Eligible and Suitable

Screenshot of the Eligible Suitable Rivers web mapping application.
Click image above to be taken to an interactive map showing rivers within National Park Service boundaries eligible or suitable to become designated Wild and Scenic Rivers. 
To access the data attribute table in the interactive map, click the up arrow at the bottom center of the map.

Within National Park Service boundaries, there are a number of rivers that are eligible and/or suitable for wild and scenic river designation. The original Wild and Scenic Rivers Act included eight river designations and provided a method for continuing to grow the Wild and Scenic Rivers system through studies of eligibility and suitability.

The Wild and Scenic Rivers Act provides three ways rivers can be studied to identify potential additions:

  • Section 2(a)(ii) upon application of a governor of a state.

  • Section 5(a) directs agencies to study specific rivers as authorized by Congress

  • Section 5(d)(1) directs land managing agencies, like the National Park Service, to initiate wild and scenic river studies as part of their typical planning processes

Understanding Eligibility and Suitability in the NPS:

To be eligible for designation, a river must be free-flowing and possess one or more outstandingly remarkable values. Outstandingly remarkable values are river-dependent natural, cultural, or recreational resources that are unique, rare, or exemplary at a regional or national scale. The eligibility analysis consists of an examination of the river’s hydrology, including any man-made alterations, and an inventory of its natural, cultural, and recreational resources.

The final step in the river assessment process for wild and scenic designation is the determination of suitability. This step provides the basis for:

  • determining which rivers should be recommended for addition to the National System and

  • an agency’s recommendation to Congress.

The recommendation to Congress is made by the National Park Service through a document that complies with the National Environmental Policy Act.


Geographic Information Systems (GIS) data of the Eligible Suitable Rivers is available for public download. To download the Eligible Suitable Rivers GIS data, visit the NPS Data Store.

Last updated: April 13, 2021