Rocktown Boulders: La Fayette, Georgia
Located in the Crockford-Pigeon Mountain area, Rocktown is a thrilling and prime spot for boulderers! This area was full of some technical climbing, sketchy top outs, problems that make you put your try-hard face on, and beautiful boulders. The hike in from the parking area does last approximately 15 minutes, but it is relatively flat and not strenuous by any means. The first boulder you’ll see if you hike in the main trail from parking is Orb Cluster boulders. To access most of the boulders, don’t be afraid to venture off the main trail. There’s a lot of great stuff here to tickle your fancy.
Crash pad beta: Just bring more than one, okay? Those top outs will feel mentally and physically easier with appropriate protection down below you.
Camping beta: Camping in the parking lot is NOT permitted. However, camping close to the parking lot is easy to find – primitive camping and flat spaces available for car/van/SUV campers. I would highly recommend camping out at Sawmill Lake campground. This is also a horse campground site, so if you’ve got a horse, bring him along! Anyway, from the parking lot, drive down a little ways then turn left onto another dirt road. Drive for a couple of minutes or so, and you’ll see a sign on your right: Sawmill Lake. Follow signs for designated camping.
Problems to check out: Out of Orbit (V2), Soap on a Rope (V4), Golden Shower (V5), Nose Candy (V6), Vagina (V7), Sherman Photo (V7)
Horse Pens 40: Steele, Alabama
Bouldering site full of accessible climbing, extremely short hikes, sketchy top outs, and some serious slopers. What I loved the most about this place was the ease of access. All the boulders in the guidebook are nearly within eye shot from one another – most impressive. Some of the routes are short overall but full of gnarly moves all throughout. Crash pad beta: you’ll want more than one crash pad for your mental game and for safety, of course.
Camping beta: We stayed on the climbing site itself. HP40 is privately owned; since it is on private land, they have a ‘deal’ of $20/person which includes the camping AND climbing. They have another ‘deal’ of $80/person for five nights which includes the camping AND climbing. Aside from this campground, I’m not sure where else you might stay. Yes, it is expensive as hell for dirt baggers and climbers on a budget, but we couldn’t find any camping near the climbing site; besides, you have to pay to climb anyway regardless of whether you’re camping there or not…
Problems to check out: Mortal Combat (V4), Hammerhead (V5), Chewbacca (V7), Skywalker (V8), Waterloo (V8)
Red River Gorge: Slade, Kentucky
What can I say? This the heart and soul of sport climbing in the country. It is THE place where I fell in love with the great outdoors, hiking, and climbing! If you’ve never been, what are you waiting for? This is climbing you won’t find anywhere else full of sport in the south and trad in the north. Overhanging jug hauls that make you fight through the pump – all 100 feet of it for some routes (especially at Miller Fork). At the Red you’ll find plenty of sit rests, unique rock features, gorgeous scenery, beyond satisfying top outs, bomber lines leaving you craving more, and just an overall grand old time.
Climbing Beta: There is sport, mostly in the southern region. There is also trad, mostly in the northern region. Some areas, you’ll find mixed climbing.
Camping Beta: Please visit my RRG 411 page for camping information 🙂
Routes to Check out: 27 Years of Climbing (5.8), A Brief History of Climb (5.10b), Porphyria (5.11a), No Place Like Home (5.11c), Brachial Plexis (5.11d), Birth of a Legend (5.11d), Don’t Call it a Comeback (5.11d), Gold Rush (5.11d), Wild, Yet Tasty (5.12a), Naked (5.12a), Tacit (5.12a), Ebola (5.12b), Orange Juice (5.12c)
Buttermilk Boulders: Bishop, California
By far my favorite bouldering spot strictly for its impeccable climbing coupled with views of the Sierra mountains. I couldn’t ask for a better view while working my magic on some boulder problems down in the Buttermilks. The granite killed my fingers, and I wasn’t there long enough for them to get used to it, but climbing there was an absolute treat. Expect highballs, technical climbing, short hikes, and picturesque views you’ve never seen before (unless you’ve been to Bishop and have seen them before)…
Crash pad beta: BRING THEM ALL.
Camping beta: Simple. Sleep within the grounds of the Buttermilks. We parked our 4Runner literally at the bottom of the approach in a pull-off and camped there around other vehicles. Woke up the next morning and could literally see the breathtaking Sierras and the V4 Iron Man from our car while we were brushing our teeth! Splendid. Primo. Everything I want in a campsite.
Problems to check out: Iron Man (V4), Bowling Pin Sit (V6), High Plains Drifter (V7)
Devoted Traverse, V5 Buttermilks
Hueco Tanks Bouldering, North Mountain: Hueco, Texas
Located at the top of North Mountain, Hueco is a very close second in terms of bouldering destinations for me. The first is Bishop – and it’s because Bishop is home to the Sierra Mountains… I enjoyed the cave routes. Many top outs there were rather high and made me feel slightly insecure at times, but the holds up there on most of the routes are solid enough to put your mind at ease. Hueco Tanks boulders lie at the top of a mini-mountain, so the hike in is rather steep, but there are rope rails there for you to grip on. THIS REQUIRES PLANNING AHEAD. GET A PERMIT WAY FAR IN ADVANCE… LIKE MONTHS. We were lucky and went during off season – we rolled the dice and stood in line for walk-in passes. They only offer like
Crash pad beta: Seriously, the more, the merrier. Bring all the ones you have. But there are a lot of people around for the most part, so you could probably just follow the pads if you wish to test your luck.
Camping beta: We camped at the Hueco Tanks Ranch. Pricing was reasonable and the camp is less than a 10 minute drive to North Mountain. Call ahead and reserve your spot. Camp sites are limited and can fill up faster than you can say “supercalifragilisticexpialidocious” (ha which I guess takes some energy to say… but I hope you get my point). I’m sure there are other options aside from Hueco Tanks Ranch, but it’s where we stayed with our one day excursion.
Problems to check out: Nobody Here Gets out Alive (V2), Babyface (V7), Fern Roof (V9)
New River Gorge: Fayetteville, West Virginia
Deep water soloing, bouldering, technical sport climbing, and trad climbing… The New River Gorge (NRG) accommodates a plethora of needs and interests! I, unfortunately, have not spent much time down here but have been to a handful of climbing areas. Deep water soloing is a must do on hot summer days. Bouldering is also a crowd pleasure. If you’re a rope climber, there are plenty of options – be ready for some techy climbing, though!
Camping beta: The American Alpine Club (AAC) is by far the most popular, but you have to pay. Chestnut Creek Campground is a tad cheaper and still in a great location, close to climbing. There’s other options, so don’t feel limited!
Areas to check out: Meadow Top Boulders (bouldering), Upper Meadows (sport), Summersville (deep water soloing)
Red Rocks, Kraft Boulders: Las Vegas, Nevada
Let me just say how awesome this place was to boulder at. The routes were solid, people were rad, and hike was as cool as a cucumber. Be careful of when you go, as this is in the desert and can be unbearably hot… Also, you must be conscious of when it rains because no climbing is permitted during or after a moderate to heavy rainfall. The rock there could be permanently damaged if you hop on it and the rock is still wet and the ground is damp. Bouldering in Red Rock Canyon was a pleasure, and I cannot wait to go back. There are so many problems there that could keep you busy for quite some time!
Crash pad beta: Bring them, as there are a few highballs.
Camping Beta: There is BML land nearby, called Lovell Canyon Campground. YAY! Here are the coordinates: 36.059785, -115.561924. Should you wish to check out Red Rock campground, it isn’t free, but it is where a lot of people camp: 3293 Moenkopi Road, Las Vegas, NV.
Problems to check out: Monkey Bar (V2), Potato Chips (V2), The Pearl (V5), The Angel Dyno (V6), Monkey Bar Traverse (V6), My Tan (V7), Monkey Bar Direct (V8)
Below is a photo of what monkeying around looks like at the Monkey Bar Boulder in Vegas:
Stone Fort Boulders a.k.a. Little Rock City: Soddy-Daisy, Tennessee (near Chattanooga)
Located in a tucked away golf course where you would never expect to find such classic and satisfying boulders is Stone Fort. Be prepared to pay. Last I went, admission for climbers was $8.75/person/day. There are seasonal passes, but we did not purchase one as we were only in Chat for a short while. Boulders are close together, but not as close as HP40; the hikes are simple and trails are highly trafficked enough for you to follow with ease. Be weary of flying golf balls as the course is literally right there! It is such a diverse climbing area that offers climbers everything from dreadful slopers to the crimpiest of crimps all of which provide baller movements and an overall excellent bouldering experiences. As I recall, it was a tad difficult to find some try boulders after some rain came through, but they dried up by mid-afternoon.
Crash pad beta: Yep. You’ll need ’em. Pack them if you’ve got them. If you don’t, cross your fingers you make some friends and that your project or boulder you’re at has attracted a crowd.
Camping beta: There are a few options depending on how much money you want to spend, how far of a drive you don’t mind making, and the level of comfort you are seeking… Here’s a list and you can check sites out at your leisure: Prentice Cooper State Forest is free with primitive sites and flat spaces to park for car camping (35.164211, -85.416809); The Crash Pad is an “uncommon hostel” that is a go-to place for climbers (29 Johnson St. Chattanooga, TN 37408); Cabelas parking lot is a place marked for free parking of your car for you to sleep in, but I personally have never stayed here overnight to sleep (34.970041, -85.196043).
Problems to check out: Isle of Beautiful Women (V4), Splashback (V6), Backsplash (V7), Golden Harvest (V10)
Don’t really climb much anymore. I’ve lived out west for a long time now, skiing, triathlon racing and backpacking in the mountains have been my thing lately. I miss those fun days hanging out at the crag with all my good friends!
Well it’s good to hear that you’re still out there enjoying all that nature has to offer in some form or another. There’s plenty to keep you busy out west, that’s for sure! But, yes. Climbing does seem to always have this wonderful community that makes you feel welcome. That’s one of the things I love about climbing: no matter where we climb, there’s always awesome people! Happy traveling!
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That’s awesome you love the Red. I’m from Lexington and climbing there ruled my life for a few years in the early 90’s.!
Haha wow, that’s awesome! Do you climb much anymore? Lexington is a pretty cool city. I have stopped there for some coffee and to check out a brewery when I have time. I liked the West 6th Brewing Company a lot. Good vibe!