Kelly Canyon Rock Climbing
Old school bouldering ladder driftwood.... Kelly C...
A peaceful ponderosa-forested canyon with tons of bouldering on cliffs and boulders of Coconino sandstone. Dramatic curving slashes stripe the walls, the result of lithified sand dunes deposited 260 million years ago. These slashes birth many slopers and incut rails, lending to a unique and distinctly technical sort of climbing.
Rock quality at Kelly is notoriously variable: bullet-hard in some places, horribly sandy and crumbly elsewhere. Tread carefully, especially on less-trafficked problems, and don't forget to bring a soft-bristled
brush. Many of the problems here are moderately to seriously highball and most have committing, sloping topouts so multiple pads and spotters are pretty much essential.
The prime season for Kelly Canyon is September through November when it's cold and dry. Summers can be toasty, though it's easy to find shade. However, winter is generally a bust - the road typically closes by late November, and the canyon's east-west orientation blocks out most sunlight, meaning large snowdrifts and deep pools that won't dry out. Unless it is an exceptionally warm and snow-free winter, don't plan on coming between the first heavy snow and perhaps the middle of April. This is a good place to forget about names and grades, to just find some rock that inspires you and throw yourself at it. Having said that, here are some names and grades.
From Flagstaff, take I-17 south about 8 miles to the exit for Kelly Canyon Rd. Head west at the overpass and through the gate (if it's closed, park and start walking.) This dirt road (FR 631) is passable in most vehicles if you drive carefully. Drive a couple miles staying right at all forks, passing a big shooting pit. At the end of the pit the road is blocked by some limestone boulders. Park here and hike along the road a bit until you see a large campsite on the right. An obvious trail leads quickly to the bottom of the canyon - this is the Trailer Park. Please stay on the trail.
Weather station 2.3 miles from here
84 Total Climbing Routes
['4 Stars',11],['3 Stars',39],['2 Stars',24],['1 Star',9],['Bomb',0]
Classic Climbing Routes in Kelly Canyon
Browse More Rock Climbing Classics in Kelly Canyon
Mountain Project's determination of the classic, most popular, highest rated climbing routes for Kelly Canyon:
Featured Route For Kelly Canyon
The Slab V6 7A AZ
: Northern Arizona
: ... : Donkey Punch Area
Tricky! Start with a decent pocket and edge on the layer below the slab proper. Make balancy moves on miserable holds and insecure feet with a tough crux getting your feet up, then finally make it to some usable holds at the top. This problem tends to spit people off repeatedly until the precise sequence and body position is mastered....[more] Browse More Classics in AZ
The long reach down low of Dope Lounge. Pic by Mud...
By Andrew Ryder
From: Flagstaff, AZ
Jun 9, 2009
One of the good lip holds on Dope Lounge was broken off recently during a week of rain. Please DO NOT climb here shortly after heavy rain or snow. The rock is soft and easy to break when it is soaked.
By J. Snyder
From: Flagstaff, Arizona
May 25, 2011
Enjoy the stone!
By Joe Kreidel
From: Tucson, AZ
May 13, 2012
I'm not sure what the rules and regulations for camping or accessing the canyon, but I thought I would throw out this heads up to other out-of-towners. I camped at Kelly Canyon last Thursday night (5/10) with no problems. Bouldered at Kelly Friday morning, then went to the Draw for the afternoon. Exhausted from a good day of bouldering, I grabbed a slice of pizza in town and drove back to Kelly. The forest road was closed, gates locked. I had to hike in, take down camp and hike back out to the highway.
Might be a good idea to check with Coconino NF or some locals before camping at the canyon...
By David Arrasmith
Oct 7, 2013
Found some climbing gear left by the group with the person who hurt his ankle. If this is your stuff please call (916) 956-0674.
No spammers pls, I will request details of the stuff left from all callers.
From: Las Vegas, Nevada
May 12, 2014
The last right fork before the parking area is now blocked by three big rocks. Park above the shooting pit and hike to the old parking area with the fire pit on the right.