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Bouldering Suggestions - road trip from Chicago August

Original Post
Joe Taylor · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Jul 2017 · Points: 0

Hi all,

I am from the UK and looking for suggestions for decent bouldering areas around Chicago. I'll be renting a car and have about two weeks to play with (last two weeks of August). I've looked at Devil's Lake and a few other areas so far - willing to drive a bit further afield though. Any suggestions would be much appreciated! Guessing it will be pretty hot around then so not ideal conditions? 

Thanks for any info, 


Jacob Bretz · · Chicago, Illinois · Joined Mar 2017 · Points: 0

Hey Joe,

Bouldering areas around Chicago are few and far between. Your best bet in Illinois would be Holy Boulders/Jackson Falls area in Shawnee National Forest in the southern part of the state. Holy Boulders offers some world class bouldering, all sandstone. The guide Sandstone Warrior is the most comprehensive guide to Southern Illinois bouldering.

The only issue is that in late August, Holy Boulders will be hot, hot, hot. Watch out for ticks! It might be a better idea to hit Central and Northern Wisconsin instead.

Here's a link to the guide:

Best of luck!


Patrick T · · Oxford, OH · Joined Jun 2016 · Points: 10

Head up to Devils lake, maybe 3 hours from Chicago, great bouldering, and you can camp or stay in Madison. Great hiking, a nice beach, and if you bring a harness people will usually let you take a spin on a route.

JCM · · Seattle, WA · Joined Jun 2008 · Points: 95
Joe Taylor wrote:

willing to drive a bit further afield though. 

It is a 15 hour drive from Chicago to Estes Park, CO. Worth every minute

Andy Summers · · Madison, WI · Joined Apr 2016 · Points: 25

Governor Dodge is another option that is about the same distance from Chicago as Devil's Lake:

If you get your hands on the Midwest Bouldering Guidebook ( it will have both Devil's Lake and Governor Dodge. Both places are worth checking out and you could easily spend a few days at both. But yeah, it's going to be hot (so the normally slick quartzite at the Lake will feel especially slick) and watch out for ticks.

Joe Taylor · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Jul 2017 · Points: 0

Thanks for all the info! Is there somewhere near DL where you can rent bouldering pads?

Andy Summers · · Madison, WI · Joined Apr 2016 · Points: 25

You can apparently rent crash pads from Focus Boardshop in Madison. Here's some more info from the Wisconsin Climber's Association:

Guideline #1: Don't be a jerk.

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