Drilling rock below high water line?

Not open for further replies.
If you read the Glen Canyon rules it's technically illegal to dig a fire pit, much less a 3-4' deep anchor hole. Removing tumbleweeds, also illegal. I think a lot of the rules are ignored BELOW the high water mark because the environment is already "disturbed".
The "perfect" beach always has rocks to tie my anchor ropes to then cleat it up. Holes are only for when you've got an energetic crew which ain't to often.
Here is how climbing nuts work:

If I were going to describe any style of climbing nuts as odd-shaped aluminum tubes of different sizes, that might refer to Black Diamond Hex nuts:

Cams do the same job, but work a little differently:

I haven't used any of these to anchor my boat, so can't vouch for how well any of them work.
We have used cams for years - vey reliable and NO damage. Anyone drilling in my space will get a BUNCH of scolding (polite word)!! We have 4 sizes, but they are pricey - $60 - 100/each or so. Haven't looked on Craigs List - but I imagine when they have been used a while - the climbers get rid of them.
I took a different aproach to determining the legality of setting rock climbing bolts for boat anchors. I researched the legality of using drills and bolts for rock climbing in the Glen Canyon Recreation Area. They are legal as long as you take them with you when you leave. so please "scubatim" no scolding. ;-)
Birdsnest, my "perfect" beach also includes large boulders to wrap straps around. How many times have you found a "perfect" beach on Memorial Day weekend? (grinning here!)
I do not know what u mean by "rock climbing bolts"?? Using rock drills for climbing may be okay but many leave their "rebar" and other steel rods that it becomes a hazard!! Esp when u do it in a very popular spot, when the water covers them. Even if u take them with u, drilling exposes more rock surface to weathering - water in the winter, ice forming - causes fracturing and spalling - I have seen several spots that way!! So - no more DRILLING!!! PLEASE USE OTHER METHODS!!
From what I see about climbing nuts and cams, both look perfectly legal. Drilling is illegal, whether it is to place smooth steel pins, other steel bars, rebar, or climbing bolts. The above/below waterline distinction makes no difference except in the mind of someone trying to justify their criminal actions. After all, it sounds so much better to tell your houseboat guests this fake above/below waterline story rather than to just come out and say, "I care more about my personal convenience than the well-being of the lake and others who use it. As a houseboat captain, I drill holes to make up for my lack of actual boating and anchoring skills."

I had a conversation with an NPS ranger not long ago. I asked how it would ever be possible to prosecute sandstone drillers since the character of someone who would drill stone would so often be the same character and integrity of someone who would tell lies claiming that the holes were already there. NPS now has rules to deal with this. Using drilled holes that were already there is just as illegal (and carries the same criminal penalties) as drilling the holes.
Last edited:
Endurance, your NPS ranger needs to read those rules again. It is clearly stated that drilling and setting bolts is legal, above and below the high water mark. I personally have NOT drilled any holes in Glen Canyon NRA, I'm just researching the possibility because it would have been very helpful at my campsite this past Memorial Day. Leaving steel rods and rebar protruding from the rock is another thing altogether. I carry a small sledge hammer and a hacksaw in my runabout just so I can remove such hazards left by others when I stumble across them.

Please quote the law and your written source on the illegality and criminal penalties for using rock climbing bolts. Thanks!
From the Glen Canyon NRA Superintendent's Compendium

"The following is prohibited:

. . . Leaving gear and equipment used in connection with climbing activities unattended. The gear and equipment shall be removed by the participants before departing the area. This includes but is not limited to pitons, chocks, bolts and all other climbing aids."

Technical climbing is allowed in many NRA's and National Parks. (think Yosemite)
Fact is too many do drill holes place rebar, leave it and then the water comes up and some unsuspecting boaters find it and ruin their vacation.
I use cams for anchors, mainly to hold my boat in the shade for an afternoon siesta. They hold well when placed properly, and release with no marks. I have plenty of retired cams from climbing so I don't go out and buy new ones for Powell. Unfortunately I had to leave one two weeks ago in a crack in deep. Hopefully someone will be able to retrieve it when the water comes down a little and score! Nuts are a little harder to secure a boat with in my opinion. Cams rock.

Can some one please post the law where it clearly states the whole hole drilling issue. I have been unable to view it on any web site I have visited. I too hate when I see rebar sticking out of the water or worse yet in the water.

I'd like to get this issue finally cleared up.

I have asked my son who works at DR to ask one of the rangers there to state the exact law concerning drilling holes to anchor a houseboat. Waiting for his reply.

Also, who has seen this video

Though the captain does a great job of piloting his boat in a narrow channel, (Looks like he has bow and stern thrusters). Near the end of the video you can clearly see some of his crew walk off the boat with a VERY large hamper drill.
Last edited:
Not open for further replies.