NPSWilderness Photo

Wilderness is the land that was – wild land beyond the frontier . . . land that shaped the growth of the nation and the character of its people.

Wilderness is the land that is – rare, wild places where one can retreat from civilization, reconnect with the Earth, and find healing, meaning and significance.

In 1964, in a nearly unanimous vote, the United States Congress enacted landmark legislation that added protection to some of the most natural and undisturbed public land in America. The Wilderness Act established the National Wilderness Preservation System to “secure for the American people of present and future generations the benefits of an enduring resource of wilderness."

To learn more about the background of the Wilderness Act and how the idea of wilderness influenced American history, look at HISTORY.

Over half of National Park Service lands are designated as wilderness. To find out where and how to explore wilderness, click on EXPLORE.

For more information about how wilderness is defined and details about the National Wilderness Preservation System, look at FACTS.