GPS: 35.906, -106.33 Google Map · Climbing Area Map
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Shared By: Scott Beguin on Aug 12, 2007
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This is the obvious first hill filled with numerous rock outcroppings that is visible from most parts of the north community in Los Alamos. The hill rises about 700 feet from town to the summit where Upper Clifty sits. This area is very uncrowded on a regular basis due to the nature of the surroundings. The Cerro Grande Fire raged through this entire canyon in the year 2000 and scorched the flora and fauna that was once present. It is now a rehabilitating wasteland filled with dead trees and lots of harsh terrain. It still gives you secluded sport and trad climbs with a slight alpine feel. There are also numerous established boulder problems on the entire hillside that amazingly did not get torched. It is definitely a quick getaway for Los Alamos locals, and provides a good all around workout to climb here. Most of the rock is suprisingly solid but can be a little crumbly in spots. It is a form of Rhyolite that makes up all the croppings in upper Rendia and Guaje Canyons. Some formations got cooked pretty good and are less bombproof. You can chase the shade or the sun most of the day. Midday can be pretty hot in the summer nowadays. Afternoons are the best for shade depending on which routes you are on.

Getting There

Drive up the Main Hill road and into Los Alamos. The main road then turns into Trinity Drive. At the fourth stop light there is the hospital to your left and the intersection of Trinity and Diamond. Take a right turn on to Diamond the pass through the next three stoplights and head down the hill past the Conoco station towards the golfcourse. Turn on 36th Street which is the second street on your left after you pass through the third stoplight at the Diamond and Alabama intersection. Continue all the way up 36th until you reach Arizona Ave. Take a left on Arizona and continue all the way to 45th and Arizona intersection where the Mitchell trailhead parking is to your right. There is also a firetruck playground on your left.

Hike the Mitchell Trail 69 toward the giant green water tank. You will cross a dirt road and the Perimeter Trail, but will reach the water tank after <10 minutes, if you stay on the Mitchell Trail. The Clifty escarpment approach just ahead and right of the closest point on the trail to the water tank. Begin the cairned approach to the right just after crossing the first dry streambed after the water tank.

There is the "Clifty Quickie" 4th/5th class scramble to the left in between the two obvious buttresses and goes up the backside of Thanksgiving Rock where you will find various new and old pins and a register. Continue left and upward to "Clifty Patio" where there is a large live tree and the route Interpretation of Creation starts out of a cave.

There is also a pack trail if you go to the right at the bottom of the buttress. Be sure to stay on rock as much as possible as the hill side is consumed by poison ivy and lots of other itchy plants. This side, if you stay on the climber trail that is devoled but sometimes not appearant, will take you to the base of "Yunctured By A Pucca". If you stay to right of this point there is the "Sandbagger Boulder", and a 3rd class scramble to the top of Clifty. These can also be used as descent routes.

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Classic Climbing Routes at Clifty

Mountain Project's determination of the classic, most popular, highest rated climbing routes in this area.
5.9- 5c 17 VI 16 HVS 4c
Ken Ewing Memorial Railroad
Route Name Location Star Rating Difficulty Date
Ken Ewing Memorial Railroad
5.9- 5c 17 VI 16 HVS 4c Sport
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Scott Beguin
Santa Fe, NM
Scott Beguin   Santa Fe, NM
Thanksgiving rock is just one of the hundreds of rock formations that make up Clifty. Thanksgiving rock is only one formation and not every aspect of the complete hillside which is considered Clifty. Aug 14, 2007
Daniel Trugman
Los Alamos, NM
Daniel Trugman   Los Alamos, NM
I went bouldering up here today an I was surprisingly unimpressed. I'm not very picky - I just like making moves - but I had a hard time finding any worthwhile problems. There are a few decent easy faces but most overhanging lines have horrible rock. Maybe I was just missing something? Feb 18, 2009
The Thanksgiving Rock Right route was the most obvious to find using the pictures as a guide. It took us a while looking at photographs to get our bearings here and find other routes. I think some GPS waypoints could help others.

1) There's a gully to climber's right of Thanksgiving Rock Right at 35.90766N/106.32970W. I don't think this is the 4th/5th class scramble as it got steep quickly. I think the 4th/5th class scramble is a bit more to the right and goes up past Yunctured by a Pucca. While this was a fun scramble there are places in here that if you were to fall you could sustain a serious injury, so make sure you have good hand holds and foot placements.

2) If you go from waypoint #1 and find what is sort of a trail to the east, head toward 35.90738N/106.32909W. At this point look toward the north at a bearing of 55 degrees (true). You can easily scramble up this gully towards a boulder atop other rock and bear left at that rock to get around it.

3) Continue heading to 35.90773N/106.32877W and turn back toward the west and you can easily get up to a very large, house-sized boulder that is Sandbagger Boulder. You'll see the hangers on it and know you're at the right place.

Maybe this will help you find your way around. Nov 27, 2016