What is wilderness?

Wilderness, as defined by the Wilderness Act of 1964, is natural place where the earth and its communities of life are left unchanged by people, where the primary forces of nature are in control, and where people themselves are visitors who do not remain.

In 1964, President Lyndon B Johnson signed into law an act that set aside an initial 9.1 million acres of wildlands for the use and benefit of the American people. Since then, Congress has added over 100 million acres of designated wilderness to the American landscape. The Selway-Bitterroot and Frank Church Wilderness are some of the largest, most awe-inspiring, and biologically-diverse natural wilderness spaces that our nation has to offer.

  • The Selway-Bitterroot Wilderness Area encompasses over 1.3 million acres of varied forests and spectacular mountains.
  • Spanning the length of the Bitterroot Mountain range, the dramatic Selway-Bitterroot peaks offer rewarding views across the Idaho-Montana border to those looking for adventure.
  • Four forests: The Bitterroot National Forest, Nez Perce National Forest, Clearwater National Forest, and Lolo National Forest, together make up the third largest Wilderness area in the contiguous United States.
  • With peaks that rise up to 10,157 feet and over 1,490 miles of trails, the Selway-Bitterroot Wilderness Area is a haven for backpackers, hikers, stock users and outdoor adventurers alike.
  • With over 2.3 million acres of mountain and forest terrain, the Frank Church Wilderness Area is the second largest unit of wildlands in the National Wilderness Preservation System and a popular destination for anyone looking to escape into a thriving natural community.
  • There are 296 maintained trails, spanning over 2,616 miles and 3 mountain ranges located within the Frank Church Wilderness Area that make it a prime location for hiking of all kinds.
  • With some of the deepest canyons in the world carved out by the Salmon River, mountains that rise above 10,000 feet, and 370 species of animals there is no shortage of topographical and ecological diversity within the region.
  • Both the Main Salmon River and the Middle Fork of the Salmon River, make the Frank Church wildlands a valuable spot for river enthusiasts, from trout fisherman to whitewater rafters alike.
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