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Areas in Iowa

Backbone State Park 14 / 0 / 22 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 22
Chimney Rocks 1 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 1
Decorah 0 / 1 / 1 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 1
Dubuque 1 / 0 / 3 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 3
Gitchie Manitou 1 / 0 / 1 / 3 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 3
Indian Bluffs 0 / 21 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 21
Indoor Climbing Walls 0 / 3 / 4 / 1 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 4
Joinerville (bouldering only) 0 / 0 / 0 / 62 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 62
Ozark Wildlife Area 1 / 24 / 0 / 2 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 27
Palisades Kepler State Park 5 / 0 / 14 / 1 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 17
Pictured Rocks 6 / 56 / 5 / 4 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 67
Silo Ice Climbing 0 / 0 / 1 / 0 / 1 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 1
Wildcat Den (respect closure) 0 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 0
Elevation: 858 ft
GPS: 41.935, -93.538 Google Map · Climbing Map
Page Views: 146,929 total, 1,219/month
Shared By: Jon Lauters on Jan 19, 2008
Admins: Bill McKirgan

Description

The majority of outdoor areas with quality rock are located on the eastern side of the state. Iowans and folks from out of state gather in great numbers at places like Pictured Rocks county park, and Indian Bluffs state wildlife management area, both near Monticello, Iowa.

Backbone State park, near Strawberry Point, has a variety of climbs that are more spread out. Hoot Bluff, between Monticello and Maquoketa, Iowa, is a notable winter destination because the south-facing climbs are often warm enough for winter free climbing. In summer, Hoot as well as other spots become very hot, humid and difficult to get to when the vegetation expands and obscures trails and views.

Getting There

Head towards the eastern side of the state via I80 or other appropriate highway or gravel road. Most of the climbing is within 40 to 50 miles of Monticello, Iowa, which is located on Route 151. Many of the state roads are in excellent shape, but the path you take in Iowa will have many 90-degree turns. The 151 is a more direct / diagonal route in many cases.

Whatever path you take, you will no-doubt see lots of flat landscape, then rolling hills. Keep the faith, and ask directions if you need to. Folks will help, and you will be rewarded with an opportunity to spend some time on quality limestone and see the hidden gems of Iowa.

229 Total Climbs

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Classic Climbing Routes at Iowa

Mountain Project's determination of the classic, most popular, highest rated climbing routes in this area.
5.7 5a 15 V+ 13 MVS 4b
Tarzan
Sport
5.8 5b 16 VI- 15 HVS 4c
Mild Iowa
Sport
5.8 5b 16 VI- 15 HVS 4c
Jugular
Sport
5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a
Schoolio
Sport
5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a PG13
Over The Counter
Sport
5.10a 6a 18 VI+ 18 E1 5a
Virgin Lemonade
Sport
5.10a 6a 18 VI+ 18 E1 5a
Hope for a Boner
Sport
5.10a 6a 18 VI+ 18 E1 5a
Three Strikes No Balls
Sport
5.10b 6a+ 19 VII- 19 E2 5b
Silk Road (aka Somn Somn)
Sport
5.11a 6c 22 VII+ 22 E3 5c
Liberal Tendencies
Sport
5.11b 6c 23 VIII- 23 E3 5c
Bird in Hand
Sport
5.11b 6c 23 VIII- 23 E3 5c
Flash
Sport
5.11c 6c+ 24 VIII- 24 E4 6a
C N Red
Sport
5.12a 7a+ 25 VIII+ 25 E5 6a
Gravity Amp
Sport
5.12d 7c 28 IX 28 E6 6b
Back in the Groove
Sport
Route Name Location Star Rating Difficulty Date
Tarzan Pictured Rocks > Shiprock 5.7 5a 15 V+ 13 MVS 4b Sport
Mild Iowa Pictured Rocks > Mild Iowa Wall 5.8 5b 16 VI- 15 HVS 4c Sport
Jugular Pictured Rocks > Mild Iowa Wall 5.8 5b 16 VI- 15 HVS 4c Sport
Schoolio Pictured Rocks > Ice Cave Wall 5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a Sport
Over The Counter Pictured Rocks > Shiprock 5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a PG13 Sport
Virgin Lemonade Pictured Rocks > Wild Iowa Wall 5.10a 6a 18 VI+ 18 E1 5a Sport
Hope for a Boner Pictured Rocks > A Wall 5.10a 6a 18 VI+ 18 E1 5a Sport
Three Strikes No Balls Pictured Rocks > Comic Gallery 5.10a 6a 18 VI+ 18 E1 5a Sport
Silk Road (aka Somn Somn) Pictured Rocks > Shiprock 5.10b 6a+ 19 VII- 19 E2 5b Sport
Liberal Tendencies Ozark Wildlife Area > Hoot Bluff 5.11a 6c 22 VII+ 22 E3 5c Sport
Bird in Hand Pictured Rocks > Wild Iowa Wall 5.11b 6c 23 VIII- 23 E3 5c Sport
Flash Pictured Rocks > Comic Gallery 5.11b 6c 23 VIII- 23 E3 5c Sport
C N Red Indian Bluffs > Mother Wall 5.11c 6c+ 24 VIII- 24 E4 6a Sport
Gravity Amp Ozark Wildlife Area > Hoot Bluff 5.12a 7a+ 25 VIII+ 25 E5 6a Sport
Back in the Groove Ozark Wildlife Area > Hoot Bluff 5.12d 7c 28 IX 28 E6 6b Sport
More Classic Climbs in Iowa »

Weather Averages

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J. Stark
Iowa
J. Stark   Iowa
Wapsipinicon is a State Park. The Iowa DNR's rules say no climbing is allowed at state parks or state recreation areas (unless it is already a sanctioned activity like at Palisades-Kepler or Backbone). I know the Iowa Climber's Coalition has been working with the DNR in Des Moines to get this taken care of, but working with government is frustratingly slow. Jun 14, 2017
Joel Geerling
Iowa City, Iowa
Joel Geerling   Iowa City, Iowa
Is climbing allowed in Wapsipinicon state park (near Anamosa)? Are there any good sport routes there? The rock near the road looks solid and featured, and given the steep terrain I saw driving through the park I suspect there are at least a few climbable walls hidden in the woods or along the river. I found a blog online with a photo and trip report describing a tall sport route, but can't find anything more online and don't want to go poking around without permission/beta. Thanks for any info! Jun 12, 2017
From: Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
4 days ago
My son and I are going to be passing through the midwest this July on our quest to climb in all 50 states... Can anyone recommend the best place to go in Iowa for a day of climbing? Preferably leading (sport or trad)

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I've now seen a few of your requests. I think that it is an awsome goal.
I also think your climbing time versus the drive time will be disappointing.

Maybe plan to get a cabin in a prime climbing location instead of the 50 state challenge.?
From Kernvalleyclimbs in California or outside Custer, close to the South Dakota Needles ?
And then the same options for a stay in the South, ?
T Wall , th e Red River gorge , the New River Gorge?
The summers here in the north east can be full value .
Or. New Hampshire ? The ADK?
The ability to climb well on the road is another learned through practice climbing skill. Jan 17, 2017
Michael Schneiter
Glenwood Springs, CO
Michael Schneiter   Glenwood Springs, CO
Pictured Rocks outside Monticello would have some of the best routes with easiest access and ability to figure out where the climbs are. Jan 14, 2017
mike varlotta
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
mike varlotta   Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
My son and I are going to be passing through the midwest this July on our quest to climb in all 50 states... Can anyone recommend the best place to go in Iowa for a day of climbing? Preferably leading (sport or trad), but bouldering or top-roping would be ok, too. Jan 13, 2017
Mees
Iowa
Mees   Iowa
New digital guide for Iowa Sport Climbing just released
Updates will be frequent and encourage feedback

rakkup.com/guidebooks/iowa-… Aug 31, 2016
trisgo
Omaha, NE (at the moment)
trisgo   Omaha, NE (at the moment)
Does anyone have any info on Lake Red Rock near Des Moines?? Sep 23, 2012
Dan Roberts
Eastern Iowa
Dan Roberts   Eastern Iowa
Yeah some climbing. Most is pretty dirty. Some bouldering near ice cave, the falls, and pulpit rock. Better off driving to Backbone or Lacrosse if you are in the area. Even Mason City claims to have some decent bouldering. Decorah is a mountain bikers haven, but not so much for climbing. Jan 1, 2011
Sam Daley
Minneapolis, Minnesota
Sam Daley   Minneapolis, Minnesota
Anyone know if there is climbing in Decorah? Aug 30, 2010
Dan Roberts
Eastern Iowa
Dan Roberts   Eastern Iowa
Looking for old guide books. Preferably midwest, but would be interested in pretty much anything. Thanks and see you at the rocks. Jul 27, 2010

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