There's no doubt about it. When it comes to climbing, Utah rocks. Whether it's a short scramble over a boulder field, or spending a whole day on a super technical 5.10 route, Utah offers climbers all the challenges they can handle. And the variety of surfaces varies almost as much as the routes themselves. Shale, sandstone, granite, redrock. Utah has them all and then some. There's great climbing in practically every area of the state. You've just got to know where to look. Most of the time, it's up.
Ethics for Rock Climbing, Bouldering and Exploring the Backcountry
Logan Canyon has great sport rock climbing, boasting over 400 bolted routes, ranging from novice climbs to one of Utah's highest-rated routes. Visit Cache Valley Visitors Bureau, (800) 882-4433 or (435) 755-1890.
There are several bouldering areas around Ogden. Castle Rock accesses the Bonneville Shoreline Trail and the Upper Boulder Field where there are many challenging boulder obstacles. Patriot Crack area is a hike in from the trail. The Salomon Center downtown features the largest climbing wall in Utah. Contact the Ogden/Weber Convention and Visitors Bureau at (866) 867-8824.
Stansbury Island has two bouldering areas. Visit Tooele County Chamber of Commerce & Tourism, (800) 378-0690 or (435) 882-0690
Big and Little Cottonwood Canyons east of Salt Lake City have some of the best climbing in the country, with quartzite climbs in Big Cottonwood, and granite climbs in Little Cottonwood. Snowbird Ski and Summer Resort, in Little Cottonwood Canyon, has a competition-class climbing wall and offers lessons in summer. There are over twenty established locales for bouldering in Little Cottonwood Canyon, including five bouldering sites of varying difficulty south of Snowbird Resort. Big Cottonwood Canyon has four major bouldering areas.
Bell's Canyon is a less known, but fine bouldering area. There is a signed trailhead off Wasatch Blvd. In Draper, above 2000 East are a Main Bouldering Area, and The Water Tower Area, with many challenging scattered boulders.
Contact Salt Lake Convention and Visitors Bureau (801) 534-4900.
American Fork Canyon (fee area) has six developed bouldering areas, including House Boulder and Bill's Boulders. Visit Utah Valley Convention & Visitors Bureau, or call (800) 222-UTAH, (801) 851-2100
Rock Canyon, east of Provo via North Temple Drive, has bouldering areas used by locals. Contact Uinta-Wasatch-Cache NFS, (801) 342-5100.
The Uintas have three major summer bouldering areas north of Kamas. They are The Lonely Boulder, The Ice Box, and Stone Garden. Contact the Duchesne Ranger District at (435) 738-2482.
West of Delta on State Hwy. 50/6, is the Ibex Bouldering Complex, accessed on a dirt road from a sign labeled "Ibex Well and Crystal Peak." The Ibex area contains three main bouldering clusters: The Skull Pass Boulders; Ibex proper with twelve specific areas; and the three focal points of Crystal Peak. Outdoor ethics and precautions are essential in this fragile desert environment. Contact the Delta Area Chamber of Commerce (435) 864-4316
Maple Canyon is six miles outside the town of Fountain Green. Follow signs from town for Maple Canyon and Freedom Road. This area has at least 100 bouldering pitches waiting. Visit Sanpete County Travel Council, or call (800) 281-4346 or (435) 835-6877.
The Price Canyon Recreation Area is about ten miles west of the city of Price. The area has two bouldering groupings, the Price is Right, and Wheel of Fortune. Contact the Bureau of Land Management, Price Field Office, at (435) 636-3600.
There are nine specific bouldering areas in Huntington Canyon, including The Rainbow Wall. Contact Castle Country Travel Region at (800) 842-0789 or (435) 637-3009.
The Triassic Bouldering site is named for its vicinity to the Cleveland- Lloyd Dinosaur Quarry. The site lies between the State Hwy and the Quarry. In eight groupings, there are hundreds of boulders within a two-mile-square area. Contact the Bureau of Land Management, Price Field Office at (435) 636-3600.
Joe's Valley was one of the first bouldering areas in the state. There are three climbing clusters: New Joe's, Left Fork, and Right Fork, with literally hundreds of bouldering sites. The area is north of Orangeville on State Hwy 29. Contact Emery County Travel Bureau at (435) 381-2600, www.sanrafaelcountry.com.
Capitol Reef has some good rock climbing in the park, but more action is found just south of the town of Bicknell. Big Rocks, also known as the Flesh Pit, has six climbing clusters and is one of Utah's rare year-round bouldering areas. Contact Capitol Reef Country Travel Council, (435) 425-3365, 1-800-858-7951.
Near Cedar City, there are two bouldering areas. Swett Hills Wash, is on BLM land east of Cedar City. Bunker Creek, is between Brian Head and Panguitch Lake on Scenic Byway Hwy-143. Bunker Creek area has groupings of boulders ranging in size from 10 to 40 feet. Contact the Cedar City, Brian Head Tourism & Convention Bureau at (435) 586-5124, (800) 354-4849.
St. George offers access to some of Utah's most challenging climbing and bouldering, including aid climbing on the "Big Walls" in Zion National Park, and the challenging sport climbs in the Virgin River Gorge, as well as a base for three bouldering adventures, Pioneer Park, Green Valley Gap, and Moe's Valley. Call (800) 869-6635 or visit St. George Convention & Tourism Office.
The deserts of southeastern Utah have always tempted rock climbers. Moab provides central access to the greatest collection of legal desert spires in the U.S., such as Castleton Tower and Fisher Towers.
Eleven miles from the middle of Moab, off the Colorado River corridor on State Hwy. 128, Big Bend Boulders offer an experience in Wingate sandstone scrambling on sixteen climbable boulders, with more at the riverside. Call (800) 635-6622 or (435) 259-8825 or visit Moab Travel Council.
In San Juan County, Indian Creek, near Monticello, is said to offer the best desert "crack" climbing in the country. Contact the BLM, Monticello Field Office, call(435) 539-4001 or visit www.blm.gov/ut/st/en/fo/monticello.html.
• Aspire to complete your activities without leaving a trace. Climbing chalk can have a significant impact on dark and porous rock - don't use it around historic rock art. Pick up litter, and leave trees and plants intact.
• Dispose of human waste properly. Use toilets whenever possible. If they are not available, dig a "cat hole" at least six inches deep and 200 feet from any water, trails, campsites, or the base of climbs. Pack out toilet paper.
• Use existing trails. Cutting switchbacks causes erosion. When walking off trail, tread lightly, especially in the desert, where cryptobiotic soils exist.
• Drive only on established roads and at safe speeds.
• When climbing, be discreet with fixed anchors. Bolts are controversial; don't place them unless they are absolutely necessary.
• Respect the rules, and speak up when others don't. Expect restrictions in designated wilderness areas, rock art sites, caves, and to protect wildlife.
• Park and camp only in designated areas, using permits when required.
• Maintain a low profile. Leave the boom box and the day-glo clothing at home. The less you are seen and heard, the better for everyone.
• Respect private property. Be courteous to land owners.
• Do not build fires in the backcountry unless it is a matter of life or death.
• When bouldering or climbing, do not use wire brushes on stone to improve hand and footholds. Leave the rock as you found it.