Frequently Asked Questions

What is Wilderness?
Wilderness is the gold standard when it comes to protecting public lands, reserved for our highest quality natural treasures. It is the most effective tool for protecting wildlife habitat, clean water, and low impact recreational opportunities. Wilderness areas are free of roads, buildings and other infrastructure. Wilderness protections are appropriate for landscapes primarily influenced by the forces of nature. Only congress can designate an area as Wilderness.

Oregon has fallen behind all neighboring states when it comes to designating Wilderness, with only 4% of our state protected. The wildlife and recreational corridors that lead into and out of Crater Lake National Park are deserving of Wilderness protection as logging, mining, and encroaching development threaten the landscape.

Why does Crater Lake National Park need Wilderness protection?
Most National Parks across the west have Wilderness protection in the back country, including Olympic, Denali, Zion, Joshua Tree, and Yosemite. This ensures the backcountry of the Parks remains natural and is not susceptible to next years bad idea. This proposal has Crater Lake at it’s core but can not be measured in isolation from the wildlife and recreational corridors leading into and out of the Park. In fact, the National Park Service has been asking for Wilderness protection since the 1970’s. You cannot log or mine in National Parks, but rampant development including resorts, theme parks, gondola tours and more could become a reality. Crater Lake has not been immune to these proposals.

Why do the wildlands surrounding Crater Lake need Wilderness protection?
The special places surrounding Crater Lake, such as the upper reaches of the Rogue River, the lush mountain meadows below Mount Thielsen, and the free flowing waters of the North Umpqua are just as worthy of protection, but are susceptible to logging and development. Along with short sighted development proposals, logging, mining, off highway vehicles and more loom all around the park boundary. Misguided logging proposals such as Bybee or D-Bug seek to log right up to the park boundary. Crater Lake Wilderness would protect the best remaining intact forests, and the last special places untouched by logging and development.

What is allowed in Wilderness?
Wilderness areas are a mecca for quiet, traditional recreation. These are the last refuges for truly back country experiences, free of noise, development and pollution. In Wilderness, you can hike, backpack, fish, hunt, snowshoe, horseback ride, canoe, kayak, picnic, go birding, and camp. You cannot use motorized or mechanized equipment, which excludes bicycles, motorcycles, chainsaws, and snowmobiles.

How do areas become Wilderness?
In 1964, Congress passed the Wilderness Act with the idea that our most special places should be forever preserved for future generations. Only Congress can designate an area as Wilderness, and since the act in 1964, many states have protected their highest quality landscapes. However Oregon has fallen far behind, with only 4% of the state protected. Our Senators and Congresspersons need to hear from all Oregonians that Crater Lake is worthy of preservation. Sign the petition today!

Would the Crater Lake proposal affect how I currently access and visit the Park?
No. Existing access roads, including the Rim drive, and Park infrastructure such as visitors centers and the lodge are not included in the proposal and would remain as is.

Does Wilderness mean you can’t fight fires?
No. In Wilderness areas, the Forest Service or other managing agency can utilize any means necessary to fight the fire. For better or worse this happens every year when chainsaws and other equipment are used to fight fire in Wilderness.

How does the Crater Lake Wilderness proposal impact mountain biking?
We are currently working with regional and local mountain bike organizations to get an inventory of bike trails and any specific concerns regarding the proposal. Once those trails are identified by the bike clubs we hope to then work together to maximize protection while minimizing impacts on mountain bike access. One trail that has come to our attention is the North Umpqua Trail, and we are working with several organizations to address this trail, as well as other important trails.

We will continue to collaborate with the different organizations to look for creative solutions to ensure there are maximize protections, while maintaining access to important mountain bike trails. Unfortunately, a recent draft list of trails has been circulated, but this draft has several inaccuracies, including listing trails that are not within the proposal, trails that are not open to biking, and numerous typos. We are working to establish a more accurate trail list. We believe most mountain bikers are conservationists, so we are hopeful that we’ll be able to find significant areas of agreement. For additional information view our Mountain Biking and Wilderness Q&A, and please feel free to reach out to if you have any clarifying questions about bike trails or the proposal.

Would the Crater Lake Wilderness proposal affect any homes in the area?
No. The proposal does not include any cabins, homes, or other residences. In addition, there are no “forest homes,” otherwise known as Forest Service permit cabins, included in the proposal. If the featured proposal map includes any, it is an error and will be fixed. Please notify us by emailing and the Crater Lake Wilderness Coordinator, Tara Brown will be notified.

Are snowmobiles allowed in Wilderness?
No. Snowmobiles are not permitted in Wilderness. However, we have analyzed all of the designated routes being used in the area and found that the vast majority of snowmobile trails near Crater Lake are on snow covered roads that will not be affected by the Wilderness designation. There are over 800 miles of trails in the area that will remain open and will not closed by the proposal to protect the Crater Lake Wilderness. Here is a map of the snowmobile trails in relation to the Crater Lake Wilderness proposal.

Why is more Wilderness needed in Oregon?
Wilderness areas ensure that clean drinking water, wildlife habitat, recreation and old-growth forests will be handed down to our grandchildren. Oregon has lost 500,000 acres of forests in western Oregon since 2000 alone, and rampant logging and other harmful practices continue. As we start to experience the impacts of climate change at home, Wilderness areas will serve as an important buffer to our quality of life.