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Diablo Canyon

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Diablo Canyon Rock Climbing 

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Location: 35.8052, -106.139 View Map  Incorrect?
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Administrators: Shirtless Mike, Aaron Hobson, Jason Halladay, Anthony Stout, LeeAB Brinckerhoff, Marta Reece, Kristine Hoffman (sitewide)
Submitted By: Anthony Stout on Feb 12, 2006
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Diablo Canyon is located outside of Santa Fe New Mexico, and offers fine climbing on basalt cliffs up to three hundred feet tall.

With over a hundred sport lines and many good crack lines, Diablo offers a wealth of climbing with easy, quick access from Santa Fe. Grades range from 5.8 to 5.13 and vary in steepness and exposure. Many routes are in the moderate 5.10 arena and, for 5.10-5.12 climbers, this is one of the best sport climbing areas in northern New Mexico. With the greatly increased popularity of Diablo Canyon, by now traffic has cleaned much of the loose rock from many of the more popular climbs, but some remains.

Climbing in Diablo can be found nearly year round, with shade in the summer and sun in the winter.

Approaches to the various crags can range from 5 to 30 minutes.

DANGER: Please wear a helmet while climbing at Diablo, rockfall is a significant risk here. South facing rock appears and is chossy and loose. This is due to the extreme fluctuations in temperatures during the winter, where the rock temperature can swing from over 100 to below 0 F in a 24 hour period. This freeze/thaw cycle is associated with tremendous thermal expansion and contraction, which can make rock that was solid yesterday become airborne today. Tread lightly while leading, belay from a spot out of the line of fire, and (if they have brains worth protecting) WEAR a HELMET.

NOTE: The majority beta text and photos are reprinted here from the website,, by permission of Rick Bradshaw, who was kind enough to allow me to use his material here.

Free, undeveloped camping available in a few BLM developed campsites at the parking area.

Getting There 

1) Get on the Santa Fe Bypass route (Veterans Memorial Hiway 599) either from I-25 south of Santa Fe or off of Saint Frances Drive NW of Santa Fe.

2) Exit onto Camino La Tierra heading west toward the Rio Grande, setting your odometer to 0 at the turnoff. After 4.7 miles, turn right on Old Buckman Road, which is a reasonably well-maintained dirt road. At 7.7 miles you’ll pass a large green colored frame (apparently used to be a windmill painted like a daisy) on your left as you follow the main Diablo wash toward the river. At 12.2 miles you should reach the first turn off into the Diablo parking area. The canyon is clearly visible beyond. 2WD vehicles make it there all the time. They get stuck in the sand or mud on their way out at a somewhat less frequency.

Watch out for rattlesnakes basking and tarantulas looking for mates in the middle of the road. This is their home we’re visiting, please give them the right of way.


The guidebooks "Jemez Rock" and "Rock Climbing: New Mexico" both cover the area but are grossly outdated. There has been a huge amount of development in the Diablo Canyon area in the past decade. Using the MountainProject app is your best bet for current area and route information.

Climbing Season

Weather station 6.9 miles from here

254 Total Climbing Routes

['4 Stars',24],['3 Stars',138],['2 Stars',71],['1 Star',19],['Bomb',0]

Classic Climbing Routes in Diablo Canyon

Mountain Project's determination of the classic, most popular, highest rated climbing routes for Diablo Canyon:
Drunk Rednecks with Golf Clubs   5.8 5b 16 VI- 15 HVS 4c     Sport, 1 pitch, 55'   Early Wall : Runway (Lower Tier)
Hellboy   5.8+ 5b 16 VI- 15 HVS 4c     Sport, 1 pitch, 165'   Winter Wall
Post Moderate   5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a     Sport, 1 pitch, 165'   Winter Wall
The Egg   5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a     Sport, 1 pitch, 60'   Cockscomb Crag : Chicken Little Area
Humbolt   5.10a 6a 18 VI+ 18 E1 5a     Sport, 1 pitch, 70'   Early Wall : Left End
The Chicken   5.10a 6a 18 VI+ 18 E1 5a     Sport, 1 pitch, 60'   Cockscomb Crag : Chicken Little Area
Naked Lunch   5.10- 6a 18 VI+ 18 E1 5a     Sport, 1 pitch, 140'   Winter Wall
Class Act   5.10a/b 6a+ 19 VI+ 19 E2 5b     Sport   The Grotto (a.k.a. The Notc... : Grotto Right (West Side)
Waiting to Procrastinate   5.10b 6a+ 19 VII- 19 E2 5b     Sport   The Grotto (a.k.a. The Notc... : Grotto Left (East Side)
Good   5.10b 6a+ 19 VII- 19 E2 5b     Sport, 1 pitch, 65'   The Grotto (a.k.a. The Notc... : Grotto Left (East Side)
Grape Ape   5.10c 6b 20 VII 20 E2 5b     Sport, 150'   Winter Wall
Evil Paradise   5.10c 6b 20 VII 20 E2 5b     Sport, 80'   The Grotto (a.k.a. The Notc... : Grotto Left (East Side)
Evil   5.10d 6b+ 21 VII+ 21 E3 5b     Sport, 1 pitch, 65'   The Grotto (a.k.a. The Notc... : Grotto Left (East Side)
Affirmative Action   5.11a 6c 22 VII+ 22 E3 5c     Sport   The Grotto (a.k.a. The Notc... : Grotto Left (East Side)
Top Gun   5.11a 6c 22 VII+ 22 E3 5c     Sport, 1 pitch, 105'   Early Wall : Runway (Lower Tier)
Sun Devil   5.11b 6c 23 VIII- 23 E3 5c PG13     Sport, 3 pitches, 300'   Sun Devil Wall
Woogie's Wild Ride   5.11c 6c+ 24 VIII- 24 E4 6a     Sport, 90'   The Grotto (a.k.a. The Notc... : Grotto Right (West Side)
Pale Face   5.11+ 7a 24 VIII 24 E4 6a     Sport, 1 pitch, 110'   Winter Wall
Lucy   5.11d 7a 24 VIII 25 E5 6a     Sport, 90'   Solar Cave
Clovis Hunter   5.12b 7b 26 VIII+ 26 E5 6b     Sport, 80'   Solar Cave
Browse More Rock Climbing Classics in Diablo Canyon

Featured Route For Diablo Canyon
Rock Climbing Photo: Early Arete is #6.

Early Arete 5.11d 7a 24 VIII 25 E5 6a  New Mexico : Santa Fe Area : ... : Left End
A great face and arete. Tricky start with thin feet and big moves. Pass this to a tricky and hard to read move off a ledge to some thin face. A hard move and tricky clip guards the anchors. Good rests save the day between the cruxes....[more]   Browse More Classics in New Mexico

Photos of Diablo Canyon Slideshow Add Photo
Rock Climbing Photo: Diablo Canyon does flood, so you may want to recon...
BETA PHOTO: Diablo Canyon does flood, so you may want to recon...
Rock Climbing Photo: Morning after climbing at Diablo Canyon
Morning after climbing at Diablo Canyon
Rock Climbing Photo: Main Overview of Diablo Canyon as seen from the pa...
BETA PHOTO: Main Overview of Diablo Canyon as seen from the pa...
Rock Climbing Photo: Map Overview of Diablo Canyon Climbing Areas
BETA PHOTO: Map Overview of Diablo Canyon Climbing Areas
Rock Climbing Photo: View from the approach, March 2012
View from the approach, March 2012
Rock Climbing Photo: Lovely day out in Diablo canyon!
Lovely day out in Diablo canyon!
Rock Climbing Photo: Gorgeous area for all year round climbing. View of...
Gorgeous area for all year round climbing. View of...
Rock Climbing Photo: Diablo Canyon @ Dusk
Diablo Canyon @ Dusk
Rock Climbing Photo: Andy Purdy belays Ben Alford, as he heads up the s...
Andy Purdy belays Ben Alford, as he heads up the s...
Rock Climbing Photo: Solar Cave and the Winter Wall as viewed from the ...
Solar Cave and the Winter Wall as viewed from the ...
Rock Climbing Photo: A late afternoon view of the Winter Wall from The ...
A late afternoon view of the Winter Wall from The ...

Comments on Diablo Canyon Add Comment
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Comments displayed oldest to newestSkip Ahead to the Most Recent Dated Jun 17, 2017
By Karl Kiser
Apr 1, 2008
Many of the fine crack climbs were done in the 1970s. These FA parties went to the top and usually did not leave evidence of their ascents. By the later 1990s two groups were putting up routes (a generally Albuquerque group and a Los Alamos route). The different names of some features in Diablo Canyon come from the two groups.
By Karl Kiser
Apr 2, 2008
Greg Swift and Tim Johnson did a lot of trad climbing in Diablo in the early 1980s. Greg mentioned that several climbs which are currently bolted have been climbed without bolts.
By Robin like the bird
From: mountain center ,CA
Jul 29, 2008
I am going to be traveling to santa Fe this fall and maybe climbing in Diablo canyon Does any one have and recmondations for long/multi pitch routes inthis area.
By Ty Harlacker
From: Albuquerque, NM
Aug 5, 2008
There is a fun route on sunshine wall called post moderate, it's 5.9 with 17 or so bolts but you can traverse over to some chains and do it with one rope and eight or nine, if not bring two for full rap. its a great warmup but gets really hot. The name is aptly given, do it on a day when its overcast .
By Jason Halladay
From: Los Alamos, NM
Feb 14, 2009
I received a subscription to National Geographic Adventure for Christmas and discovered a photo of John Kear and Carolyn Parker on top of the Observatory Wall (Upper Tier) at Diablo on page 61 of the March 2009 issue. :-)
By Lee Jenkins
From: Tucson, Arizona
Mar 9, 2009
I'm looking for good, free camping near the Canyon. Thanks, Lee
By Monomaniac
From: Morrison, CO
Mar 9, 2009
Not that its "good camping" but I'm pretty sure you can camp right at the parking lot. I believe its all BLM land. If you want some more privacy, keep heading west on the dirt road past Diablo and in a few miles you'll end up at the Rio Grande. That would probably be a nice place to camp. Be careful if the road is wet, its easy to get stuck in the mud.
By LeeAB Brinckerhoff
From: ABQ, NM
Mar 9, 2009
As Mono says BLM, but I belive this only applies to the solar cave and winter wall and would include the parking area. I've been told that the early wall and the notch are on NFS land, which would mean off limits if the forest gets shut down.
By Chris Wenker
From: Santa Fe
Nov 12, 2009
I've got a copy of "The Climber's Bible" by Robin Shaw, published 1983. It's just an old, quaint, 'how-to' climb book, but in the back, it has a list of US climbing destinations. Under New Mexico, it lists:

"Sandia Mountains, near Albuquerque
The Tooth of Time, Cimarron
The Basalts, near Santa Fe"

Maybe that's what Diablo used to be called? Ring a bell for any of you oldsters?
By Tori Mitchell
From: Loveland, CO
Sep 23, 2010
how are the temps down there in the late fall or winter?
By LeeAB Brinckerhoff
From: ABQ, NM
Sep 23, 2010
You can find sun or shade which ever you need so it should be fine.
By Rick Rogers
Jul 22, 2011
I was in the canyon on wednesday and if you are not familiar with the area be ready for some real aggressive wash boards on the way out there.
By Aaron Miller
From: Santa Fe, NM
Jul 26, 2011
I called Santa Fe County public works today to request a road-grading. They finally got some moisture enough to reasonably grade the road. Anyone can do this any time, just call 505-992-3010.

Its best to do when the road has some moisture, pointless when it is dry.
By Ken Kisiel
Apr 2, 2012
Rick Bradshaw and I were discussing the top ten 5.10 routes for Diablo. Seems to be grade of trend for Diablo. What is your top ten list? Based upon stars the following come to mind.

Grape Ape, Humbolt, Chicken Out, Sunday Bloody Sunday, Evil Paradise, Ergo, Solar Eclispe, The other Side, Chicks with Ricks, El Bolto del Diablo
By Monomaniac
From: Morrison, CO
Apr 2, 2012
I'm a sucker for lists. Its been a long time since I climbed here, so I'm not too sure on the order and I couldn't come up with 10, but here are some climbs that stick in my mind as routes that would be classics at any crag:

Where the Wild Things Aren't
Clovis Hunter
Grape Ape
Pale Face
Unnamed Arete (Left of Tweak Fuck)
Good (more memorable than good!)
By Ken Kisiel
Apr 2, 2012
Haven't been all of those but a good list for all climbs. We were thinking of 5.10's only as they are most prolific for the area. Though it would be interesting to expand the list to any grade, sport vs. trad. Always aspired to do ten tens in a day but at 8 or 9 of them the cold beer and forearm burn gets in the way. My 5.10 sport route list would be(in order):
Grape Ape
Two Wheel Drive
Evil Paradise
El Bolto del Diablo
Chicken Out
Waiting to Procrastinate
Chicks with Ricks

Haven't climbed The Other Side but I hear may bump Humbolt off the list. The other interesting thing is the distinct difference between the pillow basalt vs. vesicular column climbing. The pillow climbs are generally more sustained with less defined cruxes while the vesicular climbs have distinct cruxes but less continuous at the grade IMHO.
By Peter Olson
From: Santa Fe, New Mexico
Apr 27, 2012
I was running solo in Diablo canyon yesterday morning and I had a confrontation with two coyotes about a mile from the Rio Grande. My husband and two others were on a 16 mile run and I parted company with them at the Rio Grande and was on my way back through Diablo canyon. I heard a screaming yowling noise off to the side and thought it might be coyotes denning? A few minutes later I heard the noise again but it appeared to be closer and following me. I kept looking over my shoulder and saw two coyotes running after me. The coyotes seemed to perceive me as prey and I was charged by one of them. I threw rocks, yelled and after pegging one with a rock they appeared to run off, but I did not turn my back and start running again for 20 minutes. I had no food on me at the time. (BTW I am Peter's wife, Deb, and using his mountain project sign in.
By Rich Strang
From: Santa Fe, NM
May 11, 2012
Anyone been working on a new route between Drunk Rednecks & Clip Art (at the Runway/Early Wall)? We cleaned the line partialy about 2 weeks ago and added a directional bolt. Last Friday, Mike noticed a set of anchors above the line that I don't recall being there before. Anyone planning anything?
By Margie
Jun 29, 2012
Just as a warning, I was climbing at Diablo on Memorial Day and my car window was smashed and some personal items were stolen. Make sure you don't leave valuables in your car!
By Mannie Lopez
From: Santa fe, NM
Aug 21, 2012
Found a small set of cams at the belay ledge, far left end of the grotto, camalots, c4's, and an alien or two, hit me up if this is you! I know i'd be pissed if I forgot this. pretty dirty and looks like they've been there for a while.
By David MacKenzie
From: Albuquerque
Dec 27, 2012
Just a question: Why is this in the Santa Fe section of MP? It's just so much closer to White Rock....
By William Penner
From: The 505
Dec 27, 2012
David McKenzie wrote: Just a question: Why is this in the Santa Fe section of MP? It's just so much closer to White Rock....

I love this question and would enjoy the story of anyone who approached Diablo from White Rock. Hats off to that adventurous soul.
By Alex Woersching
Jun 18, 2013
I left a nut tool on a sling at Winter Wall on the post yesterday: 06/17. If you recover it, please let me know. I would be much appreciative and will offer a small reward. Thanks, Alex
By Aleksander
Mar 26, 2014
Do not drive down the arroyo into the canyon. My friend nearly got a ticket 120$. This is non motorized area per forest service guy(nice person by the way). There are no signs about it and lots of people do drive down the arroyo.Be aware!
By Blair Ryan
From: Grand Junction, Colorado
Jan 27, 2015
I'm looking at climbing here this wednesday or thursday 1/28 & 29. Would anyone else like to meet there, (Winter Wall) Also anyone have a good reference for double rope rappels?
By youngbeard
Jul 22, 2015
Hey guys,
Ill be climbing at Diablo for the first time on Saturday. Coming in from Austin, Tx. If anyone will be out there let me know. Pretty stoked on climbing some new rocks.
By Joe Kapala
Jun 17, 2017
The link to the Los Alamos guide is not longer working.. anyone know how to access that guide? or has it been gone for a while and I am just realizing it?
By Owen Summerscales
From: Los Alamos, NM
Jun 17, 2017
Stopped working a month or two back.

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