Zion National Park Climbing Guidelines
Know the Rules
Prized for its lengthy climbs along stunning sandstone, Zion offers many routes for experts and novices alike. And if you’re someone who’s never tried but always wanted to, you can take any of several introductory climbing classes.
Zion National Park climbing rules state that no permit is required for single day climbing, but overnight stays do require a permit. Since you’ll be climbing in a natural environment, you’ll want to make every effort to help preserve it, too. This means you should clean up after yourself, avoid clearing or altering any part of the landscape, only climb in specified areas, and strive to leave no trace of your journey behind you.
Zion National Park is home to lots of amazing species, but most notably for climbers, home to nesting Peregrine falcons. Always abide by cliff closures. Getting too close to these birds not only endangers their young, but endangers climbing access for everyone else!
Zion has other area specific rules as well. Do not use a power drill to place bolts. Almost all of the climbing in Zion is trad. Let’s keep it that way. It is illegal to camp at the base of the wall or in your vehicle, and human waste must be bagged and carried out. Do not drop your waste!
Do your best to practice minimum impact climbing techniques: use established trails, limit your use of white chalk and add red pigment to help keep walls from becoming discolored. Do not pull vegetation from the cracks, do not remove fixed pins, and avoid climbing above trails where hikers will pass beneath you.
Know When to Go
Zion National Park climbing is best in the spring and fall. Be sure to note the weather before you travel despite the season, though; since this park is in the desert, it can get too hot to climb in the middle of summer! And it’s best to avoid Zion around rainfall, since not only does it make climbing more slippery, but it weakens the rock and makes the delicate sandstone prone to breaking.
Know Your Experience Level
If you’re a beginner, there’s no shame. Everyone starts somewhere! If you’re new to climbing, make sure to hire a guide who can teach you the ropes. Zion Rock Guides are a great resource to get you started. They’ll know all the techniques necessary to keep you safe, and may even be able to point out some memorable scenery along the way! To experience Zion National Park climbing the right way, be sure you do it safely. Most other national parks offer guided trips by local tour groups as well.
Bring the Right Gear
Wear comfortable clothing and climbing shoes. Most of the Zion National Park climbing you’ll encounter is trad, or traditional style. That means cracks, multi-pitch routes, and long days. Don’t bring your aggressive, downturned shoes unless you want to be limping out of the park. If you’re an experienced climber, you’ll know all about the rope, harness, belay/rappel system, locking and non-locking carabiners, helmet, and other gear necessary to make the trip. But it’s also critical that you pack basic first aid supplies, and plenty of water and food. Many rock climbing trips last several hours to a full day, so plan accordingly!
Remember, this list of rock climbing guidelines is just that – a guide. Always check with the park you’ll be visiting for more specific regulations, and of course, remember to stay safe! For more advice on where to go for your rock climbing excursion or how to prepare for it (or any other activities on your national park trip), contact our experts at Visit USA Parks! Together we can plan your dream vacation.
Explore Other National Parks’ Climbing
Rocky Mountain National Park
The Alpine Institute offers several courses to help get climbers comfortable on any of the Rockies’ varied courses. A 6-12 day course introduces students to alpine climbing and grows their confidence in leading their own climbs. Additionally, a beginner rock-climbing curriculum offered at Lumpy Ridge introduces students to rock climbing in general. The Colorado Mountain School also offers a half-day fun introductory climb perfect for families and beginners.
Joshua Tree National Park
The Cliffhanger Rock Climbing Guides of Joshua Tree can help you design a rock climbing adventure that suits you and your travel companions’ needs and experience levels. And if you’re an experienced climber who’d rather go solo, there are plenty of walls to choose from in this beautiful desert park!
Shenandoah National Park
If you’re looking for a route that’s a little lusher and more tranquil, or if you’re planning to focus your travels in the eastern side of the United States, the scenery at Shenandoah will delight you. Its quieter location will renew and refresh you, and successfully surmounting a cliff here will leave you feeling energized and accomplished.
Yosemite National Park
If you must pick just one climbing destination to give you a sense of what this sport is all about, it has to be Yosemite. Crags and walls suitable for climbers of every level attract adventurers from all over the globe. It’s sure to quickly add itself to your favorite list of vacation destinations, whether you’re local or visiting from abroad!