wilderness study area

Massive Navajo sandstone domes and fins, steep cliffs, and natural arches erupt out of the desert landscape within Utah’s Behind the Rocks Wilderness Study Area. The area’s extreme topography makes cross-country foot travel very challenging, yet possible. The highly scenic rock fins traversing the wilderness study area are popular subjects for photographers. Behind the Rocks offers amazing views of the La Sal mountains and is nearby to Arches and Canyonlands National Parks. For those who prefer to catch their scenery at a little faster pace, there are plenty of nearby mountain biking trails and off-highway vehicle routes. Photo by Bob Wick, Bureau of Land Management, @mypubliclands.


Been hiking out out in wilderness and wilderness study areas for a few days so I had to leave the drones in the truck.

Parked at the edge of this canyon tonight. Recharging and downloading from a few days shooting. Working my way south around the loop.

#bearsears #nationalmonument #defendbearsears (at Bears Ears National Monument)

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Perseid Meteor Over Slinkard Valley by Jeff Sullivan
Via Flickr:
The Perseid meteor shower is coming! This was captured over a BLM Wilderness Study Area on the Mono County/Alpine County border in the Eastern Sierra.

A true oasis in the desert of southwest New Mexico, Gila Lower Box Canyon Wilderness Study Area is a lush thicket of cottonwood, willows and wildflowers. The area provides excellent birding with one of the highest bird diversities in the state. Spring and summer visitors also enjoy river recreation including tubing and fishing. Photo by Mike Howard, Bureau of Land Management.

Wildflowers are in full bloom at the Pryor Mountain Wilderness Study Area! Located on the border of Wyoming and Montana, this scenic area’s rugged, isolated portions of the Pryor Mountain Range may be tough to get to but the view is worth it. Some areas are only accessible by ATV, horseback or on foot. In less than 13 miles, the landscape transitions through a wide spectrum of geologic and biotic features, ranging from desert environments to those found in sub-alpine mountainous settings. Opportunities for nature photography, rock climbing, hiking, backpacking, nature study, and scenic viewing are outstanding. Pryor Mountain is approximately nine miles north of Lovell, Wyoming. Before venturing into this wilderness study area, make sure to check in with the Bureau of Land Management’s Billings Field Office and grab a map. Photo by Bob Wick, Bureau of Land Management, @mypubliclands.

Southwest Colorado’s Alpine Loop National Backcountry Byway provides access to some of the most spectacular scenery anywhere in the Rockies. Here, jagged peaks up to 14,000 feet in elevation rise above rushing streams and wildflower-filled meadows. A few miles further West, the American Basin in Handies Peak Wilderness Study Area has a plethora of wildflowers including fields of Colorado’s state flower, the columbine. You can scale 14,000 foot Handies Peak with a long non-technical but demanding day hike. Photo by Bob Wick, Bureau of Land Management, @mypubliclands

For beauty off the beaten path, venture two hours southwest of Albuquerque, New Mexico to the Sierra Ladrones Wilderness Study Area. There are no trails through the area’s diverse landscapes of high mountain peaks, isolated canyons and badlands. Hiking to the top of Ladrones Mountain – pictured here during a storm – rewards visitors with stunning panoramic views of the area’s mesa grasslands and piñon-juniper woodland. Photo by Julie Aguirre, Bureau of Land Management (@mypubliclands).

Bobcat Draw Wilderness Study Area located southwest of Worland, Wyoming, is made up of a vast maze of colorful rock and clay badlands. Layers of differing hardness erode into multi-hued arches, hoodoos, spires and other fanciful landforms. There are no developed trails in the area, but hikers can discover the area’s unique landscapes along their own routes while enjoying a majestic backdrop of the 13,000 foot snowcapped peaks of the Absaroka Range. Photo by Bob Wick, @mypubliclands.

Handies Peak Wilderness Study Area in Colorado is breathtaking in the summer. Handies Peak rises 14,048 feet over the area, and this vibrant wilderness also hosts three major canyons, glacial cirques and three alpine lakes. Handies Peak is one of more than 500 wilderness study areas – lands unspoiled by roads or other development that provide outstanding opportunities for solitude. Photo by Bob Wick, @mypubliclands.

The Wilderness Act – enacted on this day in 1964 – defines a wilderness 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.” In the following 52 years, over 109 million acres of pristine forests, mountains, deserts and wetlands have been protected, giving all Americans the opportunity to escape into nature. Photo of the Steelhead Falls Wilderness Study Area in Oregon by Jeff Clark, @mypubliclands

Nothing says spring like the colorful wildflowers of Handies Peak Wilderness Study Area in Colorado. More than beautiful springtime displays, this secluded landscape offers alpine lakes, large canyons and 13 peaks over 13,000 feet. Make the most of this season by hiking, backpacking, camping or mountain climbing in this remarkable wilderness. Photo by Bob Wick, @mypubliclands.


April #conservationlands15 #bucketlist: Gila Lower Box Canyon, New Mexico, for Lush Vegetation, Diverse Birding, and Water-based Recreation

The Wilderness Study Area encompassing the Gila Lower Box Canyon is a true oasis in the desert in southwest New Mexico. A lush thicket of cottonwood, willows, and other riparian vegetation line the banks of the river. Wildflowers abound in wet years and include vibrant  fields of orange poppies that peak in March and April depending on the year. 

The area provides some of the best birding in New Mexico.  Home to approximately 200 species, it has one of the highest bird diversities in the state.  The area provides habitat to many rare and unusual birds including Bell’s vireo, peregrine, bald eagle (in winter), golden eagle, black hawk, zone-tail hawk, Grey hawk, yellow-billed cuckoo, Gila wood pecker, and Abert’s towhee. 

The river provides opportunities for canoeing or rafting during years of high spring runoff, but flows are normally better suited to tubing and to shore-based activities such as fishing for small mouth bass and several species of catfish.

Photos by Mike Howard, BLM New Mexico

Note: The #conservationlands15 Social Media Takeover is a 2015 monthly celebration of the 15th anniversary of the BLM’s National Conservation Lands. 


Today, the #mypubliclandsroadtrip heads to the National Petroleum Reserve - Alaska, with a quick stop at the Central Arctic Management Area.

The Central Arctic Management Area - a BLM Wilderness Study Area - sits between NPRA and Gates of the Arctic National Park in Alaska. This little-known 320,000 acre area is starkly beautiful and made up of rolling tundra and snow covered peaks.

Photos by Bob Wick, BLM


Ending the day with a few colorful sunrise shots from Slinkard Wilderness Study Area in California - taken by BLMer Bob Wick this morning. The view - from a 9,000 foot peak just south of Monitor Pass - looks towards Topaz Lake, Nevada. A different perspective of Nevada for our #mypubliclandsroadtrip.

Although the winter had record low precipitation levels in the Sierra, moisture in late spring and summer has resulted in a good wildflower bloom. A note from Bob: I not adjust the color saturation on this; it was just one of those “saturated” mornings!


The Continental Divide Wilderness Study Area in New Mexico offers amazing hiking, backpacking, camping, photography and solitude. The landmark of the area – the Pelona Mountain – rises to 9,212 feet. Rolling grassland gives way to steeper slopes covered in piñon pine woodland and ponderosa pine forest, although the summit of the mountain itself is mostly grassland. Climb the Pelona Mountain for views that stretch out for miles across the surrounding plains, or take a walk along the Continental Divide National Scenic Trail that passes through this stunning wilderness. A worthy addition to your roadtrip list, especially for the #sunset!

Photos by Bob Wick, BLM.