Are you using a screen reader? Click here to view the navigation links for this site as a bulleted list.

Partner logos: BLM, FWS, FS, NPS, University of Montana Logo
Connecting federal employees, scientists, educators, and the public with their wilderness heritage
Text size: A | A | A  [Print]

Flat Tops Wilderness

General Maps Contacts Area Management Wilderness Laws Images

Area Management

The Flat Tops Wilderness is part of the 109 million acre National Wilderness Preservation System. This System of lands provides clean air, water, and habitat critical for rare and endangered plants and animals. In wilderness, you can enjoy challenging recreational activities like hiking, backpacking, climbing, kayaking, canoeing, rafting, horse packing, bird watching, stargazing, and extraordinary opportunities for solitude. You play an important role in helping to "secure for the American people of present and future generations the benefits of an enduring resource of wilderness" as called for by the Congress of the United States through the Wilderness Act of 1964. Please follow the requirements outlined below and use Leave No Trace techniques when visiting the Flat Tops Wilderness to ensure protection of this unique area.

General Wilderness Prohibitions

Motorized equipment and equipment used for mechanical transport is generally prohibited on all federal lands designated as wilderness. This includes the use of motor vehicles, motorboats, motorized equipment, bicycles, hang gliders, wagons, carts, portage wheels, and the landing of aircraft including helicopters, unless provided for in specific legislation.

In a few areas some exceptions allowing the use of motorized equipment or mechanical transport are described in the special regulations in effect for a specific area. Contact the Forest Service office for more specific information.

These general prohibitions have been implemented for all national forest wildernesses in order to implement the provisions of the Wilderness Act of 1964. The Wilderness Act requires management of human-caused impacts and protection of the area's wilderness character to insure that it is "unimpaired for the future use and enjoyment as wilderness." Use of the equipment listed as prohibited in wilderness is inconsistent with the provision in the Wilderness Act which mandates opportunities for solitude or primitive recreation and that wilderness is a place that is in contrast with areas where people and their works are dominant.

Wilderness-Specific Regulations

Wilderness managers often need to take action to limit the impacts caused by visitor activities in order to protect the natural conditions of wilderness as required by the Wilderness Act of 1964. Managers typically implement 'indirect' types of actions such as information and education measures before selecting more restrictive measures. When regulations are necessary, they are implemented with the specific intent of balancing the need to preserve the character of the wilderness while providing for the use and enjoyment of wilderness.

The following wilderness regulations are in effect for this area. Not all regulations are in effect for every wilderness. Contact the Forest Service office for more specific information about the regulations listed.


-- Group size is limited to no more than 15 people per group.

-- Campfires are prohibited within 1/4 miles of Trappers Lake, Hooper Lake, Keener Lake, and Smith Lake, and within 100 feet of any other lake, stream, or trail.

-- Storing equipment, personal property, or supplies (caching) for longer than 10 days is prohibited.

-- Do not cut switchbacks.

-- Dogs or other animals must be under physical or voice control at all times and may not harass wildlife, people, or damage property.

-- Mechanical transportation (including wagons, game carts, wheelbarrows, bicycles, or other vehicles) is prohibited.


-- Camping is prohibited within 100 feet of any lake, stream, trail, or “No Camping/Wilderness Restoration Site” sign. Camping is also prohibited within 1/4 mile of Hooper Lake, Keener Lake, Smith Lake, and Trappers Lake.

-- Overnight visitors cannot occupy an individual campsite for more than 14 days or within 3 miles of a previously occupied campsite during a continuous 60-day period.

-- Camping more than 28 days within the continuous 60-day period is prohibited.


0--Group size is limited to no more than a combination of 25 people and pack or saddle stock, with the maximum number of people being 15.

-- It is prohibited to possess, store, or transport hay, straw or mulch. Certified weed free feed that has been processed through chemical or mechanical means such as hay/grain pellets or cubes or rolled grains is allowed.

-- Possessing pack or saddle stock within 1/4 mile of Trappers Lake (except for watering or through travel) is prohibited.

-- Hitching, tethering, or hobbling pack or saddle stock is prohibited within 100 feet of any lake, stream, or trail.

Learn more about why regulations may be necessary in wilderness.

Give us your feedback