Sign Up  |   Log In:Login with Facebook
REI Community
Giant City State Park

Select Area...
A. Shelter 1 Bluff 
B. Devils Standtable Area 
C. The Orchards 

Giant City State Park Rock Climbing 

Photos:  Recent | Best | Popular
Location: 37.5979, -89.1884 View Map  Incorrect?
Page Views: 20,578
Administrators: Dave Hug, Kristine Hoffman (sitewide)
Submitted By: Drew McWilson on Nov 27, 2009

61° | 46°

49° | 43°

49° | 44°

52° | 40°

50° | 34°

46° | 32°
You & This Area
Best climbs for YOU in this area
Your opinion of this PAGE:    [0 people like this page.]

Shelter 1 Bluff Re-opened MORE INFO >>>


Southern Illinois boasts several climbing areas, but none have more history then Giant City State Park. For Illinois, this is the birthplace for hard, progressive climbing.

Within the park there are two main areas, Shelter 1 Bluff and the Devil's Standtable Area. The Makanda Bluff, "aka Shelter 1" is primarily a top rope and traditional climbing area with the majority of routes ranging 5.8 - 5.11. This area is great for short training sessions in preparation for other big areas. One route that deserve mentioning is City Limits. At the time it was established, it was one of the hardest routes in the country, and the world. Another climb worth mentioning is the Return to Forever boulder traverse that runs along the base of the bluff line. Beginning from Jills and running to the Camel's Hump, this challenging boulder problem will have you searching for rests while fighting to not get pumped. For those looking for more of a challenge, there is a low variation, and a super long variation that begins at the Chimney in the woods and stretches to the Camel's Hump.

Rock Climbing Photo: Royal Robbins climbing George's sometime after his...
Royal Robbins climbing George's sometime after his Yosemite adventures

The Devils Standtable area is primarily a bouldering area but does contain a few top rope and traditional lines. Fun intermediate boulder problems worth mentioning are The Standard, Buzz Arete, and the Center Line. Great advanced boulder problems that visitors are recommended to attempt are Devil on a Leash, Jah Arete, and Higher Education. All in all the area is great for quick bouldering sessions and due to its proximity to Carbondale its hard to beat.

Rock Climbing Photo: A visiting climber attempting Leashless Angel
A visiting climber attempting Leashless Angel

For the sake of organizing areas on Mountain Project, another bouldering area nearby that is not exactly within the confines of Giant City, but is close enough, is The Orchards. This small, yet secluded area offers several challenging problems and contains one very hard project that supposedly is yet to be sent. The recommended problem here is Duraflame, and is a fun/challenging test of anyones roof climbing abilities.

As a last note, a huge thanks should be given to Giant City's early pioneers for their vision and dedication to Illinois first climbing destination. Thank you: Craig Barnes, Jim Foster, Cris Franks, Joe Dittamore, Joe Heally, Adam Grosowsky, Gene Charleton, Greg Bailey, Alan Carrier, and many others for all of your work.

Getting There 

From Carbondale take Highway 13 East. Turn right (near the intersection of McDonalds and Walmart) and head South on Giant City Rd. Continue for about 15 minutes and the road leads directly to the park. From the entrance follow the signs to the appropriate destination.


Rock Climbing Photo: Vertical Heartland 3rd Edition
Vertical Heartland 3rd Edition

Vertical Heartland is the best guide to roped climbing in G.C.S.P. Covering both Shelter 1 and the Devils Standtable areas, this guide is a must for navigating the crag.

Rock Climbing Photo: Sandstone Warrior
Sandstone Warrior

Sandstone Warrior briefly touches on the bouldering in the park. The climbs displayed in the book are absolute G.C. classics.

Climbing Season

For the All Locations area.

Weather station 3.4 miles from here

71 Total Climbing Routes

['4 Stars',11],['3 Stars',35],['2 Stars',15],['1 Star',10],['Bomb',0]

Classic Climbing Routes in Giant City State Park

Mountain Project's determination of the classic, most popular, highest rated climbing routes for Giant City State Park:
The Streak   V0 4     Boulder   B. Devils Standtable Area : F: Gill Wall
Medicine Man   V2 5+     Boulder   B. Devils Standtable Area : E: Waterfall Roof
Standard   V3-4 6A+     Boulder   B. Devils Standtable Area : A: Gill Roof
Buzz Arete   V3-4 6A+     Boulder   B. Devils Standtable Area : C: Amphitheater Boulders
Pinch Me   V6 7A     Boulder   B. Devils Standtable Area : A: Gill Roof
Drunkards Crack   5.3 3+ 10 III 9 VD 3a PG13     Trad, 1 pitch   A. Shelter 1 Bluff
Easy Crack   5.4 4a 12 IV 10 VD 3c     Trad   A. Shelter 1 Bluff
Chimney   5.5 4b 13 IV+ 11 MS 4a     Trad   A. Shelter 1 Bluff
The Gully   5.5 4b 13 IV+ 11 MS 4a     TR   A. Shelter 1 Bluff
Camel's Hump   5.6 4c 14 V 12 S 4b PG13     Trad, TR, 1 pitch   A. Shelter 1 Bluff
Jacks Crack   5.7 5a 15 V+ 13 MVS 4b     Trad, TR   B. Devils Standtable Area : A: Gill Roof
1,2,3 (aka The Rasp)   5.8 5b 16 VI- 15 HVS 4c     Trad, TR   B. Devils Standtable Area : A: Gill Roof
Browse More Rock Climbing Classics in Giant City State Park

Featured Route For Giant City State Park
Rock Climbing Photo: Makanda Bluff, Southern, Illinios, photo: Bob Hora...

Return to Forever "Classic" V3-4 6A+  IL : Giant City State Park : A. Shelter 1 Bluff
This is the infamous bouldering traverse problem that lines the lower edge of Shelter 1. This traverse holds three different crux sections. If you can find them, there are no hand rests along the way. This is truly a world class climb....[more]   Browse More Classics in IL

Comments on Giant City State Park Add Comment
Show which comments
By roger fritz from rockford, IL
From: Rockford, IL
Oct 15, 2012
We took a side trip from jackson falls to Giant city shelter one climbing area. There are some fine lines there. Why has no-one posted these? Are you locals keeping them secret? Come-on share them with us!!!
By Dave Hug
From: Carbondale, Illinois
May 16, 2014
Hey Roger, I assume your Danae's father and I'm pretty sure I have met you once. Anyway I am not sure why nobody has updated this site for G.C. but I have taken it upon myself to do so. Keep an eye out for updates and thanks for pointing this out.

David Hug

The Definitive
Climbing Resource

Inspiration & Motivation
to Fuel Your Run

Next Generation Mountain
Bike Trail Maps

Backcountry, Sidecountry
& Secret Stashes

Better Data. Better Tools.
Better Hikes!