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Sandstone

Minnesota

Description

The town of Sandstone has a surprising amount of climbing spread between 3 areas: Robinson Park, Eldon, and Banning State Park.

Robinson Park has sport climbing, farmed ice climbing, dry tooling, and a handful of boulders. The movement from frowned-upon top-roping in the 80s to legitimate, town-sponsored climbing took many years, and was the work of many, but most notably Jeff Engel. This area now has some awesome sport climbing (the best stuff is 5.12, though there is good moderate climbing as well), and people every winter flock to the area for the best and probably the most accessible ice climbing in MN.

Across the river from Robinson lies Eldon. This land holds the best bouldering between Colorado and New England, though, admittedly, the boulders there are few. The sale of this land by Sandy and Eldon Johnson, and purchase by the MCA was manna from the heavens for Minnesota climbing. The Johnsons have been comfortable with a handful of people occasionally going to this area to boulder. The few climbers who knew about it (1995?-2014) were reticent to share it, for fear that it would be overburdened and abused by too many climbers, and access closed. That said, the Johnsons were always welcoming, and the sale of their land to climbers is a lasting legacy of their generosity to the climbing community.

North of Eldon lies Banning State Park. This area has been shrouded in even more mystery than the Johnson property. See the specific page, when it is up, for more detail. Again, Jeff Engel, and others, worked very hard to get this area open. As of July 20, 2014, there are still restrictions on where, and what type, of climbing can be done here. Make sure to get a permit when you arrive, and stick to the areas they allow climbing in.

All of these areas are recently opened, and many motivated people have worked for years to gently nudge them in this direction, with diplomacy, generosity, and hard work. The first goal with these areas, as with any area you visit as a climber, should be to act in a way that is conducive with maintaining access.

Please be good to this land, to the state parks and their staff that have granted us access, and to the kind people of Sandstone for welcoming us into their community.

Getting There

Sandstone, MN is a small town just off of I 35, north of the Twin Cities about 1 hour 20 min, and south of Duluth about 1 hour. Please refer to the individual pages for directions to the individual areas.

Photos [Hide ALL Photos]

River views
[Hide Photo] River views
Refreshing
[Hide Photo] Refreshing
Main Flow area in autumn
[Hide Photo] Main Flow area in autumn
Compromises 5.10b
[Hide Photo] Compromises 5.10b

Comments [Hide ALL Comments]

[Hide Comment] Hey!

Does anyone know what the routes are next to Harvest Moon on the relationship wall? It seems like there are four routes in the area that are not listed on MP...

Saludos,

Roberto Apr 26, 2015
Colonel Sandbag
Boston, MA
[Hide Comment] I have the same question as Roberto. Specifically, what is immediately to the right of Harvest Moon? Aug 1, 2015
[Hide Comment] dear people that were at relationship wall on 5-14-17 at around 8:00, i think one of you left your shoes there. I have them, message me and we can meet up some where. May 14, 2017
Nathan Kamm
Duluth, MN
[Hide Comment] Hey, does anyone know the current conditions in sandstone? I'm hoping to hit it this weekend and was wondering if anyone has been there since the snow. Apr 17, 2018
Robin Westman
Minneapolis, MN
[Hide Comment] is there any camping in or around this area? Jun 20, 2018
[Hide Comment] Hey Bob - I don't know of any camping there, but when I was climbing in this area quite a bit, I was coming up from the cities, and not camping. I bet you could find something close if you look around. -SF Jul 3, 2018
Petah Lenz
minneapolis/st.paul
[Hide Comment] @Robin Westman et al.

Yes to camping!

As you enter The Park at the main paved parking lot, instead of turning left to head towards the climbs, take a right. Follow a lower-maintained road and find the three city-designated campsites to the right. Choose your favorite.

Please stop by the Victory Gas station, immediately adjacent to the Sandstone exit of of I35, and pay for your stay.

There is no free-range camping allowed by the city in their park outside of these three designated sites. Unless a special event permit is secured from city hall for such event as The Sandstone Climbers Festival or The Sandstone Ice Festival.

Also, be aware that if you are hanging in camp, you will likely see a few cars go by, as locals like to do, whatever, a bit further down this road. No worries. We've also had the Pine County sheriff, stop, not say a word to us, and then spend the next ten minutes peering into our parked vehicles.

When in Sandstone, please visit local businesses. Buy stuff in town and be cool to people. Feb 21, 2019
A.j. Lord
Minneapolis, MN
[Hide Comment] Heads up if you are planning on camping here, don't leave anything in your campsite until you have someone there for the night. Last weekend after setting up my tent in one of the three legal spots with a permit from the gas station and then climbing, I came back to find it had been stolen and a local group was set up on the spot. I reported it to the sheriff and they came out and questioned people in the area, but didn't find the tent or any leads. Jun 16, 2019