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Wilderness ... the word has different meanings to different people. In Shenandoah National Park wilderness is a place with specific meaning. 40% of the park is designated by Congress as wilderness (See map). What does this mean?
In 1964, the U.S. Congress passed a law known as the Wilderness Act, which created a National Wilderness Preservation System to provide an "enduring resource of wilderness" for present and future generations.
The Wilderness Act designated 9 million acres of federal public land as wilderness. Subsequent acts of Congress have added wilderness areas to the National Wilderness Preservation System. Today, over 106 million acres across the country are protected as wilderness.
In 1976, Congress designated 79,579 acres of Shenandoah National Park as Wilderness, under the recently adopted Eastern Wilderness Act. The park's wilderness area offers outstanding opportunities for solitude and recreation. Many park trails are in designated wilderness. Most overlooks allow you to view wilderness along Skyline Drive. Wilderness offers respite from hectic daily life. Wilderness provides natural habitat for wildlife and wildflowers and preserves the human history held within the mountains.
Extra care should be taken when exploring Shenandoah's wilderness. Wilderness visitors should practice Leave No Trace principle so that the park's wilderness is protected for future generations of explorers. For overnight camping in Shenandoah's wilderness, plan ahead and prepare by researching Shenandoah's backcountry camping information and regulations.