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Gulf Islands Wilderness

General Location Maps Contacts Area Management Wilderness Laws Trip Planning Images
Sunrise over the beach
Library image #4203: Horn Island sunrise


The United States Congress designated the Gulf Islands Wilderness (map) in 1978 and it now has a total of 4,630 acres. All of this wilderness is located in Mississippi and is managed by the National Park Service.


Gulf Islands Wilderness emerges from the depths of the Gulf of Mexico as dynamic ropes of white sand originating from the Appalachian Mountains. Horn and Petit Bois Islands, together known as Gulf Islands Wilderness, are recognized as a place of solitude, self-reliance and refuge from modern-day civilization. The wilderness islands are undeveloped, wild coastal landscapes where modern human impacts are very subtle. Gulf Islands Wilderness is part of the American wilderness legacy.

Powerful oceanic and meteorological forces continue to shape these wilderness islands. Expertly adapted wildlife and plant species are part of an intricately connected tapestry of the wilderness islands, encompassing rolling dunes, dense maritime forests, and distinctive wetlands. This ever-changing landscape is habitat for a diverse community of life, including sea oats, live oaks, saw palmetto, prickly pear cactus, southeastern snowy plover, southern bald eagle, American alligator, ghost crab, and three species of snakes, to name a few. All manner of sea life surround the wilderness islands with Atlantic bottlenose dolphin, moon jelly, Portuguese man-o-war, Kemp's ridley. From the early rays of light to star-studded night sky, refuge is discovered as a place to not look at nature but to look from nature.

Planning to Visit the Gulf Islands Wilderness?

Leave No Trace

How to follow the seven standard Leave No Trace principles differs in different parts of the country (desert vs. Rocky Mountains). Click on any of the principles listed below to learn more about how they apply in the Gulf Islands Wilderness.
  1. Plan Ahead and Prepare
  2. Travel and Camp on Durable Surfaces
  3. Dispose of Waste Properly
  4. Leave What You Find
  5. Minimize Campfire Impacts
  6. Respect Wildlife
  7. Be Considerate of Other Visitors
For more information on Leave No Trace, Visit the Leave No Trace, Inc. website.

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