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Cave Valley (aka Auburn Quarry)

California > Lake Tahoe > I-80 Corridor > Auburn & Grass… > Auburn SRA
Access Issue: The State Rec Area closes at dusk - most parking areas are self-paid Details
Access Issue: Raptors have left the quarry, all normal walls are open Details


FREE GUIDE CAN BE Downloaded from URL below:

Within the boundaries of the Auburn State Recreation Area (ASRA) is the remains of an old limestone quarry, formerly the Spreckels quarry. The quarry was bequeathed to the Bureau of Reclamation after the Teichert Inc. had determined that the lower quarry had yielded as much material as was financially feasible. The new land was then included in the State Recreation Area for management by the SRA for the Bureau of Reclamation. The SRA allows recreational usages include hiking, swimming, boating, fishing, camping, mountain biking, gold panning, equestrian/horseback riding trails, off-highway motorcycle riding, and whitewater, with Class II, III and IV runs. Ironically enough, climbing was not addressed in the recreational usage plan despite the quarries large rock cliffs being ideally suited for technical rock climbing.

Auburn Quarry Raptor Nesting Closures forum​​​.


Technical rock climbing has been practiced in the Old Limestone Quarry located in the ASRA since the late 1980’s. The original climbers established approximately seven rock climbing routes, which required some amount of fixed protection; pitons and protection bolts. From all accounts, early climbers were not discouraged or refused recreational opportunities at this time. Early climbers included Dale Christenson, Eric Kohl, Kirk Arens, and the Hatchett Brothers. On November 18th, 1998, Kirk and friends were practicing rope jumping on an elaborate rigging system. Kirk misjudged the length of his rope jump and was killed in the resultant impact. From this point forward 'til 2003, climbers were discouraged from using the Auburn SRA for technical rock climbing, but it was not technically illegal to climb there. In 2004, the ASRA created a memorandum banning technical climbing which was in effect until October 2012, where through the hard work of CRAGS (Climbing Resource Advocates for Greater Sacramento), the Access Fund, and local climbers the ban was lifted and climbing could legally resume in the Quarry. Climbers in the early 2000’s started re-exploring the area for rock climbing routes and currently there are almost fifty established routes within the Auburn State Recreation Area. These routes cater to climbers of all levels from easy, moderate, and hard levels of climbing.


The remaining rock cliffs left after the conclusion of active quarrying present a perfect opportunity for performance of technical rock climbing. The rock is highly featured limestone along with other sedimentary rock mixed in. The actual quarrying process itself has created large features, which are ideally suited to climbing.
It is not uncommon to see the Placer County Sheriff use the Old Quarry as a practice grounds for their Search and Rescue Team. So don't be surprised if on occasion you see a large group of folks rappel and jugging the Scale Wall. Please respect their right to use the area for this purpose and find a different wall to climb on until they are done!

Getting There

  • Highway 80 to Auburn.
  • Exit Elm Ave (exit 119c), and stay left at the fork.
  • Turn left on Elm.
  • .2 miles later, left on El Dorado St (also Hwy 49).
  • Turn right to stay on highway 49, head down the hill and cross the bridge towards Cool (there's a sign.)
  • About a 1/4 mile later, park in the street or in the paid lot on the left (it's hard to see, but it's a VERY wide pull in)

From the parking lot (I advise bringing a bike!!!): Follow the signs for "Cave Valley Climbing Area." Walk about 1 1/2 miles down the main trail (which heads more or less East out of the lot) way above the creek. You'll come to a large fort-like structure with a very wide trail heading straight up a steepish hill right of the main trail, which ends up taking you to the right of the fort. Walk another 150 yards to the FIRST fork, and go right. Follow this still wide (though often quite leaf-covered) trail trough another bend to the left, and you'll pop out at the entrance to the climbing area, with Scale Wall right in front of you.

Approach to close walls : 30 minutes (8 minutes by bike)
Approach to furthest bolted walls: 45 minutes

Photos [Hide ALL Photos]

Bear visited us on June 10, 2017.  About 2 dozen people watched in in shock or complete indifference as they took pictures and videos from their phone.
[Hide Photo] Bear visited us on June 10, 2017. About 2 dozen people watched in in shock or complete indifference as they took pictures and videos from their phone.
overlook at the cliffs on a beautiful spring evening, first bit of th Wreckage wall can be seen on the right of the frame.
[Hide Photo] overlook at the cliffs on a beautiful spring evening, first bit of th Wreckage wall can be seen on the right of the frame.
Auburn Cliffs
[Hide Photo] Auburn Cliffs
Great local crag for Sac locals. Lets keep it clean and ethical!
[Hide Photo] Great local crag for Sac locals. Lets keep it clean and ethical!
Great local crag for Sac locals.
[Hide Photo] Great local crag for Sac locals.
From the ledge overlooking the Wreckage Wall and down and left you can see the Scale Wall.
[Hide Photo] From the ledge overlooking the Wreckage Wall and down and left you can see the Scale Wall.
Please don't sack line at the Quarry. This activity could result in the area being shut down. Thx.
[Hide Photo] Please don't sack line at the Quarry. This activity could result in the area being shut down. Thx.
afternoon sun
[Hide Photo] afternoon sun
The Pillar. Notice the two plastic holds attached to the overhang. Looks really sick! [But also confirmed forbidden by the park archaeologist. - ed.]
[Hide Photo] The Pillar. Notice the two plastic holds attached to the overhang. Looks really sick! [But also confirmed forbidden by the park archaeologist. - ed.]
Bill Price working his project
[Hide Photo] Bill Price working his project
The two towers. There is a rope on the right tower and two bolted routes? on the left tower.
[Hide Photo] The two towers. There is a rope on the right tower and two bolted routes? on the left tower.
Auburn Cliffs
[Hide Photo] Auburn Cliffs

Comments [Hide ALL Comments]

[Hide Comment] Brennen, It is great to hear people are being allowed to climb out there already, but I can tell you officially from the ASRA perspective the things you listed are not their "only concerns". A couple of quick reminders about Auburn and things you can do to ensure it stays open:

- Be respectful of other user groups (hikers, mtn bikers, equestrians)
- Avoid Boom Boxes. The canyon echoes like crazy and your loud music will be enjoyed / have to be tolerated by everyone.
- Clean up all trash you see, yours or otherwise. Climbers have a tradition of being the driving force for keeping the Quarry clean. Let's keep it up!
- No camping / leave by dark. This is an official park rule.
- Try to use the porta potties on the way and pack out all human waste in plastic bags. This is one of the ASRAs biggest concerns and hence while CRAGS is required to provide a bathroom if Auburn is to stay open.

So! Let's keep Auburn open by being an example user group that the park sees as self managing. We are in a 2 month "trial" period where the ASRA will re-evaluate things / access after 2 months. It is critical we put on the best face possible during this time! Aug 8, 2012
[Hide Comment] Any wall facing East will get afternoon shade: Memorial Wall, Extension of Surf Tower, Horseshoe Canyon, and several completely untouched walls. The wall by far with the most potential is the extension or farther right area of the Wreckage Wall. Oct 12, 2012
[Hide Comment] I just want to say thanks to the Sac/Bay climbing community. How awesome it has been the last few weekends seeing everyone enjoying themselves and climbing routes. These last few weekends have been everything I thought Auburn could be, and now is. For that, I want to say thank you :) Oct 13, 2012
[Hide Comment] Booster,

There are no restrictions on bolting. Myself and a few others are rebolting some climbs that got vandalized over the closure years, and putting new ones in as well.

Most of the routes in the Quarry are mine, and I am certainly open to others jumping in and adding routes. A couple of recommendations from me would be:

- Be prepared to clean...A LOT! This isn't a granite area and each route takes quite a bit of time to clean as much loose rock / debris as possible.
- Be careful! Coming in from the top of any of the cliffs is a lot more tricky than it looks due to loose rock, scree, and cliff length.
- Use 1/2" if you can afford it, but at least 3/8" x 2.75". Preferred stainless.
- Paint any anchors you put in to help minimize visual impact.
- Try to drill on Fridays or Sundays if you can. Saturday is definitely the busiest day in the quarry for sure.
- Have at least one other person in group dedicated to keeping people clear of the area you are working on due to guaranteed rock fall.
- Given the amount of potential for new routes, I would suggest working on new formations / walls, not just adding more routes squeezed in between existing routes.

Hopefully you have previous bolting experience before you start. If you don't, consider getting someone who is experienced to help you with your first one or two routes to get a feel for it. Developing new routes is not rocket science, but it does have quite a bit of necessary knowledge to keep safe and put up good routes.

Have fun and feel free to email me any new info / routes you put up! I have a topo I am in the process of updating and will be releasing shortly. Oct 29, 2012
Salamanizer suchoski
Janesville Ca.
[Hide Comment] Hopefully you have previous bolting experience before you start. If you don't, consider getting someone who is experienced to help you with your first one or two routes to get a feel for it. Developing new routes is not rocket science, but it does have quite a bit of necessary knowledge to keep safe and put up good routes.

I have to second this comment. I watched recently as several people who obviously had no idea what they were doing were in the beginning stages of putting up a new route out there. Topropeing an obviously dangerous and loose section of crap (assume they picked that spot because it had a convenient place to anchor to on top) and trundling blocks while the belayer was in the danger zone for falling rocks. They then began marking where bolts might go before any proper cleaning was done with several of those marks on loose blocks and in ridiculous and poorly chosen spots that left the leader in danger of taking big falls onto ledges. It was a total junk show.

I've also witnessed the destruction, poor bolt locations and ugliness left behind by someone who doesn't really know what they're doing out at Pine Canyon as well. Poorly placed bolts in bad locations, second guessing bolt placements and moving them leaving the old bolts studs sticking out and a mess of glue oozing out from everywhere.

It's an obvious example of some of the things that can occur when you're new to the game. If you don't really know what your doing, ask someone who does to give you a hand for the first few. I've placed hundreds of bolts and still manage to screw something up from time to time.

Just ask, chances are there are several people with experience willing to help out with not only knowledge, but tools, drills, ropes and all sorts of stuff.

The last thing the climbing world needs is another ugly botch job or squeeze job. Oct 29, 2012
[Hide Comment] As long as it hasn't rained in two days, you should easily be able to chase the sun throughout the day and stay cozy! I would suggest layering to make sure you stay warm. Nov 12, 2012
[Hide Comment] I have linked the free topo in the description as well as here:… Feb 13, 2013
[Hide Comment] Hello Aaron,
Ran into John Robinson at the Auburn Quarry yesterday. We climb there a few weeks ago for the first time and had fun. On the way out we looked at Wreckage Wall and big cliff to right - wow! Also checked out the Well area. John said you are the guy to talk to about new routes. Wanted to let you know that we started a couple lines on the big wall. Release the Lions .11c goes to old anchors center of wall. Just to the left of that is Chariots on Fire .11bish. Both lines are about 100 ft.

To the left of those lines, we fixed a 200 ft line. We have TR the moves, done some cleaning and drilled a couple bolts. Should come in at mid 5.11. As the local guide book author we wanted to introduce ourselves (Mike Carville/Josh Horniak) and let you know what we've been up to there. Should be a great winter cliff. We may be out there Sunday. If you're around come up and jump on the new lines. Cheers, Mike
Feb 16, 2013
[Hide Comment] Looks awesome Mike! Thanks for the heads up, I'll update the topo and welcome to Auburn! Feb 18, 2013
[Hide Comment] Brennen,

Yeah those would either be the old anchors to Blasting Chamber 5.12d, Bonk 5.13, or Well Deserved 5.10b. Those routes used to be full sport pitches till they bulldozed the earth in. I should probably go in there to at least get my hardware back now that the lines are ruined :( May 25, 2013
Rennie Putnam
Albuquerque, NM
[Hide Comment] Was out at the Quarry today climbing at Wreckage wall and had a chance to look at the 6 or 7 new routes which have gone up to the right (this is called Twin Towers area, I believe?) They appear to be real gems.

Many thanks to those taking time (and money) to safely develop this humble crag. You are appreciated. May 28, 2013
Matt Franklin
Sacramento, CA
[Hide Comment] Open for climbing 7 days a week as of this past Saturday:… Apr 7, 2014
[Hide Comment] quick question.

My wife and I are in the area for a couple weeks and were thinking of climbing auburn cliffs tomorrow or the next day. We have a 9 month old and this is the first time we have been climbing with her so have a few simple questions about the area. We are thinking we will only top rope and maybe a few sport routes if things are going smoothly. It looks like scale wall will be our best location and wondering if anyone knows about morning or evening being best to dodge the sun. We are planning to carry out a pack-n-play type thing to put her in while we climb.
Any and all advice is welcome.
ps sorry if this is posted in the wrong area. May 7, 2014
[Hide Comment] Brad: Auburn is perfect for climbing with kids. There is a great flat base between the Scale Wall and Memorial Wall. Sun will be on the Memorial Wall early, then about Noon transition to sun on the Scale Wall and the Memorial Wall will go into the shade. You should be able to transition between those two walls and be in or out of the sun as you prefer. Keep the little one away from the base of the cliffs as this was a quarry so there is loose rock that on occasion will be dislodged. You don't want your little one anywhere near where it may fall or bounce to. Have fun! May 8, 2014
Chasing Choss
[Hide Comment] Is there Anyone interested in re-improving trail conditions from lower quarry to wreckage wall and from wreckage to Kilimanjaro Slab and Patio? i would like to get up there and work on some stuff after seeing someone fall for the 2nd time, if so let me know as i would like to get something set up Aug 4, 2015
[Hide Comment] theschwill: Sorry to hear that. I have found that a smile and a friendly greeting will quickly pay dividends with a parting of the sea of ropes for your route of choice. Ask them if they pull their rope, you will rerig the TR for them when you are done. Most likely it will give you a chance to ask them for some draws instead of having it run straight through the quicklinks/anchors thus saving the hardware from further wear. Dec 7, 2015
Justin Johnsen
Sacramento, CA
[Hide Comment] The First Annual Cave Valley Climbing Festival will be the weekend of October 15 to 16, 2016.

Be warned, if you're looking for a normal visit and climb, this is not the weekend to try to get on routes here!

But there are clinics planned for climbers of different experience levels, a showing of Reel Rock 11, and rare cheap overnight camping is available.

See the CRAGS event details page for more details of the first climbing fest in Auburn's Cave Valley, in partnership with the ASRA State Park, REI and many others.

Sep 19, 2016
[Hide Comment] Rough, our group of four came up from the Bay Area yesterday to check out the quarry and do some climbing. We worked on Scale and Memorial wall and had a blast. Many thanks to you and those who set the hardware over the years. I will put a check in the mail to whatever organization you feel appropriate to continue supporting the effort.
Thanks again.
Daniel Mar 14, 2017
[Hide Comment] Daniel: Awesome to hear you enjoyed it! Far and away, the group that has, and continues, to promote a healthy climbing area at Auburn is CRAGS:

I can't say enough about how this group has pulled together the local community and really put in the time and effort to not only research the access issue, fight for it's eventual "re-opening", but also maintain and continue to support Auburn.

While many of us individually have ton of time and $$ in developing routes and maintaining the area, the collective effort of CRAGS is what re-opened Auburn. Send them the money, they deserve it! Mar 14, 2017
Matt Franklin
Sacramento, CA
[Hide Comment] CRAGS will be holding an 'Adopt a Crag' this Saturday 4/1 to do some work in the Quarry.…

As well an effort is underway to collect a list of bolts that need replacement or repair. If anyone knows of any suspect, manky, or missing bolts feel free to PM me and I'll add them to the list. Hope to see some of you this weekend. Cheers! Mar 29, 2017
[Hide Comment] heads up climbers of the awesome auburn quarry: there's a group of 20 noobs heading your way tomorrow from the bay area to give the beginner areas their best shot. we will probably be setting some top ropes per the guidance that's been laid out in this forum, but please feel free to hit us up for a turn if we are hogging up space. in general, we apologize in advance for any local faux paus we might make. correct us when needed. hoping we can meet some friendly natives. we will also be collecting funds within our group for a CRAGS donation. thanks for all the great work there. much appreciated. Apr 21, 2017
Oakland CA
[Hide Comment] Ok, the faux pas is showing up 20 deep. Apr 21, 2017
[Hide Comment] caughtinside
"Ok, the faux pas is showing up 20 deep."


but seriously, it was an awesome day. everyone there was super kind, got some great tips, met terrific people and the noobs got hooked. they didn't know there was life beyond plastic. funds collected and sent straight to norcalcrags.

we will make sure to terrorize in smaller numbers in the future.

maybe. Apr 24, 2017
[Hide Comment] Any nearby camping options that don't involve long drives or rv parks?
Any input appreciated.
Cheers Apr 24, 2017
Kelley Gilleran
Sacramento, Ca
[Hide Comment] There's a campground in Cool. Other wise Georgetown or Foresthill. Apr 25, 2017
[Hide Comment] So, some genius posted topo's and route descriptions on the information board for the "Kilimanjaro" wall and "The Well" area that are located in the "NO CLIMBING ALLOWED" area behind the "Roman Holiday" crag. There is currently a bright red rope fixed on the so called "Black Rhino" route, located in the "NO CLIMBING ALLOWED" area.

I removed the topo's and route descriptions from the information board. There is an active quarry operation above the climbing area and there has always been a fence and signs to close off that area to the public. Now there is a new fence and new signs that clearly say "NO CLIMBING ALLOWED". However, the tunnel to that side is not blocked and there are no signs there.

I assume that the red rope was abandoned when the person(s) were cited for trespassing and told to leave? I hope this activity does not jeopardize access to our climbing area, and I hope people who want to put up routes here will confer with the locals and have some common sense about where they are allowed to climb. May 15, 2017
[Hide Comment] Hey Bill,

From the sounds of it, someone posted the pages from the old guide that included Kilimanjaro and The Well. Those routes and "projects" were all bolted before the ban, so not sure if that is what you are referring to. The guide was readily available for many years prior to the ban and restoration of access.

I don't support it being posted, but want to make sure you don't accidentally send the wrong message to the ASRA. Those routes pre-date April 2003. The red rope for sure is a "new" thing and hopefully will be removed ASAP. May 16, 2017
Brianna Chrisman
[Hide Comment] PLEASE wear a helmet in this area! I have seen so much rock fall, endangering both the climber and the belayer and it would be real shame if someone got injured here! Let's be real -
the quarry climbs aren't cool enough for a hard send and cool pic to justify the risk of rock fall :P May 17, 2017
Eric L
Roseville, CA
[Hide Comment] Large bear wandered into the valley while a large number of people climbing this past Saturday. Thankfully, he left us alone and disappeared around the back of Scale Wall. Stay vigilant!
Jun 13, 2017
Michael Hahn
Roseville, CA
[Hide Comment] Just a friendly reminder to everybody that loose rock is a very real problem here, and that both climbers and belayers should always be on the lookout for potential rockfall, especially in Horseshoe Canyon. My buddy was on Creepshow today and pulled out a huge 40lb block between the first and second bolts, which ended up smashing into the wall below before hitting his belayer square in the torso. The belayer made it out with just a deep gash in his stomach, but things could have been a whole lot worse if that block had hit his head. Stay safe out there everyone. Oct 21, 2017
Craig Thornley
Auburn, California
[Hide Comment] Anybody know what's up with the new No Trespassing sign up near the Auditorium? Appears that the three routes Das Rads, Dillinger, and Roman Holiday are behind this sign and are now off limits. Dec 23, 2017
Brooks Andrew
Shenandoah Junction, WV
[Hide Comment] Just want to post a reminder that all of the rock past the wreckage wall is NOT part of the recreation area. This is still owned by the quarry company.

Talked to a ranger in the park this past weekend and he says that local authorities are starting to have issues with people climbing over the top of the Wreckage wall and dropping topropes down the face on the other side.

There's plenty of climbing in the current designated areas. Unless you have some special access or permission, let's ensure our access to this awesome Bay Area crag by limiting our climbing to the current areas. Jan 22, 2018
[Hide Comment] Pretty sure the sign below Roman Holiday pertains to the old tunnel/shaft that was covered over with boulders recently because people were still able to access it and some people may want to try to uncover it? See my post below, from May 15, 2017, about climbers (and hikers) trespassing in the active quarry. "Brooks Andrew" post below is mistakenly refering to "Twin Towers/Auditorium" areas as "Wrekage Wall". Climbing is allowed in the "Twin Towers" areas past "Wrekage Wall", but not beyond that, especially the area beyond the new fence, that was formerly called "Kilamanjaro" and "The Well". Jan 27, 2018
Brooks Andrew
Shenandoah Junction, WV
[Hide Comment] Bill Price is right, I mixed up Wreckage Wall and Twin Towers. Listen to Bill, he knows what he's talking about, Mar 12, 2018
[Hide Comment] Are there still any falcon closures here? Apr 4, 2018
Matt Franklin
Sacramento, CA
[Hide Comment] Falcon closures are definitely in effect in the upper area from wreckage wall on. Please respect the areas that are designated as closed. This includes the areas owned by the mining company. Recently climbers have violated this and it has not gone unnoticed. These areas are being monitored regularly and any activity will not be missed. Climbing in closed areas seriously threatens access. May 31, 2018
Matt Franklin
Sacramento, CA
[Hide Comment] The ASRA folks have noticed some static lines being left at the lower quarry on the scale wall. Anyone know whats up with this? Jun 21, 2018
David Dentry
San Francisco, CA
[Hide Comment] What a great crag!

Easy walk in from the parking lot and a huge assortment of well bolted routes at pretty much any level you could want. We led a few routes (but you can easily walk up and set the anchors) on Scale Wall and set up top ropes - easier ones for the younger kids and more challenging ones for the bigger folk.

It was a little cold (end of December!) but the sun came out and warmed the rock up for about an hour so it was pleasant. A few loose sections of rock, but they were mostly marked well; even though it's an old quarry the routes feel pretty natural.

I'll definitely be coming back and I appreciate the hard work that has obviously been put in to developing this crag. Jan 6, 2019