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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.
GPS unit
Wilderness boundaries are displayed in transparent green on Garmin GPS units, allowing other basemaps, such as topo maps, property boundaries or game animal ranges, to show through.

GPS Units

These transparent maps will allow you to add a layer to your Garmin GPS unit showing the boundaries of wilderness areas. Use the maps to see your position relative to wilderness boundaries in the field. You can use these maps in conjunction with other maps, such as topo maps, that you may have on your Garmin GPS unit already.

To use these maps you must:
  • Have a Garmin brand GPS unit and a PC with MapSource installed or a MAC with BaseCamp installed
  • Be zoomed in to at least 5 miles on your GPS OR 7 miles in MapSource/BaseCamp (polygons will not show if you are zoomed out farther)

Installation Instructions

  • PC
    • Clicking on the PC link provided for the state you select below will prompt you to download and run an installer (.exe) which will unzip the appropriate files to your computer and register them with MapSource.
  • MAC
    • Clicking on the MAC link provided for the state you select below will prompt you to download a zip file (.zip). Unpack this zip file using Stuffit Expander (or something similar), then double-click the .gmapi file. MapManager should launch and a window should open up that says "Install these maps?". Click the install button and the map will be installed into Basecamp.

We would appreciate your feedback regarding the utility of these maps in the field.

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.

Bing and MapQuest apps do not show wilderness boundaries, however, individual wilderness areas can be found using each app's search. This will only pinpoint the center of the wilderness, however.

The Google Earth app does not show wilderness areas nor does it allow open searching, however, if you have used one of the Google Earth wilderness boundary data files (click on the Google Earth tab above) to create and save a map online, you can access this map via the Google Earth app.

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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