7 Henry David Thoreau Quotes to Inspire Your Next Nature Vacation

These quotes from "Walden" and other works by Thoreau will have you ditching the couch and running for the great outdoors.

Henry David Thoreau's cabin and statute in Concord, MA
Photo: North Wind Picture Archives / Alamy Stock Photo

Henry David Thoreau was a prolific American writer and naturalist. What we might consider “stunt journalism” today, Thoreau spent more than two years living alone in the woods near Walden Pond in Concord, Massachusetts. The experience incited within him a new appreciation for the natural world, and it inspired his teachings of ethical living.

Much of Thoreau’s most well-known quotes come from “Walden,” the book he wrote about living in the woods simply and independently. If anyone could understand the beauty of the world around us — and put it into words — it was Thoreau. His reflections on nature were both poetic and scientific, and they continue to inspire new generations to appreciate all that the natural world has to offer... and to get out there and see it.

Find some of Henry David Thoreau's most influential musings below.

“We can never have enough of nature. We must be refreshed by the sight of inexhaustible vigor, vast and Titanic features, the sea-coast with its wrecks, the wilderness with its living and its decaying trees, the thunder cloud, and the rain which lasts three weeks and produces freshets. We need to witness our own limits transgressed, and some life pasturing freely where we never wander.” — Henry David Thoreau, "Walden"

“I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived.”

― Henry David Thoreau, “Walden”

“I love Nature partly because she is not man, but a retreat from him. None of his institutions control or pervade her. There a different kind of right prevails. In her midst I can be glad with an entire gladness. if this world were all man, I could not stretch myself, I should lose all hope. He is constraint, she is freedom to me. He makes me wish for another world. She makes me content with this." — Henry David Thoreau’s journals

“Wildness is the preservation of the World.”

― Henry David Thoreau, “Walking”

“I am alarmed when it happens that I have walked a mile into the woods bodily, without getting there in spirit.”

― Henry David Thoreau, “Walking”

“The tops of mountains are among the unfinished parts of the globe, whither it is a slight insult to the gods to climb and pry into their secrets, and try their effect on our humanity. Only daring and insolent men, perchance, go there.”

― Henry David Thoreau, “The Maine Woods”

“The spruce and cedar on its shores, hung with gray lichens, looked at a distance like the ghosts of trees. Ducks were sailing here and there on its surface, and a solitary loon, like a more living wave — a vital spot on the lake's surface — laughed and frolicked, and showed its straight leg, for our amusement.”

― Henry David Thoreau, “The Maine Woods”

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