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" secure for the American people of present and future generations the benefits of an enduring resource of wilderness ... devoted to the public purposes of recreation, scenic, scientific, educational, conservation, and historical use."
Uncompahgre Wilderness (Photo by Bob Wick)Gunnison Gorge Wilderness

What is considered wilderness? 
Wilderness is a legal designation outlined in the Wilderness Act of 1964, which offers long-term protection and conservation to identified landscapes on public land. This designation can only be made by Congress and is based on the presence of certain qualities that make up wilderness character. These special places are untrammeled - which human influence is essentially unnoticeable, natural - free from the effects of modern civilization, and undeveloped - retaining their primeval character and essentially without permanent improvements. Wilderness areas must offer outstanding opportunities for solitude or primitive and unconfined recreation. These areas are generally at least 5,000 acres in size.

Why do wilderness areas exist?
With the Wilderness Act of 1964, Congress established the National Wilderness Preservation System to be composed of federally owned lands, designated by Congress, as wilderness areas. Wilderness areas have long been used for science and education; providing sites for field trips, study areas for student research, and serving as a source of instructional examples. Recreation is another obvious appeal of wilderness, as well as being places of solitude, where people can experience freedom from our fast-paced, industrialized society. 

What wilderness areas are in Colorado?
There are five wilderness areas in Colorado that are managed by the Bureau of Land Management: Black Ridge Canyons Wilderness, Dominguez Canyon Wilderness, Gunnison Gorge Wilderness, Powderhorn Wilderness, and Uncompahgre Wilderness. For more information on each wilderness area, please view the interactive list below.

Additional Information:

Wilderness Act of 1964

(Natl. BLM) Wilderness

Map of American Wilderness Areas

Wilderness Explorer Jr. Ranger Activity Guide (50th Anniversary Edition)

   Visit the Arthur Carhart National Wilderness Training Center website


Black Ridge Canyons Wilderness
Black Ridge Canyons

Dominguez Canyon Wilderness
Dominguez Canyon

 Gunnison Gorge Wilderness
Gunnison Gorge

Powderhorn Wilderness         

Uncompahgre Wilderness

BLM Colorado State Office  |  (303) 239-3600  |  2850 Youngfield St., Lakewood, CO 80215

National Conservation Lands Program Lead  |  (303) 239-3752