What is a Wilderness?

Not every forest is a wilderness. An officially designated wilderness is declared by U.S. Congress for preservation as a natural area to serve present and future generations.

The Wilderness Act of 1964 designated the nation’s first wilderness areas. The Daniel Boone National Forest manages two wildernesses, Clifty Wilderness and Beaver Creek Wilderness, designated on December 23, 1985.

The Wilderness Act defines wilderness as areas that:

  • Are affected primarily by the forces of nature, where man is a visitor who does not remain.
  • Possess outstanding opportunities for solitude or a primitive and unconfined type of recreation.
  • Are undeveloped, federally owned, and generally over 5,000 acres in size.
  • Are protected and managed so as to allow natural ecological processes to operate freely.
  • May contain ecological, geological, or other features of scientific, educational, scenic, or historical value.
  • Are formally designated by Congress as wilderness.

Learn more at wilderness.net

Visiting a Wilderness

Wilderness areas are primitive in nature. The rugged natural environment challenges visitors to be self-reliant and requires excellent outdoor skills. Modern facilities such as toilets, drinking water, shelters or campgrounds are not provided. Few, if any, signs or trails are provided to guide you.

When entering a wilderness you are entering a remote site where cell or radio communications may not exist.  Emergency services may be very limited. 

Wilderness travel is by foot. Motorized vehicles and mechanized equipment such as all-terrain vehicles, chainsaws, bicycles and wheeled carts are prohibited.

You are free to explore and discover all that wilderness provides - solitude, challenge, scenic beauty, and natural ecosystems. Hiking, camping, hunting and fishing are allowed.   

Learn more about what to expect when visiting a wilderness.

Help Protect the Wilderness

As more people seek to escape the urban world and experience nature on its own terms, the wilderness is becoming more impacted from our visits. To ensure that future visitors can have the same high quality wilderness experience, each person must take responsibility to minimize the impact of their visit.

Some important things you can do:

  • Carry out everything you bring in. Do not leave trash or food debris.
  • Use a camp stove instead of building a campfire. If a campfire is necessary, keep it small and tend to it at all times. Never leave a campfire unattended.
  • Never cut or damage live trees.
  • Bury human waste at least 300 feet from water sources.
  • Refrain from taking rocks, wildflowers, antlers or artifacts. Take only memories.
  • Select campsites at least 300 feet away from streams.
  • Do not camp or build fires in rock shelters.

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