Climbing Closures in Place to Protect Rare Falcons

The 2019 climbing closure to protect rare peregrine falcons went into effect January 15, 2019 


Each year between January 15 and August 15, the U.S. Forest Service closes several rock faces in western North Carolina to recreational activities, including rock climbing, to protect the rare Peregrine Falcons that nest there.

Specifically, prohibited activities include rock climbing, rappelling, hang gliding, and other recreational activities on the rock faces themselves, and flying drones in the vicinity of these rock faces and within posted areas. Overnight camping within posted areas is not allowed. Through hiking on designated trails is permitted within the posted boundaries. This closure is in effect for the protection of peregrine falcon nesting sites and is effective January 19, 2018 through August 15, 2020.

Wildlife biologists in the state have been working since the 1980's to help recover Peregrine Falcons, which dwindled to only one mating pair in NC in the 1950's. Perhaps the greatest challenge to the recovery of the species is nesting success. Peregrine falcons mate for life and return to the same site each year to nest. If the pair is disturbed, they will leave the site and may not nest again until the following year. Please help us save this species by avoiding the rock cliffs in the following areas when they are posted closed:

  • Appalachian District - Whiterock Cliff and Buzzard's Roost
  • Grandfather District - NC Wall and Shortoff Mountain (in Linville Gorge) and Big Lost Cove Cliffs
  • Nantahala District - Pickens Nose (east face) and Whiteside Mountain
  • Pisgah District - Looking Glass Rock (north face) and North Cedar Rock (Northern Aggression area)

The site boundaries are as follows:

  • Whiteside (Southeast Face, routes between Southwest Arete and Mainline)
  • NC Wall (between Tightrope and Bumblebee Buttress)
  • Shortoff (far right end, between C.O. and Paradigm Shift)
  • North Face Looking Glass (between Scott Fisher Memorial and Laurel Gully)
  • North Cedar (Northern Aggression Area, between Bayne's Corner and Groove Thang)

We are currently assessing the presence of ice and any potential effects of ice and associated ice climbing on the timing and success of peregrine falcon nesting and fledging.


Climbing Restrictions closure order, January 19, 2016-2019 

Revised Climbing Restrictions closure order, January 19, 2018-August 15, 2020 

Rare Falcon