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The American politician and writer Horace Greeley famously, and apocryphally, said "Go west, young man." Spiritually, this advice holds true today. Yet in the age of aircraft, highways, and the internet, the westernmost place in the continental United States is no longer the furthest west, geographically. It is rather that most rugged landscape generally arrayed across the continental divide as it marches from Canada to Mexico. Largely spared from extensive human impact in the pre-environmental era, a scintillatingly named series of protected areas form a remarkably contiguous span across the country. The appellations Great Bear, Bob Marshall, Absaroka-Beartooth, Bridger, Eagles Nest, Uncompahgre, Cebolla, Gila, and Aldo Leopold are in their sum almost onomatopoetic.


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