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Leaving a Summit Log is a Federal Violation in National Parks

Summit Log on Sierra Blanca. Not a NP Summit.
So not a violation.

Have you ever left a summit log on a National Park summit? If you have your actions were a “federal violation.” At least that is what Big Bend National Park is suggesting. A friend of mine on BigBendChat.com was recently sent an e-mail from an undisclosed park ranger at Big Bend National Park. The e-mail said:

One of our back-country rangers just returned with a water bottle containing a notepad, pencils and your contact information.

Just so that you are aware, this type of activity is a federal violation.

36 Code of Federal Regulations prohibits leaving any property unattended for more than 24 hours inside the park.

Your information and this warning will be forwarded to our dispatch office to be entered into our database for future reference.

Thank you for complying with NPS regulations.

I went and looked up “36 Code of Federal Regulations” and sure enough on page 12 it reads:



Leaving property unattended for longer than 24 hours is prohibited except for motor vehicles parked at trailheads and river access points.

How many of you have ever left a Summit Log? How many have ever signed one? Guadalupe National Park in Texas advertises “signing the summit log” as one of the “highlights” of climbing Guadalupe peak. How many countless summit logs are out there in our National Park System? How many are a “federal violation”? Its important to consider that my friend didn’t leave the Summit Log…he just signed it along with his e-mail address. Since the first e-mail states its a warning (and has been entered into their database)….does that mean he can be prosecuted if any other summit logs are found out there with his e-mail address on them.

Signing the Summit Log on Guadalupe Peak in the Guadalupe Mountains National Park. Glad I didn’t leave my contact info. 

How many of you leave some type of contact info when you sign a summit log? Will this information change the way you sign summit logs?

I would love to hear your opinions. Please comment below.

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  • Barney (The Old Fat Man)

    January 12, 2011

    A ranger at GUMO ten years ago told me that the summit log on Guad Peak is a park approved summit log and therefore legal to be there.

  • Extreme Adventure News

    January 31, 2011

    If that were true, and the parks can leave their 'Own' logs..then why is it an offense for someone else to leave one?

    Section 2.22 also does not state EXCEPT FOR PARK RANGER PROPERTY….

    They would be breaking the same law…

    I think this is quite ridiculous. I would question whether this really came from the NPS or not…there are scammers out there..

    Good article though and thanks for bringing it to everyone's attention! I am sure that some of my readers may be interested in this..

  • Steven

    January 31, 2011

    My friend's first thought was that the email was a scam…until he saw it came from an nps.gov email address.

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