Rock climbing is having a moment. The number of people in the United States who participate in this activity has been steadily increasing for years, reaching approximately 10.28 million in 2020. Much of this growth has been linked to the rise of climbing gyms, but indoor climbing doesn’t compare to the thrill of the real thing. Natural rock formations are much more challenging to navigate. You’ll need to ground yourself in the wall to protect yourself from falling and choose your movements carefully to maintain a secure grip.
Most of us don’t live in the mountains, so you can’t exactly climb up the side of a cliff any time you want. You’ll need to plan a trip to a well-known climbing destination and partner with an experienced climber who can show you the ropes. If you recently got into climbing, add these cliffs to your travel list to take your hobby to the next level.
Yosemite National Park, California
America’s favorite national park is full of cliffs to explore, including steep formations that look like skyscrapers and modest inclines for beginners. You won’t be disappointed once you get to the top. Every peak comes with a stunning view of the park, complete with rolling hills, rare wildlife, and endless photo opportunities. Many of the walls are made of granite, which can be challenging for beginners. If you’re looking for the ultimate challenge, head over to the Dawn Wall. With a grade of 5.14d, it is known as the nation’s hardest big wall climb. Yosemite is also home to El Capitan, which measures 3,000 feet tall.
The park is known for its vast terrain, excellent hiking trails, noisy geysers, and picture-perfect weather. However, the park experienced unprecedented wildfires in early 2022 and some areas may still be burnt to a crisp. Most of the park is still open, but it has lost a bit of its luster due to climate change.
It’s so large that you can easily get lost wandering around the rugged hills. Use helmet communication to stay connected to your mobile device, including your cell phone and GPS. You can look up directions, call the park service, or radio your companions without taking your hands off the wall. Just speak into the receiver to access all the features of your device hands-free.
Red Rock, Nevada
Head east to visit the Red Rock National Conservation Area. This legendary climbing area is just 20 miles away from Las Vegas, giving you plenty of reasons to visit. If you need a break from gambling and live entertainment, drive to Red Rock for some much-needed peace and quiet. You also don’t need to stray too far from civilization to enjoy a rugged outdoor adventure.
The park is home to a range of climbing walls and standalone peaks, all made of sandstone, which tends to be easier to penetrate. The cliffs feature unique desert views that are sure to take your breath away. You won’t find as much biodiversity as you would in Yosemite, but the desert offers a completely different experience. Some walls will be crowded in the fall, so you may need to wait your turn. The park has hundreds of formations to choose from. You should be able to go out on your own if you feel like taking some alone time.
The paths are well-trodden, so you shouldn’t have trouble finding your grip on the wall. This should appeal to anyone who got started climbing indoors.
Rifle Canyon, Colorado
Colorado is beautiful any time of the year, but especially in the fall. You might find some snow on the rocks, but it only adds to the scenery. Rifle Canyon isn’t for the faint of heart, so you want to develop your outdoor climbing skills before crossing this one off your bucket list. It has peaks starting at 6a/5.10a that go all the way up to the expert level. The cliffs are made of limestone, which makes them suitable for more advanced climbers. The park is home to over 400 climbing routes, giving you plenty of room to spread out and explore.
Climbing outdoors isn’t the same as hitting the local gym. You’ll need to rent or borrow the special climbing gear to stay attached to the rocks. You’ll also need to wear a helmet to protect your head. We’ve seen photos of people climbing wearing nothing more than a pair of shorts, but this isn’t how the professionals do it.
Use a wireless device with dynamic mesh communication (DMC) to stay connected to your friends and companions. It creates a direct link between you and everyone in your group, so you won’t get disconnected if someone falls out of range. It automatically relinks the connection once you are back in range for hassle-free communication.
Most climbers wear a half helmet when climbing. Use a half-helmet Bluetooth headset to position the microphone near your mouth in order for the other person to hear everything you are saying.
Hitting the rocks is a lot more fun when you have the right equipment. Use these tips to make the most of your time on the cliffs.