The National Wildlife Refuge System has more than 20 million acres of designated wilderness. It has 75 wilderness areas – about one-fifth of the designated wilderness acres in the United States -- on 63 refuges in 26 states. About 90 percent of the Refuge System’s wilderness is in Alaska. The Mount Massive Wilderness in Colorado is managed by the Leadville Fish Hatchery.
Learn About Wilderness
The Wilderness Act
The Wilderness Act of 1964 established the National Wilderness Preservation System and a process for federal agencies to recommend wilderness areas to Congress. Wilderness, as defined by the Wilderness Act, is untrammeled (free from man's control), undeveloped, and natural, offering outstanding opportunities for solitude or primitive recreation.
Visitors to wilderness areas may hunt, fish, observe wildlife and take photos if the refuge permits these activities. Many other types of recreation may also be permitted, such as cross-country skiing, canoeing, kayaking and hiking. Check with the refuge about recreation offered.
Learn About Wilderness Fact Sheet (1.77MB)
Did You Know?
Wilderness Fellowship Program
Wilderness Fellows gain valuable career experience while helping advance stewardship of wilderness resources. Natural processes predominate in wilderness areas, making them an important part of a national strategy for monitoring long-term ecological change.
Fellows spend six months in a wilderness refuge, taking training courses, developing an inventory and monitoring strategy, and producing baseline data about wilderness character.
Meet the 2014 Wilderness Fellows (378 KB pdf)