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Powderhorn Wilderness

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Area Management

The Powderhorn 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 Powderhorn Wilderness to ensure protection of this unique area.

Bureau of Land Management Information

-- No permits or fees are necessary for the general public to visit the area. Outfitted groups - both for-profit and non-profit must have a Special Recreation Use Permit to operate in this area. Check at least 6 months in advance with the BLM office in Gunnison.

-- Group size is limited to 25 heartbeats (people, horses, dogs etc.) but groups are encouraged to limit to 15 heartbeats.

-- Fire bans are sometimes in effect in dry years - check with the local office (970) 641-0471 for the current conditions.

-- Picking flowers or other plants is strongly discouraged. Cutting of live standing trees is not allowed, and cutting of standing dead trees is strongly discouraged due to their importance as wildlife habitat.

-- The defacement or removal of anything historical or archaeological in nature is prohibited.

-- Dogs should be under control (leash or direct verbal control) at all times.

-- Certified weed-free forage is required for stock users.

-- Motorized equipment (chainsaws, generators, etc.) and equipment used for mechanical transport (bicycles, game carts, etc.) is prohibited. Use of motor vehicles is prohibited.

-- Leave No Trace practices are strongly encouraged to preserve the area for future users. Visitors are encouraged to sign in at trailheads to help keep track of visitation.

Forest Service Information

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-Specific Regulations

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.


-- Group size is limited to no more than 15 people.

-- Campfires are prohibited within 100 feet of any lake, steam, or trail.

-- Caching equipment, personal property, or supplies for longer than 7 days is prohibited.

-- Dogs must be under control (voice control or leash) at all times.

-- Do not cut switchbacks.


-- Camping is prohibited within 100 feet of any lake, stream, or trail.


-- Group size is limited to no more than 25 heartbeats, including people and pack or saddle stock, with no more than 15 people.

-- Certified weed-free forage (hay, pellets, processed grains) is required.

-- Confining stock (including picketing, corralling, and high-lining) is prohibited within 100 feet of any lake, stream, or trail.

Learn more about why regulations may be necessary in wilderness.

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