We all know that heading out into wild spaces is good for the soul.
But while there are thousands of parks, refuges, and wilderness areas in the country that retain their natural environment for us to enjoy, many can’t keep one form of pollution from crossing their borders–noise.
For the past few years, researchers from Colorado State University traveled across the country recording the noise in our national parks and other protected spaces. In addition to the huge variety of wildlife sounds captured, such as howling wolves and background noise like wind, rain, or flowing rivers, the team picked up tons of noise from human activity–road traffic, planes flying overhead, mining, or logging equipment, for example.
The team discovered that in two-thirds of our so-called wild spaces, the median decibel level of man-made sound was double the normal background sound.
When comparing the decibel level of natural sounds to that of man-made sounds, the team discovered that in two-thirds of our so-called wild spaces, the median decibel level of man-made sound was double the normal background sound. And worse yet, in more than 20 percent of the areas studied, the unnatural sounds were ten times as loud as the natural background.
So where can you go to find the most peace and quiet? Sorry to say, those of you on the east coast are going to have a little trouble. But head north to the north woods of Maine or the Adirondacks in upstate New York and you might find a little quiet for the weekend.
But for real quiet—defined as less than 20 decibels—the west is best (but then we already knew, that). Anywhere away from the western coast but before hitting the Rockies seems to be a goldmine of peace and quiet. Good thing you can find tons of national parks, wilderness areas, and other public lands here.
But for real quiet—defined as less than 20 decibels—the west is best.
According to the research, the quietest places in the U.S. are Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming and the Great Sand Dunes National Park in Colorado, which registered less than 20 decibels of background noise–comparable to what the U.S. would have sounded like before European colonization.
And if you are looking for the absolute quietest place of all? The folks at One Square Inch of Silence claim it’s a tiny spot in the Hoh Rainforest of Olympic National Park — one of the most pristine, untouched, and ecologically diverse environments in the United States and located in our backyard.