Wilderness 50th Anniversary
Celebrating 50 Years of American Wilderness (September 3, 1964 – 2014)
In honor of the 50th Anniversary of the Wilderness Act, we celebrate each of the 757 wilderness areas across 44 states.
Where is your wilderness? Where do you go to unplug and recharge? Wilderness areas can be located within a few minutes of city limits, or they may be secluded and remote. Regardless of the location, these special places offer solitude, serenity, breathtaking landscapes and the rare opportunity to truly disconnect from our hectic lives. “Wilderness is a necessity…There must be places for human beings to satisfy their souls,” said John Muir.
Here are several wilderness experiences to help feed your soul.
The Kootznoowoo Wilderness is within Admiralty Island National Monument in Alaska. Located within the Tongass National Forest, this wilderness spans most of Admiralty Island and features the Pack Creek Viewing Area where permits are required to observe bears in their natural setting fishing for salmon, playing with siblings, sleeping and roaming.
The Desolation Wilderness within the Eldorado National Forest in California is a destination for alpine lakes, scenic waterfalls and towering granite peaks. Permits are required for overnight camping and day use activities and campfires are never allowed. Visitors to this wilderness can also follow 17 miles of the Pacific Crest National Scenic Trail as it traverses from Echo Lakes to Richardson Lake.
Inyo National Forest Wilderness Areas
The Inyo National Forest in California covers 2 million acres and is home to nine wilderness areas. Wilderness permits are required year-round for all overnight trips into the John Muir, Ansel Adams, Golden Trout and Hoover Wilderness, as well as wilderness areas in Sequoia, Kings Canyon and Yosemite National Parks.
Frank Church River of No Return Wilderness
The Frank Church River of No Return Wilderness in the Salmon-Challis National Forest in central Idaho is the second largest wilderness outside of Alaska and is one of the deepest gorges in North America, deeper than the Grand Canyon. The Salmon River Canyon attracts boaters from around the world seeking permits to run and float the Salmon River.
Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness
The Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness in the Superior National Forest in Minnesota offers more than 1,200 miles (1,931 km) of canoe routes, 11 hiking trails and approximately 2,000 designated campsites. The area covers about 1.3 million acres and extends nearly 150 miles (241 km) along Voyageurs National Park and Canada’s Quetico Provincial Park. Permits are required year-round.
The National Park Service’s Bandelier Wilderness in the Bandelier National Monument in New Mexico is a landscape of diverse geological, cultural and historical features that weave together a unique story of the past. Hiking here requires a backcountry permit and visitors should be aware that a fire in 2011 has caused some trail damage.
Also in New Mexico is the Cebolla Wilderness within the El Malpais National Conservation Area and managed by the Bureau of Land Management. Several trails within the wilderness lead visitors to archaeological sites, sandstone formations and historic homesteads.
Wichita Mountains Wilderness
Oklahoma’s Wichita Mountains Wilderness includes some of the earth’s oldest ranges, dating back 500 million years. Located within the Wichita Mountain Wildlife Refuge, this wilderness also includes the public use area known as Charon’s Garden Wilderness area, offers world-class wildlife viewing, including the American Bison and even Texas Longhorn Cattle.
Wilderness in America
Learn more about Wilderness in America, including the El Toro Wilderness in the El Yunque National Forest in Puerto Rico. Before exploring wilderness, learn about planning and being prepared for backcountry travel and camping.
Wilderness Backpacking Go List
Our Wilderness Backpacking go list features 10 areas that beckon an overnight trip for those prepared and experienced for this type of backcountry travel. Go ahead, find yourself in the wilderness landscape and feel a connection to nature like no other.