9 of Our Favorite Fall Climbing Destinations (And How to Not Piss Off the Locals)

09/18/2017

Categories: The Climber's Pact

We're getting psyched for sending temperatures at our favorite fall climbing destinations, and we've got local ethics on our mind. Here are the top 3 tips the locals want you to know before you visit.

1. The Gunks, New York

Climb Like a Local: The GunksKnown for its airy roofs, long traverses, and big exposure, The Gunks is a true trad climber’s paradise. Here are a few tips to help you stay right with the locals:

  • Don’t rappel directly off trees—look for existing bolts and walk-offs. And lower your rope instead of throwing it.
  • Park your car tightly, and don't take up more than one spot. Parking is limited.
  • Toprope off your own draws, not the rap rings.

Connect with the Local Climbing Organization: Gunks Climbers' Coalition

Want to climb like a local? Keep reading!

2. Red Rock, Nevada

Climb Like a Local: Red RockLose yourself in the dazzling Mojave Desert, and you might just forget how close you are to Sin City. Red Rock has it all—from quality boulders to adventurous 20-pitch trad routes and everything in between. Things the locals want you to know:

  • Wait 24-48 hours to climb after it rains to avoid damaging soft sandstone.
  • Pack out your poop! There are wag bag stations if you need a bag.
  • Get out before The Loop road closes (5pm November - February; 7pm March & October; and 8pm April - September) or you’ll be ticketed.

Connect with the Local Climbing Organization: Southern Nevada Climbers Coalition

Want to climb like a local? Keep reading!

3. Joshua Tree, California

Climb Like a Local: Joshua TreeJoshua Tree offers an almost overwhelming selection of 5-star granite—all in an out-of-this-world desert moonscape. Stay right with the locals by:

  • Leaving the bolt gun at home. J-Tree ethic is natural pro whenever possible.
  • Not setting up slacklines and hammocks on Joshua Trees...the desert ecology is fragile!
  • Sharing the love. Don’t bogart routes by leaving ropes up.

Connect with the Local Climbing Organization: Friends of Joshua Tree

Want to climb like a local? Keep reading!

4. Rumney, New Hampshire

Climb Like a Local: RumneyFrom pumpy overhanging jug hauls to technical face climbs and airy arêtes, Rumney has hundreds of routes from 5.3 to 5.15 tucked into a picturesque New Hampshire mountainside. Here are a few tips to stay right with the locals:

  • Use the roadside trail system instead of walking along Buffalo Road.
  • Respect seasonal raptor closures, which protect nesting peregrine falcons.
  • Do not leave your poop in the woods! Use the toilets or bag it out.

Connect with the Local Climbing Organization: Rumney Climbers Association

Want to climb like a local? Keep reading!

5. Indian Creek, Utah

Climb Like a Local: Indian CreekSurrounded by towering cliffs of Wingate sandstone, Indian Creek offers tons of incredible splitter cracks in some of Utah’s most iconic—and rugged—terrain. Local climbers want you to know to:

  • Wait 24-48 hours to climb after it rains to avoid damaging soft sandstone.
  • Not to excessively hangdog. Make like a local and adhere to the "three strikes" rule. After that, it’s someone else’s turn.
  • Get good at jamming and don’t skimp on gear—bring double, triples, or even quadruples of everything on your rack. The cracks here are no joke.

Connect with the Local Climbing Organization: Friends of Indian Creek

Want to climb like a local? Keep reading!

6. Smith Rock, Oregon

Climb Like a Local: Smith RockThis Oregon climbing area is in one of the most gorgeous and idyllic settings you can imagine, and it offers the best vertical crimping. Locals treasure this park and want you to know:

  • Keep the noise down. Smith is a wildlife park and most people are there to connect with nature.
  • Use your own draws for toproping. Don’t use the steel carabiners at anchors.
  • Know that smoking (including weed) is illegal at all Oregon State Parks.

Connect with the Local Climbing Organization: Smith Rock Group

Want to climb like a local? Keep reading!

7. Shelf Road, Colorado

Mountain Project: Shelf RoadWith miles of vertical, limestone sport routes tucked into a rugged desert valley, Shelf Road is favorite fall climbing destination for Coloradans. Here’s what the locals want you to know:

  • There isn’t much room at the base of many cliffs, so don’t yardsale. Keep your gear tight.
  • If you’re in a large group, spread out and don’t take over a whole section of the cliff.
  • Don’t camp illegally. If you don’t arrive early, have a backup plan. Camping at Shelf is limited.

Connect with the Local Climbing Organization: Pikes Peak Climbers Alliance

Explore Shelf Road on Mountain Project.

8. Red River Gorge, Kentucky

Mountain Project: Red River GorgeNestled in the hills of eastern Kentucky, the Red River Gorge is known for wild, steep overhanging jug hauls, soaring overhanging amphitheaters, beautiful orange and red sandstone, and pockets that are perfectly sculpted and seem made for rock climbing. Here are a few tips to stay right by the locals:

  • Climbing areas at The Red have many different landowners, and different rules and regulations at each. Do your research before you head out.
  • Don’t toprope through fixed anchors or lower from glue-ins.
  • Leave no trace, including your poop. Use an available toilet or pack it out.

Connect with the local climbing organizations: Red River Gorge Climber’s Coalition and Muir Valley

Explore the Red River Gorge on Mountain Project or Red River Climbing.

9. Little Cottonwood Canyon, Utah

Mountain Project: Little Cottonwood CanyonEscape the bustle of SLC and head into Little Cottonwood Canyon to find hundreds of routes, ranging from splitter granite cracks, high alpine routes, slabby chickenhead faces, pumpy limestone, and some of the best bouldering out there. Here’s what the locals want you to know:

  • Don't top rope through the anchors, and rappel off routes instead of being lowered to preserve the chains.
  • Leave your dog at home. Little Cottonwood Canyon is a watershed area, and dogs are prohibited.
  • Be careful with your valuables, both in your car and at the base of climbs. You’re very close to the city, and smash and grabs are common.

Connect with the Local Climbing Organization: Salt Lake Climber’s Alliance

Explore Little Cottonwood Canyon on Mountain Project.

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Show your commitment by signing The Climber's Pact, and learn more about how you can protect America's climbing areas.



The Climber's Pact

I will.... Not piss of the locals - Park and camp in designated areas - Dispose of poop properly - Stay on trails - Keep my gear tight - Respect regulations and closures - Clean up chalk and tick marks - Keep a low profile - Pack it out - Use, install, and replace bolts responsibly - Be an upstander, not a bystander.
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