Phillip Burton Wilderness

Light from the setting sun filters through clouds over headlands in the distance and waves washing onto a beach in the foreground.
Sunset from Limantour Beach.

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.

Point Reyes National Seashore's Park Map (8,511 KB PDF) indicates which sections of the park are protected as the Phillip Burton Wilderness.

Seven volunteers with shovels remove European beach grass from sand dunes.
Dune restoration volunteers removing invasive European beach grass.

Wilderness areas are public lands. This means wilderness belongs to everyone. Wilderness areas also provide intact habitat for wildlife, clean drinking water for cities, recreational opportunities for outdoor enthusiasts, sources of inspiration for artists, and much more. Wilderness areas also provide a place for reflection and introspection. What does wilderness means to you? Is it a place of inspiration? Adventure? Or maybe even a place you have not visited but still appreciate? We can all be stewards of these special places and ensure their protection well into the future. To learn more about how you can be a wilderness steward, visit

A man with gray hair wearing a suit and tie.
Congressman Phillip Burton.

The year 2014 marked the 50th Anniversary of the Wilderness Act, making it the perfect time to have a wilderness experience. 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. The US Congress passed legislation (Public Law 94-544) in 1976 that created the Point Reyes Wilderness. The Congress passed Public Law 99-68 in 1985, which declared:

In recognition of Congressman Phillip Burton's dedication to the protection of the Nation's outstanding natural, scenic, and cultural resources and his leadership in establishing units of the National Park System and preserving their integrity against threats to those resources and specifically his tireless efforts which led to the enactment of the California Wilderness Act of 1984, the designated wilderness area of Point Reyes National Seashore, California as established pursuant to law, shall henceforth be known as the "Phillip Burton Wilderness".

Phillip Burton served in the US House of Representatives from 1964 until his death on April 10, 1983.

The logo for the Wilderness Act's 50th Anniversary: "Wilderness 50 Years; 1964-2014; Your to Enjoy and to Protect."

In celebration of the Wilderness 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. National parks across the country recognized this important anniversary in ways as diverse as the landscapes they were honoring—wilderness walks, art exhibits, trail maintenance projects, guest speakers, etc. The public was 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 to find out about activities that were offered.

To learn more about the 50th anniversary of America's wilderness, visit

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

Top of Page



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.


Learn More about the Phillip Burton Wilderness

Loading results...
    Tags: wilderness

    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 (i.e., 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