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Camping and climbing this weekend at City of Rocks with wife and 2 kids, one four and one one-ish...

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Sean Sullivan · · Boise, ID · Joined Apr 2010 · Points: 90

Hey all,

Planning to head to City of Rocks this weekend with the family.  We're leaving Thursday night and staying until Sunday.  If anyone is interested, message me and we can plan.  Understand that it would be a family trip, so if you are looking to do lots of climbing you'd probably be disappointed; if, however, you also have kids and still want to climb a bit, this might be a good chance to forge that magical partnership of climbing and baby-wrangling...

For everyone else, I have some questions:

1) Where do I camp?  I checked the City of Rocks MP page and found a map listing sites, some free, others not.

a) Is this map still accurate?  Are any listed no longer legal?

b)  Of the free areas: Do you have a preference?  Do any have climbing on them...or really close?  Are any more shady than the rest?

c) Of the pay sites: Could I get one even if I wanted?  Do I want to?  Any preferences here?  

2) Where does my wife work on Friday?  My wife has to put in a half day of work somewhere with an internet connection.  What's the best place for that?  We have a hot spot...where could that work?

3)  Where do we climb?  Ideally, we would be looking for single pitch slabby routes in shady areas with room for a four-year old to explore without falling off a cliff.  My wife could probably climb 5.7, maybe 5.8.  My son, a rambunctious four year old, probably doesn't have the patience to be roped up yet (though we will try), but he enjoys scrambling around.  If you know of morning options and afternoon options, that would be helpful.  

4) What else do we do?  I know that sounds like blasphemy (I cringed as my fingers hit the keys), but what else is there to do besides climb?  How hot is Durfee Warm Springs?  Still refreshing?  How far is Lake Cleveland?  Worth it?  Is a half day climbing and then swimming plausible?

5) Anything I missed? 

As always, thanks for all the helpful feedback!

Sean (Tommy)

Idaho Bob · · McCall, ID · Joined Apr 2013 · Points: 409

1a)  Don't know if map is still accurate.  Perhaps the visitor center in Almo could advise.  1b)  The only free sites I've used were on Logger Creek Road.  Nice, but a long way from climbing and Almo.  1c)  Go to  Check City of Rocks National Reserve.  It will list any pay sites available.  2)  Tracy's General Store in Almo has good internet and tables. Nice people who will let you hang out.  Just buy some food.  3) Practice Rock is good for kids, easy top rope set up.  4)  Durfee has 3 hot pools of varying temperatures including a cooler shallow on good for kids.  Also a larger but deeper "cool" pool.  5)  Go to Rock City for pizza and an awesome selection of craft beers.

Old lady H · · Boise, ID · Joined Aug 2015 · Points: 350

Sean, have fun! I'll be going over there (first time) next week.

This will give you a bump, but if you don't get the info you need fast enough, Jaren Watson both has kids and has been to City of Rocks a fair amount, I believe. He would be my go to, of the people I know. Trevor. (with the period) is very knowledgeable and gracious with beta also, but not a parent. 

You should get plenty of info once everyone is settled into their cubicles and ready to waste time at work, but this gives you a backup plan too.

Best, Helen

Sean Sullivan · · Boise, ID · Joined Apr 2010 · Points: 90

Thanks for the input!  On the reserve website, there are only two sites available: one just inside the park and the other all the way up in the Breadloves.  As my wife has to work Friday, I think we will opt for the BLM camping closer to town.

I found this link to a brochure describing the camping sites within City of Rocks.  Each is given a description and a shade scale.  Pretty helpful.  Going to start scanning the guide book for some areas to check out.  Also definitely planning on checking out Rock City for pizza and brew!

Mike Womack · · Los Angeles, CA · Joined Mar 2014 · Points: 1,648

Pinyon is good camping and on crowded weekends I've easily nice big quiet found spots there. However, I think it's worth to pay the extra bit and camp in the park if you can.  Good areas I'd recommend are:  elephant rock, practice rock, breadloaves, indian rock.  

City of Rocks is really nice because it's a crag where 95% of climbs can be approached with a 2-10 minute stroll making the whole area a lot less serious and good for families.

Idaho Ian · · Pocatello, ID · Joined Jan 2014 · Points: 5

Smoky BLM camping is good and very close to the park although it is getting more popular. Doesn't necessarily require 4WD as advertised. Have also used SW Entrance when I wanted to be alone. Free BLM areas have NO amenities, don't know how you feel about that with children, just plan for that and be respectful. The rest of the map seems accurate. Pay sites can be had on arrival if you want to test your luck or are ok with the alternative.

Practice rock SUCKS! routes are 20ft of blah and usually packed. Don't get roped into it (see what i did there). There is great slabby moderate climbing literally everywhere. The south-west side of Breadloaves (decadent Wall) comes to mind: morning to early afternoon shade, tons of easy scrambling for kids, park benches, grassy spots for kids to be wrangled. Also, front side of Parking-lot Rock.

You may get cell reception out in Almo, depending on your carrier. You could call Rock City, the local pizza place and ask if there is WiFi, but pretty sure that is a no. 

Sean Sullivan · · Boise, ID · Joined Apr 2010 · Points: 90

Leaving Friday morning now. Booked a campsite at breadloves for Friday and Saturday.  If another family's interested, message me. Thanks for the feedback. I'll let you know how it went.

Vanessa Fabian · · Jackson, WY · Joined Aug 2012 · Points: 520

the outpost has internet if youre in a bind. It's not good internet, but i was able to do work there. just buy food. and the old guy that works the restaurant is a gem. I was pulling my hair out trying to find internet. castle rocks has it too, at the bunk house. but no where to sit if its being rented.

Maurice Chaunders · · boise, id · Joined Sep 2010 · Points: 5

Bread loaves camping is great! Blm sites are full fo cow pies! You'll be psyched win bread loaves; all the camping at the city is great

Sean Sullivan · · Boise, ID · Joined Apr 2010 · Points: 90

Psyched on our trip. Quick guidebook question: What does this symbol mean?

Aaron Stratton · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Nov 2016 · Points: 35
  • Those signs in the guidebook tell you the sun exposure throughout the day.
Sean Sullivan · · Boise, ID · Joined Apr 2010 · Points: 90

Yeah, I know that, and I know what the other two sun symbols mean, but this one in particular is not clear to me.

Old lady H · · Boise, ID · Joined Aug 2015 · Points: 350
Sean Sullivan wrote:

Yeah, I know that, and I know what the other two sun symbols mean, but this one in particular is not clear to me.

Sorry, Sean, check at the visitors center if no one comes up with it. I'm at the library, but the newest version is out. :-(

Sean Sullivan · · Boise, ID · Joined Apr 2010 · Points: 90

Hey all,

Thanks again for all the help.  We managed to get some climbing in.  I led Adolescent, Carol's Crack, and Good Fun.  That last route was particularly good for beginners with some easy slab and crack, well worth the 10 minute hike in.Our first night, there was a Boy Scout Troop at the group site and they were quite helpful.  Though I would have liked to do more climbing, it was nice just to be out.  Coming up with a system that works for climbing and kids is difficult, but we've made some progress.  Looking forward to getting out here more in the fall.



dave bingham · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Feb 2007 · Points: 52
Sean Sullivan · · Boise, ID · Joined Apr 2010 · Points: 90

Thanks, Dave.  You'd be the guy to ask, I suppose.

Guideline #1: Don't be a jerk.

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