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 marked the fiftieth 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 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 fiftieth 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 bluffs on the left into the ocean on the right.
Sculptured Beach.

The National Park Service manages fifty 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. To learn more about how you can be a wilderness steward, visit http://www.wildernessvolunteers.org/.

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. Visit http://www.wilderness50th.org/events.php to find out about activities that happened near you.

To learn more about the fiftieth anniversary of America's wilderness, 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 Park Science's Winter 2011–2012 issue.

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Last updated: May 11, 2020

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Mailing Address:

1 Bear Valley Road
Point Reyes Station, CA 94956

Phone:

415-464-5100
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 (i.e., directions to the park; visitor center hours of operation; weather forecast; fire danger information; shuttle bus system status; 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.

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