The United States is chock full of world-class climbing destinations. With so many to choose from, how do you know which spots offer the best climbing rocks around? From varied rock formations to the diversity of bouldering, sport climbing and trad climbing, there are better locations for each type of climbing pursuit across the country, all of which offer a wide variety of route difficulty, approach length and standard features.
Joshua Tree National Park, CA
Known for its sweeping granite formations, Joshua Tree National Park is home to some of the finest crack and trad climbing in the western part of the United States. Only a few hours from Las Vegas, Los Angeles and Palm Springs, the routes in this granite mecca range from simple routes ideal for the beginning lead climber to some of the stiffest trad routes in the world. The granite here is slick and technique calls for a lot of smearing for footwork. Holds are more likely to be sharp and taping is recommended for those not used to climbing on granite. There is little sport climbing throughout Joshua Tree and most routes are suitable for trad leading and top roping.
Shelf Road, CO
A mere two hour drive from Denver, Colorado, Shelf Road in Canon City is a sport and trad climbing treasure trove. While most routes are primarily sport climbing, there is the odd trad route mixed in every now and then. Look for horizontally shaped holds and plenty of mail slot type features. The rock is limestone and will take a toll on you after a few days, so you may want to tape up to avoid unnecessary cuts and scrapes. Routes at Shelf Road range from the low 5's to 5.12+ projects for the aggressive and skilled climber. Routes tend to be a bit stiffer than their grade would normally indicate, so take guide book ratings with a grain of salt.
Red Rocks, NV
As the top sandstone climbing destination in the U.S., Red Rocks National Conservation Area is only 25 minutes from Las Vegas and 30 minutes from McCarran International Airport. People come to Red Rocks to climb year-round as the weather in Las Vegas is favorable whether you like the scorching heat or soothing winter wind. With thousands of routes for trad and sport climbers, Red Rocks is also home to the famous Kraft Mountain boulder fields, a favorite of bouldering enthusiasts. Approaches in Red Rocks begin both inside and outside the park gates and can range from two minute to two hours. Routes are, by and large, accurately graded and the recommended guide book is Jerry Handren's Red Rocks: A Climber's Guide.
Article Written By Erika Napoletano
Erika Napoletano is a full-time professional writer and social media consultant based in Denver, Colorado. Her skills include experience as a formerly licensed securities professional and extensive real estate work including over 18 months in hard money lending. Recently featured in the Denver Business Journal for her social media expertise, Erika is a prominent figure in the Denver and Colorado social media communities.