Fantastic Rock Climbing Spots in North America
From grand alpine adventures in the Pacific Northwest to jaw-dropping sea cliffs in Maine, America boasts some of the world’s most incredible climbing destinations. With its diverse landscapes and abundant rock types, climbing enthusiasts from every corner can find something perfect for their next adventure.
No matter your climbing level – from experienced trads to novice boulderers – North America offers something special. Check out our guide to the best rock climbing spots in North America and start planning your next adventure today!
Devil’s Tower is a must-see for rock climbers of any skill level, whether you’re just starting out or an expert. This natural formation draws visitors from around the world – particularly those who appreciate traditional crack climbing techniques.
Northeast Wyoming’s 867-foot Tall Pillar of Wisdom rises above the Belle Fourche River and has long been considered one of North America’s premier rock climbing spots, boasting a century-long tradition of adventurous climbers seeking thrills on its numerous long and difficult routes.
Geologists still can’t explain how Devil’s Tower formed, but geologists believe it was caused by magma rising beneath Earth’s surface. Erosion then stripped away sedimentary rocks around it, leaving behind hard igneous rock which gives Devil’s Tower its gray hue.
American Indian tribes have revered the tower for thousands of years, holding rituals, dances and sweat lodge ceremonies at its base. To these people, the tower is a sacred site that symbolizes both their cultural identity and protection from external elements.
In 1906, President Theodore Roosevelt officially designated Devil’s Tower a national monument. Nowadays, more than 468,000 tourists visit this park annually with summer being the busiest season.
Hiking is a popular activity in the park, offering various trails suitable for hikers of all abilities. The top pick is the Tower Loop Trail which circles around the tower itself.
For a less strenuous but still beautiful walk, try the Joyner Ridge Trail. This trail leads to an overlook with stunning views of Devil’s Tower and you can visit Prairie Dog Town with over 150 prairie dogs; additionally, Junkyu Muto created Circle of Sacred Smoke sculpture as part of his efforts to raise awareness about Devil’s Tower’s significance to over 20 Native American tribes.
Rock climbing is another popular activity in the park, offering more than 100 routes to climbers. Climbers must obtain a permit from the National Park Service before climbing, and an annual voluntary closure in June honor of American Indians who consider the tower to be sacred.
Smith Rock State Park
Smith Rock State Park in Central Oregon is a beloved destination that draws visitors from around the globe. It’s known for its challenging rock climbing, miles of hiking trails, and breathtaking views of Crooked River’s meandering course.
Smith Rock is a haven for climbers who love to explore cliffs and rocks, but it also provides miles of hiking trails with plenty of chances to spot wildlife along the way. Golden eagles, prairie falcons, river otters and beavers are just some of the creatures that can be observed within its borders.
Smith Rock is a beautiful destination all year long, but the best times to visit are during the spring and fall for ideal weather. Hiking is especially enjoyable during these cooler autumnal evenings when temperatures are pleasant and days become shorter.
The geology of the area has created an astonishing landscape, composed of layers of volcanic ash and tuff. Over time, the Crooked River has slowly eroded away these formations, leaving behind hollowed-out walls and stunning rock features that you can see today.
Smith Rock offers visitors the perfect chance to take some stunning photos of its rocky canyon and winding Crooked River. A wide-angle lens will help you capture some amazing shots of these impressive cliffs, so make sure your camera is packed!
If you’re new to hiking, Smith Rock offers plenty of beginner-friendly trails. Wolf Tree Trail in particular is a great option as it is one of the less-traveled routes. This trail winds through an idyllic forest and offers stunning panoramic views of the park’s dramatic pinnacles and Crooked River.
For a more challenging hike, the Summit Trail Loop is the ideal option. This trail takes you to some of the park’s top destinations such as Misery Ridge and Crooked Rover.
This rugged hike features some steep switchbacks that require extra caution, making it an ideal trail for the adventurous spirit. Other trails worth considering include Rim Rock Trail and Wolf Tree Trail.
Yosemite National Park
Yosemite National Park boasts some of the premier rock climbing spots in America. Whether you are an expert climber, professional, or simply enjoy watching others compete, there’s something here for everyone!
With over one thousand trails to explore, there’s sure to be something challenging that makes your vacation even more unforgettable. Additionally, the park provides great opportunities for hiking and bicycling with trails offering stunning views of the valley and mountains.
Yosemite offers stunning natural splendor, especially its granite monoliths and spires. Don’t forget to take time to admire El Capitan and its meadow from above as well.
At Swan Slabs and Buttress in the park, there are a range of climbing areas to suit every skill level. Easy slabs to big wall climbs await you here; Swan Slabs especially offers an accessible selection for new climbers.
Experienced climbers may enjoy some excellent multi-pitch routes that can be done over several days. Popular climbing areas include El Capitan, Half Dome and Tuolumne Meadows.
Climbing in Yosemite is a serious sport and you must be mindful of safety issues and the potential risk of falling rocks. While wearing a helmet isn’t mandatory for sport climbing, having one on hand just in case you do experience an accident is always recommended.
Be mindful that some climbing is traditional and could involve lengthy falls, especially during summer when weather patterns can be unpredictable.
Yosemite climbing guidebooks can help you plan your trip and prepare for what lies ahead. They provide tips on protecting yourself from rocks that are potentially abrasive, so that you don’t get injured during your climb.
Crags in the park are open year-round, but weather can change quickly if you don’t check ahead. If climbing, be sure to wear a helmet and bring plenty of water with you for maximum safety.