Where - 1 ... 2
Introduction to wilderness (Alt + 1)
What is wilderness? (Alt + 2)
Where is wilderness? (Alt + 3)
Why do we choose to protect wilderness? (Alt + 4)
How is wilderness managed? (Alt + 5)
Who is connected to wilderness? (Alt + 6)
Wilderness up close (Alt + 7)
Wilderness and You (Alt + 8)
Interactive map
Facts and figures
Creating wilderness areas
Help and Information Center (Alt + H)
Return to Wilderness Main Index (Alt + I)
Return to Views Visitor Center (Alt + V)
Glossary (Alt + G)
Text-only Page (Alt +T)
Teacher Resource Center for Wilderness (Alt + R)

Wildlands once spread far and wide across the Earth. Today, only fragments of untrammeled lands remain. In North America, we find these lands mostly in wilderness. In 1964 Congress designated America’s first federal wilderness areas. Collectively, these areas are called the National Wilderness Preservation System. Between 1964 and 2004, the system has grown from 9 million acres (3,643,300 ha) to 106 million acres (42,898,200 ha) and contains 662 wilderness areas in 44 of 50 states. Overall, however, only about 5% of the entire United States—an area slightly larger than the state of California—is protected as wilderness. Because Alaska contains more than half of America’s wilderness, only about 2.5% of the contiguous United States—an area about the size of South Dakota—is protected as wilderness.

Some people think that wilderness is only found in remote places, like towering mountains or vast sandy deserts. What do you think? The National Wilderness Preservation System actually