The rules that govern the placement of fixed anchors are complex. Please study them carefully as you are responsible for following them.
A fixed anchor is defined as any piece of climbing equipment that is left in place to facilitate a safe ascent or rappel. Examples include, but are not limited to, bolts, pitons, and slings. Only place fixed anchors as a last resort. Before placing fixed anchors on a route, think seriously about whether the route warrants them. Joshua Tree has a lot of top-rope routes, many of which are worth climbing, but not worth bolting.
Fixed Anchor Specifications The local climbing community suggests stainless steel hangers and bolts that are at least three-eights-inch in diameter and two and one-half inches in length. Please minimize visual impacts by camouflaging fixed anchors.
Fixed Anchors in Non-Wilderness Areas When using a hand drill, you are not required to have a permit to place new, or replace existing, fixed anchors in non-wilderness. (Use of a power drill does require a permit.) However, please consider the impacts of new fixed anchors on the quality of existing climbing routes, natural, historical, and archeological resources, and the experience of other visitors. A "fixed anchor checklist" was devised to help you evaluate the potential impact of your proposed route. It is available at entrance stations, visitor centers, and online.
Fixed Anchors in Wilderness Areas Fixed anchors may be replaced, anchor for anchor, in wilderness. A permit is required to place new fixed anchors in wilderness. The permit application is available online (75 KB PDF), or you may contact the special-use office at 760-367-5545 to request a permit application. (The special-use permit application fee of $120 is waived for bolting-in-wilderness applications.)
Over 75 percent of the park is Congressionally-designated wilderness. Climbers are responsible for knowing where wilderness boundaries are located. A list of climbs and whether they are inside or outside of designated wilderness is available online. If you are unsure about a particular location, contact a park ranger. For National Park Service policy concerning bolting restrictions in wilderness see section 7.2 of DO #41: Wilderness Stewardship.
Fixed Anchor-Free Zones Fixed anchors may not be placed or replaced in fixed anchor-free zones. Additionally, the Barker Dam area, a popular destination for many park visitors, has been designated a fixed anchor-free zone to maintain its aesthetic value for visitors. Fixed anchors may not be placed between the parking lot and the dam. If you wish to place fixed anchors in the surrounding area, make sure to identify the boundaries first.
Power Drills Power drills may not be used without a permit. You may contact the special-use office at 760-367-5545 to learn more about the permitting process.