Skip to Main Content
U.S. Forest Service
Caring for the land and serving people

United States Department of Agriculture

Home > Search > Publication Information

  1. Share via EmailShare on FacebookShare on LinkedInShare on Twitter
    Dislike this pubLike this pub


    Recreation use of the National Wilderness Preservation System (NWPS) has increased sixfold since passage of The Wilderness Act in 1964. Use is currently increasing in most designated wilderness areas. However, the wilderness visitors of today, the trips they take, and their management preferences are not very different from those of a decade or two ago. Some of the impacts of recreation use are stable, while others are worsening. Impacts to a maintained wilderness trail system were found to be relatively stable over an 11-year period. Conditions on long-established campsites only deteriorated slightly over 5- to 11-year periods; However, aggregate campsite impact has increased greatly due to dramatic increases in the number of campsites (53 to 123% increases in the wilderness areas studied). These findings suggest that problems with wilderness recreation are pronounced and increasing. More investment by management and commitment to dealing with problems is needed to meet wilderness recreation management goals.

    Publication Notes

    • You may send email to to request a hard copy of this publication.
    • (Please specify exactly which publication you are requesting and your mailing address.)
    • We recommend that you also print this page and attach it to the printout of the article, to retain the full citation information.
    • This article was written and prepared by U.S. Government employees on official time, and is therefore in the public domain.


    Cole, David N. 1996. Wilderness recreation in the United States: trends in use, users, and impacts. International journal of wilderness. 2(3): 14-18


    recreation, management, wilderness, visitors, environmental impact, campsites

    Related Search

    XML: View XML
Show More
Show Fewer
Jump to Top of Page