50th Anniversary of the Wilderness Act

Logo for the Wilderness Act's 50th Anniversary Celebration. "Wilderness 50 Years; 1964-2014; Yours to Enjoy and to Protect."

The year 2014 marks the 50th Anniversary of the Wilderness Act, making it the perfect time to have a wilderness experience. Point Reyes National Seashore is home to the Phillip Burton Wilderness Area, where visitors can explore 33,373 acres of forested ridges, coastal grasslands, sand dunes, and rugged shoreline. Visitors can enjoy a quiet evening on a secluded beach watching the sun set over the Pacific Ocean, or experience the power of a winter storm or the spring winds generating massive waves on the Point Reyes Beach. Over one-hundred miles of trails wind their way through the park's Wilderness, inviting visitors to leave the stress of today's mechanical/electronic world behind for an hour or a day. Wildlife also thrives throughout the park's Wilderness. Visitors may observe tule elk on Tomales Point, harbor seals, waterfowl, and shorebirds in the Estero de Limantour, and a multitude of marine invertebrates in tidepools. All of this within a couple-hours travel time for over 8 million San Francisco Bay area residents.

President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the Wilderness Act on September 3, 1964, to provide the highest level of protection for some of America's iconic, wild landscapes. In celebration of the act's 50th anniversary, visitors from around the world will be hiking wilderness trails, exploring wilderness areas online, and further strengthening their connection to these special American places.

Sculptured Beach.
Sculptured Beach.

The National Park Service manages 50 parks with designated wilderness that provide opportunities for solitude and primitive recreation, enjoyment of the natural night sky, and spiritual replenishment. These areas are diverse and include forested mountains, deserts, alpine meadows, tundra, lava beds, coasts, and even swamps. Over 40 million acres of lands are designated as wilderness across the national parks system because they have outstanding opportunities for solitude that people enjoy through recreational, scenic, scientific, educational, conservation, and historical use.

Wilderness areas provide intact habitat for wildlife, clean drinking water for cities, recreational opportunities for outdoor enthusiasts, sources of inspiration for artists, and much more. Join the NPS in recognizing the 50th anniversary of the Wilderness Act by reflecting on what wilderness means to you—is it a place of inspiration? Adventure? Or maybe even a place you have not visited but still appreciate?

Volunteers removing capeweed at Tomales Point.
Volunteers removing capeweed at Tomales Point.

Wilderness areas are public lands. This means wilderness belongs to everyone. In 2014, let’s honor 50 years of wilderness together. We can all be stewards of these special places and ensure their protection for another 50 years. To learn more about how you can be a wilderness steward, visit http://www.wildernessvolunteers.org/.

National parks across the country are recognizing this important anniversary in ways as diverse as the landscapes they are honoring—wilderness walks, art exhibits, trail maintenance projects, guest speakers, etc. You are invited to join your national parks to recognize the 50th anniversary of the Wilderness Act by participating in one of the many activities offered. Visit http://www.wilderness50th.org/events.php to find out about activities happening near you.

To learn more about the 50th anniversary of America's wilderness and upcoming events, visit www.wilderness50th.org.

Videos from NPSWilderness:
Wilderness Calling: Point Reyes
Wilderness Motion: Point Reyes
Wilderness Visions: Point Reyes
America's Wilderness

Learn more about Wilderness Stewardship and Science in the Winter 2011–2012 issue of Park Science (html or 19.0 MB PDF).

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Last updated: February 28, 2015

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Mailing Address:

1 Bear Valley Road
Point Reyes Station, CA 94956


(415) 464-5100
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