Making The Most of Deserted Places in America

Some­times you just want to get away from it all. A demand­ing job, a phone ring­ing off the hook, and in some cas­es, even oth­er peo­ple. That desire is under­stand­able and some­times ful­fill­ing it can be one of the most inspir­ing things you ever do. From Hen­ry Thore­au to John Muir, some of the great­est thoughts were born out of iso­la­tion. Check out these some­what desert­ed places to gath­er your thoughts.

Deserted Places in The Western States


Supai, Ari­zona
Supai is locat­ed near the Grand Canyon but receives nowhere near the num­ber of vis­i­tors as the famous land­mark. In fact, it is offi­cial­ly the most remote town in the low­er 48 states, and the only way to get there is to take a heli­copter, ride a mule, or hike in along the Hava­su­pai Trail. The only thing resem­bling civ­i­liza­tion here is a hotel (where there’s sure to be vacan­cies),  a restau­rant (where no reser­va­tions are need­ed), and a con­ve­nience store (which is more of a neces­si­ty store for locals).

Even the mail in Supai is still deliv­ered by mule. How­ev­er, if you’re want­i­ng some elbow room after a day at the Grand Canyon, Supai has plen­ty. It also has the incred­i­ble Wiglee­va rock for­ma­tions, and best of all, sev­er­al stun­ning water­falls, includ­ing Mooney, Hava­su, and Nava­jo Falls. With only 200 or so res­i­dents of Supai, you’ll like­ly have the nat­ur­al won­ders of this desert­ed place all to yourself.


Bon­neville Salt Flats, Utah
For get­ting away from oth­er peo­ple, the moon is the best place imag­in­able. The Bon­neville Salt Flats are the next best option, and even look a lot like an extrater­res­tri­al sur­face to boot. The area is so flat and so bar­ren it’s fre­quent­ly used by rac­ers seek­ing land speed mile­stones. If you’re look­ing for some occa­sion­al activ­i­ty, you may see a rock­et car zip by. Dri­ve your car on the salt flats your­self and pre­tend your crap­py used import stands a chance at a place in the Guin­ness Book of World Records. The land itself is won­der­ful though, espe­cial­ly dur­ing win­ter, where the flats col­lect an inch of water and reflect the sur­round­ing moun­tains and blue sky. These flats are fre­quent­ly used in movies and can inspire you to let your own imag­i­na­tion run wild.

crested butte

Crest­ed Butte, Colorado
While not exact­ly a desert­ed place, this is one of the few ski towns in Amer­i­ca where you won’t find your­self in a long line at every lift. Crest­ed Butte has less than 2000 res­i­dents, yet con­tains its own air­port, mean­ing you can eas­i­ly get there and still feel as if you’re far from civ­i­liza­tion. The area offers some of the best back­coun­try ski­ing and snow­board­ing for win­ter ath­letes who tru­ly want to escape it all. In sum­mer, you’re like­ly to face even few­er crowds and can go moun­tain bik­ing, rock climb­ing, kayak­ing, or fish­ing. If you’re seek­ing a moment alone though, avoid the town dur­ing days it hosts major fes­ti­vals. If things get too sti­fling clos­er to sea lev­el, there’s also plen­ty of chances to climb the gor­geous moun­tains that sur­round the town.


Mar­fa, Texas
Texas is a pop­u­lous state, but its mas­sive size still leaves plen­ty of areas most­ly untouched by peo­ple. Mar­fa, Texas with a pop­u­la­tion of around 2000 is one of those places. There are few cities in the Lone Star State that can rival Marfa’s night­time sky since the town’s light pol­lu­tion is so low. You’ll find a com­mu­ni­ty of fel­low intro­verts, as Mar­fa attracts sev­er­al artists, and you’ll have lots of oppor­tu­ni­ties to observe their work with few distractions.

You may even be lucky enough to wit­ness the Mar­fa lights, vis­i­ble to the south­west on clear nights. For over a hun­dred years, mys­te­ri­ous lights have appeared on the hori­zon, where they move in unpre­dictable pat­terns, lead­ing some to even asso­ciate them with extrater­res­tri­al activ­i­ty. The strangest thing in the town is prob­a­bly a non-func­tion­ing Pra­da bou­tique, a jar­ring reminder of how much of a desert­ed place this is, and far you are removed from city life.

The Northern States


Bar­row, Alaska

Alas­ka is the least dense­ly pop­u­lat­ed state in Amer­i­ca, but if even that is too crowd­ed for you, Bar­row is the place for you. This desert­ed town is sit­u­at­ed north of the Arc­tic Cir­cle and has a pop­u­la­tion of bare­ly 4000 res­i­dents who are hardy enough to brave the region’s harsh cli­mate. In sum­mer, the Arc­tic Ocean thaws for sev­er­al miles out, allow­ing you to wade into waters that most nev­er see and even few­er have the cajones to step into. There are no roads con­nect­ing Bar­row with the rest of Alas­ka, so despite its size, the town has its own air­port, where it’s not uncom­mon to see polar bears wan­der­ing the tar­mac. If you love sports but hate crowd­ed sta­di­ums, stop by to see a game played by the local Bar­row Whalers high school foot­ball team, which has to fly in opponents.

angle inlet

Angle Inlet, Minnesota
This town, or rather, unin­cor­po­rat­ed com­mu­ni­ty, is so remote you actu­al­ly have to cross into Cana­da, and then out again to reach it by land. How many towns in Amer­i­ca can say they need a pass­port to be reached? Angle Inlet is sit­u­at­ed along the Lake of the Woods and is the north­ern­most town in the con­tigu­ous U.S. With a pop­u­la­tion of under 100, try to learn the names of every per­ma­nent res­i­dent. You can also vis­it Fort St. Charles, a recon­struct­ed 1732 out­post, although don’t expect there to be a gift shop. There’s even an Angle Inlet Coun­try Club, so if you’re sick of a group of golfers breath­ing down your neck on every hole, go to this desert­ed place for the best vaca­tion tee time imaginable.

A Deserted Place in The South


Wilder­ness Water­way, Florida
This 99-mile cor­ri­dor from Ever­glades City down to Flamin­go is per­fect for pad­dlers look­ing to explore the near­ly-untouched wilder­ness. Here you’ll be sur­round­ed by far more gators and croc­o­diles than peo­ple. For some adven­tur­ous her­mits, this is more of a com­fort­ing idea than it sounds. This desert­ed place feels like anoth­er world. It’s com­plete with man­grove forests, marsh­es, and crea­tures that seem to come from a land that time for­got.  You’ll see a col­lec­tion of birds, rep­tiles, and maybe even a rare endan­gered Flori­da pan­ther along this watery road. The near­est dirt path is 17 miles away at cer­tain points, so you’ll want to make sure you’re an expe­ri­enced nav­i­ga­tor. Avoid sum­mer and fall, or swarms of mos­qui­toes will ruin your trip more than any group of humans ever could.

As you can see, going to the mid­dle of nowhere doesn’t nec­es­sar­i­ly mean there’s noth­ing to do. Tak­ing the road less trav­eled can offer mean­ing and per­son­al growth, allow­ing you to dis­cov­er more about your­self than you ever could in a more crowd­ed locale.