The Wilderness Act at 50

Where the wild things are

The U.S. has declared more than 100 million acres as wilderness – defined by law as places that “are untrammeled by man, where man himself is a visitor who does not remain.” The designation of wilderness areas has ground to a near halt in the past decade. Advocates for wilderness designation have brought more than 20 bills involving new wilderness before the current Congress.

Move the slider to select a year range and see when wilderness areas were established. Click the map for details on a wilderness area.

Federal land*
Wilderness area**

Data for this map comes from, the U.S. Geological Survey and the Wilderness Society. It was created using Leaflet with tiles from Mapbox.

*Lands include those owned by the U.S. Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management, and Department of the Interior, which are eligible for "wilderness" status.

**Areas on map shown in the year they were originally established. Some areas have gained or lost acres over time. Thus areas shown in any given year may be slightly different in shape or size than when they were established.

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