NPS Wilderness Permit Checklist

NPS Visitor and Resource Protection Division

Updated Law Enforcement, Security, and Emergency Services

What It Is

The Wilderness Permit Checklist provides guidance on activities in wilderness study areas, proposed wilderness, potential wilderness, recommended wilderness and designated wildrness areas. The checklist considers variables such as if the activity is wilderness dependent, potential impacts of the activity, public use, changes to wilderness character, use of motorized vehicles and equipment and filming.

Why It Matters

In 1964, in a nearly unanimous vote, the United States Congress enacted landmark legislation that added protection to some of the most natural and undisturbed public land in America. The Wilderness Act established the National Wilderness Preservation System to “secure for the American people of present and future generations the benefits of an enduring resource of wilderness.” Generally the NPS will not issue a wilderness permit for activities inconsistent with wilderness resources and character or if they do not require a wilderness setting.

The National Park Service sees the value in protecting wilderness resources. But the Service also sees the value in letting visitors enjoy wilderness. To that end, this handy checklist was created to help park personnel determine whether they can and/or should issue a wilderness permit.

Additional Information

In addition to consulting with your park and regional wilderness specialists, the following links may be helpful:


  • Does this checklist provide you with a better understanding of the decision-making process that goes into what activities can occur in a wilderness area?

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