The United States is vast and full of varied terrain. Due to a large number of mountain ranges within its borders, there are many great places for rock climbing.
Rock climbing in the United States isn’t even limited to one or two regions. In fact, there are great rock climbing destinations all over the country, including in some places you might never guess.
Although many rock climbers enjoy doing the majority of their climbing in the gym, there’s nothing quite like climbing actual rock. Whether bouldering, top-roping or free climbing is your thing, you can find a great place for it in the United States.
Read on to learn about seven incredible and adrenaline-inspiring rock climbing destinations in the United States. You’ll probably want to make plans to hit them all.
Top Seven Best Rock Climbing Spots in the US
Oh beautiful for spacious skies! The United States is full of beautiful places for adventure. All of the following locations are worth visiting, and worth exploring after you’re done rock climbing, too.
Yosemite National Park; California
Yosemite is truly a rock climber’s mecca. This national park covers over 1,200 square miles and almost all of it is mountainous. There are climbs in Yosemite for people of all skill levels but many of the features and routes are quite challenging.
This park is famous to climbers and non-climbers alike in part because of El Capitan, a granite mountain with a 3,000-foot tall vertical cliff that climbers worldwide dream of conquering. It can take four days for even a skilled climber to reach the top and both the ascent and descent are not for the faint of heart.
Most of Southern Utah
If Yosemite is a mecca, then southern Utah is a climber’s paradise. This region is packed to the brim with unique and mysterious sandstone structures including arches, canyons, cliffs, hoodoos and more. Some areas are protected, but much of it is climbable.
It’s hard to know where to begin when climbing in southern Utah, so plan for at least a week to check it out. Great places for climbing include Arches National Park, Zion National Park, and a wide variety of locations near St. George and Moab, Utah.
Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park; Colorado
Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park is one of five national parks in Colorado and it is known for its deep canyon with sheer cliffs that drop dramatically to the Gunnison River far below. The park’s website warns that climbing in this canyon is not for the inexperienced.
Most of the climbing in this park occurs in the North and South Chasm Walls area, but there are known routes throughout the park. The National Parks Service is aware of 145 of them, and all are rated at a 5.8 or higher, with most at a 5.11 or above.
Devil’s Lake State Park; Wisconsin
Many people don’t realize that there is some excellent rock climbing in the midwestern region of the United States. Thoughts of the midwest often conjure up mental images of corn and flat land, but there is so much more.
Devil’s Lake State Park offers many rock climbing opportunities for beginners and experienced climbers alike. Its Baraboo quartzite cliffs are uncommon for the region and is something different worth trying.
Shenandoah National Park; Virginia
The Appalachian Mountains run up the eastern part of the United States from Mississippi and Alabama all the way to Canada. This massive mountain range spans eighteen states. It is famous for the 2,200-mile Appalachian Trail and is the home to millions of Americans.
The Appalachian Mountains are an old mountain range so the mountains have become rounded in time due to erosion. However, there are still a number of places with great cliffs and great climbing and western Virginia’s Shenandoah National Park is one of them.
There is something for every climber in this park and some of the features have become legendary. Try Lil Stony Man, Old Rag, or Bent Tree on for size. You will never run out of great features and routes in Shenandoah.
The Shawangunk Mountains; New York
The Shawangunk Mountains, affectionally known as “The Gunks” are also part of the Appalachians and offer some fantastic climbing opportunities just a little over an hour north of New York City.
The rock climbing in this area can be rather busy due to its proximity to major metropolitan areas, but it offers climbs from easy to difficult. Some of the most popular climbs were established in the 1940s, so be careful. The climbing here is on quartz slabs and cracks so climbing can sometimes be slippery.
Acadia National Park; Maine
Acadia National Park is considered the crown jewel of the North Atlantic coast and with good reason. It is one of the nation’s top ten most visited national parks. The views here are spectacular; from the top of Cadillac Mountain to the rocky shores of the Atlantic Ocean, this place is breath-taking and beautiful.
Most of the cliffs for climbing in Acadia are composed of solid coarse-grained pink granite. Commonly used climbing areas include Otter Cliff, Precipice, South Bubble and Great Head.
Great Head is especially popular due to the fact it allows climbers to climb a cliff above the ocean while waves crash below. Climbing in Acadia is much different than climbing almost anywhere else in the United States.
No matter which of the above destinations you choose, if you enjoy rock climbing, you are going to enjoy yourself in these parks and other locations. These are truly some of the very best rock climbing locations that exist in the United States.
However, don’t stop here. There are hundreds of other great places to rock climb in this county, too.
Leavenworth, Washington, Smith Rock, Oregon, and City of Rocks, Idaho offer great climbing opportunities in the northwest.
Custer State Park in South Dakota and Devils Tower National Monument provide challenging options in the central west.
Stone Mountain, Georgia, the Red River Gorge in Kentucky, and the White Mountains in New Hampshire invite climbers to the south and east.
There are so many different places to climb in the United States, that you couldn’t possibly hit them all in one lifetime, but it’s certainly worth trying. Good luck and happy climbing!
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