Spring Lake, in the wilderness of Sequoia National Park
November 20, 2023 - Washington, DC – The National Park Service (NPS) has released draft guidance on climbing in wilderness. The Park Service’s guidance reaffirms the Wilderness Act and maintains that climbing is an appropriate use in wilderness. The guidance also specifies that low-density fixed anchors (climbing equipment left in place to allow safe ascent or descent of technical terrain) are the best way to protect resources while ensuring safety in wilderness.
This guidance is long overdue, especially considering the popularity of rock climbing throughout the country. Many of our country’s most iconic climbing sites are in designated wilderness in and around national parks. In fact, national parks like Joshua Tree and Black Canyon of the Gunnison hold some of the most popular climbing sites. But climbing has impacts, and this updated guidance is necessary to properly protect our most treasured cultural resources and bird nesting. The public will now have 60 days to comment on the draft guidance.
Statement by Kristen Brengel, Senior Vice President of Government Affairs at the National Parks Conservation Association (NPCA):
“For generations, we’ve agreed that some places are so special that their remoteness, wildlife, and natural and cultural resources should be preserved for visitors to enjoy. These are the places that receive the highest level of protection from Congress as wilderness. The Park Service’s guidance is a critical step to reaffirm the Wilderness Act, while also providing opportunities for visitors to enjoy rock climbing in these beautiful, wild places.
“NPCA has long supported the climbing community, who are deeply connected to our public lands and rely on the conservation of these landscapes to climb. We will continue to work with the Park Service to ensure we protect our natural wonders while also supporting lower-impact recreation activities like rock climbing.”
About the National Parks Conservation Association: Since 1919, the nonpartisan National Parks Conservation Association has been the leading voice in safeguarding our national parks. NPCA and its more than 1.6 million members and supporters work together to protect and preserve our nation’s most iconic and inspirational places for future generations. For more information, visit www.npca.org.
Related: USDA Forest Service and National Park Service Seek Public Input on Proposed Guidance for Managing Climbing, Protecting Natural and Cultural Resources in Wilderness Areas