Water flowing in the Bruneau Wild and Scenic River. Photo by Bob Wick.

Wild and Scenic Rivers

The BLM’s National Conservation Lands include Wild and Scenic Rivers.  Signed in 1968, the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act protects more than 200 rivers in 40 states and Puerto Rico.  Wild and Scenic Rivers are designated into the National Wild and Scenic Rivers System to preserve their free-flowing condition and to protect and enhance their outstandingly remarkable scenic, recreational, geologic, fish, wildlife, historic, cultural, and other similar values.  The Act provides three levels of river classification: wild, scenic, and recreational.

  • Wild rivers are free of dams, generally inaccessible except by trail, and represent vestiges of primitive America.
  • Scenic rivers are free of dams, with shorelines or watersheds that are still largely primitive and shorelines that are largely undeveloped, but accessible in places by roads.  
  • Recreational rivers are readily accessible by road or railroad, may have some development along their shorelines, and may have been dammed in the past.

The BLM has the responsibility of managing 69 Wild and Scenic Rivers in seven states, including more than 2,400 river miles and more than 1 million acres (19 percent of the national system).  In addition to the 69 designated rivers, the BLM manages hundreds of wild and scenic study rivers across the country.  The BLM’s National Conservation Lands provide national-level management and policy guidance for these rivers and represent the agency on the Interagency Wild and Scenic Rivers Coordinating Council.

Browse wild and scenic rivers managed by the BLM by state or region.



In Alaska, the BLM manages six wild and scenic rivers. They were added to the Wild and Scenic River system with the passing of the Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act on December 2, 1980. Several miles of these rivers were protected under law for their wild, scenic, or recreational qualities. Alaska’s wild and scenic rivers all offer recreation opportunities as well as world class sport fishing. Explore BLM Birch Creek, Beaver Creek, Delta, Fortymile, Gulkana, and Unalakleet rivers spread out over Interior Alaska.


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New Mexico


BLM New Mexico manages three wild and scenic rivers (WSR): the Rio Chama WSR (24.6 miles, co-managed by the U.S. Forest Service); the Rio Grande WSS (74 miles); and the Red River WSR (the lower 4 miles before it joins the Rio Grande WSR).  WSRs are designated to preserve certain rivers with outstanding natural, cultural, and recreational values in a free-flowing condition for the enjoyment of present and future generations.  


BLM Oregon and Washington Wild and Scenic Rivers

Oregon has 25 of the 69 Wild and Scenic Rivers managed nationally by the BLM– over 800 miles of roughly 2,400 total miles. These rivers are designated by Congress or the secretary of the interior for preservation of their free-flowing condition, and protection of outstandingly remarkable scenic, recreational, geologic, fish, wildlife, historic, cultural, or other similar values, according to the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act of 1968. For more information, visit: www.rivers.gov.



Eleven river segments totaling 19 miles of the Virgin River drainage are managed by BLM and all are classified as "wild". Each of the segments flows into or out of Zion National Park and a majority are within wilderness areas that were also designated in the 2009 legislation.

Deep Creek Wild and Scenic River

A view of water running through Deep Creek River in Utah. Photo by KT.

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