The 1964 Wilderness Act created the National Wilderness Preservation System and immediately protected 54 areas. The Act designated 9.1 million acres in 13 states as Wilderness.
Included were some of our most iconic Wilderness areas:
- Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness, Minnesota
- Bridger Wilderness, Wyoming
- Bob Marshall Wilderness, Montana
- Ansel Adams Wilderness, California
Today, the National Wilderness Preservation System includes:
- 758 Wilderness areas from coast-to-coast
- 109,511,966 million acres of protected Wilderness
- Wilderness areas in all but six U.S. states
General Wilderness Prohibitions
Motorized equipment and equipment used for mechanical transport is generally prohibited on all federal lands designated as Wilderness. This includes the use of motor vehicles, motorboats, motorized equipment, bicycles, hang gliders, wagons, carts, portage wheels, and the landing or aircraft including helicopters, unless provided for in specific legislation.
A few Wilderness facts
- The U.S. Forest Service, of all the agencies, manages the most Wilderness areas—439 separate areas.
- The Frank Church–River of No Return Wilderness area is the largest contiguous Wilderness in the lower 48 states at approximately 2.3 million acres
- The Wrangell–Saint Elias Wilderness area is the largest Wilderness area in the U.S. covering more than nine million acres of rugged Alaskan mountains and forests
- The U.S. Forest Service, of all the agencies, manages the most Wilderness areas—439 separate areas covering 36,160,078 acres
- The Appalachian Trail passes through 25 Wilderness areas
- The Continental Divide Trail passes through 26 Wilderness areas
- The Gila Wilderness was the world’s first Wilderness area, established on June 3, 1924
- The Forest Service manages 33 percent of the acreage within the National Wilderness Preservation System
Check our our Wilderness timeline in "Your National Forests Summer-Fall 2014"
For more information about Wilderness, visit Wilderness.net.
Celebrate the 50th Anniversary of the Wilderness Act this year. VisitWilderness50th.org.