The California coastal Rocks and Islands Wilderness protects critical components of a unique area of California coastline. Although one of the smallest wildernesses in the system, it encompasses 584 rocks, islands, exposed reefs, and pinnacles spread out over miles along a section of California's northern coast, now protected as the King Range Wilderness. The largest rock is .58 acres while the smallest rocks are less than 1 sq. ft. in size. These various rocks and islands are home to a diverse ecosystem of birds and sea mammals. The coastal rocks and islands comprise a narrow flight lane in the Pacific flyway, providing protected nest sites as well as feeding and perching areas for millions of seabirds. This unique ecosystem is also important for the continued survival of endangered or threatened sea mammals, such as Steller sea lions and elephant seals.
Leave No Trace
How to follow the seven standard Leave No Trace principles differs in different parts of the country (desert vs. Rocky Mountains). Click on any of the principles listed below to learn more about how they apply in the Rocks and Islands Wilderness.
Digital and paper maps are critical tools for wilderness visitors. Online maps can help you plan and prepare for your visit ahead of time. You can also carry digital maps with you on your GPS unit or other handheld GPS device. Having a paper map with you in the backcountry, as well as solid orienteering skills, however, ensures that you can still route-find in the event that your electronic device fails.
Motorized equipment and equipment used for mechanical transport is generally prohibited in all wilderness areas.
This includes the use of motor vehicles, motorboats, motorized equipment, bicycles, hang gliders, wagons, carts, portage wheels, and the landing of aircraft including helicopters.
Northern California Coastal Wild Heritage Wilderness Act - Public law 109-362 (10/17/2006) To designate certain National Forest System lands in the Mendocino and Six Rivers National Forests and certain Bureau of Land Management lands in Humboldt, Lake, Mendocino, and Napa Counties in the State of California as wilderness, to designate the Elkhorn Ridge Potential Wilderness Area, to designate certain segments of the Black Butte River in Mendocino County, California as a wild or scenic river, and for other purposes.
Recreational opportunities are limited as most of the rocks and islands are surrounded by rough ocean waters and large waves. Wildlife viewing from the Lost Coast Trail within the King Range Wilderness is considered the primary activity.
Climate and Special Equipment Needs
The climate along this part of California's coastline can change in short notice. Spring, summer, and fall are the best time periods for more gentle climate. Heavy rains oftentimes occur during the winter months.
Safety and Current Conditions
Become knowledgeable of weather conditions in the area and carry a tide tables booklet as portions of the Lost Coast Trail are impassable during high tides. Never turn your back on the ocean!
Want to Volunteer for Wilderness?
Citizens who volunteer their time to steward our wilderness areas are an essential part of wilderness management. Contact the following groups to inquire about volunteer opportunities.