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. Please contact Bernadette Regan, Joshua Tree National Park Climbing Ranger, if you have questions about fixed anchor permits.

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. The removal, replacement, and placement of fixed anchors requires a permit for both wilderness and non-wilderness. Only request to place fixed anchors as a last resort. Before considering fixed anchors, 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.

There are certain areas of the park where fixed anchors are not allowed. The anchor-free zone refers to areas where all fixed anchors are banned. View the map below to see the section of the park that are fixed anchor free.

A map showing the anchor free zones in Joshua Tree National Park and the wilderness areas in the anchor zone. Most of the park is an anchor free zone. Anchor free areas include the entire east half and south half of the park and a section in the west side
Anchor free zone in Joshua Tree National Park.

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Power Drills

Power drills may not be used without a permit. You may contact the special use office at 760-367-5545 or the park's climbing ranger at to learn more about the permitting process.


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. See the information on "How to Get a Permit" below.

Is my permit request in a wilderness area? Check this map of wilderness areas.

Over 75 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.


How to Get a Permit

These procedures were established in cooperation with the climbing community. Your participation in helping maintain a quality park experience is appreciated.

What happens after my request is submitted?

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.

What if I'm interested in rebolting a route that already exists?

Last updated: March 23, 2023

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Contact Info

Mailing Address:

74485 National Park Drive
Twentynine Palms, CA 92277-3597


760 367-5500

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