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Connecting federal employees, scientists, educators, and the public with their wilderness heritage
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Download Wilderness Boundary Data

Choose a data type to view download options.

GIS devices's GIS data download options offer data obtained from the wilderness management agencies in formats intended for easy and accessible public use on computers and mobile devices. In addition to data downloads, wilderness boundary data is viewable through these easy-to-use online maps:
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.

Download a Mapping App (select apps listed)
  • Google Maps and Google Earth apps: These do not mark the actual wilderness boundaries, but a name search will pinpoint one or more locations.
  • Avenza app: Increasingly used by the Forest Service to provide access to PDF travel maps. Search for maps by National Forest name. Free PDF maps and for-pay maps are available through this app.
  • ArcGIS app: Provides access to maps created by ESRI, other companies, and individuals on ArcGIS online.

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. You can also connect to our public wilderness feature service and map service (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. Boundaries are generally reobtained from the managing agencies and updated within this dataset yearly.

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Official Boundary Descriptions

By law, boundary descriptions of wilderness are available to the public. Boundary descriptions for all Forest Service wilderness areas are available for download online. For wilderness areas managed by the Bureau of Land Management, Fish and Wildlife Service, and National Park Service, boundary descriptions can be obtained by contacting the managing office.

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