Bruneau Wild and Scenic River

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 81 Wild and Scenic Rivers in seven states, including about 2,700 river miles and more than 1 million acres (19 percent of the national system).  In addition to the 81 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. Come back soon for more information about the 50th Anniversary of the Wild and Scenic Rivers 50th Anniversary. 

Learn more by visiting this page, the National Conservation Lands State pages or our maps, data, and other resources page!



A view of water flowing in the John Day Wild and Scenic River in Oregon. Photo by Bob Wick

View our wild and scenic river photo collection on @mypubliclands Flickr.

Help Us Celebrate!

The National Scenic and Historic Trails 50th Anniversary Logo

The Wild and Scenic Rivers Act 50th Anniversary Logo