Zirkel WildernessThe 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 ... an area protected and managed so as to preserve its natural conditions."

With the passage of the Wilderness Act in 1964, Congress created the National Wilderness Preservation System. Wilderness areas are managed to preserve their natural conditions and wild character for present and future generations. They possess outstanding ecological, geological, scientific, educational, scenic, or historic values. 

Please view the special regulations below and always use Leave No Trace techniques to help keep these areas wild, clean, and pristine.

All or part of ten Wildernesses are located at Medicine Bow-Routt National Forests

Never Summer, Rawah, and Neota wilderness areas are managed jointly by the Parks Ranger District and the Arapaho-Roosevelt National Forests.

Wilderness Connect pages: Encampment River, Flat TopsHuston Park, Mount Zirkel, Neota, Never Summer, Platte River, Rawah, Sarvis Creek, Savage Run

Backcountry Ethics

Wilderness areas are for your use and enjoyment, but you must do your part to protect them.  Practice Leave No Trace techniques to prevent and minimize your impact on the land and to other visitors.

  • Camping - Choose an existing campsite at least 200 feet or posted distance from lakes, streams and trails.
  • Campfires - Use a camp stove instead of a fire. If you must have a fire, be at least 200 feet or posted distance from lakes, streams and trails; use an existing fire ring or build a low-impact mound fire.
  • Sanitation - Bury human waste six to eight inches deep and at least 200 feet from lakes or streams.  Do all washing with biodegradable soap at least 200 feet from lakes or streams. Pack out all garbage and leftover food.
  • Trails - Stay on existing trails and avoid shortcutting switchbacks. 

Wilderness Regulations

Regulations are in effect to protect the land and the primitive experience. Wilderness regulations vary between areas. Contact the ranger district office in the area you plan to visit for more information. The following regulations apply to all wilderness areas on the national forests.

  • Motorized/Mechanized Equipment - All forms of motorized equipment and mechanical transport are not allowed. This includes bicycles, motorcycles, ATVs, snowmobiles, aircraft, game carts, chain saws etc.
  • Group Size - Group size may not exceed a combination of 25 people and livestock with the maximum number of people being 15.
  • Pets - Pets they must be kept under voice or leash control at all times to prevent harassment of wildlife and other visitors.


  • Preplan your route and make a responsible person aware of your plans and expected time of return.  Carry appropriate topographic maps and compass and know how to use them.
  • Sign in at trail registers.
  • Prepare for weather extremes. Bring the equipment necessary to stay warm and dry. Lightning is common in the summer. Avoid exposed areas, lone trees and shallow caves during storms.
  • Hazardous organisms exist in backcountry water.  Water from all backcountry sources should be treated before drinking it.
  • Carry first aid and emergency supplies and know how to use them.
  • Sunglasses and sunscreen are recommended.
  • Cell phone service is either unreliable or nonexistent in remote areas.