North Fork (of Mill Creek) is a great cold weather sport and trad crag in the LaSal mountains about 45 minutes to an hour from Moab, depending on whether or not you can drive the last 1.5 miles. Where you end up is right above Moab in between South and Wilson Mesas on BLM land with massive southern exposure, long sustained pitches on featured sandstone, and scenery as good as anywhere in the Moab area. Probably the only Moab crag with good cell service. If you don’t find something you like, at least you can update your facebook status and complain. Though situated at about 7000’, it is often a solar oven while cold air hangs in the valley during winter inversions. The rim is very flat so runoff is generally not a problem after a storm and moisture/snow gets nuked very quickly if sunny. DO however read the approach info below regarding the final dirt road and mud/snow! The rock is softer and more desert like than Mill Creek so expect tiny edges to be fragile. Make sure the belayer at least has a helmet. Most or all routes have or will clean up with traffic but most are really good as is for the experienced desert climber. This is an approach from above crag like Mill Creek. And it is possible to scramble down below and avoid rapping in for all known routes. But loose unstable side hilling, bush whacking, and down chimneying, make rapping in the preferred alternative for most folks. For all but the Job Board, you will need a 70M rope! I suppose rapping in could eventually be a problem if it becomes busy. By nature, North Fork is definitely not kid friendly or dog friendly for those hounds that don’t do well unattended on the rim.
Let the squabbling begin…
Finding North Fork is very easy if you follow directions exactly and use your odometer. It is located off Sand Flats road 2.2 miles from the LaSal loop junction and 15.5 miles from the Sand Flats toll booth. The drive takes about 45 minutes whether you take Sand Flats road from Moab or go around the LaSal loop via Mill Creek. LaSal loop is the smoother, nicer option imo, though Sand Flats is the only option currently due to the ongoing construction at Mill Creek. From here drive your 4x4 with clearance or Suburu that you don’t mind beating up south about 1.5 miles down a rough dirt road in DRY conditions within a 5 minute walk to the rim. Be advised though that this is a committing downhill drive and you may not get back out if muddy or snowy!!! If in doubt walk the extra easy 30 minutes. Please do NOT block either Sand Flats road or the approach road by parking in the way. The dirt road makes one big switchback at a barricaded gate (property line of the private ranch nearby). Then in another half mile you’ll cross a very subtle arroyo then another bigger arroyo which is your easy 5 minute path to the rim. Just after the arroyo a large sagebrush meadow opens up telling you you’ve gone just a bit too far. If driving park here using existing pullouts minimizing impact. Though the crag is sunny, the upper dirt road is not and holds moisture/snow because of shady aspects and pinon tree cover. Snow boots in winter might be a good idea. The crags and routes are listed east to west (climbers left to right, approachers right to left) and are spread out over about 300-400 yards.
125'! Identified by a dark varnished wide hands corner. (a little beyond the awesome looking varnished finger crack corner) A 70M rope barely reaches the base. Scamper up the right side of the big flake to the base of the corner. Climb the slippery but fun V chimney past a bolt until you can reach the steep big hands corner. Tape gloves recommended for some sharp calcite near the top. Notice the fingers crack to undercling roof to fingers corner a little ways right… ...[more]Browse More Classics in UT
i know where this is. in my opinion, you would have been much better served if you just let places like this be established through word of mouth. maybe you will find my routes, maybe not, but i looked at these walls years ago and climbed a few trad lines here and there. i did not go writing a guide to it cause i felt that it is so beautiful that it deserves caution and respect. as they say, sew the wind, reap the whirl wind. i hope you respected the ethic here and developed ground up, but how would you know the ethic, cause i never told anyone i was there other than the folks i brought there. i had bear cubs rumbling in my wall hauler when i got to the top of the cliff and saw mountain lions hunting at the edge of the chain drag at sunset. the more people who go here, the less the locals (the animals) will come there. but hey, at least you put your name to it so we will all know who to blame. sorry to sound shitty about it but i just dont trust climbers as a user group, even less climbers who need to crow about their accomplishments in such a fragile place. it hurts.
Mr. Roundhead, your concern over the impact of this post is something I'm sure we could all respect. The reality is that North Fork, though a nice addition to the already rich and varied climbing scene of Moab, is not going to be a destination for climbers visiting the area. This could be attested to by anyone who actually still lives and climbs in Moab and knows that of the hundreds of published routes in the vicinity 95% of climbers come and climb at Indian Creek, Wall St., or Ice Cream Parlor. Hell, Mill Creek with it's much easier access and superior rock quality, a place that has been featured in multiple magazines see's relatively scant visitation. You would literally have to pay the average climber to make the trek out to North Fork on their Moab climbing vacation. So, with no lack of respect and in interest of assuaging your concerns; if you were to visit North Fork a year from now or ten, I'd bet that you'd have a similar experience to the one's you had all those years ago.
I have to agree with Jakobi's sentiments completely. While this area is undoubtedly beautiful, so to are most places in this region but that does not mean that we should never visit them. There are two reasons that climbing areas become popular, one is high quality routes and the other is easy access. And while the North Fork has some fun routes I wouldn't place it in either of those categories, so your fear of it being overrun is unwarranted. And knowing the person who developed this area personally, I can tell you for a fact that he did not post this area to "crow about their accomplishments". It may seem suprising to you but this area was actually posted so others could enjoy it as well, what a concept.