Elevation: 868 ft
GPS: 36.007, -93.188 Google Map · Climbing Area Map
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Shared By: Erik Pohlman on Dec 24, 2006
Admins: TylerKC


Anyone ready for some backwoods climbing. That's right, there ain't no high alpine to be found here. There's just down and dirty backwoods climbing on high-quality sandstone. Though overlooked for a long time by the big names, the locals haven't complained. Over the years they have put up excellent quality natural lines from the classic dihedral Poison Ivy (5.7+) to harder lines such as Titanic (5.11X) and Bear Bait (5.12- S), all at Sam's Throne.

In addition to the classic trad routes, Horseshoe Canyon Ranch hosts a number of excellent quality bolted lines of all difficulties, even up to Sharma's famous "Paying the Rent"(5.14a). The moderate mecca of the Midwest, holding an extremely large concentration of climbing in its domain. An excellent place for those just getting into the sport of climbing, or seasoned veterans, as there is something for everyone at the Ranch. Arguably one of the single best climbing destination in the whole Midwest.

Other than the famed HCR, Arkansas is on the cusp of it's golden age, with new routes going up by the day, there is something to be found around every corner and the only limitations are access and imagination. If your one for adventure and travelling off the beaten path to find some Southern Sandbagging as well as world class pitches deep within the hills of the Ozarks, it is well worth your time and memories to stray away from the ranch to see what the "Natural State" has to offer.

For a taste of real backwoods climbing in Arkansas, places like the Cowell area or Prohibition/Rock Creek Area offer 4 star climbs in remote settings.


The latest guidebooks are as follows.

Arkansas Bouldering

Rock Climbing Arkansas 2nd Edition- Cole Fennel

Rock Climbing Arkansas 2nd Edition

Rock Climbing Horseshoe Canyon- Cole Fennel

HCR Guidebook

If you are climbing in the state chances are you are climbing at/near horseshoe canyon. Jasper is the closest town with amenities. There is a small grocery and some eateries.

Beware, Newton County IS dry, therefor if your looking for a drink, you'll have to drive up to Harrison Arkansas. Best to prepare ahead of time.

Some useful websites are:


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Classic Climbing Routes at Arkansas

Mountain Project's determination of the classic, most popular, highest rated climbing routes in this area.
V4 6B
Le Beak
V4 6B
Dig Dug
5.7+ 5a 15 V+ 13 MVS 4b
Poison Ivy
5.8 5b 16 VI- 15 HVS 4c
Green Goblin
5.8 5b 16 VI- 15 HVS 4c
Swamp Rat
5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a
Hackberry Crack
5.9+ 5c 17 VI 17 E1 5a
WMA Crack
5.9+ 5c 17 VI 17 E1 5a
Orange Crush
5.10c 6b 20 VII 20 E2 5b
Learning to Fly
5.10d 6b+ 21 VII+ 21 E3 5b
Crimp Scampi
5.11a 6c 22 VII+ 22 E3 5c
Horseshoes and Hand Grenades
5.11b 6c 23 VIII- 23 E3 5c
Big Top
5.11 6c+ 23 VIII- 23 E4 5c
Taliban soup
5.11c 6c+ 24 VIII- 24 E4 6a
Love Slave
5.12a 7a+ 25 VIII+ 25 E5 6a
Fat Hand
Route Name Location Star Rating Difficulty Date
Le Beak Cowell Area > Fountain Red
V4 6B Boulder
Dig Dug Horseshoe Canyo… > Idaho Boulders > Loaf Boulder
V4 6B Boulder
Poison Ivy Sam's Throne &… > … > Throne > Poison Ivy Wall
5.7+ 5a 15 V+ 13 MVS 4b Trad
Green Goblin Horseshoe Canyo… > N Forty
5.8 5b 16 VI- 15 HVS 4c Sport
Swamp Rat Horseshoe Canyo… > Cliffs of Insanity
5.8 5b 16 VI- 15 HVS 4c Sport
Hackberry Crack Horseshoe Canyo… > Walls Of Moria
5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a Trad
WMA Crack Horseshoe Canyo… > Confederate Cracks
5.9+ 5c 17 VI 17 E1 5a Trad
Orange Crush Horseshoe Canyo… > Far East
5.9+ 5c 17 VI 17 E1 5a Sport
Learning to Fly Horseshoe Canyo… > Prophecy Wall
5.10c 6b 20 VII 20 E2 5b Sport
Crimp Scampi Horseshoe Canyo… > N Forty
5.10d 6b+ 21 VII+ 21 E3 5b Sport
Horseshoes and Hand Grenades Horseshoe Canyo… > Far East
5.11a 6c 22 VII+ 22 E3 5c Sport
Big Top Horseshoe Canyo… > N Forty
5.11b 6c 23 VIII- 23 E3 5c Sport
Taliban soup Horseshoe Canyo… > Prophecy Wall
5.11 6c+ 23 VIII- 23 E4 5c Sport
Love Slave Horseshoe Canyo… > N Forty
5.11c 6c+ 24 VIII- 24 E4 6a Sport
Fat Hand Horseshoe Canyo… > N Forty
5.12a 7a+ 25 VIII+ 25 E5 6a Sport
More Classic Climbs in Arkansas »

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Erik Pohlman
Westminster, CO
Erik Pohlman   Westminster, CO
From Tony Mayse, originally on the Flying Elvis page:

With permission from my friend Chad I post this message.

Dear friends,

If you are not aware, there's a bit of a controversy brewing in the Arkansas climbing community. The central issue is that some climbers are putting fixed chains on routes that were previously established without such niceties. By fixed chains, I'm referring to 10 inches of heavy chain link attached permanently to the bolt hangar on one end and to a carabiner on the terminal end. This amounts to a permanently fixed draw.

There are generally two reasons for this. First, on particularly steep routes, as in Kentucky's horizontal terrain, it can make it easier to clip. Second, you can conveniently climb grades beyond your onsight limits since you don't need to worry about leaving bail gear behind; you can just lower off of the fixed chain-draw.

Normally, the accepted community standard is that the first ascentionist gets to determine the style of a route. This rule is widely accepted. I personally think it's perhaps a bit too simple. For instance, it leaves room for people to free solo first ascents on grades well below their own climbing level. In this case, the rule fails because it allows folks who are climbing well to enforce their style on climbers of lower levels. I cite this example only to acknowledge that the community standard of the first ascent precedent is a nebulous and not always "good" way to determine what should and should not occur.

Acknowledging this, I will go beyond a mere restatement of the accepted "style of the first ascentionist" rights when saying that I absolutely, positively don't want to see chains hanging off of the many beautiful routes that I established in Arkansas. I put those routes up and I will remove any unsightly, and unnecessary, hardware I find on them. ( And don't try to tell me that I am stealing; I'm fairly certain that there's no such thing as property rights on things left in the woods. )

But, as I said, I will explain myself. Let's try to carry on like more like a community than members of oppositional political parties. My position starts from several key principles, that I would hope are shared by the majority of climbers. Please speak up if you disagree with these. 1) Climbing is better than other "sports" because it provides a spiritual and aesthetic satisfaction far beyond competition and personal glory. 2) Climbing takes place in the natural environment, and that environment is taking a frontal assault as the world rapidly overpopulates.

My logic is simple. The spiritual and aesthetic aspects of climbing are something special. They are not about convenience. They are not about numbers. They are the motivational soul that will keep you psyched and continue to nourish your soul throughout your life. If you run out of psych, you we're chasing numbers and ego. This is the energy that led me to hand paint my bolt hangers and anchors so that the beauty of the rock wouldn't be marred. When I see a couple pounds of raw chain hanging from each bolt, it is VERY hard to believe that the folks who installed that stuff are feeling the spiritual / aesthetic connection.

And this lead nicely back to point number 2. Climbing takes place in the natural environment. As the world overpopulates, the natural environment will become more and more damaged. Not just from industry and global warming, but from user impact. As we speak, climber areas ARE being closed due to heavy impact. This will only increase. Even if you are unconcerned with the spiritual and aesthetic, simple access to climbing demands that we focus on minimizing impact as much as possible. If we don't address this, access will be restricted at some point during our lifetimes. I'm only 40 years old, I fully intend to be sending for another 3 or 4 decades. Protecting access by minimizing impact should be the priority of every climber. Again, a couple pounds of chain hanging from every bolt is not the way to minimize impact.

I can see no other excuse for these fixed chains except convenience. If convenience outweighs your sense of spiritual and aesthetic reward, you'll run out of psyche long before you run out of life -- and that won't be fun. While it's easy to detect the ire in my words here, I hope it's also easy to detect my love for climbing. And if I have climbed with you, or even spoke with you about climbing, I think we both know that we share this love. I believe that we all know that climbing is better than other "pass times", and we should hold ourselves to the highest standards.

Dec 10, 2010
Ryan Ray
Weatherford, TX
Ryan Ray   Weatherford, TX
This past weekend my wife and I took a trip to Arkansas for the first time in a number of years. I have always loved the Beauty and Serenity of climbing in Arkansas. Its a beautiful state. The lush forests and beautiful terrain and rock have always attracted me there. Not to mention the remote feeling of climbing there. This weekend my opinion has changed somewhat.

Ill tell you a little about our experience this weekend. We spent the 3 day weekend camping alone at cave creek. On the second day, I took my wife up the casual route wandering spirit. I was was trying to shoot photos of her following it while sitting at the anchors on involuntary man slaughter and was so disturbed by all the chains hanging from the roof on brick attack and the other routes.. Looked like a damn climbing gym. It took so much away from the wilderness experience we had this weekend because those chains were just so noticeable and hideous. I personally have never seen anything so ugly done by climbers in the entire 20+ years i have been climbing now. It was the first time ever that I felt ashamed to be a climber. I am 33 years old so I am a member of the somewhat younger climbing generation, and I just don’t get it.

We also visited Hudson Mountain. It was my first time there and visited it based on recommendation of a friend, and I felt sick just walking the base of the wall. I saw chain after chain hanging below what could be an amazing wall and routes, and some bolts on routes that would be otherwise protectable with bomber natural gear. It is my opinion that all of these fixed draws should be removed and the bolts on protectable routes be pulled and the holes patched. But that is purely my opinion. I will refrain from acting on it. Its ashamed because I thought the area was beautiful, the wall was amazing and the few routes I had a chance to get on seemed pretty good. This area could be so much more beautiful without all the hunks of chain everywhere.

It makes no since to me why anyone would want to take such beautiful places and degrade their physical appearance to that of an indoor gym. Especially in an area like Cave Creek where the use of fixed draws has not been traditionally acceptable in the past. I do understand the close proximity of Horseshoe Canyon Ranch and the Lack of outdoor ethics present there (which is why i will not visit there again), but will never understand the whole concept of fixed chain draws hanging all over the cliffs of Arkansas. Arkansas is so much more beautiful than that. Why can we not keep it that way. Why can we not preserve what few natural outdoor resources we still have in their natural state.

I trad climb and sport climb both, so I understand and have no issue with the use of bolts as long as they are not overdone. But bolts can be very hard to see. Heck i have been on routes and been right next to a bolt and never saw it because it was so camo’d. But those chains are in your face from the minute you walk around the corner. Those are the kinds of things that give us as climbers a bad reputation with the non climbing community. Hikers, backpackers, campers, nature viewers and whoever else may wonder down below these cliffs and see the ugliness. Bolts they may never see…but there is no missing the chains.

I feel truly saddened for the first time ever to belong to this group we call climbers.


Sep 8, 2011
Any word on when Mr. Fennel's going to publish the bouldering guide? Is this still happening? Sep 15, 2011
Jason Haas
G1 Climbing + Fitness
Jason Haas   G1 Climbing + Fitness
ferrells, yep. Cole is doing a comprehensive bouldering book to the state right now. Sep 19, 2011
Has he said anything about when it is likely to be done? Sep 23, 2011
AKSClimbs   Illinois/UAE
What is the best book for a bouldering guide to Cowell (fountain red) and HCR? Feb 19, 2012
Jason Haas
G1 Climbing + Fitness
Jason Haas   G1 Climbing + Fitness
Eero46, Cole Fennel's book is still the best one out there. It's the only one for Fountain Red and the only one in color for HCR Feb 19, 2012
Lee Neale
Brevard, NC
Lee Neale   Brevard, NC
Does anyone have any beta about the bluffs on the Buffalo? Specifically the bluffs around the Steel Creek Access. Any info would be great. Thanks, Lee. Jun 7, 2012
@Lee Neale, we've been eyeing those bluffs. Looks like there's a few routes on that bulgy pillar feature. I've been told it's choss though. Bolting isn't allowed. Damn feds. Chad Watkins put up a route at Kyle's Landing last week. Mentioned some choss. Looks worth it though. Keep me posted. I'm headed back to Alaska in a week or so, but I'd like to put in some work on them this fall. Hit me up on facebook, leftyonenut@hotmail.com. Jun 28, 2012
springfield, Mo
Mike-R   springfield, Mo
Can anyone tell me about the hudson mountain area? Aug 23, 2012
Chet Butterworth
Chet Butterworth   Chattanooga
How much, if any, climbing is along the Buffalo National River?

I'm not from the area and planning a paddle trip and wondering if -- hoping I can -- bring a rack and rope along. Jan 15, 2013
Hey Chet, depending on where you are, there's a ton of awesome climbing right off of the river. For example, HCR is less than a ten minute drive from Steele Creek campgrounds. Mar 3, 2013
Nate Moore
On the road
Nate Moore   On the road
If your dirtbaggieness is wearing out and you need a place to stay thats not a tent, Dogwood Springs Campground in Jasper has some low priced cabins. The management is nice, and welcoming to climbers. Jan 4, 2014
Anyone looking for a climbing partner in the area? I'm up in Harrison, AR writing a thesis so I have a lot of time.


Casey Sep 2, 2014
Mountain Project's list of Arkansas classic routes is misrepresentative: excellent climbing abounds beyond Horseshoe's realm. I expect one day that we'll all be astounded at the explosion of Ozark route development that occurred under our noses, clip-ups that rival that of RRG with a pump that can only be found in the south, and trad lines true to old school spirit found at many of the conuntry's earlier crags. Arkansas is home to many back-woodsy secret cliffs and will be known as a cooler-month destination.

For now, Sam's Throne is not to be missed. Bring provisions though, there's nothing around. Jamestown and Mt. Magazine are also quite good, both hosts of classic AR lines (the latter boasting the most honest grades in the state).

I developed some stuff in the Hot Springs area. Except for one little buttress, it isn't worth a visit unless you're passing through. Ouchita Outdoor Outfitters has a topo and area beta. Nov 27, 2015
Hey All! Looking for a climbing partner this week or next, I'm visiting Eureka Springs and would love to drive down to Horseshoe Canyon and climb with someone, I don't have boulder pads or ropes, though. Email me if interested arielletrinidad1@gmail.com Thank you! Oct 17, 2016
Drew Nevius
Drew Nevius   Oklahoma  
If you're looking for partners, lost/found gear, or have questions, the best place to check would be the "Arkansas Climbers" group on Facebook May 17, 2017
Nick B  
Is there still a comprehensive state wide bouldering only guide book in the works? Haven't heard anything about it in a little while. Aug 6, 2017
Drew Nevius
Drew Nevius   Oklahoma  
Check their Instagram for updates on the bouldering only guide:
instagram.com/naturalstatep… Oct 3, 2017
SeanMc123 McAndrew
Denver, CO
SeanMc123 McAndrew   Denver, CO
Arkansas Bouldering guidebook is now available for checkout from the American Alpine Club Library. Not in Golden, Colorado to pick it up? Members can take advantage of free book shipping from the library and many more perks for the cost of a membership to a great organization. Yeah, that was a plug and thank you to the person who left a new guidebook at Desoto this winter and didn't check the Facebook page over a period of months. May 25, 2018
Zane Winter
Kansas City, MO
Zane Winter   Kansas City, MO
This has been alluded to in previous comments, but do not take the "classics" listing seriously. HCR is a popular, approachable, and well equipped area for a first few trips rock climbing outdoors, but it is in no way representative of the state and most of the offerings in the 5.12 range are easy jughauls with a short boulder problem crammed in. The best 5.12 and up climbing in AR is found outside of HCR, not within it. Check out Invasion, Rock Creek, and the areas around Sam's for the best climbing around. Nov 3, 2018
JD Borgeson
Little Rock, AR
JD Borgeson   Little Rock, AR
Don't let these other commenters deceive you folks coming down for a visit. The only good climbing in Arkansas is at Horseshoe Canyon. It's plain to see just looking over the classics list. Most everything else listed on MP for AR is purely for historical record. Don't waste your time getting poison ivy and chiggers bushwhacking the impossible approaches just to clip some mank. Not to mention, you have to dig a hole to poop (some locals prefer to wipe with rocks). Just saying, nothing good in life is free. it goes doubly for climbing here. Nov 5, 2018
Nicholas Orton
Saranac lake
Nicholas Orton   Saranac lake
Hey ALL! Where might one find cliffs exceeding 80ft Feb 3, 2019