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La Garita Wilderness

General Maps Contacts Area Management Wilderness Laws

Area Management

The La Garita 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 La Garita 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-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 or visit the websites listed for more specific information about the regulations listed.


Group size limit is restricted to 15 people, with a maximum combination group size(people and stock) not to exceed 25 people and stock.

Building or using a campfire is prohibited: 1. within 100 feet of water or trails. 2. above treeline. 3. within 300 feet of Machin Lake. 4. within the Wheeler Geologic area.

Dogs must be under direct verbal control or leashed at all times.

Leaving or storing equipment or supplies unattended for longer than 7 days is prohibited.

Shortcutting switchbacks in trails is prohibited.


Camping is prohibited within 100 feet of water or trails. Camping is also prohibited within 300 feet of Machin Lake, and camping at designated sites in the Wheeler Geologic Area is required.


Confining pack or saddle animals (highlining, picketing, corralling, etc.) within 100 feet of water or trails, or within 300 feet of the Machin Lake is prohibited.

Certified weed-free forage (hay, pellets, processed grains) is required.

Tying stock directly to trees except during loading and unloading is prohibited.

Learn more about why regulations may be necessary in wilderness.

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