The Big Water Boulders are a Dr. Seuss, lunar landscape comprised of sandstone blocks that have rolled down from the Straight Cliff formation and come to rest on the battleship gray Tropic Shale below. The Straight Cliffs form the edge of the Kaiparowits Plateau within the Grand Staircase National Monument and were formed during the late Cretaceous period in a marginal marine basin comprised of slow rambling rivers, bogs, swamps and the shoreline of a warm ocean. Flora and Fauna were abundant during the period, the evidence can be seen in the vast amount of fossils scattered in the shale. Keep your eyes out for sharks teeth and dinosaur bones.
Ninety percent of the rock here is complete choss but at least the solid stuff is dusty. One must have a good rock reading nose in order to sniff out the goods. Varnish is the key! Look for orange, brown and black streaks; avoid yellow and white poofy looking rock. Overhangs are rare, with most of the boulders yielding crimpy faces, compression features and pockets that require balance and technical footwork aka slab climbing skills.

Things that set the Big Waters apart from most other areas:
1. There are literally 1000’s of V0 and V1 problems to do. Lowball problems with cushy landings are everywhere for the young and non-committal. My wife and young children don’t have to walk far to find a high quality line to crank on.
2. The landings are the best! Tropic Shale is a pain to dust off of your shoes before each burn but is awesome to crater into when a hold pops.
3. Quiet. In over 15 years of climbing I have only run into a handful of people out there.
4. The photographic brilliance is second to none. It is an absolutely beautiful place.

WEATHER The Big Waters are great in the early spring, late fall and winter. The summer however sucks. It is hotter than two jack rabbits pitchin' woo but worse is the Dog Pecker Gnats; tiny little chingosos that were sent from hell to bite the living piss out of you and then climb into your ear hole and dodge the hastily crafted stick retrieval devise you have created to smash them. Dog Pecker Gnats are like mosquitoes on steroids who haunt the boulder field from early June to Late September. They should be avoided at all cost by going to the lake and deep water soloing on water rotted sandstone.

There is no doubt that people have stopped and dinked around on these boulders before we arrived but I have never found any evidence of their passing. The development of the Big Water Boulders began when Matt Penrod showed me the area in ’97 or ’98 and I instantly fell in love with the place. I spent a considerable amount of time exploring and made it my mission to walk around every single boulder. Matt was my regular partner and a group of Pagites such as Collin Keisling, Jacob Keisling, Aaron Price and Ricky Wilson would join us from time to time to contribute an FA or two. I named our posse “The Seldom Seen Climbers of Northern AZ” but much to my chagrin, no one in the group ever referred to themselves as such. I will never be able to recall all of the problems we all did back then and therefore have entered SSC as the FA in cases where I am not fairly sure of who did it first. On any given day 15 first accents were put up, ninety percent of those will never be documented by me.

Getting There

All of the boulders here lay at the base of the obvious Haycock and Mustard Points of the Straight Cliff Formation, easily visible from Highway 89 in Big Water. Off of Hwy 89 in Big Water UT. turn onto Ethan Allen St, drive for 1/3 mile then turn right at the sign in between two large yellow warehouse buildings that says Glen Canyon National Recreation Area - Highway 12 ---- ( Hwy 12 is also known as County Road NP 230). A mile after the turn you will come to Wahweap Creek crossing, under normal conditions the crossing is fine for any type of vehicle, beware during times of rain.

The Moon turn off will be a left about 1/4 mile past the creek crossing.  There is a wash about 100 yards of the road that requires a 4x4 to get through, the walk is 1.5 miles.  

For areas accessible by Hwy 12, drive 2 miles past the creek and you will see the boulders on your left at the base of a very prominent point/mesa. The first boulder field you come to is Jupiter about a 1/2 mile off of the main road, a mile past that is the Roadsides and they are right next to the road. FYI there is a No Off Road Travel Area that runs through the middle of the Jupiter Boulders and continues through the Roadsides and past the Thirsty Dogs.

The Thirsty Dogs are a group of boulders at the base of a striking buttress further down the road just past the Wiregrass Trailhead a 1/2 mile hike from the road.

Coordinates to the start of the boulder fields on NP230 (37.069727, -111.619720)

199 Total Climbs

Route Finder - Best Climbs for YOU!

Location: Big Water Boulders Change
Type:  to 
Sort by:   then:

Classic Climbing Routes at Big Water Boulders

Mountain Project's determination of the classic, most popular, highest rated climbing routes in this area.
More Classic Climbs in Big Water Boulders »

Weather Averages

Days w Precip
Prime Climbing Season
Folks have sporadically climbed out here for some time. Careful throwing FA on everything. Really fun, unique area to explore. Oct 18, 2016
Eli .
Eli .   GMC3500
I've avoided throwing an FA on anything I suspect has been sent before. I've been working very hard to document the climbing here and will change things as requested by others. It is a very unique place, and there is still much to uncover. Oct 18, 2016
Hey Eli, there were at least three (Glenn Canyon, Lake Powell, and Grand Staircase) Areas that might have been a consideration. Some of these areas had existing climbs only a mile away. Less confusion leads to less reconnaissance and more climbing. Just a respectful thought. Keep up your relentless documentation and please add more pictures. Roy Oct 24, 2016
Eli .
Eli .   GMC3500
Hey Roy, I was thinking that the way to go might be to make a big water area under lake Powell or the escalate and move some of the towers you've put up in the area to there as well. I didn't think lake Powell did it justice (where it originally was) nor did the other options. Realistically I think that Utah should be more organized like Arizona is than anything else. It is a really big state. Oct 29, 2016
Eli .
Eli .   GMC3500
A fun problem in this area. Feb 12, 2017
Eli .
Eli .   GMC3500 Feb 12, 2017
Eli .
Eli .   GMC3500 Mar 1, 2017
Kyran Keisling
Page AZ
Kyran Keisling   Page AZ
Hello All,
I am Kyran Keisling a native of nearby Page AZ. My best friend and climbing partner Matt Penrod showed me the Big Water Boulders somewhere around 1997-98. We spent the better part of 16 years developing the area with a smelly band of derelict Page climbers. We called ourselves the Seldom Seen Climbers of Northern AZ. Together we hauled our pads and Natty 30 packs of to the base of just about every boulder in this area. There isn't many problems under V8 that weren't done back in the day.

I am currently working with Eli to correct what has been posted thus far on this site and I would also like to add to it. There are literally 1000's of problems, set in a quite other worldly location. The Big Waters are not ever going to be compared to the destination areas such as the Buttermilks, but they are very special and unique in their own right and hope to capture that in the photos, maps and stories I post here.
Apr 4, 2017