NPS Photo by Glenn Reynolds
Notice: Effective immediately, all climbing routes on the feature known as The Three Penguins have been added to the list of temporary closures this season (see below) due to the presence of raptors displaying breeding behavior.
The rock at Arches offers excellent climbing opportunities, despite its sandy nature. Most climbing routes in the park require advanced techniques.
Arches National Park developed a Climbing and Canyoneering Management Plan (CCMP) in December 2013 in order to protect the natural environment and the park's resources and visitor experience.
All persons planning to climb in Arches National Park are encouraged to register by obtaining a free permit. There are no daily limits on routes, so climbers can get their permits on the day of the climb. Registration is free, it increases climbers' safety, and helps the park maintain desired conditions in the backcountry zone. It is in best interest to register.
Climbers have two options to obtain permits:
Most climbing in Arches is technical and requires advanced skills. Arches National Park offers sustained multi-pitch towers, easier one pitch towers, and hard cracks on amazing buttresses. Routes are typically sandy or in soft Entrada Sandstone. Many websites, guide books, and local gear shops are available for specific route information.
The NPS explicitly disclaims all responsibility for the safety of equipment, bolts, or anchor systems in the park. The NPS does not maintain anchors. If an existing item or fixed anchor is judged unsafe, it may be replaced to enable a safe rappel when no other means of descent is possible, to enable emergency retreat, and during self-rescue situations, in kind, without a permit. When existing anchors are deemed to be unsafe, a reasonable effort to remove the existing hardware will be made and existing drill holes will be used in the installation of replacement fixed anchors whenever possible.
It is your responsibility to know all route closures. Some routes or features inside Arches National Park are closed to rock climbing, temporarily or permanently, and access and/or egress trails may be rerouted to avoid harm to wildlife and other resources. Check this list or the visitor center's climber kiosk for updated route closures every time you register to climb. Closures are strictly enforced.
The craggy rock outcroppings of Arches National Park are excellent habitat for birds of prey. Raptors are sensitive to human disturbance, so climbing routes are frequently closed between January and August -- the period of many raptors' breeding seasons. Even when climbers do not have direct contact with eggs, young, or adults, behavior such as shouting and other noises are disturbing enough to cause a parent bird to abandon its nest. Intentionally disturbing wildlife nesting, breeding, and other activities is a violation of Title 36 of the Code of Federal Regulations (Section 2.2 (a) (2)). Thank you for your assistance in protecting these magnificent birds. By coming to Arches and following these recommendations, you are a vital component to the success of maintaining a healthy raptor population.
The following list of closures will remain in effect through the time specified below, or until surveys determine habitats to be unoccupied by sensitive wildlife.
is the route from an existing parking area, trail or road in which a climber or canyoneer walks to the base of a climb or beginning of a canyoneering route. Routes are not formally maintained.
can be any way of attaching the climber/canyoneer, the rope, or a load to rock or tree, by either permanent or temporary means for belaying or rappelling. The goal of an anchor depends on the type of climbing under consideration but usually consists of stopping a fall, or holding a static load. Anchors can be either retrievable or permanent.
(also known as ) is the act of camping overnight while on a climbing route above the ground. This may involve nothing more than lying down or sitting on a rock ledge overnight, or use of a cot or 'portaledge' suspended from anchors to serve as a bivouac.
is a permanent, man-made article that requires a hole to be drilled or hammered into the rock for its placement, usually consisting of a glued-in or expansion bolt. Bolts are small anchoring devices (usually 3/8" diameter by about 3" length) used to protect climbers where there are no cracks or openings for other types of protection.
is a style of rock climbing undertaken without a rope that requires the use of specialized equipment (rock climbing shoes, crash pads, etc.) and normally limited to very short climbs over a crash pad so that a fall will not result in serious injury. It is typically practiced on large natural boulders or at the base of larger rock faces. Chalk is typically used.
is the common name for magnesium carbonate powder, which climbers carry in a pouch (chalk bag) at the waist. It dries the hands and is used in rock climbing in the same way it is used in gymnastics, to improve grip.
is aid climbing without the use of bolting gear, pitons or other gear that scars the rock or becomes fixed after ascent.
or is the route from the completed climbing or canyoneering route back to the parking area. Routes are not formally maintained.
or "anchor systems" shall be deemed any configuration of fixed anchor hardware (requiring rock alteration for installation) or software placed at the top of a pitch or rappel for the purpose of belaying or placed for the sole intent of rappelling. The hardware or software is left behind.
is any man-made article, either hardware or software (webbing, rope, cordelette, etc.), that is used to aid ascent or descent, or as protection, and is left on the route by a climbing party after the completion of the climb.
(also known as ) is a minimum-impact approach that employs chocks, stoppers, nuts and camming devices, rather than pitons or bolts, for protection or direct support. These are climbing aids that are removable and do not damage the rock. Traditional climbing is how the sport of rock climbing has been practiced since its inception, and has strong historic associations.
is climbing equipment placed in cracks or on faces to protect climbers from falling. This specialized equipment includes wired nuts, camming devices, hexes, pitons and bolts.
(or ) is a metal wedge threaded on a wire, used for protection by wedging it into a crack in the rock.
(also called a or ) is a metal spike (usually steel) that is driven into a crack or seam in the rock with a hammer, and which acts as an anchor to protect the climber against the consequences of a fall, or to assist progress in aid climbing. Pitons are equipped with an eye hole or a ring to which a carabiner is attached; the carabiner can then be directly or indirectly attached (through more equipment) to a climbing rope.
are made of a single ring of aluminum or steel. Soft aluminum rings are prone to destruction as you pull your sand-impregnated rope across the metal. Rap rings are often found on anchors in canyons.
is the intentional removal of rock from its natural position, drilling, chipping, or gluing of hold.
is any independent line of ascent of a rock face. A climb may follow a crack system or other natural features, or it may strike out across a "blank" face. A climb is considered to be created when it is first ascended, and is usually given a name by the first ascensionist. The climb is typically recorded and described in a guidebook or internet site so that other climbers can identify and climb the route.
is defined as walking on a rope, webbing, or other line that is tensioned horizontally between two points such as rock formations, trees, or any other natural features. Height of the rope above the ground is immaterial.
(also , ) is used for protecting a climber's fall. It consists of three or four cams mounted on a common axle or two adjacent axles, so that pulling on the axle forces the cams to spread farther apart. The SLCD is used by pulling on the "trigger" (a small handle) so the cams move together, then inserting it into a crack or pocket in the rock and releasing the trigger to allow the cams to expand. Camming devices can be manually removed and should leave no trace of use on the rock.
is a wedge-shaped nut or a knot used as passive protection while rock climbing.
is defined as ascending or descending a rock formation utilizing specialized rock climbing equipment.
is any intentional removal of vegetation from its natural position, destruction, or damage of vegetation.
is synthetic flat rope that is used to tie around anchors.