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Areas in Kelly Canyon

East Kelly Canyon 0 / 0 / 1 / 64 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 64
West Kelly Canyon 0 / 0 / 0 / 20 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 20


A peaceful forested canyon with plentiful bouldering on cliffs and boulders of Coconino sandstone. Dramatic curved slashes stripe the walls, the lithified remnants of sand dunes deposited 260 million years ago. These slashes birth many slopers and incut rails, lending to a unique and distinctly technical sort of climbing. Many problems here are moderately to seriously highball with committing, sloping topouts so multiple pads and spotters are pretty much essential.

The rock at Kelly is notoriously variable in quality: tacky and bullet-hard in some places, sandy and crumbly elsewhere. Rain and snowmelt seep can render the stone filthy and breakable. Tread carefully, especially early in the season and after storms, and don't forget to bring a soft-bristled brush. (A broom isn't a bad idea, either.) Take the time to brush topouts before climbing. Accessing the clifftops is trivial, and pre-cleaning will improve your experience significantly.

Fall is the prime season here: it's cool, dry, and colorful. Summers can be toasty, though it's easy to find shade. However, winter is a bust - the roads usually close by late November and the canyon loads up with snowdrifts and deep, icy pools. Unless it is an especially warm and snowless winter, don't plan on visiting between the first snow and perhaps the middle of April.

Like any wild place, Kelly Canyon is special and irreplaceable, and I urge you to be attentive, tread lightly, and appreciate the peace and sanctity of this area.

Fragile Sandstone: Don't Climb Wet Rock Details

Getting There

Most of the developed rock is in east Kelly Canyon, which is accessed via Kelly Canyon Rd. off I-17 a few miles south of Flagstaff. Several problems exist near the confluence of west Kelly Canyon and Pumphouse Wash, accessed from FR 237 off 89A heading south to Sedona. Check subpages and/or PM for specifics.

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Classic Climbing Routes at Kelly Canyon

Mountain Project's determination of the classic, most popular, highest rated climbing routes in this area.
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Andrew Ryder
Andrew Ryder   Arizony
A couple reminders for the upcoming holiday weekend and summer climbing season.

- Kelly Canyon is sandstone and the rock is very fragile when wet. Monsoons are coming, meaning frequent soaking rains are likely. Please, do not climb here if it has rained in the past 24 hours. There are dozens of other places to climb within an hour's drive. Don't be selfish. Broken holds don't grow back. (You are welcome to PM me or call a local gym about conditions if you're unsure.)

- Please respect the Forest Service closure and do not attempt to drive around the rock barrier at East Kelly. The added walk is under five minutes.

- Leave the yelling and loud music at the gym. If you use tick marks, be tasteful and scrub em when you're done. Help keep it nice out here. Jun 25, 2017
JohnniMo McMullin
Las Vegas, Nevada
JohnniMo McMullin   Las Vegas, Nevada
The last right fork before the parking area is now blocked by three big rocks. Park above the shooting pit and hike to the old parking area with the fire pit on the right. May 12, 2014
Found some climbing gear left by the group with the person who hurt his ankle. If this is your stuff please call (916) 956-0674.
No spammers pls, I will request details of the stuff left from all callers. Oct 7, 2013
Joe Kreidel
San Antonio, TX
Joe Kreidel   San Antonio, TX
I'm not sure what the rules and regulations for camping or accessing the canyon, but I thought I would throw out this heads up to other out-of-towners. I camped at Kelly Canyon last Thursday night (5/10) with no problems. Bouldered at Kelly Friday morning, then went to the Draw for the afternoon. Exhausted from a good day of bouldering, I grabbed a slice of pizza in town and drove back to Kelly. The forest road was closed, gates locked. I had to hike in, take down camp and hike back out to the highway.

Might be a good idea to check with Coconino NF or some locals before camping at the canyon... May 13, 2012
fun choss. Jul 24, 2011
J. Snyder
Flagstaff, Arizona
J. Snyder   Flagstaff, Arizona…

Enjoy the stone! May 25, 2011
Andrew Ryder
Andrew Ryder   Arizony
One of the good lip holds on Dope Lounge was broken off recently during a week of rain. Please DO NOT climb here shortly after heavy rain or snow. The rock is soft and easy to break when it is soaked. Jun 9, 2009

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