Parks - Rocky Mountain National Park Wilderness|
Wilderness...the word has different meanings to different people, but
here in Rocky Mountain National Park, wilderness is something special.
Of the park's approximate 265,770 acres, only 2,917 acres has been officially
designated by Congress as Wilderness, yet an additional 248,464 acres
has been recommended as wilderness since 1974. But what does this mean?
In 1964, the Congress of the United States passed a law known as the Wilderness
Act, which created a National Wilderness Preservation System to provide
an "enduring resource of wilderness" for future generations. President
Lyndon Johnson signed the Wilderness Act into law on September 3, 1964
Wilderness, according to the Wilderness Act, "...in contrast with those
areas where man and his own works dominate the landscape, is hereby recognized
as an area where the earth and its community of life are untrammeled by
man, where man himself is a visitor who does not remain." The Wilderness
Act goes on to describe wilderness as a place "retaining its primeval
character and influence" where there are "outstanding opportunities for
solitude". When the Wilderness Act established the National Wilderness
Preservation System, most of the wilderness areas created under the Act
were located in the west. Today, there are designated Wilderness areas
in 48 states.
Rocky Mountain National Park's Wilderness Vision
Rocky Mountain National Park is recognized internationally as one of the
world's most outstanding natural treasures. As a national park and wilderness,
the Park's meadows, forests, alpine peaks and tundra, and everything associated
with them, must be protected in perpetuity. Park managers must carefully
care for these natural and cultural resources. Visitors should be educated
about all that wilderness has to offer in order to understand and appreciate
wilderness resources and values. It is RMNP's vision to be a world leader
and showcase for wilderness protection, management, and education.
A recommendation to officially designate much of Rocky Mountain National
Park as Wilderness, under the Wilderness Act of 1964, was first introduced
to Congress by President Nixon on June 13, 1974. The original recommendation
consisted of 239,835 acres to be designated as immediate Wilderness, and
479 acres to be managed as Potential Wilderness Additions. Since 1974,
legislation for official designation has been introduced several times
which included modifications to the recommended boundaries and acreage
due to changes in land ownership, changes in the place of diversion or
storage for water rights and several boundary adjustments. In 1980, a
park boundary change resulted in 2,917 acres (1,181 hectares) of existing
wilderness within the designated Indian Peaks Wilderness being transferred
to Rocky Mountain National Park.
The park's wilderness areas offer outstanding opportunities for solitude
and recreation. Most park trails are located in recommended wilderness
giving visitors the opportunity to explore and enjoy this unique resource.
Extra care should be taken when exploring Rocky Mountain National Park's
wilderness. Visitors who wish to experience these areas should prepare
their trips well in advance and should practice the principles of Leave
No Trace so that the park's wilderness is protected for future generations