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Roanoke River Gorge

Virginia > Southwest Virginia (A…
Warning Access Issue: Dangers beware! DetailsDrop down

Description

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.

Photos [Hide ALL Photos]

Prince Phil (5.9-, sport)
[Hide Photo] Prince Phil (5.9-, sport)
Roof on Project Ouch
[Hide Photo] Roof on Project Ouch
Project Ouch in Redneck Hole
[Hide Photo] Project Ouch in Redneck Hole
Descent gully from upper trail
[Hide Photo] Descent gully from upper trail
Roof crux on Jederman (Trad, 5.8+)
[Hide Photo] Roof crux on Jederman (Trad, 5.8+)
GWAR crux
[Hide Photo] GWAR crux
Paul on Rubber Factory (5.9+, mixed)
[Hide Photo] Paul on Rubber Factory (5.9+, mixed)
To reach the lower trail:<br>
<br>
Climb over the edge of the "Pedestrian Overlook" and around the front to reach  the river bank.  There is a small gulley with a piece of cordellete installed to help manage the scramble.
[Hide Photo] To reach the lower trail: Climb over the edge of the "Pedestrian Overlook" and around the front to reach the river bank. There is a small gulley with a piece of cordellete installed to help ma…
Paul on Goudaman (5.10C, mixed)
[Hide Photo] Paul on Goudaman (5.10C, mixed)
Rapids below cliff
[Hide Photo] Rapids below cliff
Richard on Dave's 5.12 Trad Proj.
[Hide Photo] Richard on Dave's 5.12 Trad Proj.
Alex on 5.12 Trad Proj.
[Hide Photo] Alex on 5.12 Trad Proj.

Comments [Hide ALL Comments]

Jonathan Gerst
Tryon, NC
[Hide Comment] 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
Travis Melin
Portland, OR
[Hide Comment] Looks good JG! Nov 9, 2009
Chris Helak
Wilmington, NC
[Hide Comment] I'd be interested in helping out if I can. Nov 20, 2009
[Hide Comment] 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
[Hide Comment] is this still an accessable place to go for the afternoon? Jan 13, 2012
Travis Melin
Portland, OR
[Hide Comment] 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
Los Angeles, CA
[Hide Comment] 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
[Hide Comment] 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:
mountainproject.com/images/…>
Go left to reach the Lower Trail, go right to reach the Upper Trail.


mountainproject.com/images/…>
Go over the side of the overlook and around the front to reach the Lower Trail.


mountainproject.com/images/…>
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
Gimli --
Charlottesville, VA
[Hide Comment] Is this still an accessible/legal sport site? No comments since 2012. Aug 17, 2019
James Schubert
Lynchburg, VA
[Hide Comment] Haven't yet climbed this one but I went and scouted it out 10/29/22. I found the approach to be a bit difficult from below (pretty overgrown mostly). The crag itself doesn't look like it's been getting a lot of traffic but it looks pretty great / like it has a lot of potential. The directions commented above for the top trail are good, but the trail itself is basically nonexistent when you veer off the loop trail. It seems like options for setting TR anchors from the top are somewhat limited, but your experience may vary. Oct 31, 2022
James B
Roanoke, VA
[Hide Comment] I'd be happy to help clean and develop this area.

Any knowledge on who the land owner is? The approach trail is on Blue Ridge Parkway/NPS land, but the crag seems to be outside of their ownership. Mar 20, 2023
[Hide Comment] @James B: I saw this crag canoeing earlier this week. Looked interesting. I did a bit of research using the Roanoke County GIS maps ( oneview.roanokecountyva.gov). From what I can tell the the most of the crag is on the Blue Ridge Parkway owned land. The parcel of land directly downstream is owned by the Roanoke Valley Resource Authority ( rvra.net/92/About-RVRA) which seems to be some sort of waste management agency. It looks like a fun place to develop. Let me know if you'd like to go check it out. Oct 23, 2023
[Hide Comment] Checked it out early this week. (earlyDecember 2023) and absolutely down to help with any work out there. Looks like a ton of potential just needs a lot of cleaning. Dec 11, 2023