One of our nation's greatest treasures is the National Wilderness Preservation System established by the Wilderness Act of 1964 which gives Congress the ability to designate a portion of our public lands as Wilderness areas.

These special areas are lands to be protected and preserved in their natural condition, without permanent improvements or habitation. 

"A wilderness, in contrast with those areas where man and his works dominate the landscape, is hereby recognized 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 Wilderness Act of 1964


Why are Wilderness Areas Important?

Wilderness provides so much more than a place for humans to camp, hike, hunt or fish. The benefits of wilderness are numerous, including, but not limited to: 

  • Clearn air: Protects some of the cleanest airsheds in the nation
  • Clean water:  Protects watersheds that provide drinking water to millions of people
  • Healthy wildlife: Protects wildlife's natural habitat allowing them to thrive

To learn more, visit the Forest Service Wilderness homepage.


Wilderness Regulations

Please review all Wilderness-Specific Regulations before you visit. Always use Leave No Trace techniques to help keep these areas wild, clean, and pristine.

Keep in mind that all motorized and mechanized (i.e. bikes) vehicles and equipment are not allowed in Wilderness areas. Additional regulations include, but are not limited to:

  • Group size is limited to 15 people.
  • Combination of people and stock = 25.
  • Dogs under control.
  • No unattended campfires.
  • Camping is not allowed within 100 feet of any water source.
  • Outfitter-guides who receive any form of compensation must obtain a special-use permit to operate on public land.
  • Possession of motorized equipment and mechanized means of transport are not permitted.
  • Please check trailhead signs or Forest Service Offices for site-specific camping, campfire, and livestock regulations.
  • Do not fly drones over congressionally designated wilderness areas or primitive areas as many people seek these places for the opportunities for solitude and quiet that they provide.
  • Practice leave no trace ethics.


San Juan National Forest Wilderness Areas



  • Recommended maps for the Weminuche Wilderness are the National Geographic Weminuche Wilderness Map #140, or the Mountains Between Silverton and Durango.
  • Buy maps online: San Juan Mountains Association Map and Book store has maps for purchase online.


Additional Information


Wilderness Videos