Thanks for your post, Kita. As a fellow nature-lover and someone who has spent considerable time in many of our National Parks, I can relate to your statements about finding peace in the solitude of pure nature. As I read your post, I saw you wrestling with the notion of land preservation and land conservation. These terms may appear synonymous to our 21st century sensibilities, but when they were developed in the 19th century, they conveyed different philosophical and ethical assumptions.
Preservation was the term used by great environmental figures like John Muir (1838-1914) and Aldo Leopold (1887-1948) who saw nature as a good in and of itself, which should be preserved regardless of its utility to man. Seeing man's impact on nature as primarily negative, they advocated the establishment of "wilderness" areas in the American west where there would be little to no signs of human activity (e.g. roads) permitted. (As a sidenote, if you're interested in experiencing this kind of nature, I highly recommend camping in the Absaroka Mountains of Wyoming!)
Conservation, on the other hand, conceived of man as a part of nature. This movement focused on developing an ethic where man and nature could co-exist. It resulted in the creation of many of the great National Parks in the U.S., and to this day focuses on both maintaining natural areas for perpetual use/visit by individuals. Teddy Roosevelt is one of the great individuals behind the conservation movement.
I think there's a place for both views. I've personally benefited from backpacking through wilderness areas where there's no trace of human activity (like the Absarokas). On the other hand, I refuse to believe that man is somehow "separate" from nature. Although I believe we as humans have rational and spiritual qualities that make us ontologically different from other animals, we are also animals. As such we belong in nature. Therefore it doesn't make sense to me to say there's somewhere that is "off-limits" to humans and reserved for some separate, other "Nature." Limit access if you like by issuing only a certain number of permits to travel through a given area, but to shut off an area from any human presence seems decidedly unnatural to me.
The question for me remains how do we get more Americans interested in preserving/conserving our natural heritage? I think one big answer is exposure. Bringing people to the outdoors to let them experience the silence and solitude which you and I have found so meaningful. Our world is constantly speeding up, and being constantly plugged in to things like the internet and our cell phones can make it difficult for us to slow down and appreciate the more important things in life. That's why our natural landscapes, in my opinion, are our most precious national treasure.