What are the Best Rock Climbing Destinations in the West?
The United States has one of the most diverse physiographic regions in the world. Each region offers jaw-dropping landmarks with a multitude of wildlife making it a rock climber’s paradise. Don’t take for granted the seemingly endless rock-climbing destinations that the U.S. offers.
With so many places to choose from, we’re breaking it down by region. Here are the best rock-climbing destinations in the West.
Arches National Park, UT
With more than 2,000 natural sandstone arches, Arches National Park is a sight like no other. If unique formations and arches fascinate you, this is your spot to climb. In between climbs, you can marvel at the world’s highest number of natural arches. The top climbing routes to check out are the Three Penguins, Owl Rock, and Heart of the Desert. Plus, you get the opportunity to see the Delicate Arch (famous for its depiction on Utah’s postage stamps and license plates).
Devils Tower, WY
Don’t worry; this place isn’t as scary as it sounds. Devils Tower got its name after a misinterpretation in 1875 from its original Native American name of Bear’s Lodge. Devils Tower became the first national monument in 1906 for obvious reasons. Its summit is 5,112 feet above sea level and 867 feet above Wyoming’s prairies.
The sheer rock walls have become a popular spot among climbers. Durrance Route is the most common route but takes note: all climbers must register with a park ranger before and after attempting a climb. Also, Native Americans view this tower as sacred; therefore, there is a voluntary climbing ban during June, so don’t plan a trip at this time. If you ever get a chance to visit this landmark, make sure to have high-durability equipment especially rope. Belaying on Devils Tower with the 9.9 Synergy Dynamic Rope will provide an agile feel for your adrenaline-filled climb.
Eldorado Canyon, CO
Let’s get straight to the point with this spectacular location. Eldorado Canyon offers over 1,000 technical rock climbing routes with Redgarden Wall as its largest cliff. The steep conglomerate sandstone walls serve as a perfect bouldering resource.
Garden of the Gods, CO
Located in Colorado Springs, this park merges the grasslands of the Great Plains with the woodlands of the Southwest and connect through Pike’s Peak. Climbers need permits from the City of Colorado Springs website and must wear proper equipment with at least a party of two (no solo top roping allowed here).
Joshua Tree National Park, CA
Since becoming a national park in 1994, Joshua Tree National Park offers activities such as camping, guided tours, cacti gardens, and, most importantly, rock climbing. The park encompasses two deserts with striking variances in characteristics and ecosystems caused by their different elevations. In terms of climbing difficulty, there are over 8,000 climbs and 400 unique formations, so you’re bound to find the right path for yourself- expert or beginner.
Red Rock Canyon, NV
Just 15 miles west of Las Vegas, the Red Rock Canyon offers large red rock formations with sandstone peaks and walls up to 3,000 feet. It’s not so hard to believe that a gorgeous rock climbing site has been left untouched by Sin City’s metropolis because the Bureau of Land management protects the formations.
This canyon made of Aztec Sandstone gets its vivid red color from the presence of iron oxide or hematite. You can take in the breathtaking formations while climbing single-pitch areas like the Brass Wall and multi-pitch area like the Eagle Wall. The broad range of length and difficulty of climbs and unique surroundings make this a go-to spot for rock climbing enthusiasts.
Smith Rocks State Park, OR
Smith Rocks State Park is the birthplace of modern American sport climbing. That alone should make any rock climber want to visit. It is a popular destination for traditional climbing, multi-pitch climbing, and bouldering. This is the place to go for challenging climbs with over 1,800 rock climbing routes. More challenging routes call for protection. We recommend the Kong Mouse Sport Climbing Helmet to protect your noggin, so you remember every moment of this epic climb. Plus, you’ll have the opportunity to see golden eagles, prairie falcons, mule deer, river otters, and more wildlife.
Climbers come from all over the world to partake in some of the best offwidths known to humankind. With over 500 challenging climbs, Vedauwoo is a rock climber’s kryptonite. There are abundant hoodoos, tall, thin rocks that bulge from the bottom of a basin. They resemble totem-poles and are quite a sight to witness in person.
Yosemite Valley, CA
Yosemite Valley, a 7.5-mile-long and 3,500 feet deep glacial valley, is located in Yosemite National Park in the Sierra Nevada Mountains. Although the valley only makes up 1% of the entire park, it’s where most visitors stay. It’s easy to see why it’s so popular: its numerous creeks flowing into the Merced River, open meadows, waterfalls, and gigantic granite rocks to climb make it a rock climber’s Disney World.
Are you seeking a real challenge? El Capitan is a 3,000-vertical climb up its sheer granite face. It has numerous routes including its two most popular treks: The Nose and Sacherer Cracker. This is just one of the many attractions at Yosemite Valley, so its good to come prepared with top-notch safety equipment. We suggest the Dirty Rigger Venta-Cool™ Summer Rigger Gloves for the ultimate hand protection from abrasions and more airflow perfect for the upcoming warmer weather.
Zion National Park, UT
Utah’s first national park contains Zion Canyon, a 15-mile long and 2,640 feet deep gorge popular for rock climbing. The highest point in the park is Horse Ranch Mountain at a whopping 8,726 feet tall perfect for tourists. The main rock climbing walls are Touchstone, Moonlight Buttress, Spaceshot, and Prodigal Son.
Stay tuned for our tops rock climbing picks in the Midwest, South, and the Northeast United States soon to come!