Remote Footprints is investigating what it means to be ‘remote’ on the surface of the Earth. We have initiated Project Remote, an exploratory and educational endeavor to define remoteness, identify the single remotest location in each of the 50 Unites States, and photo-document current ecological and physical conditions in these places.
Remote Footprints believes that remoteness should be an important component of the wilderness conservation discussion. Ironically, as America continually preserves more of its wilderness through the National Wilderness Preservation System, the remoteness of our country is simultaneously being lost. Project Remote is an endeavor to investigate this paradox.
Project Remote is designed to elevate public awareness about the current level of remoteness of the United States and provide land managers/owners with useful baseline information relating to the remotest locations. Project Remote is the first endeavor of its kind where investigators are calculating and physically traveling to the remotest location in all 50 states.
Our ongoing challenge is to mount expeditions over land or water in order to reach each state’s remotest location, or ‘Remote Spot.’ Once there, we spend one day and one night on or very near the Remote Spot to measure, photodocument, and record relative remoteness and baseline information. We are recording this information so that future generations of land managers and citizens will have an historical frame of reference for remoteness and will less likely be influenced by the shifting baseline phenomenon.
We define a Remote Spot as being that point in a state that is farthest from a road or permanently inhabited human structure. We have calculated Remote Spots using the powerful mapping software ArcGIS by ESRI, with the expert assistance of our colleague, Alan Baker, at Advanced Geospatial, Inc.
We are journeying to each state’s Remote Spot in order to document ecological and physical features, and to highlight relevant issues of the remotest places left in America - with a bonus of living 50 grand adventures along the way.
The project begins in the Southeastern U.S. and branches out to other regions of the country. We live on the road and stay long enough in regions of the country to efficiently travel to clusters of Remote Spots. We make wilderness base camps, camp in the back of our pickup truck, or stay with relatives while accomplishing multiple Spots at a time.
We want Project Remote to serve several purposes. It quenches our desire to live adventurously seeking out remote, wild areas for our own personal rejuvenation. It enables our daughter to grow up imprinting on wildlands and outdoor living instead of video games. And most importantly, we believe the information collected at each unique Remote Spot will provide additional knowledge useful to the wilderness conservation discussion.
Along the way, we encourage you to follow us on our 50 remote explorations from a lonely island off Alaska’s mainland to an Ohio cornfield less than 2 miles from a road. Each state has a unique story to tell. The story unfolds in our individual state travelogues, linked below. You’ll find descriptions of our trips as well as select photos, maps, and selected scientific data. You can find more photos of each trip on our Facebook page. You can also link to more details about Project Remote, including the origin of the idea, our detailed definition of Remote Spot, and a discussion about how we get to the Remote Spots.
Remote Spot Florida - Accompanied by our friend Steve Johnson (aka “SAJ”), we ventured to the remotest location on Florida’s mainland - a beach 17 straight-line miles from the nearest road. We boated about 35 miles south from Everglades City and camped on boat and beach during our 3 day excursion.
Remote Spot Tennessee - Ryan was accompanied by his two nephews, Cameron (18) and Chandler (16), on an overnight backpacking trip to the most remote location in Tennessee - a spot 4 straight-line miles from the nearest road. They hiked up to Tennessee’s highest point, Clingmans Dome, then down 5 miles of the Appalachian Trail. Tennessee’s Remote Spot is located just feet off of the Trail.
Remote Spot Alabama and Mississippi - Accompanied by Rebecca’s mom, aka Mimi, we made our first attempt to reach the Alabama and Mississippi Remote Spots during the last weekend in December. The two Remote Spot locations are on islands in the Gulf of Mexico and only 5 miles apart from each other. However, the closest one is almost 8 miles from the nearest road, over 15 miles from the nearest boat ramp, and 10 miles from the mainland.