Top 10 Rockclimbing Destinations in the U.S.

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Updated October 5, 2019
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Trever

Trever is a commercial pilot with over 1,700 hours of flight time as well as the owner and general manager of Inflight. He has numerous hours of mountain flying experience and a serious passion for teaching. In just 2 years he earned his Gold Seal Flight Instructor at the age of 22 and became a flight school owner at 23 years old.

If you’re an avid rock climber, chances are you frequent your local climbing gym pretty often, and are always on the lookout for some new places to climb. Whether you’re looking for a new challenge, an amazing view, or a place to meet fellow climbers, there are plenty of outdoor spots around the country that have just what you’re looking for, including national and state parks, wilderness areas, and even national monuments.

For those of you with your private pilot’s license, you have the added bonus of being able to fly to spots that are a little more off the beaten path to avoid the crowds and find the best climbing area. Here are seven of the best rock climbing destinations that you can fly to.

1) Red River Gorge

Stanton, Kentucky

Closest airport: Stanton Airport (I50)

 

The canyons in the Daniel Boone National Forest offer over 2,000 routes. World-class sport climbing crags on sandstone cliffs make this a popular destination for climbers at all levels. This massive area offers such a wide range of spots to climb you can spend plenty of time exploring and may never hit the same route twice. Make sure you block of plenty of time to explore here, because the options are nearly endless. 

 

2) Joshua Tree National Park

Joshua Tree, California 

Closest airport: Jacqueline Cochran Regional Airport (TRM)

 

The uniquely grippy gneiss rock that is found in Joshua Tree makes this a bucket list climbing destination in the United States. The park offers over 6,000 crack and face climbing routes for people of all skill levels. It’s a popular destination for climbers, so be sure to book camping ahead of time or plan for another place to stay.

 

3) Devils Tower National Monument

Devils Tower, Wyoming 

Closest airport: Ipy Ranch Airport (WY14)

 

Devils Tower is a well-known, iconic rock formation that was the first national monument in the United States. This is a popular destination for climbers because of its unique cracks that run up and down the tower. With a number of fixed anchors on the formation, there are plenty of routes that range from 5.7 to 5.13, as well as a range of guided options to help you find whatever sort of climbing experience you’re looking for.

 

4) Tettegouche State Park

Silver Bay, Minnesota 

Closest airport: Weideman International Airport (63MN)

 

Located on the scenic North Shore of Lake Superior, Tettegouche State Park offers unparalleled views with rock faces dropping into the great lake. With less than 100 climbs across two main areas of the park, this area is small but mighty. The rock faces are made of rhyolite, which offers a beautiful color contrast against the blue of the lake, and the dark basalt found along much of the North Shore.

 

5) Mount Rushmore National Memorial

Keystone, South Dakota 

Closest airport: Rapid City Regional Airport (RAP)

 

One of the most iconic rocks in the United State, Mount Rushmore offers history, and great climbing. With over 750 climbs, this crystallized granite rock faces here feature many fully bolted sport routes that are actually on the back side of the famous carved faces. This location in the beautiful Black Hills National Forest is truly a one of a kind climbing experience.

 

6) Rumney

Rumney, New Hampshire 

Closest airport: Plymouth Municipal Airport (1P1)

 

Rumney is an amazing location for sport climbers in the northeast, with a wide variety of 5.12 to 5.14c/d places to climb. This is a great location for people who are ready to break out of the climbing gym and put their skills to the test in the great outdoors. With over 1,000 climbs to choose from, there is a crag here that will suit your needs. Plan a trip in the fall to enjoy the amazing seasonal colors.

 

7) Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area

Las Vegas, Nevada 

Closest airport: McCarran International Airport (LAS)

 

Red Rock, located right outside is Las Vegas, offers a wide range of climbing options from bouldering, to spots for beginner climbers. Located in the Mojave Desert, the sandstone rocks that gives the area its name offers over 2,500 areas to climb for people of all levels of experience – from single to multi-pitch options. You can spend a few hours climbing, or stake out a campsite in the conservation area to make a weekend of it.

 

8) Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore

Munising, Michigan

Closest airport: Hanley Field (5Y7)

 

For those looking for an exhilarating ice-climbing adventure, Pictured Rocks in Michigan is the place to go. Numerous waterfalls and bodies of water form columns and curtains of ice from the months of December to March, making this one of the best climbing destinations in winter. Just remember to bring some warm clothing!

 

9) City of Rocks

Malta, Idah

Closest airport: Oakley Municipal Airport (1U6)

 

While City of Rocks may have been more popular a few decades ago, it’s experiencing a resurgence for people who are looking for a quick yet beautiful climbs. For those interested in climbing great granite lines, mostly under three pitches, set your coordinates towards City of Rocks in Idaho.

 

10) Smith Rock State Park

Terrebonne, Oregon

Closest airport: Roberts Field Airport (RDM)

 

One of Oregon’s hottest spots for rock climbing is Smith Rock State Park, where more than 1,000 bolted climbing rocks accommodate all skill levels. From sport climbing to traditional climbing to multi-pitch climbing and bouldering, everyone can find a route to enjoy. Plus, the park is great for a number of other outdoor recreation, from hiking to biking to fishing, camping and beyond. 

 

 

Ready to start your adventure?

Of course, no matter where you decide to fly for your rock climbing adventure, be sure to check in on any regulations and permits required before you head out. Do your research and talk with locals about things to be aware of, like unique weather patterns, special gear to bring or quirks about the area. And of course, be respectful of the wilderness, leave no trace and enjoy these amazing outdoor climbing locations.

 

Climb on!

Get in touch with Inflight Pilot Training and fly to your favorite destinations!

Inflight is a leading pilot training company serving Minneapolis/St. Paul and the surrounding areas. With a reputable training program and deep roster of highly skilled, certified flight instructors, it’s our goal to help those who’ve dreamed of flying realize their potential of becoming a pilot. We can help you get where you want to go – contact our team of flight instructors to find out more.

 

For additional information on Inflight training programs, contact us today or call (952) 698-3000.

 

 


Trever

Trever is a commercial pilot with over 1,700 hours of flight time as well as the owner and general manager of Inflight. He has numerous hours of mountain flying experience and a serious passion for teaching. In just 2 years he earned his Gold Seal Flight Instructor at the age of 22 and became a flight school owner at 23 years old.