Elevation: 416 ft
GPS: 37.726, -89.217 Google Map · Climbing Area Map
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Shared By: Jon Richard on Jan 23, 2007 · Updates
Admins: Aaron Mc, Dave Hug

Area Breakdown

Illinois holds hundreds of miles of exposed rock. From the Limestone of the Mississippi and Ohio river valleys to the Sandstone of the Shawnee Hills, this midwestern state offers a lifetime of stone to enjoy.

Illinois offers great sport, traditional, multi-pitch, ice, aid, and bouldering for its visitors. Southern Illinois holds the highest density of quality stone making it the climbing capital of the state, and a few of its areas should be highlighted:

Popular Areas In Southern Illinois

Jackson Falls

Hidden Treasure - Killer Route!!

The premier sport and traditional destination in the state is Jackson Falls. With over 400 routes, Jackson Falls has something to offer to every level climber. Jackson is truly the sport climbing capital of Illinois.

Holy Boulders

Jason Kehl on Atlas V5 at the Holy Boulders. Photo by Abbey Smith.

Every boulderer who passes through the state should make a point to stop at the Holy Boulders. The Holies contain over 300 boulder problems and a few great Trad lines. With arguably the best quality Sandstone in the state, and possibly the midwest, the Holies are the classic proving ground for anyone desiring to take themselve to the next level. Thanks to the courageous work of Lief Faber, the Illinois Climbers Association was able to work side by side with the Access Fund to buy the Holy Boulders property, thus securing it in climber friendly hands forever! But DO NOT FORGET, although the Holies are protected, they have come at a cost. The Illinois Climbers Association has been hard at work raising funds to repay the Holies debt back to the Access Fund, but we need your help. To contribute, please donate to the cause by following this link: paypal.com/donate/?token=oD… or contact the Illinois Climbers Association to find out other ways to help.

Giant City

Makanda Bluff, Southern, Illinios, photo: Bob Horan Collection.

Giant City State Park is a great sport climbing and bouldering destination. This historical testing ground is the birthplace of hard roped climbing in Illinois. Giant City contains some of the greatest top-roping routes in Illinois including City Limits, which at its time was one of the first 5.12's in the country. The park also offers many quality/leadable traditional lines and few classic boulder problems.

Cedar Bluff

Becky leads pitch 1 of Dizzy.

If you are interested in multi-pitch climbing check out Cedar Bluff. With many sport routes and a few quality multi-pitch routes that reach over 95 feet, Cedar Bluff is a great destination for anyone seeking to get high. Also important to note is its sandstone quality and height is very similar to that of the Red River Gorge. Although slightly pebbly, this bullet hard stone allows for great gear placements. If you find yourself in the area, and not to be forgotten, Ferne Clyffe State Park offers great bouldering and top-roping opportunities as well. Both Cedar Bluff and Ferne Clyffe were well fought for by the Illinois Climbers Association, and with visiting climbers support, should continue to be protected and provide great climbing experiences.

The above listed areas in Southern Illinois are just a few of what the state has to offer. There is no gaurantee that climbing will be protected. Please do your part to follow Leave No Trace ethics and abide by local regulations to hopefully prevent provoking any local land manager from restricting climbing access.

Popular Area Near St. Louis

Pere Marquette State Park

Molly Gabel deciphering the crux on the Hespen Arete

The Illinois Climbers Association is proud to present Illinois' newest rock climbing destination, Pere Marquette State Park. Located an hour from St. Louis just outside the lively town of Grafton, Pere Marquette offers highly featured limestone formations great for climbing. Since early 2015 the ICA has been working with the Illinois Department of Natural Resources to gain their blessing for this project, which includes new trails, landscaping with natural rock steps, and both sport routes and top-anchors for traditional leads. This new climbing area will ultimately have over 60 climbing routes.

Popular Areas Near Chicago

Mississippi Palisades State Park

The Sentinel.

The Palisades is a great area for anyone living near Chicago who can get away for a weekend. It is located on the Illinois side of the Mississippi river, just across from Iowa. The limestone bluffs rise roughly 180 feet above the river level in some places, though none of the climbs are actually this long. Pretty much everything here is top-rope, with tons of natural anchor options in the trees and some boulders on top of the walls. This limestone can get pretty manky - especially with wet and even just humid weather. There are a few routes that are in bee territory here, which can make the climbing very exciting. Because of the humid and buggy summers, the best time to climb here is October to November. A nice dry crisp fall morning here is ideal.

Starved Rock State Park

The Snake in a really 'fat' year.

The canyons open to ice climbing have varied over the years: be sure to check at the Park office before you hop on the ice.

Illinois literally has climbing all over, if you find yourself passing through and decide to stop you'll not be disappointed.

Resources

[[Illinois Climbers Association]]ilclimbers.org
Founded in 2002. The Illinois Climbers Association is a charitable organization representing the climbers of Illinois. We are dedicated to preserving climbing and bouldering access in Illinois through education, conservation, and cooperation.

Mission

The Illinois Climbers Association is a 501(c)3 charitable organization created to:

  1. Promote and support conservation and preservation of both rock climbing and bouldering areas, and their respective natural resources in Illinois
  2. Encourage optimal recreational use of Illinois outdoor climbing resources through land stewardship education and by facilitating cooperation between climbers, private land owners, and public land managers
  3. Encourage and promote the development of policies and practices that will preserve climbing and bouldering areas in Illinois
HELP PROTECT ILLINOIS CLIMBING! 
**PLEASE DONATE**
Click HERE to donate towards the Illinois Climber Association's cause. The ICA has been instrumental in conserving access to climbing all over Illinois. If you have any questions, comments or concerns feel free to contact them.

Getting There

Click on individual areas to obtain specific directions.

Guidebooks

In Illinois there are two guide books for the southern portion of the state. The first is Eric Ulner's book Vertical Heartland.

Vertical Heartland 3rd Edition

His guide is a good representation of the legal climbing destinations in the state and primarily focus on sport and traditional climbing.

The other guide for Southern Illinois is Matt Bliss's book Sandstone Warrior.

Sandstone Warrior

His guide beautifully lays out the majority of the bouldering found in S.I. and includes quality color photos to aid in your boulder problem deciphering. These two guides provide you with all the necessary tools to navigate our local crags. Pick them up and go enjoy the climbing that Illinois has to offer.

1,524 Total Climbs

Route Finder - Best Climbs for YOU!

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Classic Climbing Routes at Illinois

Mountain Project's determination of the classic, most popular, highest rated climbing routes in this area.
V0 4
 102
Yosemite Slab
Boulder
V2-3 5+
 150
The Mollusk
Boulder
V4 6B
 71
Enlightenment
Boulder
V5 6C
 97
Shadow of a Man
Boulder
5.8 5b 16 VI- 15 HVS 4c
 186
Stubborn Swede
Sport
5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a
 88
Groovy Marcia!
Sport
5.10a 6a 18 VI+ 18 E1 5a
 186
Cheerio Bowl
Sport
5.10a 6a 18 VI+ 18 E1 5a
 148
Venom
Sport
5.10b 6a+ 19 VII- 19 E2 5b
 111
Spiders From Mars
Sport
5.10b 6a+ 19 VII- 19 E2 5b
 108
Who Let the Snakes Out
Sport
5.10c 6b 20 VII 20 E2 5b
 173
Group Therapy
Sport
5.11a 6c 22 VII+ 22 E3 5c
 134
Lovely Arete
Sport
5.11a 6c 22 VII+ 22 E3 5c
 113
Wild at Heart
Sport
5.12a 7a+ 25 VIII+ 25 E5 6a
 93
Detox Mountain
Sport
5.12a 7a+ 25 VIII+ 25 E5 6a
 99
Hidden Treasures
Sport
Route Name Location Star Rating Difficulty Date
Yosemite Slab Jackson Falls > Z. Bouldering i… > Yosemite Slab
 102
V0 4 Boulder
The Mollusk Holy Boulders > L: Mollusk Boulder
 150
V2-3 5+ Boulder
Enlightenment Holy Boulders > Q: Illuminati Boulders
 71
V4 6B Boulder
Shadow of a Man Holy Boulders > F: Shadow of a Man Area
 97
V5 6C Boulder
Stubborn Swede Jackson Falls > … > C. Hidden Peaks > E The Monument
 186
5.8 5b 16 VI- 15 HVS 4c Sport
Groovy Marcia! Jackson Falls > E S Canyon > I. The Ranch
 88
5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a Sport
Cheerio Bowl Jackson Falls > … > C. Hidden Peaks > D. Pricker Peak
 186
5.10a 6a 18 VI+ 18 E1 5a Sport
Venom Jackson Falls > A. N Canyon > A. Mr. Jimmy
 148
5.10a 6a 18 VI+ 18 E1 5a Sport
Spiders From Mars Jackson Falls > A. N Canyon > A. Mr. Jimmy
 111
5.10b 6a+ 19 VII- 19 E2 5b Sport
Who Let the Snakes Out Jackson Falls > C. N Falls > B. Snakes Roof
 108
5.10b 6a+ 19 VII- 19 E2 5b Sport
Group Therapy Jackson Falls > B. W Falls > A. The Gallery
 173
5.10c 6b 20 VII 20 E2 5b Sport
Lovely Arete Jackson Falls > C. N Falls > D. Lovely Tower
 134
5.11a 6c 22 VII+ 22 E3 5c Sport
Wild at Heart Jackson Falls > A. N Canyon > I. Railroad Rock
 113
5.11a 6c 22 VII+ 22 E3 5c Sport
Detox Mountain Jackson Falls > … > C. Hidden Peaks > C. Cranial/Detox Wall
 93
5.12a 7a+ 25 VIII+ 25 E5 6a Sport
Hidden Treasures Jackson Falls > C. N Falls > D. Lovely Tower
 99
5.12a 7a+ 25 VIII+ 25 E5 6a Sport
More Classic Climbs in Illinois »

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