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Utah stop-offs/best bouldering/sport destinations

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Ranae · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Oct 2014 · Points: 15

I'm on the road, and time isn't any issue (except that I'm racing the season, I suppose). I want to make the most of my drive through Utah, and get a taste of what all it has to offer at a State, aside from Mormonism (maybe I'll move there when I decide to brick and mortar it again).

Right now I'm psyched on bouldering (up to v6) and sport (up to 12-), so am looking for destinations with that focus. Don't worry trad-lovers--I will go to Indian creek at some point I promise.

I've been to St. George already, so we can skip over that destination.

If you've climbed extensively in Utah, where are your favorite places/must-gos? Since I'm solo, one major consideration I have is how easy it will be to link up with climbing partners/pad-buddies at any given place (unless the bouldering is low-ball/chill with one pad).

I live in my car, so extra points for places I can stealth-camp for free.

Thanks for the help!


john strand · · southern colo · Joined May 2008 · Points: 1,640


BJB · · Texas · Joined Oct 2010 · Points: 195

I lived in Utah during undergrad and climbed most of the major areas in the Wasatch Range.

Joes Valley is great. At the time, I believed it was one of the great bouldering areas in the world. I've since been to Hueco and JTree, and I'm not sure I feel that way anymore, but it's pretty great, though I've heard good things about Ibex and never made it out there. There are a lot of people milling around at Joe's, but fewer this time of year. Parts of Joes can get really hot.

Little Cottonwood is also a bouldering area that people go to, but it's all granite boulders if that's a turn off. There are not a lot of people bouldering in this canyon, but temperatures are more manageable, even in the summer.

Maple Canyon is otherworldly. I've never seen anything quite like it. It's like an alien planet--huge walls of conglomerate cobblestone that stretch up to 400 feet. The Pipe Dream Cave is truly awe inspiring. There will frequently be people back in that cave, and it's pretty cool because it doesn't really take a lot of sun, it being a cave and all. Other walls at Maple are harder to find random people at.

American Fork is a popular sport climbing area. It's limestone. Lots of over hanging pocket pulling. I've never had a lot of love for the area, but in its day it was a mecca of hard sport climbing. Temperatures can be a little rough, but you can just switch which side of the canyon you are on to dodge the sun. You could probably find some people to party up with if you went to The Membrane Wall or Division Wall or Hard Rock area. Sometimes there were people up in the Hell Cave area.

Rock Canyon is interesting. Its single pitch climbs are unremarkable, but it is kind of a poor man's portrero chico. There are a ton of bolted multipitch routes, and even if many of them are kind of unremarkable, climbs up trilogy buttress are very cool, and Squawstruck, the second (third?) longest bolted sport climb in America is there. Mountain project has a lot of details on this canyon, and you can frequently find some people around in the Canyon, though most of them are real gumbies. The local gym in Provo, The Quarry, is a place where you could find a partner.

Finally, there is some sport climbing in big cottonwood canyon. The storm picnic area in particular is a place where you could find a partner just wandering around. It's more of a trad area on the balance, but the tempartures will probably be better there. There is also often a crowd around the route "Hollow Man" and you could maybe party up with some people there.

Ryan Hamilton · · Orem · Joined Aug 2011 · Points: 20

I have read that Indian Creek has good bouldering, though I don't really boulder so I can't tell you from personal experience. Temperatures are starting to drop, so it's not crazy hot there anymore. Joes Valley, as mentioned before, is a really great place for bouldering. Chill spots along the river.

R. Moran · · Moab , UT · Joined Mar 2009 · Points: 140

Indian creek isn't real trad anyways.

David Wieder · · Salt Lake, UT · Joined May 2014 · Points: 63

I would second Maple - although some people love it and other's hate it. I think it's the best destination sport climbing area in Utah. And there is free camping - if you have a 4x4/high clearance vehicle you can drive to the top of the canyon for great camping. If you are clearance limited, there is free camping before and in the mouth of the canyon - but it smells nasty, and has flies, from all the poultry housing nearby - maybe it's not as bad in the Fall.

I wouldn't feel very confident about just meeting up with people randomly at Maple on weekdays, there may be no one around at all or just a couple parties. On the weekend it is crowded.
I don't think you will be able to have random partner hook-ups at any of the canyons on the wasatch front, because these are urban settings and people are going out after work, before work, etc. There is lot's of good sport climbing in all of the front range canyons, but none of it is concentrated in one area, there are hundreds of crags. There is also no legal free camping anywhere on the west side of the front range, so lot's of driving or being sneaky. It does seem like vans in the parking lot of The Front gym is a thing. Bouldering at Little Cottonwood Canyon is probably your best option for meeting people - and it is super classic granite bouldering. I think the creek is a more realistic destination if you're trying to meet partners along the way, that is part of the culture there because of the need to borrow cams. There is, of course, also Moab - with stout sport climbing at Millcreek - but you'd have to find partners in town.

Ranae · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Oct 2014 · Points: 15

Thanks, guys! Very helpful.
Has anyone bouldered at Ogden? worth a stop-off?

JK- Branin · · Southern New Hampshire · Joined Nov 2012 · Points: 58
B-Mkll Mackall · · Bozeman, MT · Joined Nov 2012 · Points: 1,641

Joe's Valley is absolutely a must-do at the V6 and below range (you'll crush). Maple Canyon, Ibex, and the area around St. George in the SW corner all have great sport.

Nothing anyone else hasn't said yet :)

climberboy · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Mar 2015 · Points: 10

Hey now, I live in Ogden and I like it here haha. If you're in the area you could check out the bouldering, but the sport and trad is better in my opinion.

Morgan Patterson · · CT · Joined Oct 2009 · Points: 8,767


Dylan Pike · · SLC, UT · Joined Sep 2013 · Points: 35

Beyond Maple, I wouldn't come to Utah for sport climbing.

Boissal · · Small Lake, UT · Joined Aug 2006 · Points: 1,345
Dylan Pike wrote:Beyond Maple, I wouldn't come to Utah for sport climbing.
That's rich...
Dylan Pike · · SLC, UT · Joined Sep 2013 · Points: 35
Boissal wrote: HA HA HA HA HA HA! That's rich...
I meant it.
Jon Hemlock · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Oct 2015 · Points: 5
Dylan Pike wrote:Beyond Maple, I wouldn't come to Utah for sport climbing.
Please don't. It's terrible here.
Guideline #1: Don't be a jerk.

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