5 World Class Rock Climbing Destinations in the United States

5  World Class Climbing Destinations

Spring time brings more availability to the sport of rock climbing. And whether you are new to the sport, or have been around the block a few times, there are certain spots in the U.S. worth checking out this season for premiere cliffs, views, and crag. Spanning from one side of the country to the other, here are five of those premiere rock climbing destinations:


New River Gorge, Fayetteville, West Virginia
Home to the longest spanning steel arch bridge in the United States, the New River Gorge in Fayetteville, West Virginia is not just a climbing mecca, but an everything outdoors mecca. Besides the 1,400 established Nuttall Sandstone rock climbing routes that line the deep gorges formed by the New River; there is also rafting, mountain biking, camping, fishing, and if you go in October for Bridge Days, base jumping. Check out the mountain project page for details on specific routes and camping locations.


Red River Gorge, East Central Kentucky
The Red River Gorge is a testament to good rock climbing culture everywhere. Not only is this mecca east of the Mississippi home to over 1,000 established sandstone routes varying in skill level, but also is home to the Red River Gorge’s Climbers Association. The RRGCA has fought tirelessly over the years and succeeded with land access rights to not only preserve the area for climbing, but to preserve it for future generations as well.


Horseshoe Canyon Ranch, The Ozarks, Arkansas
A great retreat for every skill level, Horseshoe Canyon Ranch provides over 400 sandstone routes varying from 5.5 – 5.14. With nearly all the routes bolted for sport climbing, this is a great location to fine-tune your own lead climbing, or introduce it to someone who might be interested. The dude-ranch amenities and aesthetics surrounding the campsites, plus the Ozark Mountains country as your backdrop make this place a little slice of climbing heaven on earth.


Red Rock Canyon, Nevada
Located in the outer reaches of the Mojave Desert, and just a short drive from Vegas, Red Rock Canyon is a well-established rock climbing destination. Featuring Navajo Sandstone, this can be a place to practice your sport climbing on relatively short routes, or get the trad gear out for 20-pitch adventures. Remember your water, and prepare for desert conditions, and to find out more about specific routes check out their Mountain Project page.


Joshua Tree National Park, California
Even if you are not a climber, Joshua Tree National Park could keep you busy for days. But if you are a climber, Joshua Tree National Park could keep you busy for lifetimes. With an incredible 8,000+ boulder, sport, and trad routes; Joshua Tree is a climbers oasis in the desert. Filled with quartz monzonite, the biggest blessing in Joshua Tree of world class climbing is also its curse. Often filled to the brim, campsites can be rare in Joshua Tree and the ecological impact on the desert has been noticeable. Plan ahead to play free at Joshua Tree, make sure to always carry your trash out with you, and check out the Mountain Project page for more details.

Rock Climbing is a sport of patience, practice, and plenty of fun. Get out on the rock this season and see for yourself, see why thousands of climbers each year flock to these different destinations, and catch a little bit of that climbing culture for yourself.

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