Effects of Noise on Wilderness

Sweeping view of undulating, green mountains and valleys.
A vivid blue sky frames this sweeping view of undulating, green mountains and valleys.


“Wilderness sounds would be here, bird songs in the morning and at dusk. The aspen leaves would whisper and the pines as well, and in the sound of water and wind I would hear all that is worth listening for.” Sigurd Olsen

When noise covers up natural sounds, the entire natural ecosystem shows the effects. Places of deep quiet are most vulnerable. The NPS works to protect the overall wilderness character, and keep it unimpaired for future generations. The natural sounds present in wilderness are part of an interconnecting system of resources that wildlife depends on for survival, and visitors seek when journeying to these quiet places. Human-caused, noise sources stress this system, which creates a domino chain of affects for both animals and humans. While no park is immune to some degree of noise, soundscape management plans based on NPS policies and regulations assess noise threats and help optimize wilderness areas to their natural conditions.

To learn more about NPS wilderness programs and places in general, check out this creative, NPS interactive wilderness website.