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.
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.
Main Flow area in autumn