Rock climbing is a fun and adventurous sport that does more than just keep you fit; it tests strength, resolve, endurance, and courage. Although climbing indoors can keep you fit and train you for getting outdoors, the best experiences are climbing some of the best rock formations in North America.
Yosemite National Park
Yosemite is a great place for rock climbing. It has two famous locations, El Capitan and Half Dome. El Capitan is a 3,000-foot vertical rock formation known colloquially as El Cap. Located in Yosemite National Park, people once considered scaling it impossible. However, now big-wall enthusiasts enjoy climbing one of the two main faces, either the Southwest or Southeast. There are more than a dozen routes one can take, the most famous being the Nose. Half Dome is the most recognized climbing site in Yosemite and is more than 4,737 feet high. It features over a dozen rock climbing routes, in addition to the trail and cable route erected in 1919 for those not looking to scale the face.
Rocky Mountain National Park
The Rocky Mountains offer numerous climbs within their many peaks. The best peak is Longs Peak, which offers routes for a variety of skill levels. Some of the most popular routes on Longs Peak are the East Face, Keyhole Route, and the Diamond. During the winter season, special climbing equipment is necessary due to ice and snow. Another great area to climb on the Rockies is the Flatirons in Boulder, Colorado. It also has routes for all skill levels, especially fro beginners.
Many people enjoy climbing the rocks and sandstone towers in Moab, especially those who enjoy desert climbing. There are a variety of climbs suitable for all skill level from beginners to masters.
Smith Rock, Oregon
Smith Rock in Oregon offers more than a thousand routes. Many of the best climbers come to Smith Rock for the challenging climbs, and many consider it the birthplace of the modern sport.
Devil’s Tower, Wyoming
Devil’s Tower offers sheer rock walls with vertical cracks and columns for climbing routes for every skill level, from easy to some of the hardest in the world. There are over 150 different established routes, ranging from 500 to 600 feet.
Denali National Park, Alaska
The highest mountain in North America is Mount McKinley, which is known as Mount Denali to climbers and locals. The alpine conditions can be hazardous, so it is best for those with experience. Only about half of those climbing the West Buttress route actually make it to the summit.
Acadia National Park
Acadia National Park in Maine offers solid granite rock formations perfect for climbing. The best spots are the Otter Cliffs, which are located on the southeastern side of the Mount Desert Island. These cliffs rise 60 feet out of the water. Climbers also enjoy the Precipice, which offers easy routes fro beginners.
Zion National Park
Zion National Park in Utah, made up of Zion Canyon and Kolob Canyons, feature big wall challenges best for those with experience. The best climb is most likely Moonlight Buttress, although climbers also enjoy Angels Landing’s Prodigal Sun.
Hueco Tanks State Park, Texas
Hueco Tanks State Park, near El Paso in Texas, offers climbers an incredible bouldering site. It does have limited access in order to preserve the formations, so most climbers have to join a guided group. North Mountain is available for unguided climbs.
This list is by no means definitive. North America offers numerous places to enjoy rock climbing, whether you are a beginner or a master. Some locations may just feature one main formation, while others have enough trails that you could spend a lifetime trying them all.
photo credit: Markus_76