There are many fantastic rock climbing destinations in the USA, and this article will give you the lowdown on the best spots. If you can’t decide which is the best, try to combine several! And make sure to check out our below article on the Top Places for Rock Climbing in the USA to make your trip to the country even more memorable!
Yosemite National Park – California
Yosemite National Park – California is one of the world’s most famous climbing destinations, with routes of every difficulty level. From big wall climbs to crack climbing, from multi-day aid climbs to sustained cracks in Merced River Canyon, the climbing options in Yosemite are endless. The park was created by John Muir, and you can enjoy climbing in a natural environment that was set aside for protection.
Climbing at Yosemite National Park – California is among the most popular sports in the world. The park is home to numerous crags and rock faces, ranging from 500 feet to 1,500 feet in length. It offers every type of climbing at all levels, from beginner to expert. Many routes are single or double-pitch, but there are also many sport routes that feature granite cracks and are not traditionally protected.
Joshua Tree – California
In addition to its soaring peaks, Joshua Tree also has spectacular desert sunsets. With towering boulders and rock piles, the area is home to many species of animals and plants. Those looking for a new challenge can rent climbing gear from local outfitters and climb in the early morning or late at night. Climbing guides are available at visitor centers and outdoor shops in the surrounding communities. While the park is a popular climbing location for tourists, the impact on the desert has grown in recent years. This has resulted in the park becoming a haven for rock climbers, encouraging the principles of Leave No Trace and creating viable habitats for plants and animals.
The most popular climb in the area is Double Cross, which is found on Old Woman crag near the Hidden Valley Campground. Climbers first climb a long crack system and then traverse right on an airy jug rail before pulling onto a slab around a corner. From here, climbers continue up the slab to the bolted anchors.
Bishop – California
The eastern Sierras of California are home to the small town of Bishop – a city tucked away in the desert. This sleepy town has a population of around three thousand people, but has recently seen a resurgence of activity thanks to world-class rock climbing. The Owens River Gorge is a prime location for climbing, with hundreds of top-quality sport routes. Nearby, you can find bouldering at Buttermilks Boulders and Happy Boulders. Both offer technical challenges in beautiful scenery.
There are many ways to climb in Bishop. The Buttermilks are a must-visit for serious rock climbers in the Southwest. This area offers a variety of lines on both short and tall rock faces. Bring hand protection and crash pads for the granite surfaces, as they are razor-sharp. Climbers should time their visits between the winter and mid-spring seasons, as the rock is particularly sharp. Also, make sure to spend some time at the nearby Buttermilk BLM camping area.
Indian Creek – Utah
If you love sport climbing but don’t want to spend the money, then you might be interested in visiting Indian Creek – Utah. The sandstone cliffs in this area are a mecca for crack climbers. With 1,456 listed routes, you can challenge yourself in an unrivaled setting. The trad routes require a massive number of cams and top roping, so be prepared to share gear. Tent camping is also available on Bureau of Land Management land.
The climbing at Indian Creek is world class, and the scenery is breathtaking. It also boasts good camping, abundant wildlife, and unmatched night skies. Nearby Moab is a great town with restaurants and adventure outfitters. But you should plan on a couple of days to do a full day of climbing before heading there. And make sure you bring plenty of water and pack all trash.
Smith Rock – Oregon
The Smith Rock crag is located in a high desert area in Oregon. The crag offers a variety of climbing routes ranging in length, difficulty, and rock type. The area is remote, but is close to Bend, Oregon and Seattle. In order to reach the crag, drive about three hours east of Portland. The nearest major city is Seattle, which is about 6-7 hours away.
Smith Rock State Park is nine miles north of Redmond. Visitors can climb in the high desert and experience deep canyons. The park also features scenic rivers and plenty of wildlife. You must bring a leash for your pet while you are on the crag. There are thousands of climbs available to choose from. Smith Rock is a premier climbing destination in the USA.
Wild Iris – Wyoming
If you’ve ever dreamed of climbing in the Rocky Mountains, Wild Iris, Wyoming, should be on your list. The rock formations on this mountain range between nine thousand and fourteen thousand feet, and are surrounded by pine and aspen trees. The climbing in the area is typically good, but you should still carry bear spray just in case. It’s also a good idea to watch out for wildlife while climbing – it’s not uncommon to encounter a rattlesnake or grizzly bear.
Located on Limestone Mountain at a high altitude of 9,000 feet, the climbing in Wild Iris is perfect for intermediate and advanced climbers. There are several crags on the mountain, and the campground is within walking distance of all of them. The climbs range in difficulty from 5.6 to 5.14, with a big concentration of outstanding 5.10s. The rock here has great pockets, but it’s not punishing or overly steep.
Rifle Canyon – Colorado
Rock climbers will have to master beta and body movement to master the most difficult routes in Rifle Canyon. This area is renowned for its trad routes, but even novices can find a new challenge in the meat. Whether you’re a sport climber or an expert, you’ll have plenty to do in this mountain town.
While there are plenty of rock climbing spots in the United States, nothing can beat the limestone sport climbing at Rifle Canyon, Colorado. This park has more than 400 sport routes and is only 200 miles from Boulder. The sport climbing is predominantly endurance-based, with overhangs ranging from slightly to very overhung. There’s also a picnic area and horseshoe pits to keep the whole group entertained. The only downside of Rifle is that you may need to bring a few extra bucks if you’re planning on spending a lot of time climbing.
Red Rock – Nevada
The canyon in the Red Rock area has thousands of routes. Generally warm temperatures make it an ideal climbing destination. Climbers of all levels can enjoy the diverse terrain, from short sport routes to challenging 20-pitch outings. If you’re looking for a place near Las Vegas where you can get in some climbing action on the cheap, check out Red Rock Climbing.
The area is full of desert life and features an abundance of cacti and sharp desert vegetation. Though rattlesnakes are rare in the area, scorpions, tarantulas, and wasps can be found. The red rocks themselves are protected by a massive rock formation called Blue Diamond Hill. The area is well-known for containing a gypsum mine, but it blocks a stunning view of Vegas. The landscape is likely to change in the near future. Gated communities and high-end housing aren’t far off.
New River Gorge – West Virginia
The New River Gorge is a beautiful location with beautiful scenery. You’ll find plenty of climbing opportunities in the gorge itself, but you’ll definitely want to spend some time checking out the nearby crags. Climbers can choose from multi-pitch climbs, or they can opt for shorter routes with fewer moves. Regardless of your skill level, you’ll find a variety of routes in New River Gorge.
The rock in the Gorge is made up of the oldest and hardest sedimentary rock in the world. It offers excellent protection for climbers, and some of the routes include drilled bolts and traditional gear placements. The New River Gorge is home to rock climbers of every type, from sport to trad. The Gorge is reminiscent of Thailand and attracts climbers who are looking for hard, technical climbing. Climbers can expect cracks, faces, and overhangs to challenge their abilities.
Horseshoe Canyon – Arkansas
Located in the Ozark Mountains, near Jasper, Arkansas, Horseshoe Canyon Ranch is one of the best places for rock climbing in the USA. This privately owned dude ranch offers the most varied rock climbing in the state, and is home to the state’s highest concentration of boulder problems and routes. From beginner to advanced climbers, Horseshoe Canyon offers three distinct types of climbing: sport climbing, bouldering, and trad rock. The sport climbing is world-class, and the country’s first national riverway provides perfect conditions for climbing.
Depending on your level, you can try sporty or run-out routes, with a range of difficulties from 5.7 to 5.12c. There are more than 60 routes in the moderate (5.8) category, and you can take an overnight trip. The weather is mild year-round, although the summer months can be humid and hot. This extra moisture in the air can make climbing more challenging.