The United States Congress designated the San Rafael Wilderness (map
) in 1968 and it now has a total of 191,118 acres
All of this wilderness is located in California
and is managed by the Forest Service.
After the initial preservation of land under the Wilderness Act of 1964, the original San Rafael Wilderness (1968) was the first Primitive area added to the NWPS's roster. Here in the chaparral-covered San Rafael Mountains, elevations range from 1,166 feet near the confluence of Manzana Creek and the Sisquoc River in the west to over 6,800 feet on Big Pine Mountain near the eastern boundary and Dick Smith Wilderness. Too rocky and shallow to entice river runners, except perhaps in spring high water, all but two of the Sisquoc's 33 Wild and Scenic miles are within the Wilderness, tumbling through pools and oak-shaded grasslands, over waterfalls and past archaeological sites. The region known as Hurricane Deck stretches for 17 miles of steep escarpments, grassy potreros, dry plateaus, and wind-carved sandstone formations. Wildflowers are abundant March through June. The Wilderness contains the Sisquoc Condor Sanctuary, and black bears and mountain lions also live here with numerous smaller animals.
San Rafael Wilderness has over 125 relatively rugged miles of trails that receive moderate human use. A path follows the Sisquoc River east-west for about 26 miles, and campsites abound. Large portions of the Wilderness are closed during fire season (July through mid-November) because of extreme fire danger.