50th Anniversary of the Wilderness Act

Logo for the Wilderness Act's 50th Anniversary Celebration. Text: "Wilderness 50 Years; 1964-2014; Yours to Enjoy and to Protect." The zero of number fifty appears as a moon with the silhouette of a wolf over an orange landscape.

The year 2014 marked 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 over 30,000 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 100 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 eight 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 hiked wilderness trails, explored wilderness areas online, and further strengthened their connection to these special American places.

Rocky outcrops extend from tan-colored bluffs on the left into the ocean on the right.
Sculptured Beach.

NPS Photo

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 forty 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. The public was invited to join the NPS in recognizing the fiftieth 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?

Four volunteers removing invasive capeweed from a grassy field.
Volunteers removing capeweed at Tomales Point.

Wilderness areas are public lands. This means wilderness belongs to everyone. In 2014, let’s honor fifty years of Wilderness together. We can all be stewards of these special places and ensure their protection for another fifty years. Visit Wilderness Volunteers to learn more about how you can be a wilderness steward.

National parks across the country recognized this important anniversary in ways as diverse as the landscapes they are honoring—wilderness walks, art exhibits, trail maintenance projects, guest speakers, etc. The NPS invited the public to join your national parks to recognize the fiftieth anniversary of the Wilderness Act by participating in one of the many activities offered.

Learn more about Wilderness Stewardship and Science in Park Science's Winter 2011–2012 issue.

Top of Page

Videos from NPSWilderness:

Visit our keyboard shortcuts docs for details
2 minutes, 17 seconds

Point Reyes National Seashore, located just an hour north of San Francisco, is home to the Phillip Burton Wilderness. This wilderness area protects more than 26,000 acres of important habitat and serves as a place of inspiration for people near and far.

Visit our keyboard shortcuts docs for details
3 minutes, 38 seconds

See the natural rhythms of Point Reyes National Seashore's Phillip Burton Wilderness. Point Reyes is the windiest place on the Pacific Coast, one of the foggiest places in North America, and home to thirty-eight threatened or endangered species.

Visit our keyboard shortcuts docs for details
3 minutes, 40 seconds

Join local photographers Kathleen Goodwin and Richard Blair on Kehoe Beach in the Phillip Burton Wilderness. Point Reyes National Seashore includes 80 miles of coastline, most of which is designated wilderness.

Visit our keyboard shortcuts docs for details
2 minutes, 50 seconds

The Wilderness Act of 1964 established the National Wilderness Preservation System, a national network of more than 800 federally-designated wilderness areas. These wilderness areas are managed by the National Park Service, Bureau of Land Management, US Fish and Wildlife Service, and US Forest Service.


Last updated: April 26, 2024

Park footer

Contact Info

Mailing Address:

1 Bear Valley Road
Point Reyes Station, CA 94956


This number will initially be answered by an automated attendant, from which one can opt to access a name directory, listen to recorded information about the park (e.g., directions to the park; visitor center hours of operation; fire danger information; wildlife updates; ranger-led programs; seasonal events; etc.), or speak with a ranger. Please note that if you are calling between 4:30 pm and 10 am, park staff may not be available to answer your call.

Contact Us