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Diablo Canyon

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Cockscomb Crag 
Early Wall 
Gilligan's Island (AKA: The Alcove) 
Grotto (a.k.a. The Notch), The 
Solar Cave 
Standby Shack (a.k.a. The Shack), The 
Styx 
Sun Devil Wall 
Winter Wall 

Diablo Canyon  


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Location: 35.8052, -106.139 View Map  Incorrect?
Page Views: 249,884
Administrators: Aaron Hobson, Jason Halladay, Anthony Stout, LeeAB, Marta Reece, Kristine Hoffman (sitewide)
Submitted By: Anthony Stout on Feb 12, 2006
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BETA PHOTO: Main Overview of Diablo Canyon.

Description 

Diablo Canyon is located outside of Santa Fe New Mexico, and offers fine climbing on basalt cliffs up to three hundred feet tall.

As of 2002, there are over 70 bolted climbs, and many good crack lines. Many potential routes still exist in the area. Grades range from 5.8 to 5.13, and vary in steepness and exposure. Many routes are in the moderate 5.10 arena, and for 5.10-5.12 climbers, this is one of the best sport climbing areas in northern New Mexico. With the greatly increased popularity of Diablo Canyon, by now traffic has cleaned much of the loose rock from many of the more popular climbs, but some remains.

Climbing in Diablo can be found nearly year round, with shade in the summer and sun in the winter.

Approaches to the various crags can range from 5 to 30 minutes.

DANGER: Please wear a helmet while climbing at Diablo, rockfall is a significant risk here. South facing rock appears and is chossy and loose. This is due to the extreme fluctuations in temperatures during the winter, where the rock temperature can swing from over 100 to below 0 F in a 24 hour period. This freeze/thaw cycle is associated with tremendous thermal expansion and contraction, which can make rock that was solid yesterday become airborne today. Tread lightly while leading, belay from a spot out of the line of fire, and (if they have brains worth protecting) WEAR a HELMET.

NOTE: The majority beta text and photos are reprinted here from the website, losalamos.com/diablo/, by permission of Rick Bradshaw, who was kind enough to allow me to use his material here.

Free, undeveloped camping is possible near the parking.

Getting There 

1) Get on the Santa Fe Bypass route (Veterans Memorial Hiway 599) either from I-25 south of Santa Fe or off of Saint Frances Drive NW of Santa Fe.

2) Exit onto Camino La Tierra heading west toward the Rio Grande, setting your odometer to 0 at the turnoff. After 4.7 miles, turn right on Old Buckman Road, which is a reasonably well-maintained dirt road. At 7.7 miles youíll pass a large green colored frame (apparently used to be a windmill painted like a daisy) on your left as you follow the main Diablo wash toward the river. At 12.2 miles you should reach the first turn off into the Diablo parking area. The canyon is clearly visible beyond. 2WD vehicles make it there all the time. They get stuck in the sand or mud on their way out at a somewhat less frequency.

Watch out for rattlesnakes basking and tarantulas looking for mates in the middle of the road. This is their home weíre visiting, please give them the right of way.

From the parking area, it is possible to drive into the main Diablo wash by crossing a cattle guard at the near end of the parking area. This will get you closer to the climbs and add a significant amount of risk to your day. First, flash floods can, and have taken cars parked in the arroyo down the wash and smashed them into the waiting boulders below Sun Devil. In most cases, it isnít even raining in the canyon when you hear water approaching about 30 seconds before it arrives. That is the amount of warning you may have. Second, if you take a 2WD vehicle into the wash youíll have about a 20% chance of getting it out without assistance. Third, rocks can fall from high on the Sun Devil Wall and make it all the way to your car. But, what the heck itíll save you 5 minutes of walking.

Resources: 

A great online guide (last update 2002) has been written for this area: losalamos.com/diablo/default.a...

"Jemez Rock" and "Rock Climbing: New Mexico" both cover the area.

Numerous new climbs have been established that are not included in any of the above guides, most have been posted on MountainProject.

Climbing Season



Weather station 6.9 miles from here

202 Total Routes

['4 Stars',23],['3 Stars',98],['2 Stars',54],['1 Star',24],['Bomb',0]
['<=5.6',1],['5.7',6],['5.8',9],['5.9',14],['5.10',57],['5.11',68],['5.12',38],['5.13',8],['>=5.14',1],['',0],['<=V1',0],['V2-3',0],['V4-5',0],['V6-7',0],['V8-9',0],['V10-11',0],['V12-13',0],['>=V14',0]

The Classics

Mountain Project's determination of some of the classic, most popular, highest rated routes for Diablo Canyon:
Hellboy   5.8+ 5b 16 VI- 15 HVS 4c     Sport, 1 pitch, 165'   Winter Wall
Post Moderate   5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a     Sport, 1 pitch, 165'   Winter Wall
Humbolt   5.10a 6a 18 VI+ 18 E1 5a     Sport, 1 pitch, 70'   Early Wall : Left End
Good   5.10b 6a+ 19 VII- 19 E2 5b     Sport, 1 pitch, 65'   The Grotto (a.k.a. The Notc... : Lower Grotto
Naked Lunch   5.10 6b 20 VII- 19 E2 5b     Sport, 1 pitch, 140'   Winter Wall
Evil Paradise   5.10c 6b 20 VII 20 E2 5b     Sport, 80'   The Grotto (a.k.a. The Notc... : Evil Paradise Area
Learning to Fly   5.10c 6b 20 VII 20 E2 5b     Sport, 1 pitch, 80'   Early Wall : Runway (Lower Tier)
Grape Ape   5.10c 6b 20 VII 20 E2 5b     Sport, 150'   Winter Wall
Guillotine Crack   5.10d 6b+ 21 VII+ 21 E3 5b     Trad, 2 pitches, 200'   The Grotto (a.k.a. The Notc... : Upper Tier of The Grotto
Affirmative Action   5.11a 6c 22 VII+ 22 E3 5c     Sport   The Grotto (a.k.a. The Notc... : Lower Grotto
Heat Seeker   5.11- 6c 22 VIII+ 22 E3 5c     Sport, 4 pitches, 300'   Sun Devil Wall
Sun Devil   5.11b 6c 23 VIII- 23 E3 5c PG13     Sport, 3 pitches, 300'   Sun Devil Wall
Airbus   5.11 6c+ 23 VIII- 23 E4 5c PG13     Trad, 2 pitches, 200'   Early Wall : Observatory Wall (Upper Tie...
Cock -a-doodle-do   5.11c 6c+ 24 VIII- 24 E4 6a     Sport   Cockscomb Crag : Poultrygeist Area
Pale Face   5.11+ 7a 24 VIII 24 E4 6a     Sport, 1 pitch, 110'   Winter Wall
Astro Devil   5.11+ 7a 24 VIII 24 E4 6a     Sport, 3 pitches, 350'   Sun Devil Wall
40-Love   5.12b 7b 26 VIII+ 26 E5 6b     Sport, 1 pitch, 65'   The Standby Shack (a.k.a. T... : Renegade Sector
Unnamed ArÍte (a.k.a. UNA)   5.12b 7b 26 VIII+ 26 E5 6b     Sport, 1 pitch, 60'   The Grotto (a.k.a. The Notc... : Grotto End (R. Side)
Clovis Hunter   5.12b 7b 26 VIII+ 26 E5 6b     Sport, 80'   Solar Cave
Sapien   5.12c 7b+ 27 IX- 27 E6 6b     Sport, 80'   Solar Cave
Browse More Classics in Diablo Canyon

Featured Route For Diablo Canyon
Ed cruises along the small holds after the crux of...

Where the Wild Things Aren't 5.11c 6c+ 24 VIII- 24 E4 6a  NM : Santa Fe Area : ... : Grotto End (R. Side)
Nice and sustained route, with technical movement. Crux is lower on the route, and once past the mono, the worst is over. However, hold on, because it doesn't completely let up! The guidebook notes a difficult fourth clip, however, none in our party thought it was terribly difficult, though it may be if you are not solid at the grade....[more]   Browse More Classics in NM

Photos of Diablo Canyon Slideshow Add Photo
Awww, c'mon, the skatin' and bladin' on Old Buckma...
Awww, c'mon, the skatin' and bladin' on Old Buckma...
Diablo Canyon does flood, so you may want to recon...
BETA PHOTO: Diablo Canyon does flood, so you may want to recon...
Map Overview of Diablo Canyon Climbing Areas
BETA PHOTO: Map Overview of Diablo Canyon Climbing Areas
A late afternoon view of the Winter Wall from The ...
A late afternoon view of the Winter Wall from The ...
Andy Purdy belays Ben Alford, as he heads up the s...
Andy Purdy belays Ben Alford, as he heads up the s...
Solar Cave and the Winter Wall as viewed from the ...
Solar Cave and the Winter Wall as viewed from the ...

Comments on Diablo Canyon Add Comment
Show which comments
Comments displayed oldest to newestSkip Ahead to the Most Recent Dated Mar 27, 2014
By Jason Halladay
Administrator
From: Los Alamos, NM
Sep 24, 2006
We drove down to Diablo Canyon today and the sprawl and development of houses along the main road atop the mesa is getting crazy! The paved road appears to have been extended by a mile or more and we missed a right turn where I don't remember having to turn in the past (Note: I was last there a couple years ago so maybe my memory doesn't serve too well!)

We didn't set the odometer in the car but as you get onto real new pavement (still without stripes) for a while the really new pavement turns to somewhat old pavement with a center stripe. If you see this, you've gone too far! Backtrack and take the right-ish road that starts as pavement for 50 feet and then turns to dirt. If we go again soon, I'll take note of the odometer readings.

We climbed at the Cockscomb for the first time and really enjoyed it! Great stuff but see my comment under the Cockscomb Crag-->Poultrygeist Area about two routes there...
By DisturbingThePeace
From: Albuquerque, NM
Nov 9, 2006
You now have to make a right turn onto Buckman Road. So watch your odometer, or just look for the first dirt road to the right after the stop sign.
By Karl Kiser
Apr 1, 2008
Many of the fine crack climbs were done in the 1970s. These FA parties went to the top and usually did not leave evidence of their ascents. By the later 1990s two groups were putting up routes (a generally Albuquerque group and a Los Alamos route). The different names of some features in Diablo Canyon come from the two groups.
By Karl Kiser
Apr 2, 2008
Greg Swift and Tim Johnson did a lot of trad climbing in Diablo in the early 1980s. Greg mentioned that several climbs which are currently bolted have been climbed without bolts.
By Robin like the bird
From: mountain center ,CA
Jul 29, 2008
I am going to be traveling to santa Fe this fall and maybe climbing in Diablo canyon Does any one have and recmondations for long/multi pitch routes inthis area.
By Ty Harlacker
From: Albuquerque, NM
Aug 5, 2008
There is a fun route on sunshine wall called post moderate, it's 5.9 with 17 or so bolts but you can traverse over to some chains and do it with one rope and eight or nine, if not bring two for full rap. its a great warmup but gets really hot. The name is aptly given, do it on a day when its overcast .
By Jason Halladay
Administrator
From: Los Alamos, NM
Feb 14, 2009
I received a subscription to National Geographic Adventure for Christmas and discovered a photo of John Kear and Carolyn Parker on top of the Observatory Wall (Upper Tier) at Diablo on page 61 of the March 2009 issue. :-)
By Lee Jenkins
From: Buena Vista, Colorado
Mar 9, 2009
I'm looking for good, free camping near the Canyon. Thanks, Lee
By Monomaniac
Administrator
From: Morrison, CO
Mar 9, 2009
Not that its "good camping" but I'm pretty sure you can camp right at the parking lot. I believe its all BLM land. If you want some more privacy, keep heading west on the dirt road past Diablo and in a few miles you'll end up at the Rio Grande. That would probably be a nice place to camp. Be careful if the road is wet, its easy to get stuck in the mud.
By LeeAB
Administrator
From: ABQ, NM
Mar 9, 2009
As Mono says BLM, but I belive this only applies to the solar cave and winter wall and would include the parking area. I've been told that the early wall and the notch are on NFS land, which would mean off limits if the forest gets shut down.
By Chris Wenker
From: Santa Fe
Nov 12, 2009
I've got a copy of "The Climber's Bible" by Robin Shaw, published 1983. It's just an old, quaint, 'how-to' climb book, but in the back, it has a list of US climbing destinations. Under New Mexico, it lists:

"Sandia Mountains, near Albuquerque
The Tooth of Time, Cimarron
The Basalts, near Santa Fe"

Maybe that's what Diablo used to be called? Ring a bell for any of you oldsters?
By Tori Mitchell
From: Loveland, CO
Sep 23, 2010
how are the temps down there in the late fall or winter?
By LeeAB
Administrator
From: ABQ, NM
Sep 23, 2010
You can find sun or shade which ever you need so it should be fine.
By Rick Rogers
Jul 22, 2011
I was in the canyon on wednesday and if you are not familiar with the area be ready for some real aggressive wash boards on the way out there.
By Aaron Miller
From: Santa Fe, NM
Jul 26, 2011
I called Santa Fe County public works today to request a road-grading. They finally got some moisture enough to reasonably grade the road. Anyone can do this any time, just call 505-992-3010.

Its best to do when the road has some moisture, pointless when it is dry.
By Ken Kisiel
Apr 2, 2012
Rick Bradshaw and I were discussing the top ten 5.10 routes for Diablo. Seems to be grade of trend for Diablo. What is your top ten list? Based upon stars the following come to mind.

Grape Ape, Humbolt, Chicken Out, Sunday Bloody Sunday, Evil Paradise, Ergo, Solar Eclispe, The other Side, Chicks with Ricks, El Bolto del Diablo
By Monomaniac
Administrator
From: Morrison, CO
Apr 2, 2012
I'm a sucker for lists. Its been a long time since I climbed here, so I'm not too sure on the order and I couldn't come up with 10, but here are some climbs that stick in my mind as routes that would be classics at any crag:

Where the Wild Things Aren't
Clovis Hunter
Cock-a-Doodle-Do
Grape Ape
Mastadont
Pale Face
Unnamed Arete (Left of Tweak Fuck)
Schmeming
Good (more memorable than good!)
By Ken Kisiel
Apr 2, 2012
Haven't been all of those but a good list for all climbs. We were thinking of 5.10's only as they are most prolific for the area. Though it would be interesting to expand the list to any grade, sport vs. trad. Always aspired to do ten tens in a day but at 8 or 9 of them the cold beer and forearm burn gets in the way. My 5.10 sport route list would be(in order):
Grape Ape
Two Wheel Drive
Evil Paradise
El Bolto del Diablo
Chicken Out
Waiting to Procrastinate
Chicks with Ricks
Good
Ergo
Humbolt

Haven't climbed The Other Side but I hear may bump Humbolt off the list. The other interesting thing is the distinct difference between the pillow basalt vs. vesicular column climbing. The pillow climbs are generally more sustained with less defined cruxes while the vesicular climbs have distinct cruxes but less continuous at the grade IMHO.
Cockeyed
By Peter Olson
From: Santa Fe, New Mexico
Apr 27, 2012
I was running solo in Diablo canyon yesterday morning and I had a confrontation with two coyotes about a mile from the Rio Grande. My husband and two others were on a 16 mile run and I parted company with them at the Rio Grande and was on my way back through Diablo canyon. I heard a screaming yowling noise off to the side and thought it might be coyotes denning? A few minutes later I heard the noise again but it appeared to be closer and following me. I kept looking over my shoulder and saw two coyotes running after me. The coyotes seemed to perceive me as prey and I was charged by one of them. I threw rocks, yelled and after pegging one with a rock they appeared to run off, but I did not turn my back and start running again for 20 minutes. I had no food on me at the time. (BTW I am Peter's wife, Deb, and using his mountain project sign in.
By Rstrang
From: Santa Fe, NM
May 11, 2012
Anyone been working on a new route between Drunk Rednecks & Clip Art (at the Runway/Early Wall)? We cleaned the line partialy about 2 weeks ago and added a directional bolt. Last Friday, Mike noticed a set of anchors above the line that I don't recall being there before. Anyone planning anything?
By Margie
Jun 29, 2012
Just as a warning, I was climbing at Diablo on Memorial Day and my car window was smashed and some personal items were stolen. Make sure you don't leave valuables in your car!
By Mannie
From: Santa fe, NM
Aug 21, 2012
Found a small set of cams at the belay ledge, far left end of the grotto, camalots, c4's, and an alien or two, hit me up if this is you! I know i'd be pissed if I forgot this. pretty dirty and looks like they've been there for a while. mlopez364@gmail.com
By David MacKenzie
From: Albuquerque
Dec 27, 2012
Just a question: Why is this in the Santa Fe section of MP? It's just so much closer to White Rock....
By Williampenner
From: The 505
Dec 27, 2012
David McKenzie wrote: Just a question: Why is this in the Santa Fe section of MP? It's just so much closer to White Rock....

I love this question and would enjoy the story of anyone who approached Diablo from White Rock. Hats off to that adventurous soul.
By Alex Woersching
Jun 18, 2013
I left a nut tool on a sling at Winter Wall on the post yesterday: 06/17. If you recover it, please let me know. I would be much appreciative and will offer a small reward. Thanks, Alex
By Aleksander
Mar 26, 2014
Do not drive down the arroyo into the canyon. My friend nearly got a ticket 120$. This is non motorized area per forest service guy(nice person by the way). There are no signs about it and lots of people do drive down the arroyo.Be aware!
By Owen Summerscales
From: Los Alamos, NM
Mar 27, 2014
But the 2 minutes you save in hiking is so totally worth it