Working to Protect Wyoming's Public Wild Lands.

Living & Playing in Wyoming’s Wild Country

A Primer on Appreciating and Protecting the Wild Country of Wyoming

Wilderness in Wyoming

With the passage of the Wilderness Act in 1964, the following Wilderness Areas were established in Wyoming:

  • Bridger Wilderness in the Bridger-Teton National Forest—383,300 acres
  • North Absaroka Wilderness in the Shoshone National Forest—359,700 acres
  • South Absaroka Wilderness (changed to the Washakie Wilderness in 1972 in the Shoshone National Forest—505,552 acres
  • Teton Wilderness in the Bridger-Teton National Forest—563,460 acres

Then in the 1970’s further additions were designated:

  • Washakie Wilderness in the Shoshone National Forest—added 208,000 acres

The Wyoming Wilderness Act of 1984 designated the following lands in Wyoming as components of the National Wilderness Preservation System:

  • Cloud Peak Wilderness in the Bighorn National Forest—189,039 acres
  • Popo Agie Wilderness in the Shoshone National Forest—101,870 acres
  • Gros Ventre Wilderness in the Bridger-Teton National Forest—317,874 acres
  •  Winegar Hole Wilderness in the Bridger-Teton National Forest—10,715 acres
  • Jedediah Smith Wilderness in the Targhee National Forest—123,451 acres
  • Huston Park Wilderness in the Medicine Bow National Forest—30,588 acres
  • Encampment River Wilderness Area in the Medicine Bow National Forest—10,124 acres
  • Platte River Wilderness in the Medicine Bow and Routt National Forests of Wyoming and Colorado—22,749 acres
  • Corridor Addition to the Teton Wilderness in the Bridger-Teton Wilderness—28,164 acres
  • Silver Creek Addition to the Bridger Wilderness and the Newfork Lake Addition to the Bridger Wilderness in the Bridger-Teton National Forest—36,000 acres
  • Glacier Addition to the Fitzpatrick Wilderness in the Shoshone National Forest—198,525 acres
  • South Fork Addition to the Washakie Wilderness in the Shoshone National Forest—10,000 acres
  • High Lakes Addition to the Absaroka-Beartooth Wilderness in the Shoshone National Forest—23,283 acres

Three wilderness study areas and one special management unit in Wyoming were protected as “de facto” wilderness areas to be reviewed regularly for their suitability for preservation as wilderness:

  • Palisades Wilderness Study Area in the Bridger-Teton and Targhee National Forest—135,840 acres
  • Shoal Creek Wilderness Study Area in the Bridger-Teton and Targhee National Forests—30,000 acres
  • High Lakes Wilderness Study Area in the Shoshone National Forest—14,700 acres 
  • DuNoir Special Management Unit in the Shoshone National Forest

Until Congress determines otherwise, the Palisades, High Lakes, and Shoal Creek Wilderness Study Areas are to be administered by the Secretary so as to maintain their presently existing wilderness character and potential for inclusion in the National Wilderness Preservation Systems, whereas the Shoshone National Forest agency has management authority to preserve the wilderness characteristics of the DuNoir.

There are currently 3,111,232 acres of designated national forest wilderness in Wyoming.  Approximately 5 million acres of primitive wild areas are yet unprotected and deserving of wilderness status in Wyoming, including lands with wilderness potential in the Bureau of Land Management/citizen wilderness proposed areas, national parks and national forest roadless areas. 

You can see a map of Wilderness in Wyoming. 

Wyoming’s Roadless Areas 

Wyoming’s roadless areas are secondary only wilderness as critical to protecting the wild character of the state. Visit Voice For the Wild

National forests in Wyoming encompass over 9 million acres-15% of the state's land base of approx. 63 million acres.

About 5% of the state's land base, 3.2 million acres, are wild roadless areas that are not permanently protected from development (35% of National Forest lands).

Protected Wilderness areas on national forests in Wyoming encompass less than 3.1 million acres. This amounts to only 5% of the state, or about 33% of Wyoming's National Forests. It is mostly "rock and ice" in the northwestern corner of the state.

32% of Wyoming's National Forests are no longer wild due to logging, mining, and over 12,000 miles of roads.

Roadless Area Values

  • Healthy Watersheds and Water Quality:  National Forest watersheds provide drinking water to approximately one-fifth of the U.S. population.  The value of this municipal water resource has been estimated at $3.7 billion annually. Roads are the leading cause of water quality degradation on national forests. The healthiest populations of native fish are found in unroaded and unlogged watersheds.
  • Wildlife:  Roadless areas nationwide support more than 280 threatened, endangered, and sensitive species. These areas provide a place for wildlife to find refuge from industrial development.  Roadless areas provide important habitat for wildlife beloved by Wyoming residents, including imperiled cutthroat trout, lynx, goshawks, and wolverine plus game species like elk and bighorn sheep.  More than 400 scientists have endorsed protection of all roadless areas from road building, commercial logging, and mineral development, citing their critical importance for the recovery of salmon and other fish, among other values.
  • Recreation:  Roadless areas are extremely important recreation areas for many Wyoming citizens and tourists for hiking, camping, wildlife viewing and birdwatching, hunting, and horseback riding. Roadless areas provide the wide open spaces, scenic beauty, tranquility, and wildlife treasured by the people of Wyoming.  As much as $450 million is spent in Wyoming by "adventure tourists" who come to Wyoming to experience wild places such as roadless areas in our National Forests.


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