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Buffalo Peaks Wilderness

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Area Management

The Buffalo Peaks Wilderness is part of the 110 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 Buffalo Peaks 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-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.


-- Permits are not required. However, all commercial and non-profit groups are required to obtain a Special Use Permit through the local ranger district office in advance of their trip. If you are using the services of an outfitter-guide, be sure they are licensed and have a Forest Service Permit.

-- Group size is limited to 15 people.

-- Do not cut switchbacks. Doing so can cause severe erosion.

-- Alpine tundra is very susceptible to damage. Walk on durable routes of rock or talus. In the spring, travel on snow and rocks, or plan your trip during drier conditions.

-- When camping, please take time to find the most appropriate site for you and your group. Choose a site that is protected, not visible from the trail, and is at least 100 feet from trails, lakes, streams or any water source. To minimize impacts please use an existing site.

-- Do not store equipment, personal property, or supplies for more than 72 hours.

-- Dogs must be under control at all times and leashed within 100 feet of any trail. Owners whose dog is disturbing wildlife, people, or their property can be cited.


-- Soap, even biodegradable, pollutes the water. Dispose of wash water at least 100 feet away from any water source.

-- Bury human waste in a hole 6 inches deep and 100 feet away from any water source, trail, or campsite. Cover all pit toilets.

-- Pack out all trask including toilet paper, tampons, and left-over food; animals will dig it up otherwise.


Campfires are a tradition, but please consider their impacts:

-- Dead and downed wood is an important component of the ecosystem.

-- Large hot fires or concentrations of charcoal and ash can sterilize soils, leaving them unable to sustain plant life.

-- Many visitors consider fire-rings an eyesore.

If you choose to have a campfire consider the following:

-- Please keep fires small in size and limited to evening and early morning hours.

-- Do not build new fire-rings. Instead, build fires in existing fire-rings that are at least 100 feet from water.

-- Avoid having fires within 1/4 mile of, or above treeline or within 100 feet of lakes, streams or trails. Dead wood removed from Krummholz (dwarf trees near timberline) affects their survival.


-- Groups possessing pack and saddle stock are limited to a maximum combination of 25 animals and people, with a maximum of 15 people.

-- Secure animals 100-200 feet away from lakes, streams and trails. A picket line is less damaging to trees than direct tying. Move stock often when picketing to prevent resource damage.

-- Possessing, storing, or transporting any plant material (with the exception of pelletized feed and rolled grains) is prohibited.

Learn more about why regulations may be necessary in wilderness.