“CHARMED” COMES CLOSE to describing Sean Ferrell’s childhood. As a military kid, he moved a lot, but every summer, his parents took him on treasured camping trips of up to three weeks. Besides exploring some of the best national forests in America, they paved a path to Ferrell’s current job as a district ranger in the Carson National Forest—which ranks among the prettiest land in the state. “I feel humbled to be here,” he says. He courted his wife on backpacking trips, and they now take their 11-year-old daughter on woodsy sleepovers.

I talked with Ferrell as we dreamed up this outdoors issue. I often wonder what the point of Wi-Fi is if I still have to work inside a building, but what about someone for whom the outdoors is part of the paycheck? What’s that like? Pretty rad, Ferrell says. His favorite part of that job is introducing schoolchildren to places in their own backyards.

“Anymore, with all the screens on computers and phones, there’s a disconnect with nature,” he says. “But when we take them out for a couple of hours, study lichens on a tree, or bore into it and see how old the tree is, you see the change in their faces. You see them relax. My big hope is they go home and tell their parents about it, and maybe the parents will say, ‘Let’s go camping with the kids.’”

Ferrell’s seen a lot of other wild places, and he even worked a spell in Oregon’s Deschutes National Forest. But he and his wife chose New Mexico as their favorite, a place to set down roots and raise a kid right. “There’s something magical here,” he says. “There’s the special light that everyone talks about, but also the fires of sunset, the rock features, the drama of mountains and buttes. Something draws you in and makes you feel like you want to be part of this land.”

If you don’t have the bug already, let this issue fire you up for a scenic drive, campout, or three-week binge in the great outdoors. Take it from Ferrell. “We’re here,” he says. “We’re waiting for you.”

Happy trails,

Kate's SignatureKate Nelson