Elevation: 1,110 ft
GPS: 37.251, -79.864 Google Map · Climbing Area Map
Page Views: 12,751 total · 113/month
Shared By: Jonathan Gerst on Nov 9, 2009
Admins: Aaron Parlier, Shawn Heath, Jake Jones
Access Issue: Dangers beware! Details


Roanoke River Gorge (RoRG)

Sport, Mixed, Trad and TR on 50 to 90 ft tall, very old (i.e. Grenville Orogeny), low grade metamorphic granulite. Rock quality: very weathered, sharp, and difficult to read. Loose exterior reveals quality technical face, dihedral, roofs, slabs, and handcracks. Routes range in difficulty from 5.7 to 5.12. As of Fall 2009, 10 established routes are present. However, this area has the potential for much more route development, as the cliff continues downstream for about a mile. Considered a choss heap by some, the RoRG is a veritable mecca for rock starved climbers in the area. Trash and dirty routes are a problem...so please lend a hand with the cleanup effort.

Getting There

Take Blue Ridge Parkway to Milepost 115, and park just across the street from the Explorer Park entrance at the parking lot that is located on south side of bridge over the Roanoke River. Take the trail from the backside of the parking lot, which will lead you back under the bridge (i.e. downstream). The lower trail is accessed by walking off the backside of the Roanoke River overlook/observation point. The upper trail is accessed by veering right on all trail forks, until the trail obviously parallels the top of the cliff, at which point veer left, until you reach the descent gully just under the cliff face.

10 Total Climbs

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Jonathan Gerst
Tryon, NC
Jonathan Gerst   Tryon, NC
The RoRG is in an awful environmental state and I am interested in facilitating a crag cleanup day. Please lend a hand (COMMENT HERE) with helping to ameliorate this incredible natural resource so that we (Climbers, fisherman, kayakers, hikers,environmental stewards, etc.) may cleanup and preserve the RoRG for future generations. Nov 9, 2009
Portland, OR, Roanoke, VA L
TravisMelin   Portland, OR, Roanoke, VA L
Looks good JG! Nov 9, 2009
Chris Helak
Roanoke, VA
Chris Helak   Roanoke, VA
I'd be interested in helping out if I can. Nov 20, 2009
What's the status on the cleanup/new routeing efforts? How bad is the rock here on a scale of one to ten? Is it kind of an Iron Gate's too far to drive today kinda place? Jun 29, 2011
is this still an accessable place to go for the afternoon? Jan 13, 2012
Portland, OR, Roanoke, VA L
TravisMelin   Portland, OR, Roanoke, VA L
Killis: no new routes in the last year i am aware of. The guy who was bolting moved out of town a long while back. the rock isnt too bad. Obviously itll shed a bit since the routes have only been climbed once or twice, so at the moment its hard to say. Existing stuff is solid.

John: we went out there today at 4pm and got a full session in before dark. But with summer come the bugs, ivy and humidity.... Apr 20, 2012
Jason Milford
Jason Milford   LA, CA
Hey I just moved to the area and this is about 30 mins from where I live. Would anyone mind showing me around out there? Aug 26, 2012
Eric Ball
Clearwater, FL
Eric Ball   Clearwater, FL
I'd just like to clarify the directions to the access trails:

To reach the upper access trail:
- Go down the trail from the parking lot and hang a right until you pass under the bridge.
- Take a RIGHT at the fork, following signs for the "Loop Trail"
- Follow the loop trail over a small bridge and stay left until you pass another bridge.
- A few yards from the second bridge there will be a small staircase and trail will start to loop back around: do not follow it.
- Instead, walk around the large tree and keep going straight along the ridge.
- The trail is pretty unmaintained and can get a little sketchy after this point, but you're still on the right track.
- After a few minutes you should see the first set of cliffs directly on your left, above a set of rapids in the river.

To reach the lower access trail:
- Go down the trail from the parking lot and hang a right until you pass under the bridge.
- Take a LEFT at the fork, following signs for the "Pedestrian Overlook."
- Walk down to the end of this trail; you'll see a big stone towerish-looking platform.
- Climb over the left hand side (if you're facing the river) of the platform and around the front.
- Climb down the small gulley (someone has tied a piece of cordellete around a tree to help with the descent) and you'll reach the river bank.
- Head downstream either along the rocks or just inside the trees along the bank and you'll see the first set of cliffs directly to your right, above the first set of major rapids.

Here are a couple pictures I took today:

Go left to reach the Lower Trail, go right to reach the Upper Trail.

Go over the side of the overlook and around the front to reach the Lower Trail.

Don't follow the Loop Trail up the stairs; instead stay straight and walk to the right of the large tree to find the Upper Access Trail. Dec 1, 2012