NPS Climbing Management

To support the mandates of the Wilderness Act, the NPS developed specific policy to address wilderness management and stewardship. NPS Management Policies - Chapter 6 (2006) and Director's Order 41 (2013), which are updated on a periodic basis, help managers understand why wilderness is important and how they can manage these areas most effectively.

The purpose of Director’s Order 41 is to provide accountability, consistency, and continuity in the NPS Wilderness Stewardship Program, and to guide service-wide efforts in meeting the requirements of the Wilderness Act. This Order clarifies, where necessary, specific provisions of NPS Management Policies and establishes specific instructions and requirements. Section 7.2 specifically addresses climbing within the context of wilderness use management:

“The NPS recognizes that climbing is a legitimate and appropriate use of wilderness. However, any climbing use or related activity must be restricted or prohibited when its occurrence, continuation, or expansion would result in unacceptable impacts to wilderness resources or character, or interfere significantly with the experience of other park visitors.”

Tiering from NPS Management Policies and Director’s Order 41, the Wilderness Stewardship Reference Manual 41 (RM 41) offers comprehensive guidance to NPS employees responsible for managing and preserving wilderness character and the wilderness resource throughout the National Park System. RM 41 provides superintendents and park staff with the essential information on the laws, policies, and procedures applicable to wilderness preservation and management within the National Park System. The goal of the Reference Manual is to provide as much information as practical to assist field managers in making both day-to-day and long-term decisions affecting NPS wilderness.

  • Climbers walking through Joshua tree as the sun is setting, they have bouldering pads on their backs
    Park-specific Regulations

    Learn about specific closures or restrictions that individual parks may have in place.

  • Climber climbing far above the Virgin River in Zion National Park
    Laws and Policy

    Review of the Laws and Policy that pertain to recreational climbing in our National Parks

  • Vertical granite wall looking up at a climber just about to reach a roof.
    Good Climbing Practices

    Only by following a low-impact climbing ethic can climbers protect a park's outstanding natural features. Find out more.

Last updated: May 26, 2021