The term "wilderness character" was first referenced in the 1964 Wilderness Act. The Act states that federal agencies, like the NPS, are responsible for preserving the wilderness character of wilderness areas.
Wilderness character is a holistic concept based on the interaction of (1) biophysical environments primarily free from modern human manipulation and impact, (2) personal experiences in natural environments relatively free from the encumbrances and signs of modern society, and (3) symbolic meanings of humility, restraint, and interdependence that inspire human connection with nature. Because personal experiences and symbolic meanings are intangible and may differ from person-to-person, further defining these components of wilderness character has not occurred.
The agencies that manage wilderness, including the NPS, have defined the 5 tangible qualities of wilderness character:
Last updated: August 3, 2017