In reply to:
JUNE VOLUNTARY CLIMBING CLOSURE IN EFFECT FOR DEVILS TOWER
Devils Tower National Monument superintendent Dorothy FireCloud announces a voluntary climbing closure for the month of June. The 1995 Devils Tower National Monument Climbing Management Plan established a voluntary closure for all climbing routes on the Tower out of respect for traditional cultural activities of American Indians. The voluntary closure has been implemented each June since 1996, and has proven successful: the average number of climbers in June has seen an 85% reduction.
The National Park Service appreciates the efforts of those climbers who choose to observe the closure. In addition, the Access Fund, a nonprofit organization working to maintain access to climbing areas and protect the climbing environment, fully supports the June Voluntary Closure. Most permitted climbing guides do not bring clients to the Tower during the month of June. Rangers at the Monument can provide information on alternative rock climbing sites in the area.
American Indians have long regarded the Tower as a sacred site, and many feel that recreational climbing desecrates the Tower. Traditional cultural activities occur at the park throughout the year; however, June is an especially significant time when many ceremonies take place.
The Tower boasts a rich and colorful climbing history that dates back to the late 1800s when it was first scaled by two local ranchers using a wooden ladder. Climbers from all over the world consider Devils Tower to be a unique and premier climbing area. Currently, about 4,500 visiting climbers come to Devils Tower each year. Although it is sometimes assumed that climbing damages the rock, contemporary climbing technology has little impact on the Tower.
The 1995 Climbing Management Plan provides direction for managing climbing activity in order to protect natural and cultural resources on and around the Tower. That plan was updated in 2006, in order to address issues of resource protection, climber education, and climber safety. Both plans, as well as updated closure information, can be found at www.nps.gov/deto.
All routes on the Tower are currently open for climbing, as nesting prairie falcons have not been observed on the Tower. National Park Service professionals will continue to survey the Tower to determine the presence or absence of nesting prairie falcons, and climbing and rappel route closures may change in the future based on the location and behavior of nesting falcons.
For further information please contact the monumentís Chief of Resource Management, Mark Biel, at (307) 467-5283 ext 212.