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