50th Anniversary of the Wilderness Act

"The wild beauty that once stretched from shore to shore of our great nation can still be found in America's wildernesses. Every American should experience the awe and wonder that can be found in these truly wild places."
U.S. Forest Service Chief Tom Tidwell


On September 3, 1964 President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the Wilderness Act into law. It established the National Widlerness Preservation System (NWPS) and set aside an initial 9.1 million acres of wildlands for the use and benefit of the American people. Over the past 50 years the NWPS has grown to 757 wilderness areas covering almost 110 million acres.

The 1964 Wilderness Act defines wilderness as "an area where the earth and its community of life are untrammeled by man, where man himself is a visitor who does not remain."

More than half of these areas are within a day's drive of America's largest cities, such as Chicago and New York City. Browse through the listing below to find wildernesses in your state.


Shawnee National Forest
Seven designated wildernesses: Bald Knob, Bay Creek, Burden Falls, Clear Springs, Garden of the Gods, Lusk Creek, and Panther Den.

Hoosier National Forest
One designated wilderness: Charles C. Deam.

Hiawatha National Forest
Six designated wildernesses: Big Island Lake, Delirium, Horsehoe Bay, Mackinac, Rock River Canyon, and Round Island.

Huron-Manistee National Forest
One designated wilderness: Nordhouse Dunes.

Ottawa National Forest
Three designated wildernesses: McCormick, Sturgeon River Gorge, and Sylvania.

Superior National Forest
One designated wilderness: Boundary Waters Canoe Area.

Mark Twain National Forest
Seven designated wildernesses: Bell Mountain, Devils Backbone, Hercules-Glades, Irish, Paddy Creek, Piney Creek, and Rockpile Mountain.

New Hampshire
White Mountain National Forest (under “Highlights” on the right column)
Six designated wildernesses: Caribou Speckled Mountain, Great Gulf, Pemigewasset, Presidential Range-Dry River, Sandwich Range, and Wild River.

Allegheny National Forest
Two designated wildernesses: Allegheny Islands and Hickory Creek.

Green Mountain & Finger Lakes National Forests
(under “Find an Area” on the right column)
Eight designated wildernesses: Big Branch, Breadloaf, Bristol Cliff, George D. Aiken, Glastenbury, Joseph Battell, Lye Brook, and Peru Peak.

West Virginia
Monongahela National Forest
Seven designated wildernesses: Big Draft, Cranberry, Dolly Sods, Laurel Fork, Otter Creek, Roaring Plains West, and Spice Run.

Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest
Five designated wildernesses: Blackjack Springs, Headwaters, Porcupine Lake, Rainbow Lake, and Whisker Lake.