Elevation: 5,660 ft
GPS: 36.111, -115.496 Google Map · Climbing Area Map
Page Views: 85,055 total · 464/month
Shared By: Josh Janes on Mar 4, 2004
Admins: Larry DeAngelo, Justin Johnsen
Getting weather forecast...
Access Issue: Red Rock RAIN AND WET ROCK: The sandstone is fragile and is very easily damaged when wet. Details


Next to Mount Wilson, The Rainbow Wall is one of the most prominent natural features of the Red Rocks area. Visible all the way from the campground, it is also the location of most of the big wall routes in Red Rocks. The classic Original Route (5.12) was pushed up the center of the wall by Red Rocks pioneers Joe Herbst and Larry Hamilton back in 1973 and remains one of the most sought-after routes in the canyon today.

The wall is relatively north-facing and remains shady most of the year. It is also guarded by a bit of a hike... but hey, you can still usually get cell phone reception up there and in case your headlamp dies, the Luxor should serve you fine.

Historical note by Larry DeAngelo: The Rainbow Wall occupies an impressive historical niche. When Joe Herbst and Larry Hamilton climbed the wall in 1973, it was before almost every other serious route in the area. In fact, it was before most of the small routes too! At a time when NOBODY WAS EVEN CONSIDERING IT, these guys went out, committed, and completed the ascent. In the ensuing years, the route saw many attempts, but it was well into the next decade before anyone was successful. The original route was sufficiently challenging that three other routes were climbed (in 1983 and 1984) before the Herbst/Hamilton route yielded a second ascent.

Getting There

The Rainbow Wall can be approached via either the Pine Creek or Oak Creek parking areas. If you are planning on hiking out down Oak Creek after your climb, the Oak Creek Lot is your best bet, but I usually approach via Pine Creek. Either way, hike into the guts of Juniper Canyon, working your way left to find a drainage that comes down from The Rainbow Wall. There is usually some sort of fixed rope (and maybe some water) coming down this chute. From here, hump up what Swain calls "600 lung-searing yards" of slabs to the base of the wall and your intended route. Overnight stays require a bivy permit.

6 Total Climbs

Route Finder - Best Climbs for YOU!

Location: The Rainbow Wall Change
Type:  to 
Sort by:   then:

Classic Climbing Routes at The Rainbow Wall

Mountain Project's determination of the classic, most popular, highest rated climbing routes in this area.
5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a
Birdhunter Buttress
Trad 9 pitches
5.12- 7a+ 25 VIII+ 25 E5 6a
The Original Route
Trad 14 pitches
Route Name Location Star Rating Difficulty Date
Birdhunter Buttress
5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a Trad 9 pitches
The Original Route
5.12- 7a+ 25 VIII+ 25 E5 6a Trad 14 pitches
More Classic Climbs in The Rainbow Wall »

Sun & Shade

Weather Averages

Days w Precip
Prime Climbing Season
From a non-climber: These days, there is usually NO fixed rope at the base, when cutting left from Pine Creek. Fix: as one faces the obvious slick chute, go up the slab at left to reach a thin, almost horizontal ledge that heads left (east), then at the top cut up a small chute, then back right. Folks in rock shoes may go directly up the sides of the chute.
Feb 23, 2015
You can descend by foot via a relatively straightforward and enjoyable (assuming you have sunlight) trail that heads toward Oak Creek canyon from the top of the wall past a few dead pines and a few very large Cairns until it meets the Levitation 29 descent trail. Apr 4, 2017
Tim Heid   AZ
Anyone know how long the walk off takes? Oct 22, 2017
Las Vegas, NV
J W   Las Vegas, NV
Walking off back to the limestone and then down oak creek is probably about 4 hours if you parked in the loop at the oak creek parking lot. If you parked on the road, 4 and a half. If you parked at pine creek, 5 hours.

It's way way way faster to rappel. I think it took us a little more than 2 hours from the summit to the car when we did it. Oct 22, 2017
Josh Janes    
Not even remotely. Consider it takes me exactly three hours from the exit of the loop road (which adds 20 minutes to the Oak Creek TH) to the top of the RW at a steady pace and that's with significant elevation gain. I would estimate 2 hours on the way down if you nail it and are moving; 3 hours at a steady pace or with some route finding. This of course depends on where you're hiking to (obviously you wouldn't want to approach from Pine Creek). Personally I'd still prefer to leave packs and shoes at the base and rap, though it is in no way "way way way faster". That said, John's time of two hours from the summit to the car (assuming Pine Creek) is pretty fast - I don't think I could rappel safely, pack up, and hike out that fast. Oct 22, 2017
Tim Heid   AZ
Thanks for the info and opinions, Gents. I appreciate the timely responses as we're heading up in a few days. I think we are going to start early, go in light, and see what the walk off is all about. Oct 22, 2017