The Absaroka-Beartooth 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 Absaroka-Beartooth 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.
o Party size throughout the Absaroka Beartooth Wilderness is limited to no more than 15 people per party. Groups larger than 15 people must split into two or more smaller groups and camp a minimum of 1/2 mile apart.
o Storing equipment, personal property or supplies (caching) is prohibited in the Absaroka Beartooth Wilderness.
o Camping or otherwise occupying a single location for a period longer than 16 consecutive days is prohibited. The term "location" means the occupied undeveloped campsite and the lands within a five mile radius of the campsite. After leaving a location, a minimum of seven days is required before any group or person (s) from that group may reoccupy their original location.
o Shortcutting a switchback on a trail is prohibited.
o Disposing of debris, garbage or other waste is prohibited.
o It is prohibited to possess or use a wagon, cart, or other vehicle (including game carts).
o Absaroka Beartooth Wilderness visitors are required to store all food, refuse, animal carcasses or other wildlife attractants acceptably (so as to make them unavailable to wildlife) from March 1 through December 1. These attractants are required to be acceptably stored anywhere in the Absaroka Beartooth Wilderness. See the Gallatin National Forest Website at: http://www.fs.usda.gov/detail/gallatin/home/?cid=stelprdb5127768 for specific information on proper storage of attractants and food. In summary proper storage means:
1. All food, refuse or other attractants must be acceptably stored or acceptably possessed during daytime hours (either in certified bear resistant containers and/or utilizing a method listed on the most recent Interagency Grizzly Bear Committee Certified Bear Resistant Products List, or hung 10 feet off the ground, 4 feet away from the trunk of the tree or pole).
2. All food, refuse or other attractants must be acceptably stored during nighttime hours, unless it is being prepared for eating, being eaten, being transported, or being prepared for acceptable storage.
3. Any harvested animal carcass must be acceptably stored, unless the carcass is being field dressed, transported, being prepared for eating, or being prepared for acceptable storage.
4. Camping or sleeping areas must be established at least 1/2 mile from a known animal carcass (on the ground) or at least 100 yards from an acceptably stored animal carcass.
5. The responsible party shall report the death and location of livestock to a Forest Service official within 24 hours of discovery. Any Forest user finding dead livestock should contact the Forest Service.
6. Burnable attractants that cannot be completely consumed by fire (i.e., no post burning residue) must be packed out.
o Placing or possessing salt for the purposes of attracting wildlife is prohibited in the Absaroka Beartooth Wilderness. Persons providing salt to pack and saddle stock in approved corrals or other approved livestock feeding locations in the immediate vicinity of camp are exempt from this provision.
o All campfires except for camp stoves fueled with liquid or propane fuel are prohibited at Black Canyon Lake and in Black Canyon drainage.
o All campfires except for camp stoves fueled with liquid or propane fuel are prohibited in the upper East Rosebud drainage above the outlet of Twin Outlets Lake. This prohibition applies to Fossil, Cairn, Dewey, Medicine, Oly and other small unnamed lakes at the head of the East Rosebud Drainage.
o Camping or building a fire (other than propane or gas campstoves) within 200 feet of any lakeshore or 100 feet of any live stream in the East Unit of the Absaroka Beartooth Wilderness (east of the Stillwater River drainage) on the Custer National Forest.
o Camping or building a campfire within 200 feet of the west shore of the Stillwater River (from the Woodbine Trailhead to mile marker 4) and around shoreline of Sioux Charlie Lake on the Custer National Forest.
o Using more than 15 head of horses or pack stock in any group is prohibited in the East Half of the Absaroka-Beartooth Wilderness.
o Using more than 25 head of horses or pack stock in any group is prohibited in the West half of the Absaroka-Beartooth Wilderness.
o Hitching, tethering, or picketing horses or otherwise containing livestock in violation of posted trailhead instructions, or within 200 feet of a lake or 100 feet of a stream or free-flowing water is prohibited in the Absaroka Beartooth Wilderness.
o All livestock feed must be certified weed seed free. It is prohibited to possess, store or use animal feeds, hay, grain, straw or cubed hay that are not certified as weed seed free in the Absaroka Beartooth Wilderness. Weed seed free products must be certified as being noxious weed seed free by an authorized State of Department of Agriculture official or designated county official; each individual bale or container must be tagged or marked as weed free and reference the written certification.
o Free trailing of pack or saddle stock is prohibited anywhere in the Absaroka Beartooth Wilderness.
o Livestock are seasonally prohibited on the trail-less portions of the Beartooth Plateau. Use or possession of live-stock including but not limited to horses, mules, pack goats, and llamas is prohibited from December 2 - July 31 on the trail-less portion of the Beartooth Plateau on the Gardiner Ranger District. Please see the Gallatin National Forest website for detailed maps.
o Overnight use of or camping with live-stock including but not limited to horses, mules, pack goats and llamas is prohibited yearlong within the trail-less portion of Beartooth Plateau on the Gardiner Ranger District. Please see the Gallatin NF website www.fs.fed.us/r1/gallatin for detailed maps.
o Use or possession of live-stock including but not limited to horses, mules, pack goats and llamas is prohibited yearlong within 1000 feet of Summerville and Castle Lakes on the Beartooth Plateau, Gardiner Ranger District. See the Gallatin National Forest website for detailed maps www.fs.fed.us/r1/gallatin under travel planning button for detailed maps.
o All pack and saddle stock are prohibited from being on or using the Mystic Lake Trail #19 on the Beartooth Ranger District from the trailhead at the power plant to the junction of trail #17 except during the fall deer/elk/bighorn sheep big game hunting seasons.
o Stock are prohibited yearlong in the Zimmer and Aero Lake areas. Possession of or camping with stock in the Zimmer and Aero Lake drainages on the Gardiner Ranger District, including the Zimmer Lake Trail #574 and Lady of the Lake Trail #31 north of the junction of these two trail in Section 32, T.8S., R.15E. is prohibited yearlong. See the Gallatin NF website: www.fs.fed.us/r1/gallatin under the travel planning button for detailed maps.
o Stock use or possession of livestock including but not limited to horses, mules, pack goats and llamas is prohibited on the Pine Creek Lake Trail # 47 on the Livingston Ranger District from December 2 to September 15.
o Stock use or possession of stock including but not limited to horses, mules, pack goats and llamas is prohibited seasonally on the Thompson Lake Trail #282 on the Livingston Ranger District between April 1 and June 15.
Learn more about why regulations may be necessary in wilderness