Awesome Places To Climb In The United States
The climbing history of the United States is rich, stretching almost a century into the past. It is no surprise that climbing has thrived here for so long given the varied geography of this country. Across the expense of land that makes up the U.S. there are many mountains, deserts, gorges, and valleys filled with rock formations that differ in type and quality. For this reason, the U.S. contains multiple world renowned rock climbing destinations within every discipline of the sport.
Diversity in terms of climbing style, geographic location, and rock type were all kept in mind for the creation of this list of amazing spots to climb in the U.S. With that said, each of those three criteria could be turned into their own lists of crags, boulders, and big walls longer than the one here. Still, the locations below represent some of the best climbing that the US has to offer.
Rumney, New Hampshire
Rumney is unquestionably the best sport climbing crag in the northeastern part of the U.S. With over 550 sport routs, climbers of all abilities can find something challenging here. The climbs range from 5.3 to 5.15a, and there are some bouldering and trad routs as well. Despite its location in the Granite State, that rock at Rumney is schist. This rock has an obvious grain that is quite beautiful and is full of features. One can climb aretes, pockets, and cracks in the same day at Rumney. The best season to climb here is the fall, however summer can also be quite temperate as well.
New River Gorge, West Virginia
The New River Gorge is an incredible band of bullet hard sandstone cliffs that stretch for miles along its namesake river. The cliffs range from 40 to 150 feet in height and offer some of the highest quality sport climbing in the world. Although there are some moderate areas here, there are only a few and they get crowded quickly. More advanced climbers who can solidly lead 5.11 or higher will have a better time at the New, especially since many of the climbs have spacy bolting and require difficult technique. Knowing how to place gear can also be crucial for safely climbing here. It is possible to climb at the New all year long, however fall and spring offer the most comfortable temperatures and the least amount of rain.
Mount Rushmore National Memorial, South Dakota
The granite walls at Mount Rushmore are well suited for more than the massive carvings of former presidents that they are best known for – these granite walls also offer amazing climbing within every discipline of the sport. Here there are bolted multi-pitch climbs, classic boulder problems, hard trad routs, and everything in between. The diversity of climbing also allows for a longer climbing season at Mount Rushmore, with some walls best suited for the spring and fall, and others more comfortable in the summer. On sunny days, winter climbing is even possible. With short approaches, well protected climbs, and lots of quality routs to choose from, this is a climbing destination for everyone.
Hueco Tanks State Park, Texas
Hueco Tanks is considered by many to be the best bouldering destination not just in the US but in the entire world. The rock here is igneous, meaning it was formed from cooled magma, and is known for the massive pockets that abound. This type of rock feature has come to be known as a “hueco”, which is the Spanish word for “hole”. To visit Hueco Tanks one much get a permit. Jumping through the required hoops is worth it though due to the quality and concentration of boulder problems. There are around 500 routs at varying degrees of difficulty, making this a destination that V1 and V10 climbers can both enjoy. The best times to visit are in the winter, since the Texas heat is unforgiving from April through October.
Rifle Mountain Park, Colorado
Sport climbing in the US doesn’t get more quality than Rifle. The climbing here is not for the faint of heart. Of the 400 climbs found in the canyon most are 5.11 or harder. Everything here is steep, and the limestone that these climbs are made of has become slippery from constant traffic over the years. Rifle is a climbing destination that makes everyone feel weak, and requires long stays or consistent visits for success on projects. The quality of the routs is worth the struggle though. The best times to visit Rifle is in the spring, summer, and fall. During the winter there are ice formations that consistently form, and the canyon is a popular destination for ice climbers.
Indian Creek, Utah
Indian Creek is a crack climber’s paradise. The sandstone formations at this crag form hundreds of perfect splitter cracks ranging in difficulty from 5.6 and 5.7 to 5.13. However, the easy climbs are few and far between and most fall between 5.10 and 5.12. The climbing here is trad with very few exceptions. Because most of the climbs are perfect cracks that take only a few sizes of nuts or cams, a large rack and significant trad climbing knowledge is required for success. The rock is soft sandstone that can be easily damaged if climbed on while wet. The best times to visit Indian Creek are in the spring and the fall. Winter climbing is also possible, but the summer is far to hot.
Yosemite National Park, California
No list of climbing destinations in the US is complete without Yosemite National Park. This iconic area was the birthplace of American climbing and the big walls here are ubiquitously considered the best in the world. Most climbers come here to do the huge multi-pitch climbs on El Capitan and Half Dome, however comfort on big walls isn’t a requisite for having fun in the valley. With over 400 sport routs and boulder problems, Yosemite has something for every type of climber. The best time to visit this park is in the spring, summer, and fall.