Why These Places

From the lush forests of the Greater Smoky Mountains to the fragile tundra plains of Alaska’s Arctic, many of our most precious wildlands still remain unprotected.

Today, only about 110 million acres of America's public lands are permanently protected wilderness. These areas, free of human development, are the last remnants of the pristine wildlands that once stretched from coast-to-coast.

The red-rock canyons of southeastern Utah, the stunning peaks of the Rocky Mountain Front, the cool northern forests of Maine and New Hampshire, the wildlife-rich Western Arctic Reserve in Alaska and Appalachia's Greater Smoky Mountains — these and other wild places together have countless natural and human benefits. They are a window on our natural heritage.

Yet, as cities sprawl and we become an increasingly urban population, these iconic wild places are threatened by human over-use.

As cities sprawl and we become an increasingly urban population, these iconic wild places are threatened by human over-use.


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At Wilderness, we work in seven key landscapes to make sure that the wildlands within them are protected for generations to come:

Alaska and the Arctic

Alaska is home to some of the largest and most sensitive tracts of wild land left on Earth. The Wilderness Society is committed to saving them for future generations.


From stunning Sierra forests to vast desert vistas, we are working to preserve California’s spectacular wilderness, enhance recreation and guide the wise use of our public lands.

Colorado Plateau

The Colorado Plateau is the last remnant of the Wild West.  This wild, untamed area covers parts of Arizona, Utah, Colorado, New Mexico and Wyoming.

Crown of the Continent

The Crown of the Continent in Montana is a world-class gateway to adventure in a land that stands still in time.

Greater Smoky Mountains

The wild forests of the Greater Smoky Mountains in North Carolina and Tennessee are home to some of the wildest country in America.

New Mexico

From Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks to Rio Grande del Norte, some of the wildest land left in the Rocky Mountain West is in New Mexico. We have a lot of work to do to protect these places for future generations.

North Cascades

The North Cascades is a spectacular body of cascade-filled mountains that lie between the waters of the Puget Sound and the mighty Columbia River in the heart of Washington state.

Northern Forest

The Northern Forest stretches across New England and is known for its breathtaking scenery, abundant wildlife and world-class camping, hiking, and fishing. It’s one of America’s greatest natural treasures.

We also work in a number of other wildlands on place-based campaigns, in:

Pockets of designated wilderness areas already exist within these vast landscapes, But adjacent to these wilderness areas are lands no protection at all, or with varying levels of protection, including:

  • National parks,
  • National forests,
  • Wildlife refuges,
  • Wild and scenic areas,
  • Wilderness study areas,
  • National monuments,
  • National recreation areas,
  • and other kinds of federal lands.

These adjacent areas are critical to maintaining the health of designated wilderness areas and also are areas that could qualify for future wilderness protection.

We use a blend of policy, partnerships and science to understand wilderness, raise awareness about important issues affecting wilderness and wildlands and to inspire people to take action to protect wild places.

Learn more about the issues we work on.

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