The Wilderness Act of 1964 recognized wilderness as "an area where the earth and its community of life are untrammeled by man, where man himself is a visitor who does not remain". Designation of the 50,260 acre Petrified Forest National Wilderness Area was signed into law on October 23, 1970. With that legislation lands within Craters of the Moon National Monument and Petrified Forest National Park became the first within the National Park System to be designated as wilderness.
What is Wilderness?
As defined by the 1964 Wilderness Act, wilderness is "...an area where the earth and its community of life are untrammeled by man, where man himself is a visitor who does not remain." The Wilderness Act created our National Wilderness Preservation System and provides the means for Congress to designate "wilderness areas," our nation's highest form of land protection. Today millions of Americans enjoy wilderness for hiking, camping, backpacking, fishing, mountaineering, solitude, and more.
The Petrified Forest National Wilderness Area has two units, one at the north and the other to the south, combined for a total acreage of 50,260 acres. The north unit is the largest with over 43,000 acres. To experience the wilderness at Petrified Forest you can go to either one, hike, ride your horse, take a guided tour, and backpack overnight. Permits are required for any overnight stay and to go into Devil’s Playground either for day or overnight. Be sure to be prepared for your adventure. This is wilderness after all! Bring enough water, food, protection from the sun, and good footwear. If hiking alone, tell someone where and when you are going. Go enjoy!
Last updated: December 31, 2021