The National Park Service does not inspect, maintain, or repair fixed anchors and other climbing equipment. A fixed anchor is defined as any piece of climbing equipment that is left in place to facilitate a safe ascent or rappel. Examples include, but are not limited to, bolts, pitons, and slings. The placement, replacement, and removal of fixed anchors requires a permit in all circumstances. The park retains the right to remove bolts in prohibited zones without further notice. The park is actively working on a Climbing Management Plan that could impact bolting regulations.

The removal, replacement, and placement of fixed anchors requires a permit for both wilderness and non-wilderness. Only request to place fixed anchors as a last resort. Before considering fixed anchors, think seriously about whether the route warrants them. Joshua Tree has a lot of top-rope routes, many of which are worth climbing, but not worth bolting.

There are certain areas of the park where fixed anchors are not allowed. The anchor-free zone refers to areas where all fixed anchors are banned. View the map below to see the section of the park that are fixed anchor free.

A map showing the anchor free zones in Joshua Tree National Park and the wilderness areas in the anchor zone. Most of the park is an anchor free zone. Anchor free areas include the entire east half and south half of the park and a section in the west side
Anchor free zone in Joshua Tree National Park.

NPS map

Power Drills

Power drills may not be used without a permit.


Fixed Anchor Specifications

Stainless steel hangers and bolts are required. The local climbing community suggests hangers and bolts that are at least three-eights-inch in diameter and two and one-half inches in length. Please minimize visual impacts by camouflaging fixed anchors.

Fixed Anchors in Non-Wilderness Areas

As of February 4, 2022, the removal, replacement, and placement of fixed anchors now require a permit for both wilderness and non-wilderness. This applies whether or not handdrills or powerdrills are used to install bolts. Please consider the impacts of new fixed anchors on the quality of existing climbing routes, natural, historical, and archeological resources, and the experience of other visitors. See the information on "How to Get a Permit" below.

Fixed Anchors in Wilderness Areas

Fixed anchors may be replaced, anchor for anchor, in wilderness. A permit is required for the removal, replacement, and placement of fixed anchors in wilderness. To apply for a permit, please see the "How to Get a Permit" section below.

Is my permit request in a wilderness area? Check this map of wilderness areas.

Nearly 85% percent of the park is managed as wilderness. Climbers are responsible for knowing where wilderness boundaries are located. If you are unsure about a particular location, contact a park ranger. For National Park Service policy concerning bolting restrictions in wilderness see section 7.2 of Director's Order #41: Wilderness Stewardship.

Fixed Anchor-Free Zones

Fixed anchors may not be placed or replaced in fixed anchor-free zones. For example, the Barker Dam area, a popular destination for many park visitors, has been designated a fixed anchor-free zone to maintain its aesthetic value for visitors. Fixed anchors may not be placed between the parking lot and the dam. If you wish to place fixed anchors in the surrounding area, make sure to identify the boundaries first.

What if I'm interested in rebolting a route that already exists?

A permit is still required. To apply to rebolt a route, please follow the steps below under "How to Get a Permit."


How to Get a Permit

  1. Complete a Fixed Anchor Permit Request. The fee is waived and the permit is free.

  2. Email the application to

Your bolting request will be reviewed by Joshua Tree National Park's Climbing Committee and Wilderness Steering Committee. When no conflicts are found, the permit will be forwarded to the superintendent for approval. This process can take up to 6 months (on average, it takes about a month) because federal law requires compliance with the National Environmental Policy Act and the National Historic Preservation Act.

These procedures were established in cooperation with the climbing community. Your participation in helping to protect sensitive resources and maintain a quality park experience is appreciated.


For questions relating to the laws, regulations, and technical aspects of fixed anchors, please email

For questions relating to the permit application and process, please email

Last updated: May 6, 2024

Park footer

Contact Info

Mailing Address:

74485 National Park Drive
Twentynine Palms, CA 92277-3597


760 367-5500

Contact Us