“Wilderness” is a word with widely different meanings to different people.  For the U.S. Forest Service, Wilderness refers to a designated area of national forest land established as Wilderness through law by an Act of Congress, as a part of the National Wilderness Preservation System (NWPS).  The Wilderness Act of 1964 legally 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.”

The George Washington & Jefferson National Forest are home to twenty-three Wildernesses designated between 1975 and 2009, totaling 139,461 acres.  Wilderness stewardship on the George Washington & Jefferson National Forest is designed to:

  • Preserve the natural character of the area
  • Allow natural forces to dominate the character of the land
  • Provide opportunities for solitude and primitive recreation activities
  • Allow of undisturbed development of plant and animal species and the protection of their habitat

Motorized equipment and mechanical transport are not allowed in Wilderness.  Group size is limited to ten people in all Wildernesses on the George Washington & Jefferson National Forest.


Wilderness Acres District  Counties
Barbours Creek 5,382 Eastern Divide R.D. Craig
Beartown 5,609 Eastern Divide R.D. Tazewell
Brush Mountain  4,794 Eastern Divide R.D. Montgomery
Brush Mountain East 3,743 Eastern Divide R.D. Craig
Garden Mountain 3,291 Eastern Divide R.D. Bland
Hunting Camp Creek 8,470 Eastern Divide R.D. Bland
James River Face 8.886 Glenwood-Pedlar R.D. Bedford, Rockbridge
Kimberling Creek 5,805 Eastern Divide R.D. Bland
Lewis Fork 5,926 Mount Rogers NRA Grayson, Smyth
Little Dry Run 2.858 Mount Rogers NRA Wythe
Little Wilson Creek 5,458 Mount Rogers NRA Grayson
Mountain Lake 16,511 Eastern Divide R.D. Craig, Giles, Monroe
Peters Mountain 4,531 Eastern Divide R.D. Giles
Priest 5,963 Glenwood-Pedlar R.D. Nelson
Raccoon Branch 4,223 Mount Rogers NRA Smyth
Ramseys Draft 6,518 North River R.D. Augusta
Rich Hole 6,450 James River R.D. Alleghany, Rockbridge
Rough Mountain 9,300 Warm Springs R.D. Bath
Saint Mary’s 9,835 Glenwood-Pedlar R.D. Augusta
Shawvers Run 5,686 Eastern Divide R.D. Craig
Stone Mountain 3,270 Clinch R.D. Lee
Three Ridges 4,608 Glenwood-Pedlar R.D. Nelson
Thunder Ridge 2,344 Glenwood-Pedlar R.D. Bedford, Botetourt, Rockbridge

The official source for Wilderness information is www.wilderness.net.