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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
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.
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 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.
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
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
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.
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.
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.
The Illinois Climbers Association is a 501(c)3 charitable organization created to:
- Promote and support conservation and preservation of both rock climbing and bouldering areas, and their respective natural resources in Illinois
- 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
- Encourage and promote the development of policies and practices that will preserve climbing and bouldering areas in Illinois
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.
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.
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.
Classic Climbing Routes at Illinois
Days w Precip