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Paradise Forks

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Paradise Forks Rock Climbing 

Photos:  Recent | Best | Popular
Elevation: 7,000'
Location: 35.1381, -112.0282 View Map  Incorrect?
Page Views: 123,535
Administrators: Greg Opland, JJ Schlick, Hendrixson, Kristine Hoffman (sitewide)
Submitted By: Josh Janes on Jan 19, 2006
You & This Area
Best climbs for YOU in this area
Your opinion of this PAGE:    [2 people like this page.]
Here's the evidence from back in the day- unidenti...


Paradise Forks (AKA The Forks) is a beautiful columnar basalt climbing area located about a half-hour west of Flagstaff. The area is in Sycamore Canyon at a point where the canyon is actually a Y-shaped confluence of drainages. There are two seasonal waterfalls and pools at the ends of the Y, and the point where the Y merges is the popular "Prow" area. The Prow, The Gold Wall, and the Davidson Wall offer the longest routes which are up to about 90'.

Rock Climbing Photo: Dan Cohn on the steep, juggy finish to Hatchet 5.1...
Dan Cohn on the steep, juggy finish to Hatchet 5.10.

One distinguishing characteristic of the area is that almost all routes are approached from above by fixing a line and rapping in. Also, there are exactly zero sport climbs at The Forks and just a handful of bolts (I can only think of 7: two sets of anchors in the choss at the White Wall, and the three on Australians At The Forks). The area really lends itself to trad climbing up beautiful, varied crack systems. Rock is bullet-hard, pro is typically bombproof, and friction varies from polished to grippy. Expect stout ratings.

Rock Climbing Photo: The late Rob Drysdale leading Paradise Lost 5.12-,...
The late Rob Drysdale leading Paradise Lost 5.12-, 1990.

If trees are used for an all day rap line, please pad the tree, and then place a piece of gear near the edge of the cliff to take the full load of the rappel, leaving just enough slack in the line so the tree is never directly loaded. This way you don't have to have a full bombproof trad anchor, just a piece or two and the tree simply offers you an ultimate back up, without being affected.

Rock Climbing Photo: The stretchy, crimpy crux of Rumbleseat 5.12.
The stretchy, crimpy crux of Rumbleseat 5.12.

Nestled in a pine forest, the area is quiet, peaceful, and fairly pristine; please try to keep it that way.
Many thanks to Larry Coats for providing first ascent information!

Rock Climbing Photo: The Gold pond as seen from near the Prow.  This wa...
The Gold pond as seen from near the Prow. This was after a winter of unusually high rain, 2004 I think.

Getting There 

Paradise Forks is just southeast of the town of Williams, AZ, just off Interstate 40.

From Flagstaff, with a low-clearance car (short stretch of good dirt roads), drive west on 40 for 27 miles to exit 167 for Garland Prairie Road. Follow this south over some railroad tracks for 8 miles. Turn right onto FS Road 109. Follow this for 3.3 miles to a left-hand turn into the parking lot.

From Flagstaff, with a Subaru or better (more direct but more dirt road), drive west on 40 for 17 miles to exit 178 for Parks road. Head south over some railroad tracks (road turns into Garland Prairie), and follow this as it makes several 90 degree turns to skirt around a huge parcel of private land. After 13.3 miles, turn left onto FS Road 109. Follow this for 3.3 miles to a left-hand turn into the parking lot.

Rock Climbing Photo: Panorama from the top of The Prow
Panorama from the top of The Prow

Climbing Season

Weather station 11.3 miles from here

123 Total Climbing Routes

['4 Stars',13],['3 Stars',77],['2 Stars',21],['1 Star',12],['Bomb',0]

Classic Climbing Routes in Paradise Forks

Mountain Project's determination of the classic, most popular, highest rated climbing routes for Paradise Forks:
The Black Rose   5.8+ 5b 16 VI- 15 HVS 4c     Trad, 70'   The Obsidian Wall
Grievous Angel   5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a     Trad, 1 pitch, 50'   The Gold Wall
Pillow Case   5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a     Trad, 1 pitch, 60'   Pillow Wall
Mayflower   5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a     Trad, 1 pitch, 90'   The Prow
Fool's Game   5.9+ 5c 17 VI 17 E1 5a     Trad, 1 pitch, 90'   The Prow
Ship Of Fools   5.10a 6a 18 VI+ 18 E1 5a     Trad, 1 pitch, 100'   The Prow
Waterslip Down   5.10- 6a 18 VI+ 18 E1 5a     Trad, 1 pitch, 50'   The Gold Wall
Jolly Roger   5.10 6b 20 VII- 19 E2 5b PG13     Trad, 1 pitch, 70'   The Prow
Raindance   5.10 6b 20 VII- 19 E2 5b     Trad, 1 pitch, 110'   Raindance Buttress
Pillow Fight   5.10 6b 20 VII- 19 E2 5b     Trad, 1 pitch, 65'   Pillow Wall
East Of Eden   5.10 6b 20 VII- 19 E2 5b     Trad, 1 pitch, 110'   The Gold Wall
Aqualung   5.10 6b 20 VII- 19 E2 5b     Trad, 80'   The Jungle Wall
Loose Lips   5.10+ 6b+ 21 VII+ 20 E3 5b     Trad, 1 pitch, 80'   Davidson Wall
Torpedo   5.10+ 6b+ 21 VII+ 20 E3 5b     Trad, 1 pitch, 100'   Davidson Wall
The Prow   5.11a 6c 22 VII+ 22 E3 5c     Trad, 1 pitch   The Prow
Gold Finger   5.11 6c+ 23 VIII- 23 E4 5c     Trad   The Gold Wall
Three Turkeys   5.11c 6c+ 24 VIII- 24 E4 6a     Trad, 1 pitch, 70'   Davidson Wall
Davidson Dihedral   5.11+ 7a 24 VIII 24 E4 6a     Trad, 1 pitch, 55'   Pillow Wall
Mutiny on the Bounty   5.11d 7a 24 VIII 25 E5 6a     Trad, 1 pitch, 100'   The Prow
Paradise Lost   5.12a 7a+ 25 VIII+ 25 E5 6a PG13     Trad, 1 pitch, 90'   Davidson Wall
Browse More Rock Climbing Classics in Paradise Forks

Featured Route For Paradise Forks
Rock Climbing Photo: About halfway up Loose Lips, getting ready to pull...

Loose Lips 5.10+ 6b+ 21 VII+ 20 E3 5b  Arizona : Paradise Forks : Davidson Wall
Climb up thin crack with faceholds to a ledge, then thin hands & hands up left side of pillar to top of the pillar. Rest, then jam thin crack to top. ...[more]   Browse More Classics in Arizona

Photos of Paradise Forks Slideshow Add Photo
Rock Climbing Photo: Early spring at Paradise Forks
Early spring at Paradise Forks
Rock Climbing Photo: WI Extreme!
WI Extreme!
Rock Climbing Photo: Panorama from the top of The Prow
Panorama from the top of The Prow
Rock Climbing Photo: Beautiful Paradise Forks
Beautiful Paradise Forks
Rock Climbing Photo: Parks Exit map beta.
BETA PHOTO: Parks Exit map beta.
Rock Climbing Photo: Gordo chilling on top of the Yogis, spectacular wa...
Gordo chilling on top of the Yogis, spectacular wa...
Rock Climbing Photo: Pano from the Prow
Pano from the Prow
Rock Climbing Photo: Forks in May
Forks in May
Rock Climbing Photo: photo by me
photo by me
Rock Climbing Photo: The left-side continuation of the former panoramic...
The left-side continuation of the former panoramic...
Rock Climbing Photo: Bottoms up.  Linc downing a cold one  before sendi...
BETA PHOTO: Bottoms up. Linc downing a cold one before sendi...
Rock Climbing Photo: The Forks, March, 2010
The Forks, March, 2010
Rock Climbing Photo: Down Canyon in the winter.
BETA PHOTO: Down Canyon in the winter.

Comments on Paradise Forks Add Comment
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Comments displayed oldest to newestSkip Ahead to the Most Recent Dated Apr 23, 2017
By Will Cobb
From: Flagstaff, AZ
May 14, 2008
Hi all. For those of you who don't know me my name is Will Cobb and I am the Access Fund Regional Coordinator for Northern Arizona. Chris Tatum from Vertical Relief Climbing Gym let me know about an active Turkey Vulture nest situated on the ledge at the top of T.L. Bush earlier this week. With help and feedback from the kind folks of the NACC we felt that a voluntary closure of the Gold Wall was in order. I have since learned that Turkey Vultures are protected under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act and that disturbing the nest is a lawful offense.

Local climbers will be checking on the nest frequently from the far side of the canyon in order to minimize disturbance. Once it has been determined that the nest is abandon for the season the closure will be discontinued.

I believe that this is a great opportunity for climbers to show the Forest Service that we are capable of self-policing and are dedicated to environmental friendly action. Please avoid the Gold Wall until it is determined that the birds are finished with the nest.
By Paul Davidson
Oct 6, 2010
I'd like to make one comment about the area description:
"One distinguishing characteristic of the area is that almost all routes are approached from above by fixing a line and rapping in"

For many years, it was very rare to rap in to either canyon.
The standard way in was to do the silver pond down climb and then walk to the base of the climb. On rare occasions, almost always in a late afternoon, someone might rap into the Gold Pond to do a last route of the day. But walking in was the standard (and preferred) method. Pika the wonder dog used to do the down climb, generally with a rope on but not always :-0

Also for years, all climbs were led ground up. The harder ones often requiring more than a few tries. Nothing was ever rehearsed on TR. This ethic came from Scott Baxter, who was influenced by the Valley ethics of the times. This has the possible advantage of not trashing the tops of climbs since you don't have TRs running all over the place and disturbing the top soil.

Times have changed. Most folks want to do more faster. My experience though tells me that I'm much more satisfied with finally getting a difficult ground up lead (which would usually grind me up and spit me out) than something done in a short cutting fashion. I just do not get the same feeling of accomplishment by wiring something out on TR and then leading it. To each their own, until one's actions start affecting others.

It's pretty clear that the now common practice of TRing at the Forks has had a very detrimental effect on the topsoil and cliff tops. Might be time to reconsider standard practices. I know the locals have struggled with this issue for years.
By Dan Anderson
From: Phoenix, Arizona
Oct 19, 2010
Paul, are you recommending against TR'ing here? I'm a new climber so I have to TR when I can't find a Trad leader. I'm carefull setting up TR's to not damage trees etc. so I leave the place like I found it. Any feedback on what routes/sections should not be TR'd would be appreciated.
By J. Hickok
Feb 5, 2012
Dan: I think Paul is definitely discouraging the practice of top roping at Paradise Forks, although out here in the "wild west" people seem to do whatever they want anyway.
By Paul Davidson
Mar 28, 2012
That is correct, I am trying to discourage the TRing of many routes due to the nature of the top of the crags and the potential for errosion that this creates.

Some climbs are more conducive to the TR (Mayflower sets up easily with very little damage other than to your rope) than others but many are not. As I recall, to set a TR on DD you have to run a line way back to a big jack which means a lot of rope over dirt that is going up and down and back and forth as folks fall off it. That increases errosion. At one point this had become a rather serious problem for that part of the cliff. So much so that the FS got involved and helped fund some maintenance and experimental methods.

The original ethic of ground up only is another matter and part of the Games Climbers Play. I preferred that game but that's just me.
I still prefer to lead.
By 1Eric Rhicard
Mar 29, 2012
Top-roping is so annoying. My hat gets knocked off and my glasses get dislodged. I sag at least 4 or 5 feet when I hang. Couple of Mussys at the top of these things would really help. Just kidding here, will start another thread about it if I really need the entertainment. This is pretty good though. I like when you start posting PD. Hope you are well.
By Jon O'Brien
From: Nevada
May 17, 2012
how do you guys feel about the tr solo set ups?

in MY mind, it is the same as rappelling because the rope doesn't move much and it is even possible for some tr solo set-ups to be less of an impact than bringing up a second after leading.

i've never seen tr solo more anywhere else, curious on your thoughts...


By Charles Vernon
From: Tucson, AZ
May 17, 2012
Question for Paul (or anyone who has an idea):

With the ground-up ethic (which I have practiced on all but one ascent at the Forks), it still seems to me that there's a lot of erosion because you must set an anchor, top-out, and then rap back down into the canyon. Doesn't seem much different than TR to me.

But Paul says:
"For many years, it was very rare to rap in to either canyon.
The standard way in was to do the silver pond down climb and then walk to the base of the climb."

So I guess my question is, after every climb, you would then walk over and do the down climb again, right (and even with that there's at least some erosion)? It seems like this is the heart of the matter: there's plenty of people still climbing ground-up at the Forks, but I'm not aware of anyone who still uses the method that Paul describes. So the impact of modern ground-up climbing seems basically the same as that of top-roping, aside from the fact that top-roping simply makes things more crowded.

No matter how you climb here, you've got to top out at some point, right?
By Geir
From: Tucson, AZ
May 17, 2012
Hey Charles,

There's no doubt that you have to top out some time. I think that setting TRs results in more time spent at the top.

Here's what I am picturing as an example.

1) A party arrives at the top to set up a TR. The two walk back and forth a couple of times from the trees to the cliff edge to lay the webbing or static line out. Then perhaps they walk back and forth another time to get the anchor equalized, and perhaps one more time to get their rap set up and rap the route.

After they finish, they top out and walk back and forth to break it down before moving to the next climb.

2) A party goes ground up. The leader tops out and builds an anchor. The second climbs, they break down the anchor, and walk down. (Or perhaps go to a rap station set up by one party and used by several.)

It seems to me that TR setups require more travel around the top of the cliff. Of course, were the situation such that the terrain on top was all rock and very durable and the bottom more fragile, this might be the best way to go.

Just my two cents.
By ryan albery
From: van world
Jul 2, 2012
Not wanting to jam up the especially quality routes, but from those who are experienced in the area, what are your favorite routes? For me, Retards Recess (or Bushman/Doctor), Torpedo, Raindance, TB Bush, Aqualung, Sign Language, Egg Timer, Queenfolia (pre chalked to shit), and I always thought Trapeze was a fun bit of going for it. Perfect Beast has a serious of awesome moves. The start of Ship of Fools, and the roof on Jolly Roger, Yardarm and Crows Nest, Ivory Snow snow on Pillow Wall- short but sweet and right into the business when you start off above your gear. Duet, On The Edge, Shotgun...

There's also a route in the overhanging choss section between Davidsons and Sign Wall, bouldery steep and fingers scabbing locks, tried it twice and would guess it to be in the solid .12 range.

I would love to hear from some of the old school Jedi about what their favorite route(s) here, and especially why.

By arjunmh
From: Phoenix & Prescott, AZ
Jul 30, 2012
My first trip to this awesome area and a couple notes:
(1) A low clearance vehicle will do just fine on the more direct road in from Parks Exit. Even in pouring rain the road is excellent and well maintained! If you do decide to go to the next exit and come in, then bear left at the "Y" in Garland Prairie Rd after a few miles.

(2) Clear mountain lion scat found around the canyon, just FYI. Called Game and Fish and apparently that's common for around there, but figured those of you camping with small dogs and cats (!) might want to know.
By Paul Davidson
Aug 14, 2012
Hey Charles:
Of course without a true study this is all conjecture but here's my thoughts on why the TR is more destructive on the erosion side.

It's not so much the act of setting the anchors and walking around that creates the real problems. It's the anchor itself where the rope runs across the topsoil and is then weighted up and down with falls and dogging.

But most anchors on the DD I've seen run a rope for many feet across bare soil and then saw up and down, back and forth as the crew tries to do the climb and that is the culprit.

If someone sets a TR, never weights it, then I would have to think your analysis is spot on. The difference between that and a lead belay is just about minimal. Of course, if you're flashing on a TR, sort of begs the question of why ?

There are plenty of climbs where TRs at the forks are not much of an issue. Mayflower can be setup all on nuts off the little shelf or with very little issue from the two trees right there.

My understanding is that the area that had the worst problem was up above the Pillow wall. I understand there was an attempt at erosion control project sometime in mid '80s with the USFS. Don't know how succesful it was.

I don't get out there much anymore. Last time was spring '11 and I was surprised at overall how well the place looked. But it was March so just coming out of the snow.

The silver pond "walk down" was pretty much the standard way in.
For the first time or two of the season, when we'd bring others out, etc... we'd drop nuts in the top and hang a line for either a belay or a hand line. Once we had it wired again, it was a simple third class. Pika the wonder dog could do it but he was usually given either a belay or he'd take a long swim (inside joke there). When it was wet, iced, snowed in, etc... we'd do the rap from somewhere. Occasionaly we'd do a late day rap to get to the gold pond without the walk around.

Bottom line is that it's a small area and climbing populations have exploded.

A few of my fav climbs missing from ryan's list that pop to mind: Waterslip Down, UKD, Acid Test, Black Rose, Negra Prima, the Prow. There was (is) a great fun 5.8, Kon Tiki over to the west of Ivory Snow. I suspect you have to have climbed a lot of stuff to actually like it since I think it was a lichen/moss fest thing but fun moves. I suspect the name is the clue to finding the route. One of the pillars closest to the Silver pond.
Not sure I ever did a climb there I didn't like (which probably says more about me and loss of memory.)
By Robbie Brown
From: Flagstaff, AZ
Jun 15, 2013
Found a tree anchor above the pillow wall. If you tell me what you forgot i will get it back to you.
By SHOPE Christian
From: Corvallis, OR
Jul 6, 2013
I left a pair of scarpas I LOVE and just had resoled on Monday the 1st of July. I went today and they were gone, I hope they are still in flag but will make a trip to come get them!
By Emily Reinsel
Mar 19, 2014
I'm missing two #2 camalots, both c4, one marked with blue and yellow and the other marked with orange, along with a double length sling. Possibly left at the East of Eden anchor circa March 11? Reward for their return!
By BenZH
From: Flagstaff AZ
Mar 29, 2015
Found a pair of mythos at the Prow today. If they belong to you call 928 606 1364.
By t.schwartz
Oct 5, 2015
Hey all I was at Fork Fest last week 9/27 and I left my nut tool, a couple biners, and a double length runner....If anyone found them I will make it worth your while if returned, beer will be involved. Thanks!
By markhofmeister
From: Flagstaff,Az
Oct 12, 2015
Found a dog harness by the prow. call me if you are the one who forgot it. Mark 928-814-6572
By mc kaiser
From: Boulder, CO
Feb 9, 2017
What's the earliest time of year one could hope to be climbing here consistently? I'm looking to head out there in late March/early April. Thanks.
By Daniel Evans
From: N Scottsdale, AZ
6 days ago
This place sucked--long approach, shit routes, no rare pokemon. Don't waste your time here.

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