This 1998 Draft Wilderness Management Plan proposes to set aside large parts of Grand Canyon National Park as wilderness. However, despite large areas being declared "Wild" in the park backcountry management and wilderness areas in Kaibab National Forest (such as the Kanab Creek Wilderness and the Saddle Mountain Wilderness) and in Grand Canyon-Parashant National Monument (such as the Mount Trumbull Wilderness and the Mount Logan Wilderness), no part of Grand Canyon National Park is currently designated as a federal Wilderness area. This contrasts with Zion National Park, where almost the entire park is part of the Zion Wilderness or the LaVerkin Creek Wilderness.

What happened? Why is no part of the Grand Canyon declared as a Wilderness Area?


2 Answers 2


This isn't a direct answer, but keep in mind that the protections in a National Park or National Monument are already fairly strong. A Wilderness designation doesn't add as much there as it would in a National Forest or on BLM land, for example. It is therefore not seen as a high priority to create Wilderness areas within a Park or Monument. Advocacy groups that often push for Wilderness designation get much more result for their effort when spent on areas under threat of logging, road building, cattle ranching, and the like.

Consider that Yellowstone, for example, has been protected quite well just by being a National Park. The activities that have occurred in the back country of Yellowstone wouldn't have been much different if they were in a Wilderness.


There seems to be a lot of in-fighting between government agencies about who gets control over the Grand Canyon.

For a long time, the National Park Service remained somewhat unenthusiastic about seeking to put its land in the NWPS. It was not until 1970 that some national park areas were first included in the NWPS, and progress since then has been rather modest. The agency’s footdragging extended to successfully resisting a lawsuit brought by the Wilderness Society to force completion of the studies.

While in recent years the agency has been somewhat more energetic in pursuing NWPS designations for its lands, still today, such large and relatively wild parks like Yellowstone, Glacier, and Grand Canyon include no NWPS areas, even though NWPS units are often found on nearby land managed by other agencies.

 To some extent, wilderness advocates outside the agency are responsible for this slow progress. They have not placed a high political priority on including park areas in the NWPS, because they are already generally protected by both agency policy and agency regulation. Wilderness designation Grand Canyon

  • Are there any particular political reasons why there is a Zion Wilderness but not a Grand Canyon Wilderness?
    – gerrit
    Commented Jun 9, 2018 at 20:06

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.