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.

Last updated: May 26, 2021