Elevation: 7,000 ft
GPS: 35.138, -112.028 Google Map · Climbing Area Map
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Shared By: Josh Janes on Jan 19, 2006 with improvements by JT Moree
Admins: Luke Bertelsen, JJ Schlick, Greg Opland
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Paradise Forks (AKA The Forks) is a beautiful columnar basalt climbing area located about a half-hour west of Flagstaff. The area is in Sycamore Canyon at a point where the canyon is actually a Y-shaped confluence of drainages. There are two seasonal waterfalls and pools at the ends of the Y, and the point where the Y merges is the popular "Prow" area. The Prow, The Gold Wall, and the Davidson Wall offer the longest routes which are up to about 90'.

The stretchy, crimpy crux of Rumbleseat 5.12.

One distinguishing characteristic of the area is that almost all routes are approached from above by fixing a line and rapping in. Also, there are exactly zero sport climbs at The Forks and just a handful of bolts (I can only think of 7: two sets of anchors in the choss at the White Wall, and the three on Australians At The Forks). The area really lends itself to trad climbing up beautiful, varied crack systems. Rock is bullet-hard, pro is typically bombproof, and friction varies from polished to grippy. Expect stout ratings.

If trees are used for an all day rap line, please pad the tree, and then place a piece of gear near the edge of the cliff to take the full load of the rappel, leaving just enough slack in the line so the tree is never directly loaded. This way you don't have to have a full bombproof trad anchor, just a piece or two and the tree simply offers you an ultimate back up, without being affected.

Nestled in a pine forest, the area is quiet, peaceful, and fairly pristine; please try to keep it that way.
 Many thanks to Larry Coats for providing first ascent information!

The Gold pond as seen from near the Prow. This was after a winter of unusually high rain, 2004 I think.

Getting There

Paradise Forks is just southeast of the town of Williams, AZ, just off Interstate 40.  There are two approaches--both on good dirt roads.

From Flagstaff, drive west on 40 for 27 miles to exit 167 for Garland Prairie Road. Follow this south over some railroad tracks for 8 miles. Turn right onto FS Road 109. Follow this for 3.3 miles to a left-hand turn into the parking lot.

From Flagstaff, drive west on 40 for 17 miles to exit 178 for Parks road. Head south over some railroad tracks (road turns into Garland Prairie), and follow this as it makes several 90 degree turns to skirt around a huge parcel of private land. After 13.3 miles, turn left onto FS Road 109. Follow this for 3.3 miles to a left-hand turn into the parking lot.

Panorama from the top of The Prow

148 Total Climbs

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Classic Climbing Routes at Paradise Forks

Mountain Project's determination of the classic, most popular, highest rated climbing routes in this area.
5.8+ 5b 16 VI- 15 HVS 4c
The Black Rose
5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a
5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a
Pillow Case
5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a
Pillow Talk
5.9+ 5c 17 VI 17 E1 5a
Fool's Game
5.10a 6a 18 VI+ 18 E1 5a
Ship Of Fools
5.10 6b 20 VII- 19 E2 5b
Pillow Fight
5.10 6b 20 VII- 19 E2 5b
5.10 6b 20 VII- 19 E2 5b
East of Eden
5.10 6b 20 VII- 19 E2 5b PG13
Jolly Roger
5.10+ 6b+ 21 VII+ 20 E3 5b
5.10+ 6b+ 21 VII+ 20 E3 5b
Loose Lips
5.11a 6c 22 VII+ 22 E3 5c
The Prow
5.11+ 7a 24 VIII 24 E4 6a
Davidson Dihedral
5.12a 7a+ 25 VIII+ 25 E5 6a PG13
Paradise Lost
Route Name Location Star Rating Difficulty Date
The Black Rose Obsidian Wall
5.8+ 5b 16 VI- 15 HVS 4c Trad
Mayflower Prow
5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a Trad
Pillow Case Pillow Wall
5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a Trad
Pillow Talk Pillow Wall
5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a Trad
Fool's Game Prow
5.9+ 5c 17 VI 17 E1 5a Trad
Ship Of Fools Prow
5.10a 6a 18 VI+ 18 E1 5a Trad
Pillow Fight Pillow Wall
5.10 6b 20 VII- 19 E2 5b Trad
Raindance Raindance Buttress
5.10 6b 20 VII- 19 E2 5b Trad
East of Eden Gold Wall
5.10 6b 20 VII- 19 E2 5b Trad
Jolly Roger Prow
5.10 6b 20 VII- 19 E2 5b PG13 Trad
Torpedo Davidson Wall
5.10+ 6b+ 21 VII+ 20 E3 5b Trad
Loose Lips Davidson Wall
5.10+ 6b+ 21 VII+ 20 E3 5b Trad
The Prow Prow
5.11a 6c 22 VII+ 22 E3 5c Trad
Davidson Dihedral Pillow Wall
5.11+ 7a 24 VIII 24 E4 6a Trad
Paradise Lost Davidson Wall
5.12a 7a+ 25 VIII+ 25 E5 6a PG13 Trad
More Classic Climbs in Paradise Forks »

Weather Averages

Days w Precip
Prime Climbing Season
Will Cobb
Flagstaff, AZ
Will Cobb   Flagstaff, AZ
Hi all. For those of you who don't know me my name is Will Cobb and I am the Access Fund Regional Coordinator for Northern Arizona. Chris Tatum from Vertical Relief Climbing Gym let me know about an active Turkey Vulture nest situated on the ledge at the top of T.L. Bush earlier this week. With help and feedback from the kind folks of the NACC we felt that a voluntary closure of the Gold Wall was in order. I have since learned that Turkey Vultures are protected under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act and that disturbing the nest is a lawful offense.

Local climbers will be checking on the nest frequently from the far side of the canyon in order to minimize disturbance. Once it has been determined that the nest is abandon for the season the closure will be discontinued.

I believe that this is a great opportunity for climbers to show the Forest Service that we are capable of self-policing and are dedicated to environmental friendly action. Please avoid the Gold Wall until it is determined that the birds are finished with the nest. May 14, 2008
I'd like to make one comment about the area description:
"One distinguishing characteristic of the area is that almost all routes are approached from above by fixing a line and rapping in"

For many years, it was very rare to rap in to either canyon.
The standard way in was to do the silver pond down climb and then walk to the base of the climb. On rare occasions, almost always in a late afternoon, someone might rap into the Gold Pond to do a last route of the day. But walking in was the standard (and preferred) method. Pika the wonder dog used to do the down climb, generally with a rope on but not always :-0

Also for years, all climbs were led ground up. The harder ones often requiring more than a few tries. Nothing was ever rehearsed on TR. This ethic came from Scott Baxter, who was influenced by the Valley ethics of the times. This has the possible advantage of not trashing the tops of climbs since you don't have TRs running all over the place and disturbing the top soil.

Times have changed. Most folks want to do more faster. My experience though tells me that I'm much more satisfied with finally getting a difficult ground up lead (which would usually grind me up and spit me out) than something done in a short cutting fashion. I just do not get the same feeling of accomplishment by wiring something out on TR and then leading it. To each their own, until one's actions start affecting others.

It's pretty clear that the now common practice of TRing at the Forks has had a very detrimental effect on the topsoil and cliff tops. Might be time to reconsider standard practices. I know the locals have struggled with this issue for years. Oct 6, 2010
Dan Anderson
Phoenix, Arizona
Dan Anderson   Phoenix, Arizona
Paul, are you recommending against TR'ing here? I'm a new climber so I have to TR when I can't find a Trad leader. I'm carefull setting up TR's to not damage trees etc. so I leave the place like I found it. Any feedback on what routes/sections should not be TR'd would be appreciated.
Dan Oct 19, 2010
J. Hickok
Salida, CO
J. Hickok   Salida, CO
Dan: I think Paul is definitely discouraging the practice of top roping at Paradise Forks, although out here in the "wild west" people seem to do whatever they want anyway. Feb 5, 2012
That is correct, I am trying to discourage the TRing of many routes due to the nature of the top of the crags and the potential for errosion that this creates.

Some climbs are more conducive to the TR (Mayflower sets up easily with very little damage other than to your rope) than others but many are not. As I recall, to set a TR on DD you have to run a line way back to a big jack which means a lot of rope over dirt that is going up and down and back and forth as folks fall off it. That increases errosion. At one point this had become a rather serious problem for that part of the cliff. So much so that the FS got involved and helped fund some maintenance and experimental methods.

The original ethic of ground up only is another matter and part of the Games Climbers Play. I preferred that game but that's just me.
I still prefer to lead. Mar 28, 2012
1Eric Rhicard
1Eric Rhicard   Tucson
Top-roping is so annoying. My hat gets knocked off and my glasses get dislodged. I sag at least 4 or 5 feet when I hang. Couple of Mussys at the top of these things would really help. Just kidding here, will start another thread about it if I really need the entertainment. This is pretty good though. I like when you start posting PD. Hope you are well. Mar 29, 2012
Jon O'Brien
Jon O'Brien   Nevada
how do you guys feel about the tr solo set ups?

in MY mind, it is the same as rappelling because the rope doesn't move much and it is even possible for some tr solo set-ups to be less of an impact than bringing up a second after leading.

i've never seen tr solo more anywhere else, curious on your thoughts...


jon May 17, 2012
Charles Vernon
mind & body in Colorado, he…
Charles Vernon   mind & body in Colorado, he…
Question for Paul (or anyone who has an idea):

With the ground-up ethic (which I have practiced on all but one ascent at the Forks), it still seems to me that there's a lot of erosion because you must set an anchor, top-out, and then rap back down into the canyon. Doesn't seem much different than TR to me.

But Paul says:
"For many years, it was very rare to rap in to either canyon.
The standard way in was to do the silver pond down climb and then walk to the base of the climb."

So I guess my question is, after every climb, you would then walk over and do the down climb again, right (and even with that there's at least some erosion)? It seems like this is the heart of the matter: there's plenty of people still climbing ground-up at the Forks, but I'm not aware of anyone who still uses the method that Paul describes. So the impact of modern ground-up climbing seems basically the same as that of top-roping, aside from the fact that top-roping simply makes things more crowded.

No matter how you climb here, you've got to top out at some point, right? May 17, 2012
Hey Charles,

There's no doubt that you have to top out some time. I think that setting TRs results in more time spent at the top.

Here's what I am picturing as an example.

1) A party arrives at the top to set up a TR. The two walk back and forth a couple of times from the trees to the cliff edge to lay the webbing or static line out. Then perhaps they walk back and forth another time to get the anchor equalized, and perhaps one more time to get their rap set up and rap the route.

After they finish, they top out and walk back and forth to break it down before moving to the next climb.

2) A party goes ground up. The leader tops out and builds an anchor. The second climbs, they break down the anchor, and walk down. (Or perhaps go to a rap station set up by one party and used by several.)

It seems to me that TR setups require more travel around the top of the cliff. Of course, were the situation such that the terrain on top was all rock and very durable and the bottom more fragile, this might be the best way to go.

Just my two cents. May 17, 2012
ryan albery
van world
ryan albery   van world
Not wanting to jam up the especially quality routes, but from those who are experienced in the area, what are your favorite routes? For me, Retards Recess (or Bushman/Doctor), Torpedo, Raindance, TB Bush, Aqualung, Sign Language, Egg Timer, Queenfolia (pre chalked to shit), and I always thought Trapeze was a fun bit of going for it. Perfect Beast has a serious of awesome moves. The start of Ship of Fools, and the roof on Jolly Roger, Yardarm and Crows Nest, Ivory Snow snow on Pillow Wall- short but sweet and right into the business when you start off above your gear. Duet, On The Edge, Shotgun...

There's also a route in the overhanging choss section between Davidsons and Sign Wall, bouldery steep and fingers scabbing locks, tried it twice and would guess it to be in the solid .12 range.

I would love to hear from some of the old school Jedi about what their favorite route(s) here, and especially why.

Ryan Jul 2, 2012
Phoenix & Prescott, AZ
arjunmh   Phoenix & Prescott, AZ
My first trip to this awesome area and a couple notes:
(1) A low clearance vehicle will do just fine on the more direct road in from Parks Exit. Even in pouring rain the road is excellent and well maintained! If you do decide to go to the next exit and come in, then bear left at the "Y" in Garland Prairie Rd after a few miles.

(2) Clear mountain lion scat found around the canyon, just FYI. Called Game and Fish and apparently that's common for around there, but figured those of you camping with small dogs and cats (!) might want to know. Jul 30, 2012
Hey Charles:
Of course without a true study this is all conjecture but here's my thoughts on why the TR is more destructive on the erosion side.

It's not so much the act of setting the anchors and walking around that creates the real problems. It's the anchor itself where the rope runs across the topsoil and is then weighted up and down with falls and dogging.

But most anchors on the DD I've seen run a rope for many feet across bare soil and then saw up and down, back and forth as the crew tries to do the climb and that is the culprit.

If someone sets a TR, never weights it, then I would have to think your analysis is spot on. The difference between that and a lead belay is just about minimal. Of course, if you're flashing on a TR, sort of begs the question of why ?

There are plenty of climbs where TRs at the forks are not much of an issue. Mayflower et.al. can be setup all on nuts off the little shelf or with very little issue from the two trees right there.

My understanding is that the area that had the worst problem was up above the Pillow wall. I understand there was an attempt at erosion control project sometime in mid '80s with the USFS. Don't know how succesful it was.

I don't get out there much anymore. Last time was spring '11 and I was surprised at overall how well the place looked. But it was March so just coming out of the snow.

The silver pond "walk down" was pretty much the standard way in.
For the first time or two of the season, when we'd bring others out, etc... we'd drop nuts in the top and hang a line for either a belay or a hand line. Once we had it wired again, it was a simple third class. Pika the wonder dog could do it but he was usually given either a belay or he'd take a long swim (inside joke there). When it was wet, iced, snowed in, etc... we'd do the rap from somewhere. Occasionaly we'd do a late day rap to get to the gold pond without the walk around.

Bottom line is that it's a small area and climbing populations have exploded.

A few of my fav climbs missing from ryan's list that pop to mind: Waterslip Down, UKD, Acid Test, Black Rose, Negra Prima, the Prow. There was (is) a great fun 5.8, Kon Tiki over to the west of Ivory Snow. I suspect you have to have climbed a lot of stuff to actually like it since I think it was a lichen/moss fest thing but fun moves. I suspect the name is the clue to finding the route. One of the pillars closest to the Silver pond.
Not sure I ever did a climb there I didn't like (which probably says more about me and loss of memory.) Aug 14, 2012
mc kaiser
Lander, Wy
mc kaiser   Lander, Wy
What's the earliest time of year one could hope to be climbing here consistently? I'm looking to head out there in late March/early April. Thanks. Feb 9, 2017
Kevin Patterson
Wellington, New Zealand
Kevin Patterson   Wellington, New Zealand
This is a high end loaded crag, very little below 5.9, and the 5.9's feel like 5.11a. At least the pure crack climbing ones do and that is by far the dominant style of climbing here. May 30, 2017
Darren Mabe
Flagstaff, AZ
Darren Mabe   Flagstaff, AZ
^That's most of NAZ, Kevin May 31, 2017
Ravinder Singh
Tucson, AZ
Ravinder Singh   Tucson, AZ
Lost a yellow C4 2012, hot wire biner with brown nail polish on it. Please contact me if you find it. Apr 1, 2018
ryan c
Phoenix, AZ
ryan c   Phoenix, AZ
Left my shoes up there, evolv addicts that I had put laces on. Would love them back! May 4, 2018
Caden C  
Lost a pair of Miura VS's near the top of the Prow on June 19th. Please let me know if you happened to find these? Thank you Jun 20, 2018