The West Elk 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 West Elk 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
or visit the websites listed
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 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
or visit the websites listed
for more specific information about the regulations listed.
1. Entering or being in the restricted area with more than 15 people per group with a maximum combination of people and stock not to exceed 25 per group 36CFR 261.58 (f)
2. Camping in the restricted area:
a) within 100 feet of all lakes, streams, and/or National Forest System Trails
b) within the vicinity of Sheep Lake as depicted in Exhibit B posted at
trailheads and District Ranger Stations. 36 CFR 261.58 (e)
3. Building, maintaining, attending, or using a fire or campfire in the restricted area:
a) within 100 feet of all lakes, streams, and/or National Forest System Trails.
b) at or above tree line.
c) within the vicinity of Sheep Lake as depicted in Exhibit B posted at
trailheads and District Ranger Stations. 36 CFR 261.52 (a)
4. Storing equipment, personal property, or supplies for longer than 7 days.
36 CFR 261.57 (f)
5. Possessing a dog in the restricted area which is not under control or which is damaging wildlife, people or property except for working stock dogs or dogs used for legal hunting pjurposes. 36 CFR 261.58 (s)
NOTE: The term "under control" is defined as the dog being leashed and/or under direct verbal control of the dog's owner or handler at all times.
Riding, hitching, tethering, or hobbling a horse or other pack or saddle animal in violation of posted instructions (specifically including the posting of this Order as required by 36CFR 261.51) in the restricted area.
Posted instructions hereby prohibit:
a) hitching, tethering, hobbling or fencing a horse or other pack or saddle animal within 100 feet of all lakes, streams, and/or National Forest System Trails.
b) riding, hitching tethering or hobbling a horse or other pack or saddle animal within the designated area at Sheep Lake as depicted in Exhibit B posted at trailheads and District Ranger Stations. 36 CFR 261.58 (s)
Riding saddle or pack stock on National Forest System Trail 848 and hitching in the designated are northwest of Sheep Lake, as depicted by Exhibit B, is permitted.
Learn more about why regulations may be necessary in wilderness