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Location: 37.72594, -89.21691 View Map  Incorrect?
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Administrators: Dave Hug, Kristine Hoffman
Submitted By: Jon Richard on Jan 23, 2007
You & This Area
Best routes for YOU in this area
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The lesser known beauty of Southern Illinois from ...


Great places to climb include: Draper's Bluff and Jackson Falls.

Getting There 

Click on individual areas to obtain specific directions.


In Illinois there are two guide books for the southern portion of the state. The first is Eric Ulner's book Vertical Heartland. His guide is a good representation of the legal climbing destinations in the state and primarily focus on sport and traditional climbing. The other guide for Southern Illinois is Matt Bliss's book Sandstone Warrior. His guide beautifully lays out the majority of the bouldering found in S.I. and includes quality color photos to aid in your boulder problem deciphering. These two guides provide you with all the necessary tools to navigate our local crags. Pick them and go enjoy the climbing that Illinois has to offer.

476 Total Routes

['4 Stars',67],['3 Stars',235],['2 Stars',127],['1 Star',25],['Bomb',0]

The Classics

Mountain Project's determination of some of the classic, most popular, highest rated routes for Illinois:
The Mollusk   V3 6A     Boulder, 10'   The Holy Boulders : Mollusk Boulder
Enlightenment   V4 6B     Boulder, 10'   The Holy Boulders : Illuminati Boulders
Shadow of a Man   V5 6C     Boulder, 15'   The Holy Boulders : Shadow of a Man Area
Undercling King   V5-6 6C+     Boulder, 15'   The Holy Boulders : Illuminati Boulders
Chicken Shack   5.6 4c 14 V 12 S 4b     Sport, TR, 1 pitch   Jackson Falls : Mr. Jimmy
Fine Nine   5.9+ 5c 17 VI 17 E1 5a     Sport, 1 pitch, 55'   Jackson Falls : Lovely Tower
Master Marley   5.10a 6a 18 VI+ 18 E1 5a     Sport, 1 pitch, 40'   Jackson Falls : Spleef Peak
Cheerio Bowl   5.10a 6a 18 VI+ 18 E1 5a     Sport, 1 pitch, 50'   Jackson Falls : Hidden Peaks
Venom   5.10a 6a 18 VI+ 18 E1 5a     Sport, 1 pitch   Jackson Falls : Mr. Jimmy
Group Therapy   5.10c 6b 20 VII 20 E2 5b     Sport, 1 pitch, 60'   Jackson Falls : The Gallery
Into the Sun   5.10+ 6b+ 21 VII+ 20 E3 5b     Sport, 1 pitch, 60'   Jackson Falls : Railroad Area
Lovely Arete   5.11a 6c 22 VII+ 22 E3 5c     Sport, 35'   Jackson Falls : Lovely Tower
Naked Blade   5.11a 6c 22 VII+ 22 E3 5c     Trad, Sport, 1 pitch, 50'   Jackson Falls : Hidden Peaks
Wild at Heart   5.11b 6c 23 VIII- 23 E3 5c     Sport, 1 pitch   Jackson Falls : Railroad Area
Blue Velvet   5.11+ 7a 24 VIII 24 E4 6a     Sport, 1 pitch   Jackson Falls : Railroad Area
Detox Mountain   5.12a 7a+ 25 VIII+ 25 E5 6a     Sport, 1 pitch, 50'   Jackson Falls : Hidden Peaks
Everybody Needs Friends   5.12a 7a+ 25 VIII+ 25 E5 6a     Sport, 1 pitch, 65'   Jackson Falls : The Beaver Wall
Hidden Treasures   5.12a 7a+ 25 VIII+ 25 E5 6a     Sport, 40'   Jackson Falls : Lovely Tower
The Reckoning   5.12a 7a+ 25 VIII+ 25 E5 6a     Sport   Jackson Falls : Battle Axe Tower
Who Need's Friends   5.12a 7a+ 25 VIII+ 25 E5 6a     Trad, Sport, 1 pitch, 50'   Jackson Falls : The Beaver Wall
Browse More Classics in Illinois

Featured Route For Illinois
Mike Gasch on Naked Blade

Naked Blade 5.11a 6c 22 VII+ 22 E3 5c  IL : Jackson Falls : Hidden Peaks
A wicked fun mixed route on the arete of the Monument. Head up the arete to a really good rest on a ledge, a brown tricam has a bomber placement here. Then sport up to the finish....[more]   Browse More Classics in IL

Comments on Illinois Add Comment
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Comments displayed oldest to newestSkip Ahead to the Most Recent Dated Dec 13, 2010
By JJ Schlick
From: Flagstaff, AZ
Jan 25, 2007

Oh I am going to Jackson, going get ma fill.

By Ben Bruestle
From: Pueblo, CO
Oct 13, 2008

Illinois Climbers Association:

By cuclimbing
From: Las Cruces
Dec 16, 2008

To all you climbers stuck in Charleston, IL, don't feel bad. I grew up in the countryside, and go down any creek for long enough you'll find something to climb. The map I posted above has a spot of mine with a 20-30ft sandstone cliff. Rock quality is so so, if I still lived there I'd get a pic of the face. The Embarrass River has some faces too, but you gotta wade upstream for a few hours. Happy climbing!

By Woodchuck ATC
Nov 24, 2009

Took me long enough to get some Illinos photos posted up here. These are all 80-83 vintage Kankakee River State Park. It would be a very popular bouldering location today with many roof moves just off the deck and most walls less than 30 ft in height. many routes are 5.8 and 5.9 A shame the DNR would not budge on requests allowing us to continue climbing there as of June 1983.

By sweatpants
From: Broomfield, CO
Nov 24, 2009

Why did the DNR stop allowing climbing?

By Woodchuck ATC
Nov 25, 2009

They removed access stairs and forbid climbing because drunk kids with coolers of beer, in the park at night illegally, have trashed it up and fallen down or off the cliffs too. THAT in their mind was related to the use of cliffs for anything vertical. Senseless. But climbing had not yet become a widely known indoor sport back then; no X Games, no MTV or action sports media, so nothing for them to relate to except guys who fall off cliffs with coolers full of beer.
We wrote letters, made calls, had a meeting, explained our simple use, clean climbing, no pitons, toprope mostly, etc..and they still said NO. This was long before the Access Fund got started to the degree it is today. Chalk was not an issue, as it was the same substance and color as the dusty calcium carbonate limestone rocks. Fishermen leave bait containers and trash, and hike down the same rugged cliff trail that we do,but they get to stay. (they pay for stuff, we didn't; so go figure) Trespass and you would get your gear taken away plus a fine.
Since then, with the lack of climbing traffic on the cliffs, there is a major increase of plants on the blocky rocks. Many holds are gone from dirt and invasive plant roots prying them off the walls. Hard to believe we were safer than nature turns out to be.

By JamesW
Jan 4, 2010

If you visit Rock Creek you can see the remnants of past climbing...fixed pins on a lot of the walls. Rumor has it that Mike McCarrin had authored a hand drawn guidebook... I have also heard of some harder routes being established in the creek (.13ish) by McCarrin???
A few years ago i was speaking with a local & was told that another canyon exists in the area. apparently it is on private property, but is supposedly deeper and more undercut than rock creek...does anyone have any info on this???

By Tradoholic
Mar 1, 2010

Is there an admin for Illinois? I was proposing to someone that some organization could be done, specifically for Starved Rock but there doesn't seem to be an admin. If not, any locals want to volunteer?

By Dan Roberts
From: Eastern Iowa
Jul 27, 2010

I am looking for old guide books. Midwest preferably, but I'd be interested in most anything. Kind of a hobby. I like to know the history and true route names of the places I climb.

By Remo
From: Madison, WI
Sep 12, 2010

I agree with Rhoads. Illinois needs an admin. There are some really bad route descriptions that could use some cleaning up. Anyone?

By Lee Frazer
From: Durango, Colorado
Nov 22, 2010

Where's the best place to boulder in S. IL? Jackson Falls? Somewhere else? Any advice would be appreciated. In S. IL. for Thanksgiving, but going through rock withdrawal. Thanks folks.

By Tradoholic
Nov 23, 2010

Lee, lots of Boulders down there. Jackson Falls will have the most easily found high quality problems. Bring your harness and shoes as you will probably be able to hook up with some people for some belays.

By Clint C
Dec 13, 2010

I'm looking to compile some sweet photos of IL or any midwest climbing for a writing project.
Please send me any you have to

Please send in a jpg low resolution format.

Appreciate it,

Climb on

By mattmaxwell
From: southern indiana
Dec 13, 2010

Lee -- check out "The Sandstone Warrior" guidebook by Matt Bliss. book dedicated to bouldering in So Ill. popular (as in just a few people) areas: Jackson Falls, One Horse Gap, Dixon Springs, Holy Boulders, Giant City.......