climbing on public land


Climbing is a legitimate and longstanding use of our nation's public lands. Rock climbing, ice climbing, bouldering and mountaineering are practiced in many places on our nation's diverse public lands. Throughout our National Park System, as administered by the National Park Service, climbing is considered a "welcomed and historical use." Climbing is also a welcomed and historical use on other agency lands including hundreds of sites managed by the US Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management, US Fish & Wildlife Service, and Army Corp of Engineers. At the state and regional level, climbing is equally popular.

However, not all land managers are aware of these cooperative relationships, and it can be intimidating to consider approaching a public land manager who may be unaware of the existence of climbing resources in his/her district. It becomes even more daunting when the resources are of world-class quality and have gained popularity among local climbers, yet there is little awareness on the part of the land managers regarding climbing uses, needs, and impacts. It is best to think long-term when trying to decide whether or not to contact the land manager. Most public agencies will eventually find out if climbing exists on the lands they manage, and therefore it is usually a matter of how and when they find out.

The following resources will help you identify and address potential areas of concerns that a land manager might raise and provide you with a process for approaching land managers about the existence of a climbing area.

A Guide to Climbing on Public Lands: Approaching Land Managers & Public Officials
Negotiating the Federal Government: A Roadmap
How Memorandums of Understanding Can Assist Climbing Activists