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Download Wilderness Boundary Data

Choose a data type to view download options.

GIS devices's GIS/GPS data download options offer data obtained from the wilderness management agencies in formats intended for easy and accessible public use. is in no way condoning or endorsing the application of these data for any given purpose. It is the sole responsibility of the user to determine whether or not the data are suitable for the intended purpose. It is also the obligation of the user to apply those data in an appropriate and conscientious manner. Although attempts to use the most current and complete geospatial data available, accuracy varies. provides no warranty, nor accepts any liability occurring from any incorrect, incomplete, or misleading data, or from any incorrect, incomplete, or misleading use of these data.
The National Wilderness Preservation System Map from ArcGIS Online as seen using ESRI's ArcGIS mobile app.


If you don't have a GPS unit, you can still access wilderness data on many smartphones. Many smartphones also offer GPS capabilities.

Use Your Smartphone Browser

Using your smartphone browser to browse the internet, you can access,'s mobile site, which has maps showing the boundary of each wilderness. Use the "Find a Wilderness" search to go to information about a particular wilderness, then access the map of that area. Alternatively, you can access Google Maps mobile site and search for wilderness areas by name.

Download a Mapping App

Installing the free ArcGIS mobile app will allow you to view a wide variety of maps created by ESRI, other companies, and individuals on ArcGIS online. The National Wilderness Preservation System Map (by wildernesswebmaster99) on ArcGIS online is the official national wilderness map and includes current boundaries for all wildernesses overlaid on basemap imagery. Most other mapping apps, like the Google Earth app for example, do not mark the actual wilderness boundary, but a search will pinpoint one or more center points.

Google Earth

Google Earth screen shot
The Chinese Wall in the Bob Marshall Wilderness as seen using Google Earth.
These files (.kmz format) are for use in Google Earth. Since Google Earth often has performance issues with large files (errors have been reported to this effect), a single file containing all wilderness areas is no longer available. Instead, state-wide files have been created. All of the state files, with the exception of Alaska, California, Nevada and Washington can also be viewed using Google Maps by clicking on the view link provided. In these four cases, multiple files for each state are provided in addition to the state-wide file.

Shapefiles/Map Service

The National Wilderness Preservation System is comprised of wilderness areas managed by the Bureau of Land Management, Fish and Wildlife Service, Forest Service and National Park Service. The dataset available here was created by mining and combining the best available data from these federal agencies into a single dataset representative of the entire wilderness system. The Wilderness Institute at the University of Montana's College of Forestry and Conservation, through a unique partnership with these four agencies, maintains and serves this public dataset online in both map service and shapefile format.

Shapefiles are for use by those with GIS mapping software and expertise using and manipulating geographic data. You can download a shapefile of the entire NWPS or select a wilderness below to download just the boundary for that area. To connect to our public map service, use the following address: (you may need to omit "rest" when adding from ArcGIS). Feature level metadata is available for boundaries that have been updated since 7/22/2009. This Excel spreadsheet provides the date of last update and contact information for the person from which the data was obtained.

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Official Boundary Descriptions

By law, boundary descriptions of wilderness are available to the public. Boundary descriptions for all Forest Service wilderness areas are available for download online. For wilderness areas managed by the Bureau of Land Management, Fish and Wildlife Service, and National Park Service, boundary descriptions can be obtained by contacting the managing office.

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