Few things compare to the rush of blood that comes from rock climbing. With the physical exertion, the heights and the expansive scenery, it’s no wonder that the sport is one of the fastest growing activities in the US. And in this post we want to give you (the potential rock climber) a little bit of info on the best rock climbs in Southern Utah.
Zion National Park – Zion is, without a doubt, the quintessential location for climbing. It offer challenging technical routes, established top-rope courses and (perhaps most importantly) a fantastic location. If you are in Zion, check out these three routes:
Bunny Hop – if you’re new to climbing, consider starting out with a little bouldering. The Bunny Hop boulder is located off the main highway near the entrance of the park. It is rated V4.
Prodigal Son IV – rated 5.9 A2, this route is a good place to start, especially with inexperienced climbers. It’s a fairly big wall, but can easily be done in a day. Besides Prodigal Son is near Angels Landing, which is one of the best spots in the park.
Tricks of the Trade – rated 5.11a A2, this route is one of the more complex climbs in the park. You ascend from the lower buttress of Isaac (in the Court of the Patriarchs) up chimneys. This climb should not be attempted without the proper experience.
As a side note, don’t forget that Zion National Park also includes Kolob Canyon. Since Kolob is not accessed from Zion’s main entrance, it is sometimes forgotten. But there are some great climbs in Kolob Canyon, so when you take your trip, be sure to stop by.
Capitol Reef National Park – If the crowds of Zion in the summer don’t sound appealing, check out Capitol Reef. With a similar rock geology and plenty of big wall climbing, but no crowds and no entrance fee, it could be just want you’re looking for. Consider these three routes:
Airport Boulders – if you need something to ease you into the climbing mood. Then one of the best bouldering areas is found outside of the town of Bicknell (a little ways outside of Capitol Reef.) Take the back road to the airport. The large black rocks will be on your left.
Terrible Twos – this probably the most famous wall in the park. There are actually quite a few routes on the wall, ranging from 5.7 to 5.12b. The Terrible Twos wall is located in the Grand Wash, just off the scenic drive.
Capitol Gorge Classic Handcrack – rated 5.10a, this is one of the funniest routes in the park. It is fairly easy, and the views are great. As you might imagine, this route is located in Capitol Gorge, also accessed from the scenic drive.
The National Park Service no longer allows new bolts to be placed, which means no new routes will be created in the foreseeable future. So we at the Lodge at Red River Ranch encourage you to try as many routes as you can. Obviously take the time to enjoy the sport safely. Make sure you know what to expect, as things can change quickly. Talk to the rangers and other climbers and read up on the routes. And remember that it is unethical to use chalk that is not the same color as the rocks.
Be safe, and enjoy the scenery of the Southern Utah.