The National Park Service does not inspect, maintain, or repair bolts and other climbing equipment anywhere in the park. The placement, replacement, and removal of fixed anchors requires a permit in all circumstances. The park retains the right to remove bolts in prohibited zones without further notice. The park is actively working on a Climbing Management Plan that could impact bolting regulations.
Power drills may not be used without a permit.
Fixed Anchor Specifications
Stainless steel hangers and bolts are required. The local climbing community suggests 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
As of February 4, 2022, the removal, replacement, and placement of fixed anchors now require a permit for both wilderness and non-wilderness. This applies whether or not handdrills or powerdrills are used to install bolts. 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. See the information on "How to Get a Permit" below.
Fixed Anchors in Wilderness Areas
Power drills are not permitted in wilderness due to the 1964 Wilderness Act. Fixed anchors may be replaced, anchor for anchor, in wilderness. A permit is required for the removal, replacement, and placement of fixed anchors in wilderness. Apply for a permit, please see the "How to Get a Permit" section below.
Nearly 85% percent of the park is Congressionally-designated wilderness. Climbers are responsible for knowing where wilderness boundaries are located. 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 Director's Order #41: Wilderness Stewardship.
Fixed Anchor-Free Zones
Fixed anchors may not be placed or replaced in fixed anchor-free zones. For example, 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.
What if I'm interested in rebolting a route that already exists?
A permit is still required. To apply to rebolt a route, please follow the steps below under "How to Get a Permit."
How to Get a Permit
Your bolting request will be reviewed by Joshua Tree National Park's Climbing Committee and Wilderness Steering Committee. When no conflicts are found, the permit will be forwarded to the superintendent for approval. This process can take up to 6 months (on average, it takes about a month) because federal law requires compliance with the National Environmental Policy Act and the National Historic Preservation Act.
For questions relating to the laws, regulations, and technical aspects of fixed anchors, please email JOTR_EmergencyServices@nps.gov.
Last updated: November 6, 2023