Good Climbing Practices

A brown post marks a designated climbing access trail. Please use these rather than trampling fragile desert vegetation and creating social trails.

Get to know the seven Leave No Trace principles, and act in accordance with them. This page details some guidelines specific to climbing in Joshua Tree.

Stay On Defined Trails
Multiple paths to the same cliff or boulder, or "social trails," damage vegetation, destroy animal burrows, and promote the spread of exotic plants. Paths to popular climbing areas are marked with brown posts (as shown on right). Please follow these marked trails or, when not marked, the most defined trail.

Don't Bust The Crust
Biological soil crusts contain a complex community of micro-organisms that help to keep the sand in place and provide nutrients and moisture so plants can grow. Thick crusts can be seen as lumpy black areas, much like fungus. When you walk on these living soils, the micro-organisms die. So please don't "bust the crust" by creating another social trail—even if it is the shortest distance to your climb.

Climb Clean
Some of Joshua Tree's climbing areas are in designated wilderness. By law, these areas must remain "with the imprint of man's work substantially unnoticeable."
Avoid altering the rock by "nailing" or "gardening."
Never fabricate holds or change the nature of established climbs.
Do not anchor or tie off on vegetation.
Use neutral or rock-colored stainless steel fixed anchors and corresponding hangers, rappel rings, quick links, and chains.

Be Considerate of Other Visitors
Don't disturb the natural quiet of Joshua Tree by playing loud music.
Ask for permission if you wish to climb in an occupied campsite.
Limit the size of your group and share the rock.
Never leave a top-rope unattended.

Reduce Your Impact When Bouldering
Place your crashpad carefully at the base of the boulder.
Carry your crashpad rather than dragging it.
Minimize the size of your group.
Don't cut or break tree limbs, remove lichens, or damage vegetation.
Clean off chalk holds and tick marks when you are done.

Leave Your Dog at Home
While pets are allowed in the park, their activities are restricted. Pets must be on a leash at all times and cannot be more than 100 feet from a road, picnic area, or campground. They are prohibited from trails, and they must never be left unattended—especially in a vehicle. Desert heat can be deadly to your pet. Park temperatures peak at over 100°F, turning the inside of your car into an oven. If your dog is at the base of a climb while your partner is bringing you up, then your dog is unattended.

Your canine companion may be a model of good behavior, but dogs are predators and their mere presence stresses wildlife. Dog waste poses the same disposal problems as human waste, and even a tied dog can destroy vegetation.

Contact the Park

Mailing Address:

74485 National Park Drive
Twentynine Palms, CA 92277-3597


(760) 367-5500

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