When COVID-19 struck, most of us didn’t touch real rock for months, and many of us still haven’t. As lockdowns have begun to lift, a question many of us have asked is: Where can we go climbing and when?
Below is a list of sites administered by the National Park Service that offer climbing. We give the current status on whether climbing is or is not permitted, and more information on the parks’ summer plans when possible.
While climbing is currently allowed at many of these areas in some capacity, most have some additional restrictions, as well as campground and facilities closures.
Each park is expanding its operations at its own pace; be sure to click on the park name for the latest update before visiting or making plans. Rock and Ice will continue to update this list as more information becomes available.
The National Park Service asks visitors to social distance when visiting parks and to recreate responsibly. Always, but especially now, pack out what you bring in—trash collection and restrooms are limited at many parks.
Acadia National Park, Maine
Climbing is allowed for Maine residents or visitors who have quarantined for 14 days. All park roads, facilities, restrooms, carriage roads, campgrounds, and visitor centers are closed, however. Campgrounds are closed with no reservations being accepted, and will not open sooner than July 1. The Island Explorer bus service is postponed indefinitely, Bear Brook Picnic Area, and Thompson Island Picnic Area are closed. Entrance passes will be required once the stations open; Park Loop Road is open and Sand Beach is scheduled to open June 8.
Arches National Park, Utah
Climbing permits for the Arches are available. The Devils Garden Campground, The Fiery Furnace, and backcountry camping at Arches remains closed. The park has begun reopening in phases and all park roads, trails, restrooms, and commercial operations are open.
Climbing is allowed. Access to backcountry trails and backcountry camping has resumed. Restroom facilities, campgrounds, Charit Creek Lodge, Bandy Creek Stables, and visitor centers are closed.
Climbing is open for day use only, but permits are required. The South Rim and North Rim Campgrounds and the South Rim Visitor Center are closed until further notice.
Climbing permits are available and must be requested online. Overnight permits have to be requested at least five days before the beginning of the trip, and day use permits at least 24 hours before the trip.
Climbing is allowed, but as of January 1 this year, permits are required for all climbing. Scenic Drive and all the trails off it, all trails along Utah State Route 24, North (Cathedral) District and Cathedral Campground, and South (Waterpocket) District and Cedar Mesa Campground are open. All backcountry camping is also open, with a permit obtainable by self-registration outside the visitor center.
Catoctin Mountain Park, Maryland
Climbing is allowed. There will be no drinking water, restrooms, or trash pickup. Until further notice, the Visitor Center, Camp Round Meadow, Poplar Grove Youth Campground, and the Adirondack shelters are closed.
Chickamauga and Chattanooga National Military Park, Georgia and Tennessee
Climbing is allowed. Sunset Rock Parking, Lookout Mountain Battlefield Visitor Center and its parking lot, the vault toilets, and the Visitor Centers remain closed until further notice.
Climbing is open. Campgrounds and all campsites are reopened. Vault toilets, parking areas and trailheads are also open. Until further notice the Visitor Center and some less popular vault toilets are closed.
Colorado National Monument, Colorado
Rock climbing is allowed. All hiking trails, Devil’s Kitchen Trailhead Parking, Saddlehorn Visitor Center, and restrooms at the Visitor Center and Upper Liberty Cap Trailhead are open. Devil’s Kitchen and Saddlehorn Picnic Areas are closed. Although Saddlehorn Campground is closed, it is expected to reopen June 1 and you can make a reservation at recreation.gov.
Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area, New Jersey and Pennsylvania
Climbing is allowed, but all public bathrooms, facilities, river and AT campsites are closed until further notice. Trails and parking areas are open, except for those closed for repairs.
Denali will not be issuing climbing permits for Denali or Mount Foraker during the 2020 season.
Devils Tower National Monument, Wyoming
Rock climbing, park roads, trails, and the picnic area reopened. However, during the month of June there is a voluntary closure of the monument, including climbing, to protect the Tower’s cultural significance for indigenous people. The visitors center and campground will stay closed until further notice.
Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona
In order to climb, overnight backcountry camping permits are likely needed, and no new overnight permits will be issued until further notice. Existing permits, however, remain valid. Until June 4, people can enter the park through the South Rim south entrance from 4am-2pm for day use and must leave by sunset. Entrance fees apply and can be paid at automated fee machines, nearby third party vendors, or in advance online. Until June 4 the North Rim is closed, campgrounds on the South Rim are closed, there are limited food services, the Rim Trail and Greenway Trail system are open, and the Tuweep area is open.
Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming
The Park has been in the reopening phase. Climbing is open for day use, as well as some restrooms and primary road access. Campgrounds, backcountry and special-use permits, overnight lodging, visitor centers, and food service are closed until further notice.
None of the rock climbing areas are closed and the lands, roads, and trails are also open. The Little River Canyon Center, Canyon Mouth Park, and park restrooms are closed until further notice.
Mount Rainier National Park, Washington
The backcountry is open to dispersed climbing but only up to 10,500 feet (Camp Muir and Camp Schurman). Visitor centers, some restrooms, the National Park Inn, and gift shop are closed. Some park roads are closed to motorized vehicle access. Nisqually road is closed to foot traffic on the road, but people can walk on the shoulder.
New River Gorge National River, West Virginia
Rock climbing is allowed. Visitor centers, campgrounds, and restrooms are closed until further notice. In the case of an emergency, nearby medical service providers are limited.
North Cascades National Park, Washington
Climbing is allowed during the day. Trails are open for day use, and Diablo overlook, Ross Lake overlook, and Gorge Creek Falls overlook are open. Hozomeen is open for non-vehicle day use, but only on the U.S. side–the international border gate is closed.
Obed Wild and Scenic River, Tennessee
Climbing is allowed within the park. Trails, roads, and Rock Creek Campground are open. Until further notice, the visitor center is closed.
Olympic National Park, Washington
The Park is open to day use climbing. All park campgrounds are closed and camping in the backcountry is not allowed. The Lake Crescent area, the Staircase area, the Heart O’ the Forest trail, and the July Creek Picnic Area (Quinault) are open for day use. All coastal areas, public facilities, visitor centers, and ranger stations are closed until further notice.
Pinnacles National Park, California
Climbing is allowed. The west entrance to the park is open 8am-8pm, but once parking is full cars cannot enter the park or line up. There are currently no entry fees and the east entrance is open to foot or bike traffic 8am-6pm Sunday-Thursday, and 8am-8pm Friday-Saturday. The campground is open to those who have made reservations online at Recreation.gov ahead of time. Until further notice, the Nature and Visitor centers are closed and the shuttle is not running. Closed trails are the Bear Gulch caves, the Balconies caves, the Steep & Narrow section of the High Peaks trail, and the Moses Spring trail to the reservoir.
Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado
Climbing is allowed. From May 27 to June 3, some park areas, trails, and roads are open. During this time visitors must buy passes at entrance stations with a credit card and may be asked to return later if the park is too busy. Starting June 4 a timed entry system will be in place until later phases of reopening, where visitors must make reservations to enter at Recreation.gov. At 8am Mountain Time on July 1, reservations for August and leftover July dates is opened, and on August 1 the process repeats for September reservations and the remainder of August. Unless a change is posted, this timed entry system will continue into October. If you are making plans to visit the park last minute, do not fear: if they have not sold out, ten percent of all available reservations go on sale at 8am Mountain Time two days before your planned arrival. Reservations are needed for each day you plan to be in the park. For those with campground reservations or backcountry camping permits, the permits will serve as timed-entry reservations; you can enter on the first day of your reservation. These permits must be bought in advance.
Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area, California
Climbing is allowed. Solstice Canyon and its parking lot and restrooms at the Santa Monica Mountains Visitor Center and Satwiwa are open. The Visitor Centers (at King Gillette Ranch and Satwiwa) are closed until further notice.
Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks, California
Until June 4, the parks are closed to all visitors–including climbers. From June 4 onwards climbing is open. Trails, overnight backcountry access for those with reservations only, restrooms, picnic areas, roads, parking lots, and entrance stations (for park newspaper and map) are also open. Overnight wilderness permit reservations must be made in advance, and existing wilderness reservations are not cancelled. Later in the summer campgrounds will open for overnight stay, but by reservation only. The shuttle will not run this summer.
Shenandoah National Park, Virginia
Climbing is allowed from 5am to 10pm EST during the first phase of reopening. During these hours, Skyline Drive, most trails (except for Old Rag, Whiteoak Canyon—Cedar Run Loop, and all boundary trailheads), all overlooks, and some bathrooms are open. The Park is closed overnight. Facilities like visitor centers, picnic areas, campgrounds, lodges, gift shops, and restaurants are closed. Phase two openings are on hold until further notice.
Joshua Tree National Park, California
Climbing is allowed. Visitor centers and group campsites are closed. Campsite reservations (on recreation.gov) are cancelled; all campsites are on a first come first serve basis until September 4, 2020. Individual—or family—campsites, trails, roads, parking lots, park entrances and booths, and most bathrooms are open.
Yosemite National Park, California
Climbing is allowed. The park is open for those with day-use reservations, reservations for camping or lodging within the park, and wilderness or Half Dome permits. Tioga road is open but a reservation is required to drive on it. To drive into the park you must pay the entrance fee and have one of these: a day-use reservation, Upper Pines campground or Wawona Horse camp reservation, Yosemite Valley lodge, Curry Village, or The Ahwahnee reservation, or private lodging or vacation rental reservation in Wawona, Yosemite West, or Foresta.
Zion National Park, Utah
Climbing is not allowed until further notice.