Date of Award


Document Type


First Advisor

Jennifer Hockenbery, Ph.D.

Second Advisor

Kathleen Gallagher-Elkins, Ph.D.

Third Advisor

Katherine Daily O’Meara, Ph.D.


Research about women and wilderness recreation tends to focus upon experiences that serve as a catalyst for empowerment or framed as gendered terrain that discourages participation. Many studies have been shaped by empirical data reflective of a younger female demographic. This thesis addresses the scarcity of research within leisure studies regarding lived-body experiences of women age 50 and over, particularly those who have spent a lifetime recreating in wilderness as members from the first generation to benefit from the outdoor recreation boom of the 1970s. A mixed-methods study was conducted with 22 women investigating their quality of wilderness experiences, constraints to participation, and locations of meaning. Findings both affirm the well-documented benefits that wilderness instills and suggest generational asymmetry of perceived fears that compel us to consider a new hermeneutic. While cultural constructs and gender inequity remain interwoven through all aspects of society, an older generation of women offers new meaning and theoretical promise in expanding understandings about the intersection of immersive wilderness experiences and female agency.