The Gates of the Mountains Wilderness is part of the 111 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 Gates of the Mountains 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.
-- Party size is limited to no more than 15 people.
-- Storing equipment, personal property, or supplies (caching) is prohibited.
-- Do not shortcut switchbacks.
-- Do not dispose of debris or garbage (including excess livestock salt) in the Wilderness. This does not prohibit the destruction of combustible material by burning or the disposal of human or livestock waste.
-- Store all food in a bear-resistant manner, such as in a bear cannister or in a tree suspended 10 feet high and 4 feet away from the trunk, and at least 300 feet away from your sleeping area. Do not leave human food, pet food, or other attractants (such as garbage, left over food, bacon grease etc.) unttended. Do not bury or burn attractants.
-- Wildlife carcasses that are within 1/2 miles of a camp or sleeping area must be stored in a bear-resistant manner.
-- Mechanical transportation (including wheelbarrows, strollers, bicycles, game carts, or other vehicles) is prohibited.
--Overnight visitors cannot occupy a single location for a period longer than 16 consecutive days. The term "location" means the occupied undeveloped campsite and lands within a five mile radius of the campsite. After leaving, a minimum of seven days is required before any group or person(s) from that group may reoccupy their original location.
-- Using more than 20 head of pack or saddle stock in any group is prohibited.
-- All pack or saddle stock feed must be certified weed seed free. 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.
-- Possessing livestock salt in forms other than block or in excess quantities is prohibited.
Learn more about why regulations may be necessary in wilderness