Skagit Gorge Climbing Route Development Agreement

Agreement Regarding Establishing New Rock Climbing Routes in the Skagit Gorge Area, Ross Lake National Recreation Area, Pending Completion of the General Management Plan

The National Park Service and the Washington Climber's Coalition have signed an interim agreement regarding route development within Ross Lake NRA. The agreement lifts the voluntary moratorium on new climbing route development at the "Newhalem Crags" within the Skagit Gorge. The agreement outlines the terms and conditions for new climbing route development at the Newhalem Crags, and is specifically intended to provide temporary guidance to climbers regarding access and route development in the area. Long-term guidance regarding climbing and route development is currently being developed via the Ross Lake General Management Plan (GMP) process.

Climbers are strongly encouraged to remain engaged in the planning process. The next opportunity for public comment will be in Summer 2010, when the draft GMP/Environmental Impact Statement will be released for public review and comment. For more information read the Key Points for Climbers below or email to request a hard copy of the climbing agreement.

Key Points for Climbers:

The NPS recognizes that rock climbing and the establishment of climbing routes is a legitimate historic and present day use of public lands within the Ross Lake NRA.

The agreement lifts the voluntary moratorium on new climbing route development at these sites within the Skagit Gorge: The Diablo Crags, Newhalem Crags (east and west) and Town Crags within the Skagit Gorge.

The moratorium on establishing new bouldering sites in the Skagit Gorge and elsewhere remains in place.

Any new routes developed within the designated areas must follow Leave No Trace ethics for climbers, such as minimizing the visual impact of bolts and fixed anchors, helping control erosion and the proliferation of social trails by using only the main access trails, and packing out all garbage.

Intentional damage to the environment (e.g. removing vegetation, terracing) to enable climbing and route development is prohibited.

Climbers accessing the Newhalem Crags should exercise extreme caution in the approach, which is along the side of SR 20 in an area with very narrow shoulders and heavy traffic. Walk behind the guardrails where feasible.

In the event of an emergency, the nearest phone is in Newhalem by the General Store. Some cell phone service providers cover the area.

Area for allowable climbing routes
Area of Newhalem Crags where route developement is permitted.

NPS/Brian Pickard

Diablo-Climbing wall
Diablo Crags near State Route 20 junction to Diablo

NPS/Brian Pickard

Last updated: January 24, 2018

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