Climbing Ban in the Navajo Reservation, New Mexico and Arizona

Publication Year: 1972.

Climbing Ban in the Navajo Reservation, New Mexico and Arizona. Dr. Earnest C. Anderson of the Los Alamos Mountaineers has forwarded us the following letter, pointing out that the Navajo’s policy has now been changed and that an absolute and unconditional ban is in effect. Dr. Anderson suggests: “In view of the uncompromising attitude of the Navajo Tribe, climbers would be well advised to stay away from Ship Rock, Canyon de Chelly, Monument Valley, Todilto Park and all other areas under their jurisdiction.”

May 12, 1971

A letter to Rock Climbers:

Many requests come to the Navajo Tribe for permission to climb one or more of the monoliths on the reservation. It is the policy of the Tribe to prohibit anyone from climbing any of these monoliths: Shiprock, Rainbow Bridge, the Totem Pole, Spider Rock, and any and all others.

A practical and easily understandable reason is the nature of the rocks themselves, which cannot withstand unnecessary attrition to any degree. This has been argued by various would-be climbers, but the Tribe is making no exceptions.

A second reason and one that admits of no argument is that the monoliths of the Navajo reservation are considered sacred places. To climb them is to profane them. Protests have been and still are being made by the Navajos about the unauthorized scaling of reservation rocks.

It would be well here to mention the Tribal prohibition against collecting petrified wood, minerals, pottery shards, gem stones, or anything else found on the surface of the ground. This material is the property of the Navajo Tribe, and it wishes to keep it where it belongs, lest the reservation be denuded of some of its picturesque treasures.

Come and visit us, look and photograph as much as you like; you will be welcome. But please respect our prohibitions and let us keep the wonderful Navajo reservation as beautiful as it is.


CHARLES S. DAMON, Director Navajo Parks & Recreation Department, The Navajo Tribe

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