I think the more that you’re connected with your surroundings and the resources around you, the more that you’re interested in conserving them.


In the middle of the country's largest national park, people live with animals large and small, and they also live with the weather. In a place like McCarthy, the outside creeps in.

Because you can't even go to the bathroom without having to venture outside.

That makes climate change more obvious and impactful. It means people use the resources around them to survive. And it means most people want to live more of a subsistence lifestyle. Whether they actually do is a different story.

On this episode of Out Here, hear how living with the wild makes you more aware of your natural surroundings, hear how this community of transplants is struggling to live off the land for a variety of reasons and hear what it's really like living with grizzly bears.

"You can't leave your cooler with the ham on the front porch in August when the bears are cruising around, " Stephens Harper said. He's the lead law enforcement ranger in the area for the national park. And he's also a community member.

"Nobody wants to be the cop of your neighbor," he said.

In a community of individuals where there are no city ordinances, no local government and no real law enforcement to solve the problem, you have to be the one to walk over and tell your neighbor to take the ham off the porch.

Or that bear just might come on your porch, push in your window and make a big old mess.

Music from Galen Huckins and Blue Dot Sessions  / Ultima Thule, Glinting Giant, Kallaloe, Decompression, Snow Crop, The Big Ten, Gondola Blues, When in the West / 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: Karla Freivalds, Malcolm Vance, Stephens Harper, Laurie Rowland, Gary Green, Kristin Link, Mark Vail, Ian Gyori, Greg Runyan, David Rowland, Greg Fensterman and Ali Towers





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