Cave Rock – Climbers banned from Nevada sport crag, other users still welcome

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Nevada’s Cave Rock climbing area, home to such classic sport routes as Undertow and Slayer, is now closed, following a Record of Decision (ROD) reached by the US Forest Service Lake Tahoe Basin Management Unit in July. The climbing area, linked to a rock-blasted tunnel forming part of US Highway 50, will remain open to other forms of outdoor recreation like picnicking, fishing, and hiking. These activities, according to the ROD, do not compromise the “feeling and association” of Cave Rock because they present a less significant threat to environmental impact.Misconceptions have surrounded the Cave Rock closure decision in recent months, due largely in part to media coverage that pitted climbers against Native Americans. The Access Fund and Forest Service maintain that the decision to close Cave Rock is based on the environmental impact caused by climbing on public lands, and is not an issue of Native American religious access to the area. Forest Supervisor Maribeth Gustafson has stated, “Some have characterized this issue as a Native American religion versus climber conflict, but that is simply not the case.” Although the Forest Service faced heavy pressure from the Washoe Tribe to eliminate climbing at Cave Rock, alternatives to the ROD (outlined in Appendix A of the document) state that restricted climbing access could continue at Cave Rock without interfering with Washoe religious practices. For now, however, Cave Rock is closed to climbing because of its high-impact user status with the Forest Service, while other recreational users are welcome to continue accessing Cave Rock via the adjacent Highway 50. For more information, visit The Access Fund website at

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