Elevation: 4,700 ft
GPS: 32.245, -104.696 Google Map · Climbing Area Map
Page Views: 27,449 total · 175/month
Shared By: Craig Childre on Aug 30, 2006
Admins: Jason Halladay, Anthony Stout, LeeAB Brinckerhoff, Marta Reece, Drew Chojnowski
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Description

Sitting Bull Falls is a rare oasis-like area in an otherwise dry, scrappy desert. It is a day-use only national recreation area with pavilions, grills, picnic tables, restrooms and a paved path to view the impressive spring-fed waterfalls. The small pools up above the falls offer a great way to splash and cool yourself off in the warmer months of the year.

Climbing:
As for the climbing, expect few crowds and prevalent shade. The wall is north-facing and this area can be super cold in the winter. The Permian reef limestone is the highest quality limestone in the state of New Mexico and the climbing on the Big Horn Wall is reminiscent of limestone climbing in Spain.
Keep an eye out killer bee hives/activity between the Brit Route and Fire Water on the Rosebud Wall.

Because the area is a national recreation area, there's a 5$ per car day use fee payable via self-serve envelopes at the parking area.

Operating Hours:
Sitting Bull Falls Recreation Area has strict opening and closing times and the closing time varies depending on the time of year:
April 1 to October 15 - 8:30am to 6:00pm hard closure time. Last vehicles allowed in at 5:00pm.
October 16 to March 31 - 8:30am to 5:00pm hard closure time. Last vehicles allowed in at 4:00pm.

All users of the area must be out of the area by the closure time. Allow yourself 15 to 20 minutes to hike out and get out.

Getting There

From Carlsbad, 8 miles out of town to the west on 285, take 137 South for about 25-30 miles. The turn off of highway 137 for Sitting Bull is not as far as the highway signs indicate--the turn off is just before MM31 and after MM32 if coming from HWY 285. This turn is well-signed. Follow the sign to the Sitting Bull Falls area and park. Follow the paved path about 150 yards and take a major right on an unpaved path up to the top of the falls for about 300 yards, up even with the falls, look for small trails to the right over to the climbing area. See the climbing area descriptions for more in-depth hiking approach beta. 

Approach

The walls are visible from the Sitting Bull Falls Recreation Area parking lot, however, the approach is a longer hike than it appears. The approach is a bit convoluted in order to protect the delicate environment located just beyond the artificial grass lawn, 1000 square foot brick restroom facility, and concrete and pavement parking lot.

From the self-service pay station, follow the concrete path SE toward the falls for about 30 yds, where a well-defined dirt path signed for the top of the waterfall branches off and up to the right. Ascend laboriously up the steep winding trail for a few minutes until it flattens out. After the trail levels out, the trail bends to the west, where a faint climber's trail diverges to the right. Take this faint trail over towards the wall. After ~20 yds you'll be looking across and down at the Rosebud Wall and Big Horn Wall. From here, there are two possible downclimbs to reach the cliff--one is 4th class (not recommended) and the other is a second-class trail down.

17 Total Climbs

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Classic Climbing Routes at Sitting Bull Falls

Mountain Project's determination of the classic, most popular, highest rated climbing routes in this area.
5.10a 6a 18 VI+ 18 E1 5a
 23
Wounded Knee
Sport
5.10b 6a+ 19 VII- 19 E2 5b
 21
Firewater
Sport
5.11b 6c 23 VIII- 23 E3 5c
 11
Sweat Lodge
Sport
5.11b 6c 23 VIII- 23 E3 5c
 13
Smoke Signals
Sport
5.12a 7a+ 25 VIII+ 25 E5 6a
 22
Ghost Dancers
Sport
5.12b 7b 26 VIII+ 26 E5 6b
 21
Counting Coup
Sport
5.12c 7b+ 27 IX- 27 E6 6b
 12
It is not Necessary for Eagles t…
Sport
5.12c 7b+ 27 IX- 27 E6 6b
 13
Tribal War
Sport
5.12d 7c 28 IX 28 E6 6b
 6
Broken Arrows
Sport
5.13b 8a 29 IX+ 30 E7 6c
 4
Custer's Last Stand
Sport
5.13d 8b 31 X 32 E8 7a
 3
Kootenai Cruiser
Sport
Route Name Location Star Rating Difficulty Date
Wounded Knee Rose Bud Wall
 23
5.10a 6a 18 VI+ 18 E1 5a Sport
Firewater Rose Bud Wall
 21
5.10b 6a+ 19 VII- 19 E2 5b Sport
Sweat Lodge Rose Bud Wall
 11
5.11b 6c 23 VIII- 23 E3 5c Sport
Smoke Signals Big Horn Wall
 13
5.11b 6c 23 VIII- 23 E3 5c Sport
Ghost Dancers Big Horn Wall
 22
5.12a 7a+ 25 VIII+ 25 E5 6a Sport
Counting Coup Big Horn Wall
 21
5.12b 7b 26 VIII+ 26 E5 6b Sport
It is not Necessary for Eag… Big Horn Wall
 12
5.12c 7b+ 27 IX- 27 E6 6b Sport
Tribal War Big Horn Wall
 13
5.12c 7b+ 27 IX- 27 E6 6b Sport
Broken Arrows Big Horn Wall
 6
5.12d 7c 28 IX 28 E6 6b Sport
Custer's Last Stand Big Horn Wall
 4
5.13b 8a 29 IX+ 30 E7 6c Sport
Kootenai Cruiser Big Horn Wall
 3
5.13d 8b 31 X 32 E8 7a Sport
More Classic Climbs in Sitting Bull Falls »

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