Connecting federal employees, scientists, educators, and the public with their wilderness heritage
What restrictions are there on visiting wilderness?
To protect the wilderness resource and preserve wilderness character, restrictions may be placed on group size, campsite location, or length of stay in individual wildernesses. Visitor education, trail design, and other non-regulatory measures would be tried before restrictions are imposed. Permits are required in some of the most popular and heavily-used wildernesses. They are necessary to preserve the area and to ensure that visitors are provided with a degree of solitude. Permits are either free or have a nominal processing fee. Saddle and pack stock are permitted in most wildernesses, as are non-motorized canoes, rafts, and kayaks. In some wildernesses there may be local restrictions, such as prohibiting dogs or requiring that they be leashed in certain areas. Closure orders may also exist for some wildernesses. Currently, only ten wilderness areas are completely closed to human visitation. Many of these areas are island wildernesses managed by the Fish and Wildlife Service and are closed to visitation because they protect sensitive wildlife habitats, such as migratory bird nesting grounds. Other closures, however, are often temporary, such as short-term trail closures to prevent encounters with wildlife or protect visitor safety (ex. a bear feeding on a moose carcass near the trail; chemical treatement of weeds along a trail), seasonal closures during wildlife breeding times, or more long-term closures affecting areas severely damaged by disturbance (ex. areas damaged by catastrophic wildfire, areas that have sustained heavy damage due to recreational use).