Wilderness Rules and Regulations

The increasing use of our nation's Wilderness areas has led to an increase in rules regulating recreation activities. Many regulations have been imposed as a result of increased human impacts in these areas. The goal of wilderness management is to manage human use and influences so as not to alter natural processes; it is not to mold nature to suit people.

Plan carefully, always use Leave No Trace principles, and follow the below regulations.

The Following Acts are Prohibited in the Black Elk Wilderness:

  • Group Restrictions: 25 Heartbeats
    • Entering or being in the Black Elk Wilderness as part of a group larger than 25 people and/or livestock combined is prohibited.
  • Black Elk Peak Restriction
    • Camping within ¼ mile of Black Elk Peak summit or within the Lookout tower on Black Elk Peak is prohibited.
  • Campsite Restriction
    • Camping within 100 feet of water sources is prohibited.
  • Human Waste Restriction
    • Disposing of human waste within 100 feet of a stream or water is prohibited.
  • Shortcutting Prohibited
    • Shortcutting a switchback in a trail is prohibited.
  • Stock Use Restriction -  No Hitching or Tethering
    • Hitching, tethering, or tying a horse or other saddle or pack animal to a live tree except while loading or unloading OR within 100 feet of a stream is prohibited.
  • Dogs Restricted
    • Possessing a dog not on a leash or under strict voice control is prohibited.
  • Motorized Mechanized or Other Vehicles Prohibited
    • Possessing or using a bicycle, stroller, wagon, cart (including game carts) or other motorized or mechanized vehicle is prohibited.
  • Caching of Equipment Prohibited
    • Storing, or leaving equipment, personal property or supplies for longer than 72 hours is prohibited.
  • Stock Feed Restricted
    • Possessing, storing, or transporting any hay, straw, and mulch which has not been certified as free of noxious weeds and seeds by a certified State or County Officer to minimize the potential for viable noxious weed seeds is prohibited.
  • Campfires Prohibited
    • All open fires are prohibited except in designated sites.


Regulations are enforced under Federal law. Violations are punishable by a maximum fine of $5000 and/or six months imprisonment (Title 16 USC 5512).