The climbing closures are to protect habitat of nesting raptors and desert bighorn sheep during lambing season, said Mark Miller, chief of resource stewardship and science for the NPS’ Southeast Utah Group.
“In the past, this has occurred on occasion but it has not been consistent,” he said. “Beginning this year we’ve taken a more comprehensive look at what we know about nesting of raptors and lambing of bighorn sheep. We’ve looked at those locations in greater detail as far as recreational activities that would have the greatest impact on wildlife.”
Miller said the climbing closures will become an annual event, although the list of routes to be closed probably will change each year as park officials learn more about nesting and lambing habits.
The current closures have a termination date, although Miller noted the temporary bans could be lifted earlier or later depending on the results of area wildlife surveys. Changes in the re-opening dates will be posted on the NPS website at www.nps.gov/arch and announced through the local news media, he said.
The routes now closed but slated to re-open Aug. 15 are Harkened Castle, including the entire rock feature known as Ham Rock; and Tonka Tower, including the entire feature known as Tonka Tower and the feature to the north of Tonka Tower.
Scheduled for re-opening on Aug. 31 are The Pickle, Canyonlands by Night, El Second, The Coup, Cohn’s Odyssey, Left Route, Project One and Project Two, Klondike Bluffs Crack Route One and Route Two, Cuddle Bunny Tower, False Start, North Marcher, Sand Hearse, Unknown Matching Men, Fun Ramp, The Hyena, Trail of the Navajo, Pop Tarts and Escape Route.
The Industrial Disease route will re-open Sept. 30.
Local guiding companies are not affected because no commercial operators have worked in Arches since the 1990s, said Heidi Wiley, NPS concessions management specialist.
Canyonlands permit changes
At Canyonlands National Park, visitors requesting backcountry permits will have a shorter period in which to apply.
The change, which goes into effect Sept. 1, affects four-wheel-drive and mountain bike camping, four-wheel-drive day use in the Needles District, group camping in the Needles, river trips, and trips involving combined backpacking and pack rafting, according to a news release from the NPS.
Currently, visitors may book reservations beginning on the second Monday in July for the following year, said Keri Nelson, reservations supervisor for Canyonlands. After the change, reservations will be taken no more than four months, and no less than two days, prior to the permit start date.
Permits and/or sites not reserved at least two days before the permit start date will be available to visitors in person at the park’s visitor centers and park headquarters reservation office on a first-come, first-served basis, according to the news release.
Nelson said the change is being made because Canyonlands is updating its reservation process to an online system as opposed to the current mail or fax application process. She added that with the longer time frame to make reservations, many people ended up canceling their reservations, particularly on the popular White Rim.
More information and availability calendars will be posted on Canyonlands’ website at www.nps.gov/cany.