We don’t care what you do on your individual level. That’s between you and your maker—unless you’re impinging on someone else’s space or rights.


People come and go. Others stay for years. There's no government beyond the state. And there are all different ideas of what the community really is or what it should be. Yet, somehow, it works.

"We are a far-flung, loosely dispersed bunch of people," Stephens Harper said.

The community is far from traditional. There are no schools, no hospitals, no year-round stores or restaurants. A non-profit helps with community-wide decisions. They hold meetings half the year, and people raise their hands to vote. Otherwise, there's no police force, public utilities or local government.

People do it all on their own. They come from different political, religious, cultural and socioeconomic backgrounds. Everyone has a different way of living out here.

And yet, there are things that bind us. 

We sort each other’s mail and entrust each other with it. A former ghost town binds us. Common experiences bind us. The challenges of life out here bind us. 

"We all kind of get together and share parties, share dinners, share birthdays, share Christmas, Thanksgiving, New Year's, share snow machine expeditions," Greg Runyan said. "It’s really magical like that."

This place is far from perfect. It lacks racial diversity and generational wisdom. There's conflict and people act irresponsibly. But, in general, it does work.

On this episode of Out Here hear why people who don't like each other still take care of each other, and why you can leave your door unlocked, your keys in your car and walk home alone in the dark without worrying about anything more than a grizzly bear.

"It's kind of like living on the moon, like we're in our own little community out here," Greg said."There's no one else to help us. It's just us. We all gotta get along."

And hear from Stephens Harper, a community member and law enforcement ranger for the park. What's it like regulating in a national park littered with private land in-holdings?

Especially in a community of individuals where a lot of people really don't like rules.

Music from Galen Huckins and Blue Dot Sessions  / Ultima Thule, Cash Cow, Sunday Lights, Jackbird, Patched In, Vernouillet, McCarthy / Episode artwork from Ian Gyori / Financial assistance from the Duffy Fund and the University of Missouri / Guidance and support from Scott Swafford, Sara Shahriari and Dr. Cristina Mislan / Featured in this episode: Greg Runyan, Stephens Harper, Tamara Harper, Malcolm Vance, Mark Vail, Ian Gyori, Ali Towers, Greg Fensterman, Gary Green, Karla Freivalds, Laurie Rowland, Scott Anthony, David Rowland and Kristin Link





There’s still plenty of wilderness out there.


It started as a boom town. And then it busted. Then people came to live an older way of life.

But progress called. First came the road and then the park. And then, the people.

Tourism increased. The economy shifted. A hand tram was replaced by a footbridge. Later a vehicle bridge was added by a private individual.

Letters, CB radios and radio messaging systems were replaced by cell phones and 4G LTE internet.

Vacation homes started. Services were brought in. Now you could build a life out here without having to do it all on your own.

A reality television show came and went, and a two-story restaurant popped up in town. The road improved and maintenance grew more frequent. Now the isolation and the hardship became more of a choice than a necessity.

"The difficulties of pulling off life here and making life comfortable here are, in my mind, a very strong thread of the fabric of our community," Stephens Harper said.

"As things get easier and as you can now just pay for it, that is not a common thread amongst everybody in this community any longer."

With tourism came environmental impact and potential regulation. 

"There's impact, there's feces, it's a big issue," Greg Runyan said. "The way that changes things: You have to have group size limits and trip limits. Out here it’s always just been like you just go."

On this episode of Out Here, what's progress for a place surrounded by preservation?

Music from Galen Huckins and Blue Dot Sessions / Ultima Thule, Rapids, Borough, Valantis, Turning to You, Pikers, El Tajo / Episode artwork from Ian Gyori / Financial Assistance from the Duffy Fund and the University of Missouri / Guidance and support from Scott Swafford, Sara Shahriari and Dr. Cristina Mislan / Featured in this episode: Martin Morrison, Gary Green, Ian Gyori, Mark Vail, Greg Fensterman, Carole Morrison, Greg Runyan, Malcolm Vance, John Adams, David Rowland, Stephens Harper, Scott Anthony, Tamara Harper and Kristin Link