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National Park Service


Over 80 percent of all National Park Service lands are managed as wilderness—including deserts, alpine meadows, tundra, lava beds, swamps, rocky crags, and coasts.


These lands possess different wilderness characteristics. Qualities of wilderness character include a lack of modern development and opportunities for visitors to experience quiet and solitude.

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Pink flower blooms from a cactus

Death Valley Wilderness, Fishhook Cactus  Death Valley National Park

A petroglyph or rock carving of a caravan of bighorn sheep

Bridge Canyon Wilderness  Lake Mead National Recreation Area

Denali Wilderness  Denali National Park and Preserve

Theodore Roosevelt Wilderness, American Bison  Theodore Roosevelt National Park

black bear in subalpine meadow

“I hope the United States of America is not so rich that she can afford to let these wildernesses pass by. Or so poor that she cannot afford to keep them.”

—Mardy Murie


Olympic Wilderness, Black Bear  Olympic National Park

Glacier Bay Wilderness  Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve

happy woman in nature

Shenandoah Wilderness  Shenandoah NP

Phillip Burton Wilderness, Brown Pelican  Point Reyes National Seashore

group of pelicans flying over the sea

Yosemite Wilderness  Yosemite National Park

Man explores grand waterfalls in the snow
Man explores grand waterfalls in the snow


Where You Live

Webisodes: Wilderness Where You Live

starfish and other sealife
Death Valley hiking scene
sunset view with mountains and skyline

The Olympic Wilderness: If Wilderness Could Speak

Wilderness Hike: Death Valley

Join the Movement: Saguaro Wilderness

There are 110+ million acres of designated wilderness in the U.S. Find wilderness areas near you at: wilderness.net

Organ Pipe Cactus Wilderness  Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument

“If future generations are to remember us with gratitude rather than contempt, we must leave them something more than the miracles of technology. We must leave them a glimpse of the world as it was in the beginning, not just after we got through with it.”

—President Lyndon B. Johnson, on the signing of the Wilderness Act of 1964

Zion Wilderness  Zion National Park

What Does Wilderness Mean to You?


Fresh lily blooms

“The lasting pleasures of contact with the natural world
are not reserved for scientists but are available to anyone who will place himself under the influence of earth,
sea, and sky and their amazing life.”

—Rachel Carson, author of Silent Spring

Webisodes: What Does Wilderness Mean to You?

People on wilderness trail
Man taking photo of snow-capped mountain view
woman with guitar

Family Time: Zion Wilderness

Experience the Awesome: North Cascades

Wilderness Song: Shenandoah

  • Alaskan Subsistence ›

    Gates of the Arctic National Park and Preserve


    Traces of human activity in Gates of the Arctic National Park and Preserve are subtle. However, archeological remains of villages and camps dot the landscape and show that for at least 12,000 years, people have called this place home. Subsistence activities continue today, and remain part of long traditions that have created strong spiritual and practical ties between people and the land.

  • Recreation and Solitude ›

    Stephen Mather Wilderness North Cascades National Park


    While motorized vehicles and equipment are not generally allowed in National Park Service wilderness, a network of walking trails, like those in North Cascades National Park, allow visitors to explore the beautiful and vast wilderness landscape. Whether you go out for a day hike or a long backpacking trip, the fresh air and views are sure to be worthwhile.

two men working on a log cabin
  • Connections to Our Past ›

    Zion Wilderness Zion National Park


    Cultural heritage resources in wilderness exemplify the evolving relationship between people and the land. Two 1920s cabins in Zion National Park’s wilderness are connected to early natural resources monitoring efforts. With public input, the park determined the cabins are part of the character of the Zion Wilderness and were restored through wilderness-appropriate techniques.

three people kayaking on a river in autumn
  • Environmental Education ›

    Congaree National Park Wilderness Congaree National Park


    People of all ages visit the cypress-rich Congaree National Park Wilderness to learn about the park’s natural and cultural history. Migratory bird sightings, plant identification, and kayaking are all possible wilderness experiences here.

Rocky Mountain Wilderness, American Pika at Rocky Mountain National Park

NPS Logo NPS Centennial logo Wilderness 50 year anniversary logo
A pika, a small mammal, with short limbs, rounded ears, and no external tail

“Wilderness is not a luxury but a necessity of the human spirit.”

—Edward Abbey