Enjoy the Wild!

Wilderness designation helps preserve the natural state of the land and protects flora and fauna by prohibiting development and providing for non-mechanized recreation only.

The San Bernardino National Forest has eight designated Wilderness Areas covering 151,341 acres.

Wilderness is a federal land designated by Congress. It is a place "where the earth and its community of life are untrammeled by man, where man himself is a visitor who does not remain....which is protected and managed to preserve its natural condition - Wilderness Act of 1964.
In the Wilderness, preservation of the land, its natural processes, native vegetation and wildlife is the first priority of management. Human use is secondary. All mechanized equipment and vehicles are prohibited (including mountain bikes).

Wilderness is an indispensable part of American history. Native Americans depended on the bounty of wildlands for survival and held Earth and its wild places as sacred. The great western explorers Meriwether Lewis and William Clark were inspired by the untamed beauty of wild places that became the forge upon which our distinctive American national character was created. After just 200 years from the time of Lewis and Clark, the essential wildness of America had virtually disappeared. As Americans realized that the long-term health and welfare of the nation were at risk, a vision for conservation emerged.

In 1964 our nation's leaders formally acknowledged the immediate and lasting benefits of wild places to the human spirit and fabric of our nation. That year, in a nearly unanimous vote, Congress enacted landmark legislation that permanently protected some of the most natural and undisturbed places in America. The Wilderness Act of 1964 established the National Wilderness Preservation System, the system of all America's wilderness areas, to "secure for the American people of present and future generations the benefits of an enduring resource of wilderness."

The United States was the first country in the world to define and designate wilderness areas through law. Subsequently, countries around the world have protected areas modeled after the Wilderness Act. Wilderness is part of our history and heritage and is passed as a legacy to future generations. Indispensable to the American past, the legacy that is wilderness will remain indispensable to the American future.


1. Should I call ahead before visiting?

"Know Before You Go" by checking on road conditions, fire restrictions, and area closures here on our website. During winter months some locations may be inaccessible due to snow.

You may also call the local Offices / Ranger Stations.

2. Do I need a permit?

Day use and overnight permits for the Cucamonga, San Gorgonio and San Jacinto wilderness areas are currently required.

Overnight visitors who obtain a permit and pre-arrange a campsite will improve their experience by ensuring the greatest amount of solitude, and they will gather valuable information on trails, water availability, area closures, fire conditions and responsible recreation (i.e. Leave No Trace principles).

Wilderness Permits also provide a record of visitors to the area, which enables the Forest Service to monitor whether all visitors return. This record has proven valuable in search-and-rescue operations for lost or injured hikers.

It is highly recommend that you leave your itinerary with a friend or family member when visiting any wilderness area.

Signs leading to wilderness areas may have outdated information about permit requirements, which the Forest Service is actively working to correct.

3. Where can I get a permit?

The number of people admitted to the Wilderness is limited on some summer weekends. Wilderness areas fill to capacity well in advance. Some trailheads do require a Recreation Pass.

4. How many people can enter as a group?

If you choose to obtain a wilderness permit group size is limited to 12 people per permit, and 8 stock per permit.

5. How do I cook food in the Wilderness?

Lightweight stoves equipped with a fuel shutoff valve are permitted during parts of the year, but you must check the current forest fire restrictions before you leave for your trip. Additionally, a California Campfire Permit is required.


Campfires are never allowed in Wilderness Areas!

6. Can I take my dog?

Yes, dogs are permitted in Wilderness Areas, but must on a leash no longer than 6 feet and under your control at all times.

On the east side of San Jacinto Mountain, dogs are prohibited as it falls within the San Jacinto State Park Wilderness .

7. Where are the Wilderness Areas?

The San Bernardino National Forest has eight designated Wilderness Areas covering 151,341 acres.

* San Bernardino National Forest System Lands only

Wilderness Regulations - Ethics - Etiquette file pdf icon

Backcountry Safety Tips file pdf icon

Get Involved:

  • The San Gorgonio Wilderness Association The San Gorgonio Wilderness Association is a non-profit group dedicated to protecting the San Gorgonio Wilderness, and to serving the public visiting the forest. These services are provided through the generous donation of time by nearly 120 volunteers, who enjoy our National Forest and Wilderness areas and wish to help protect these precious resources for use by themselves and future generations.
  • The Forest Service Volunteer Association in Idyllwild, helps patrol and maintain trails in the San Jacinto Wilderness. They have a downloadable Wilderness Permit for mail-in applicants, camping and hiking information.
  • Front Country Recreation Volunteers in Lytle Creek provide information to the public, repair and maintain trails, pick up litter, and monitor resources across the Front Country Ranger District and Cucamonga Wilderness. Volunteers attend a two-day training workshop in April every year.
  • Santa Rosa and San Jacinto Mountains National Monument Located as a backdrop to the desert communities of the Coachella Valley, the National Monument serves as a model for community based support. It reflects the vision of the local jurisdictions and national desires to ensure special landscapes within our country are protected as open space for current and future generations.