Fire Island Wilderness

View of sand trail and dune vegetation on Fire Island.

New York's Only Federally Designated Wilderness

The Otis Pike Fire Island High Dune Wilderness is the only federally designated wilderness in the State of New York, and is just a short drive or train ride from New York City.

The wilderness extends from the Smith Point Wilderness Visitor Center to Watch Hill. At about 1,380 acres and seven miles long, it is the smallest wilderness area managed by the National Park Service.

The Wilderness Visitor Center is open year-round and is accessible by car. Please be sure to check hours of operation or call ahead at 631-281-3010.


Experience Wilderness

The Otis Pike Fire Island High Dune Wilderness offers a barrier island experience like no other. You will find excellent backcountry camping opportunities and hiking along the trace of the old Burma Road, which runs the full length of the wilderness. Anglers enjoy casting for bluefish, striped bass, winter flounder, and other saltwater species along the shore. Scenic views and abundant wildlife attract bird watchers, wildlife viewers, and nature lovers, alike.

Be sure to properly prepare so you can make the most of your wilderness experience. You're very likely to encounter dense thickets of catbriar and poison ivy. In warmer weather, vast numbers of salt marsh mosquitoes and ticks. Wear light-colored clothing and a wide-brimmed hat to help you detect ticks and protect against the sun. Always be aware of changing weather conditions, tide and ocean conditions and rip currents. For your safety, never swim alone.

From March 15 through Labor Day, pets are not permitted in the Fire Island Wilderness area or on the beach in front of the wilderness to ensure that threatened and endangered beach-nesting shorebirds are protected.


Watch as three young poets from New York City discover wilderness on Fire Island.


Wilderness Designation

The Wilderness Act was signed into law on September 3, 1964. In 1975, what became known as the "Eastern Wilderness Areas Act" provided for the addition of areas that had been severely modified, including the authority to condemn and remove structures, to create designated wilderness in the East.

The Otis Pike Fire Island High Dune Wilderness Act, signed on December 23, 1980, designated approximately 1,363 acres as wilderness in Fire Island National Seashore, and identified 18 more acres as potential wilderness.

In October, 1999, a Federal Register notice announced that 17 acres of potential wilderness by that time fully complied with wilderness standards, and were officially designated as wilderness.

In 2015, the NPS added the last acre of the 18 acres of potential wilderness identified in 1980. Hurricane Sandy destroyed structures on the land, making it eligible for designation and addition to the Seashore’s wilderness area.

Explore Wilderness


Last updated: June 11, 2018

Contact the Park

Mailing Address:

120 Laurel Street
Patchogue, NY 11772


(631) 687-4750

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