Climbing routes on the west face and southwest shoulder of Devils Tower have been temporarily closed to protect nesting peregrine and prairie falcons. The closure is implemented to provide the falcons with an undisturbed nesting location during this critical courtship and nest-selection period, and is an annual occurrence at Devils Tower.
There are 47 climbing routes affected by the closure between “Good Holds for Godzilla” and “Accident Victim.” Over one hundred climbing routes remain open for climbing. A complete list of closed routes can be found on the park’s website at www.nps.gov/deto.
Climbing routes will remain closed until the young falcons fledge and are no longer dependent on the nest location. Peregrine falcons have successfully nested on the Tower for the last four seasons, and have used a different face of the formation each year.
“The closure will be strictly enforced. All climbers are required to register at the Climbing Registration Office or kiosk in front of the visitor center before beginning their ascent,” said Joe Stiver, Acting Chief Law Enforcement Ranger.
The closure is implemented not only to protect the birds, but to protect climbers, as falcons are known to defensively dive in order to protect their nests. The presence of climbers near or above falcon nests can be distressing to parent birds and disturbance from climbing activities may force falcons to abandon eggs or chicks.
Climbers are asked to report any defensive falcon behavior to park staff. Park biologists will monitor falcon activity, and the closure area may be moved, extended or rescinded at an earlier date depending on nesting and fledgling activity.