Paradoxically, some of the places where I have felt the most remote, the most isolated, and farthest away from a road are in ... John Muir Wilderness, in spite of the fact that the entire length of this 907 square mile wilderness (650,000 acres, 100 miles long) parallels highway US 395 which is less than a mile away, or at most a few miles away. I go there a lot, because it is only three to five hours from the greater Los Angeles region (I can get there in 3.5 hours on a motorcycle).
Regarding "feeling of remoteness," once I leave the road, it is possible to get the feeling that nobody has ever been here before, and for sure I'm not going to be seeing anyone today. There is one isolated, trail-less canyon after another for 100 miles from north to south! I consider Lubken Creek just south of Lone Pine to be the southern-most "big" canyon.
These canyons are steep. Inside a John Muir Wilderness Canyon the feeling of being totally surrounded by cliffs and mountains gives the feeling of remoteness a new... feel. This wilderness is just East of SEKI (Sequoia/Kings Canyon National Park). The boundary is the Sierra Crest, which means the west side of the wilderness goes right to 14,000 feet and sometimes a bit higher.
Taking a look at the standard 7.5' topographic maps, look at those crazy topo lines. Notice that in addition to the major canyons that turn into creeks that drain into Owens Valley, there are hundreds of little side canyons. Get up in one of those, especially when the approach into the major canyon from US 395 is difficult, and you'll be in "the middle of nowhere." You won't see anybody, ever. Well, except yourself.
Lastly, the visuals are absolutely stunning. Looking up and away, there may be a vista across Owens Valley to the Inyo Mountains, and maybe some sierra wave clouds. Look down, and the terrain is unbelievably beautiful with living trees, dead trees, rocks, plants, more rocks, .... amazing.
Hands down, John Muir Wilderness is the most remote location in the Sierra. The trouble with locating one single most remote location from a road .... is that posting about it will attract MORE people to that spot, which will detract from the "feeling of remoteness." I like this Wilderness because it is so close to US 395 and in an hour I get the feeling that civilization is really, really, really far away. The more hours I put into climbing up a canyon towards the Sierra Crest, the more that feeling multiplies.
Happy trails! Those photos are from 2004 in Pinyon Creek, just south of Onion Valley. Hundreds of people in Onion. Nobody but me in Pinyon!
I hope High Sierra Topix folks will focus more on this gem in the future, particularly because it is ALL off-trail ... no trails. zero. zip.
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