming.
Colorado: The greatest distance in Colorado was 8 miles in the Weminuche Wilderness in the San Juans.
Montana: In the Absoroka-Beartooth Complex, just north of Yellowstone and which Granite Peak is a part of has a maximum distance of 13 miles, the Second greatest in Montana. However, all these areas are by far bested by the Bob Marshall Wilderness Complex with a maximum distance from the road of 38 miles making this the greatest distance by far (assuming the figure in the book is correct)!
Idaho: Does anyone have the book Wild Idaho? I don't and can't check the statistics.
It is doubtful that there are any greater distances other than the mentioned states in the lower 48.
Does anyone have the "Wild Series" to any of the other states? California stats would be interesting with the Kings Canyon-Sequoia area and Arizona with the Grand Canyon probably has some pretty good distances from the road as well. All the state stats on maximum distance from a road would be interesting.
Also, what about Alaska. I'm sure Alaska has the lower 48 totally left in the dust when in comes to distances from a road. Many of the towns don't even have roads to them!
I did a review of my topo map of the Bob Marshall Wilderness (inc Scapegoat & Spotted Bear Wildernesses). The distance of 38 miles straight line to the nearest road is just not possible in the Bob. Maybe they mean the nearest paved road, maybe they are talking trail distance, but not straight-line distance to nearest forest service road.
In order to reach the 38 mile distance, the wilderness & ajacent roadless areas would need to be 76 miles across. It is simply not that big on an East/West axis.
The farthest I could find was about 13 miles, but I would need to use a drafting table and two compasses to get an exact measurement.
I've read from quite a few different sources now that the farthest distance you can get from a paved road in the lower 48 states is 22 miles in Yellowstone National Park (Wyoming). I found this news pretty depressing. I really thought there was more remote places in the U.S.
We're pretty sparse here in Nevada, so I've been doing some measurements with Google Earth (not sure about accuracy with ruler tool). I believe I have found an area that is 26 miles from any paved road. 40^15'00.00"N 117^34'38.00"W. North of Dixie Valley by Mt. Tobin in between highway-305 and highway-400 or state route. Please verify if you would. Just thought I'd share.
Assuming that there are no roads on Isle Royale (the topo maps appear to show trails but no roads, though there have been lumbering and resort communities there in the past), it may be that the small islands east and south of Isle Royale (such as Long Island) may qualify as the farthest points in the lower 48 states from a road. Stannard Rock is about 26 miles from the nearest shoreline (Keweenaw Peninsula in Upper Michigan), but it may not actually break the surface.
Alternatively, Bishop Rock, located on Cortes Bank about 40 miles SW of San Clemente Island off southern California, at 37 degrees, 22'N, 119 degrees, 08'W, is described as "awash" in the Pacific Coast Pilot, so it may well qualify as the most remote. Tough and dangerous to explore it, however! JES
Just saw the IMAX film on the seminal expedition. It looked like the wilderness (except Indians) they found in 1806--the camera swooped over miles of empty land with not a modern "improvement" in sight. No roads, power lines, vehicles, dams, bridges, farms, towns, ranches, fences or anything. There was also a vast herd of buffalo, common then but not now. Besides all this, it flew over jagged snowcovered mountains. I wonder where it was filmed. Not a bad film though of necessity it left out a lot.
Lewis & Clark & the distribution of wilderness now & then
February 9 2004, 11:41 AM
When Lewis & Clark made thier trek, they were crossing a contigous "wilderness", at least from the Euro-American standpoint. However they traveled on the easiest routes given the level transportation technology at the time. Travelers over the next several decades used similar routes and hence 'settled' along these routes.
Today the wilderness areas tend to be remote and rugged, since they were by and large the most inconvient places to travel and 'settle' and hence have been bypassed during the 160+ years between L&C and the begining of federal protection of these wildernesses (The Wilderness Act).
Which brings me to my point. If a traveler today wanted to experience landscape approximating what L&C saw, the route of travel should not include the actual L&C route. Most of the river-ways have been damned. Any dam below a point on a river restricts or prevents migrating fish from returning to thier spawning grounds. Any dam above a point on a river prevents the natural cycle of high and low water flow.
Much of the overland travel paths through valleys have been paved. Only crossing some of the mountain passes (Lemhi, Lost & Lolo) can one follow thier route without experiencing major influences of the modern world. Even in these areas, the density of the trees is much much higher than 200 yrs ago, while the size of them is much smaller.
I experienced some of this area first hand in 2002 with a road trip across Lolo pass, and eventially along the Columbia River. The area of Lolo pass that I tried to hike was overgrown with small trees and brush, whereas L&C encountered the trunks of very large trees.
We could have interesting discussions about why the forests are so different now than then. I suppose that clear-cut logging and fire suppression are the biggest influences.
A quick look with a ruler , I estimate about 7 miles from mid Hazel Creek trail in the Smokies.
A spot in North Cascades looke to be about 12 miles
In the Sierras, with a ruler, a spot NE of Colby Pass looks 13 miles; in the middle of Kings Canyon on the Middle Fork of the Kings river looks about the same.
There was a Backpacker Mag article a year ago that got John Mitchler & I to thinking..... (scary thought!) The author stated that the most remote spot, as defined as from any road of any type, was on the Two Ocean Plateau, about 8 miles WNW of the SE corner of Yellowstone. I thought that sounded fishy, so, working at a major oil company and with access to amazing computing power, I talked my GIS buddy into helping me investigate the question. We did not search anywhere else; so if someplace in NV or MT is more remote, it may well be, but we have found the exact point in the Greater Yellowstone area. It is 1,050' ENE of the Thorofare Ranger Cabin, which lies about 4 miles WNW of the corner of the park. Elevation 8,260'. Lat Lon to follow:
Methodology: we ascertained the precise road ends at 22 spots around the basin. We zoomed in via topo, then aerial photography. We placed a Point on each road end. Yes, some roads may extend a bit further, or less, and its just a horse trail we're seeing, but close enough for now. We then grew a circle around each one, 100,000' in radius, until we were left with a polygon with 6-8 arced sides, a few miles across. We then went to 110,000', and were only affected by 4 points, and the area was a square mile or so. We then went to 114,000', and were now being bounded by three Points, which mathematically is what you would expect; ultimately the largest circle you can fit inside a group of dots is defined by the first 3 dots it touches. The final answer is 114,302', which is 21.67 miles radius from that point out to the 3 bounding point road ends. These road ends are:
Southerly dip in US hwy 14 near Sylcan Pass, to the N.
End of CR 921 / Fr 479 along S Fk of Shoshone River at Majo Ranch Complex to the E.
End of the TH at Turpin Meadow between Moran Junction and Togwotee Pass to the SW.
The area is a burn from two decades ago. A co-worker of mine who grew up just to the east near Dubois is there right now, on horseback, checking the site. My good friend and climbing partner Dave Pellegrini visited the site a week ago on a week long backpacking trip to SE Yellowstone. He left a cairn, and might have left a few manmade items.... My partner in crime John Mitchler was near there a week ago, with plans to visit, but spent too much time exploring the Eagle Pk area to the N and couldn't make the 1+ day hike down to here.
My co-worker examined all 3 relevant points on aerial photos, and had been in the vicinity of all of them, and pronounced the points as being pretty accurate. Field work will be the final determiner, but even if one of these point is off by 100', the answer would only move by 50' or less.
To sum, its almost 22 miles from a road. I believe that it is indeed the most remote spot in the lower 48. Alaska of course is its own ballgame... You could say that Long Key at the far W edge of Dry Tortugas NP should count, although it has had enough civilization at Fort Jefferson on Garden Key over the past two centuries to probably disqualify it. Even that thought notwithstanding, the western-most islet at the Marquesas is about 30 miles from Key West, and 40 miles from the Dry Tortugas, and probably would win the prize, if you counted islands.
Someone else discussed Pacific Ocean islands off of California in this thread. North Farallon Island is about 12 miles from shore. The Channel Islands are closer, and mostly have some sort of roadway on them.
If anyone wants to see some more intensive research material, do contact me.