Low Impact Climbing

Despite their prime location within Boulder city limits, the Flatirons are part of a fragile environment. The balance between accessible recreation and overwhelming the natural resources depends very much on all of us doing our part in safeguarding this amazing place.

To help protect the Flatirons and prevent damage to the cliffs and to the fragile life found here, follow these simple guidelines on Low-Impact Climbing:

Plan and Prepare

  • Current trail closures/openings can be found at here.  You can also use the OSMP interactive trail map before your day of climbing.  OSMP regularly closes trails for maintenance and repairs, to prevent trail damage during muddy season and for wildlife (raptor nesting closures, bat roosting closures).
  • Many popular formations such as the Third Flatiron, the Matron and Mickey Mouse Wall are closed from February 1 – August 31 to protect birds of prey. Check the FCC’s closure page or OSMP’s raptor closure page for current information on raptor closures.
  • Use established trails and do not start new social trails.
  • Observe leash laws if bringing your dog along and check Dogs on OSMP Land for more information.
  • Trailhead parking is extremely limited on weekends and holidays. During peak seasons, parking areas fill early. Ease traffic congestion by carpooling or coming at off-peak times.
  • Parking at Chautauqua is no longer free and space is almost always limited.  Consider taking the “Park-to-Park” shuttle for free parking and quick and easy access to Chautauqua.


Research your climbing objectives and descents.  Soloing in the Flatirons has a long tradition but is far from being pedestrian.  Route-finding and down climbing are as important as climbing up, when in doubt pick a different objective, climb with others and rope up.

At your Destination

  • Avoid damaging lichen and vegetation and treat the rock gently: tree cutting, rock trundling, hold chopping, bolting or gluing of holds are prohibited.
  • Avoid damaging the base of climbs and boulders. Do not stack rocks or logs. Please keep the trails at the base clear so others can pass by.
  • Do not leave your dog unattended or leashed at the base of climbs to disturb others. Also control your dog to prevent damaging the base of climbs or chasing wildlife.
  • Do not start fires.

Fixed Draws

Please do not leave fixed hardware or project draws on routes.  Project draws deteriorate over time are an eyesore and can become a risk to unsuspecting climbers.   Secondly, the climbers’ agreement with the City of Boulder restricts the installation of fixed hardware such as permadraws without a permit and their unapproved use could affect future climbing access.  The use of permadraws can be reviewed on a case by case basis under the current FHRC application process for safety considerations only, for example if necessary to have a point of protection for cleaning steep routes.  The use of permadraws for convenience is not approved by the City of Boulder.


  • When done with your session brush-off tick marks and excessive chalk on holds.
  • Clean up all chalk spills.
  • Many boulder problems require the use of crash pads for safety, but excessive use of pads can significantly damage the fragile vegetation and leads to soil erosion. Limit the amount of crash pads to what is only necessary.
  • Do not stash crash pads overnight. Do not leave behind gear stashes or bouldering pads.  These foreign items are attractive to wildlife and do damage over time.

Human and Dog Waste

  • Dispose of human waste properly and pick up after your pet. Wag bag dispensing boxes are now available at the base of the Satellite Boulders, at the base of the Slab and near Dinosaur Rock courtesy of the FCC and the Boulder Climbing Community.   Use these bags for human waste and pack them out.  Also check out the Access Fund’s guide for human waste disposal here.
  • Do not leave trash behind including apple cores, banana peels, cigarette butts, tape, etc. Better yet, bring a small bag and clean up others’ messes.

Keep the Noise Down

  • Nobody wants to hear your music at the crag. Please don’t play music and respect the quiet natural environment.
  • Avoid screaming and expletives, not everyone in the Flatirons is a climber and to them it can be alarming or disturbing to hear you fall and scream.
  • The wildlife, climbers and other hikers will appreciate your efforts to keep the noise down.

Learn More and Take Action

  • Learn more about low impact climbing from Leave No Trace and the Access Fund.
  • Participate in FCC and BCC Trail Days and in our annual Trash Bash event held each September.