As more of us find different and sometimes new ways to explore and enjoy national parks, our impacts sometimes require regulations to ensure things don't get out of hand. That's the case at Arches National Park, where officials have received the go-ahead to implement their climbing and canyoneering management plan.
For some time now park staff have been evaluating climbing and canyoneering in the park. They've wanted to monitor the effects on natural and cultural resources and wilderness character, whether there's been an increase in use levels, the development of new routes, the use of fixed gear, the development of approach trails, rock alteration, visual impacts and the effects of climbing/canyoneering on visitor safety and experiences.
Under the approved plan, canyoneering and rock climbing activities in Arches will be actively managed and monitored to "maintain desired resource and visitor experience conditions."
A variety of management strategies will be utilized (such as trail delineations, group-size limit changes, seasonal route closures, additional permit requirements, and placement and replacement of fixed gear) to help maintain these desirable conditions.
Rock climbers will be encouraged to complete a free online self-registration process, and groups will be limited to five persons. Canyoneers will be required to complete the free online self-registration process for all routes except for those in the Fiery Furnace. Fiery Furnace permits will still need to be obtained at the park’s visitor center. Canyoneering groups on the Fiery Furnace and Lost Spring Canyon routes will be limited to six persons, while group size elsewhere will be limited to ten persons.
While establishment of new routes will be allowed, installation of new fixed gear on new and existing routes will require a free special-use permit. So as to minimize resource impacts, the park will actively seek input and assistance from the climbing and canyoneering community in assessing the suitability and quality of new fixed gear placement proposals, and replacement of existing fixed gear.
Climbing, scrambling, or walking upon, wrapping webbing or rope around, or rappelling off any named and unnamed arch with an opening greater than three feet will be prohibited in the park.
You can review the final plan at this site.
Climbing and canyoneering regulations and route information will be posted on the park’s official website, and permits will be available online by early spring.