Rock Climbing in Joshua Tree National Park
Joshua Tree National Park is one of the most popular rock climbing areas in the world. More than 4,500 established routes offering a wide range of difficulty are concentrated within about 100,000 acres of park land. Over one million people visit Joshua Tree each year, many of them rock climbers. The National Park Service mission requires park managers to provide for the enjoyment of the park by today’s visitor while conserving and protecting park resources for future generations. Dramatic increases in the number of visitors engaging in rock climbing contribute to an already difficult, sometimes contradictory, task. Park managers are concerned about trash, soil erosion, vegetation damage, human waste disposal, natural and cultural resource protection, and the quality of each visitor’s experience.
Guided by the provisions of its Backcountry and Wilderness Management Plan, the park is working with the climbing community to implement a comprehensive approach to climbing management. The park’s goals are to restore to a natural condition those areas already impacted by climbing, to mitigate future impacts, and to prevent the cumulative impacts of climbing from increasing to unacceptable levels. A committee comprised of members of the climbing community, conservation organizations, and interested individuals is providing recommendations to the park on a variety of climbing-related issues.
Under the provisions of the Backcountry and Wilderness Management Plan, climbers may replace existing unsafe bolts, and new bolts may be placed in non-wilderness areas through a monitored process. Read more about Joshua Tree's guidelines for bolting here. You must obtain a special-use permit to use a power drill in non-wilderness.
Fixed anchors may be replaced, anchor for anchor, in wilderness. A permit is required to place new fixed anchors in wilderness. Find out which climbs in Joshua Tree are in wilderness areas.
Wilderness and Non-Wilderness Climbs
Whether a particular climb is in or out of wilderness is not always easy to determine. Click here for our current list of what is in and what is not, but remember that it could change as we are able to locate climbs with ever more accurate GPS coordinates.
General Climbing Regulations
- It is prohibited to initiate or terminate a climb in an occupied campsite without prior permission of the occupant of that site.
- The use of any substance, such as glue, epoxy, or cement, to reinforce hand or footholds is prohibited.
- “Chipping” or enhancing hand or footholds is prohibited as is removing vegetation or “gardening.”
- Climbing within 50 feet of any rock-art site is prohibited.
Source: Joshua Tree National Park
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Joshua Tree National Park
74485 National Park Drive
Twentynine Palms, CA 92277
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