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Governor Dodge State Park

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Barrel Boulders 
Barrel Ridge 
Boat Landing Boulders 
Boulder 401 Area 
Box Canyon Boulders 
Complex, The 
Danny's Imaginary Boulders 
Deutschlander Wall 
G Dodge Ice 
Group Camp A 
Group Camp B 
Group Camp G 
Group Camp H 
Group Camp Z 
Lonely Boulders 
Qual Wall 
Steve's ZZ Boulders 
Twin Valley Campground Bouldering 
Twin Valley North 
Rest Day:
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From MP's sister site:

Governor Dodge State Park Rock Climbing 

Photos:  Recent | Best | Popular
Location: 43.0266, -90.1041 View Map  Incorrect?
Page Views: 160,293
Administrators: Doug Hemken, James Schroeder, Chris treggE, Kristine Hoffman (sitewide)
Submitted By: Tom Anderson-Brown on Jan 2, 2003

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You & This Area
Best climbs for YOU in this area
Your opinion of this PAGE:    [6 people like this page.]
Cool ice on the frozen river downstream of Stephen...


Governor Dodge State Park has numerous rock features. Some are suitable for climbing, and some (perhaps most) are not. The overarching consideration for anyone climbing at Governor Dodge should be climbing only on formations that can hold up to the abuse. The rock here is Sandstone, and some of it is solid. Much of it, though, is fragile or crumbly and should be left alone. The rocks came before the climbers, so the rocks have the right to remain. Climbers aren't exactly adored by the DNR, so be overly considerate of the rock and other park users. The climbing history at Governor Dodge is not nearly as storied as it is at Devil's Lake, so we as climbers can take nothing for granted (not that you should at the Lake, either). There are some bolted routes at Governor Dodge. When the DNR found these it did not make them happy, so further bolting of routes is not acceptable. That said, enjoy!

See Qual Wall for the bolted routes, Deutschlander Wall for TR's and the remainder are bouldering areas.

Travis Melin FA on "It's Oral Over" V6 @ The Complex
Rock Climbing Photo: The early crux.
The early crux.

John Dobbe on "Open Season" V4/5 @ Barrel Boulders
Rock Climbing Photo: Big ups
Big ups

Katie on Highly Executed, Group B east side of Backbone Ridge.
Rock Climbing Photo: Katie.  So strong.
Katie. So strong.


The Wisconsin Bouldering Guidebook, which features bouldering at Devil's Lake and Governor Dodge, published alongside the Minnesota Bouldering Guidebook, is currently available online from Escape and at retail locations throughout the Midwest.

A second guidebook featuring Devil's Lake is reportedly nearing completion.


If you show up in WI without pads, you can buy a pad at Boulders Climbing Gym in Madison or Wildside in Baraboo (call before going to make sure they have one in stock). You can also rent a pad from Focus Boardshop/Wisconsin Climbers Association on the east side of Madison. All three locations currently stock the Wisconsin Bouldering Guidebook.

Getting There 

From Madison, take Hwy 18/151 to Dodgeville. Turn right (north) on Hwy 23 until you come to the entrance a few miles up the road. The park is on the east side of Hwy 23.

Please Note: 

Current issues:

1. Climbing is not disallowed at the park, we are simply another user group. Please do not do anything to jeapordize our relations with the park.

2. If climbing near a campsite, do not park at that site if there are people camping there or hike through if they are at their site. Find another way to the rock. Most areas have alternate directions.

2a. Please note the new parking recommendations for the Qual Wall and Lonely Boulders noted on the Qual Wall page.

3. No fixed anchors may be installed, ie. no bolts.

4. Holds break at the Dodge but please don't climb if it's obviously wet!!!

Climbing Season

Weather station 4.2 miles from here

342 Total Climbing Routes

['4 Stars',16],['3 Stars',115],['2 Stars',146],['1 Star',60],['Bomb',2]

Classic Climbing Routes in Governor Dodge State Park

Mountain Project's determination of the classic, most popular, highest rated climbing routes for Governor Dodge State Park:
High Anxiety   V0+ 4+     Boulder   Group Camp B : Plan B Area
Seperation Anxiety   V0+ 4+     Boulder   Group Camp B : Plan B Area
Picasso Right   V1-2 5     Boulder   Backbone Ridge : West Side- Backbone Ridge
The Good Times Are Killing Me   V2-3 5+     Boulder   Box Canyon Boulders : Godfather Boulder
Face Left of Wright's Arete   V3 6A     Boulder, 15'   Backbone Ridge : West Side- Backbone Ridge
Another Day Dream   V3 6A     Boulder   Lonely Boulders
Picasso center   V3 6A     Boulder   Backbone Ridge : West Side- Backbone Ridge
The Godfather   V4 6B     Boulder, 15'   Box Canyon Boulders : Godfather Boulder
Only the Lonely   V4 6B     Boulder   Lonely Boulders
Out Past Curfew   V4 6B     Boulder, 15'   Boat Landing Boulders
Get the Hell Outta Dodge   V4 6B     Boulder   Backbone Ridge : East Side- Backbone Ridge
Hangman   V4+ 6B+     Boulder, 15'   Backbone Ridge : East Side- Backbone Ridge
Nameless   V5- 6C     Boulder   Backbone Ridge : West Side- Backbone Ridge
Split Personality   V5 6C     Boulder   Group Camp B : Plan B Area
Grounded For Life   V5 6C     Boulder, 10'   Boat Landing Boulders
Warm Up 2   5.9+ 5c 17 VI 17 E1 5a     Sport   Qual Wall
Warm Up 1   5.9+ 5c 17 VI 17 E1 5a     Sport   Qual Wall
Leftwing   5.10a 6a 18 VI+ 18 E1 5a     Sport   Qual Wall
Pocket Warmup   5.10c 6b 20 VII 20 E2 5b     Sport   Qual Wall
A Red Recollection   5.11a 6c 22 VII+ 22 E3 5c     Sport, 1 pitch, 60'   Qual Wall
Browse More Rock Climbing Classics in Governor Dodge State Park

Featured Route For Governor Dodge State Park
Rock Climbing Photo: Stab!

Strong Men Also Cry V7-8 7B  Wisconsin : Governor Dodge State Park : Steve's ZZ Boulders
Every move is classic on this new Dodge testpeice. Super complex sequencing, burly moves, complete with a highball topout. This route may rival Sandstone Violence in both quality and difficulty.Sit down start under a bulge, move up staying on the left side of the arete....[more]   Browse More Classics in Wisconsin

Photos of Governor Dodge State Park Slideshow Add Photo
Rock Climbing Photo: Stephen's Falls, October 2009.
Stephen's Falls, October 2009.
Rock Climbing Photo: An icy January day, with extensive snow brooming r...
An icy January day, with extensive snow brooming r...
Rock Climbing Photo: A field of purple near Stephen's Falls.  June 2010...
A field of purple near Stephen's Falls. June 2010...
Rock Climbing Photo: Ice curtain behind Stephen's Falls.  Amazing day o...
Ice curtain behind Stephen's Falls. Amazing day o...
Rock Climbing Photo: The boy at Stephen's Falls, Governor Dodge SP.  Ap...
The boy at Stephen's Falls, Governor Dodge SP. Ap...
Rock Climbing Photo: Vinny, in deer season style. Vests lent to us by t...
Vinny, in deer season style. Vests lent to us by t...
Rock Climbing Photo: The Boy at Stephen's Falls.  New Year's Day 2009.
The Boy at Stephen's Falls. New Year's Day 2009.
Rock Climbing Photo: Boulder Bash 2014
Boulder Bash 2014
Rock Climbing Photo: Boulder bash 2015 rain date
Boulder bash 2015 rain date
Rock Climbing Photo: Here is an overview of the climbing areas location...
BETA PHOTO: Here is an overview of the climbing areas location...
Rock Climbing Photo: Stephen's Falls, Governor Dodge SP.  April 08.
Stephen's Falls, Governor Dodge SP. April 08.
Rock Climbing Photo: Ever wonder what the inside of the horse barn look...
Ever wonder what the inside of the horse barn look...
Rock Climbing Photo: Cool ice downstream from Stephen's Falls. March 20...
Cool ice downstream from Stephen's Falls. March 20...
Rock Climbing Photo: Rock and Ice.
Rock and Ice.
Rock Climbing Photo: Look at the overhang you can barely see through th...
Look at the overhang you can barely see through th...
Rock Climbing Photo: Yet another Stephen's Falls shot with the Boy.
Yet another Stephen's Falls shot with the Boy.
Rock Climbing Photo: We came across this today at group B. It was writt...
We came across this today at group B. It was writt...
Rock Climbing Photo: Ike didnt want to get shot out at group B...
Ike didnt want to get shot out at group B...
Rock Climbing Photo: Map of Dodge Climbing Areas. I relied on the infor...
BETA PHOTO: Map of Dodge Climbing Areas. I relied on the infor...
Rock Climbing Photo: Air Dodge
Air Dodge
Rock Climbing Photo: Favorite winter Dodge activity...  Feb. 09.  Trail...
Favorite winter Dodge activity... Feb. 09. Trail...
Rock Climbing Photo: Sweet looking bluff off the short end of Twin Vall...
Sweet looking bluff off the short end of Twin Vall...
Rock Climbing Photo: Stephen's Falls.  New Year's Day 2009.
Stephen's Falls. New Year's Day 2009.
Rock Climbing Photo: Group Camp!
Group Camp!

Show All 31 Photos

Only the first 24 are shown above.

Comments on Governor Dodge State Park Add Comment
Show which comments
Comments displayed oldest to newestSkip Ahead to the Most Recent Dated Jul 23, 2017
By sweatpants
From: Broomfield, CO
Jun 19, 2008
One flaw i have found in this site is the inability to change details on climbs. for instance if someone loads a new climb as project no one but the person who initially reported it can change the name or grade. for instance that highball at Camp B that someone gave a grade of 6+ that's a v2. it would be nice to be able to change something like that so it doesnt mess people up in the future going to the area for the first time. Also it would be nice to be able to change a name once an FA is done. For instance the bulge project at camp b has 2 variations. when it's done it will then prolly have 2 names and 2 grades where at that point it would be nice to adjust it accordingly. just some thoughts...
By Jay Knower
From: Campton, NH
Jun 20, 2008
Sweatpants, I'd be happy to make any changes that you see fit. Just email me and let me know.

As for ratings, some disagreement is normal and healthy for the site. However, if the original poster is waaay off (like calling a V2 a V6+) then, it might be the case that the op didn't climb the route. I'd just reassign it to someone who has. Just let me know what you think.
By Dobbe
Mar 17, 2009
If you are climbing at Governor Dodge please respect the fact that this is sandstone. DO NOT CLIMB on flakes or crimps that look weak till every thing is dry. Be smart about what you are climbing, not climbing some thing for the day so that it can be there for years is a no brainer.
By Chris treggE
From: Madison, WI
Mar 23, 2009
The following several comments are in response to a comment about bolting new routes that has since been deleted.

Correct me if I am wrong, but AFAIK bolting is not allowed at any State Park in WI, or MN for that matter right? Devils Lake and Interstate Park have no bolts. Same for Blue Mound and Tettegouche in MN. The bolts at the Dodge were installed in former times and the park has said no more. IMO we're lucky they're still there.
By SteveSchultz
Mar 23, 2009
You are correct sir! No bolting on DNR land I believe. Oh well. No Biggie. Keep in mind that much of the longer routes at Dodge turn into pure choss most of the time.
By Remo
From: Madison, WI
Mar 23, 2009
The routes that are established are good enough. It is too bad we can no longer bolt, but all the more reason to seek out more boulders-am I right!
By Tradiban
Mar 23, 2009
Just so it's clear please do NOT bolt anymore at G Dodge. If someone does it will risk closing the entire park to climbing. Seriously!
By Tradiban
Apr 12, 2009
We had a talk with the Rangers today about climbing and the following issues came up;

-Anyone caught installing anchors will at least severely damage climber relations with the park staff. And perhaps arrested I think, but consequences were not discussed.

-If there are campers in Group Site B do NOT walk through the site!!!! Please either park at the paved parking lot with the multiple bathrooms and walk up the hill or park in the gravel parking lot and head down the road a bit and then up the hill. They were VERY concerned about this!

-Please do not cut branches or try to establish trail. Park staff have been moving logs in the way to try and stop new trails from being worn in. They have better things to do with their time. TREAD LIGHTLY!!

-Do NOT drive around closed gates!!! The number one negative incident they remembered about climbers was when someone (who shall remain nameless) drove around the gates to Camp B. This was a MAJOR issue because it interfered with their sharpshooting!

Generally speaking, follow the park rules and there won't be any issues. They were very friendly to us and didn't have any hostility towards climbers but they have many user groups to manage and have to compromise appropriately.
By Tony Brengosz
Apr 12, 2009
In addition to group camp B, I think that would apply to Twin Valley North and The Complex as well.

As far as installing anchors does that apply only to permanent anchors or does it effectively mean no toproping either?
By Chris treggE
From: Madison, WI
Apr 12, 2009
Nothing permanent (ie. bolts). Similar to the Lake, TR is fine, but try for minimal impact at the top of course.
By dannyolboy
From: crystal lake il
Apr 21, 2009
Any info on the rest of the bluffs thought the park? choss? bad lines? access issues? Ive been to the gov about a dozen times and the recent development is great!
By TravisMelin
From: Portland, OR, Roanoke, VA L
Apr 22, 2009
danny, I would say that a good majority of the obvious bluffs have been explored (mostly choss). All the good rock I have ever come across is posted on this site. That said there are still a bunch of less obvious spots that are in need of exploration, and may yield some sweet new boulders. If you want to do some exploration, let me know, and I will point you in the direction of some areas that might have some good stone...
By Paul Dieterle
From: Pasadena, CA
Apr 25, 2009
So today I saw a lot of people (a dozen maybe) climbing on the dripping wet Qual Wall. for future reference, do you guys think i should confront them?
By Tradiban
Apr 26, 2009
Yes, people climbing on wet sandstone should be politely reminded that it can easily break ruining it for future climbers.
By John W. Knoernschild
From: Wisconsin
Sep 14, 2009
Funny how I can mention that very thing Paul just stated, but I got flamed here on MP for even mentioning making people aware of the dangers of climbing on wet sandstone. So where are those people now??? Thx for pointing that out Paul, I for one agree with you.
By Chris treggE
From: Madison, WI
Sep 14, 2009
John I hear ya-- I sort of remember that exchange. I think Steve's point (pretty sure it was Steve) was that some of/most of the sandstone at GD is friable and stuff breaks even when bone dry. At Red Rocks, they say no climbing for 48 hours after rain for this reason. I don't know where the reality lies for the Dodge. I think some reasonable exercise in self-control is warranted. If holds are obviously wet, I say don't climb. Plus it's no fun then anyway. If it's been a day or two since the downpour and stuff seems dry...
By Michael Bartosek
From: Los Angeles
Sep 20, 2009
My wife and I climbed out there yesterday for the first time (just moved here from California) and we were the only people at the crag!! Did we miss a memo? A beautiful day for climbing and some gorgeous routes, yet not one other climber in the Anyway, we did the 10's on Qual wall and I thought all of them were good routes worth a climb. We'll be heading back soon to start working that 5.11a lieback, that thing looks awesome.
By Tradiban
Nov 23, 2009
I dropped off a check for $250 from Boulders Climbing Gym's fall Halloween comp/fund "razor" to the park today. Park staff was very appreciative! I will be planning a spring clean up in the park, stay tuned...
By Langlois
From: NYC
Nov 24, 2009
Awesome! Thanks for putting that comp together Rhoads
By Chris treggE
From: Madison, WI
Nov 24, 2009
Wow!, yeah, word Nick.
By John W. Knoernschild
From: Wisconsin
Nov 24, 2009
Nice nick!
By Tony Brengosz
Nov 25, 2009
I don't know if this is already your plan, but when you organize the clean up, it may be worthwhile to get the park involved in it before the clean up happens, versus just stopping by after the clean up and showing them the trash.
By Mr. Mix
From: Sauk City, WI
Nov 30, 2009
Great work Nick and Boulders, you should drop a note to the editors' of the Madison papers. It would be great to get a good will story out there about climbers giving back to the parks-positive pr.
By mike glass
Apr 7, 2010
Has anyone seen the giant spiders on the rocks over by the big cave? they are out in the summer. The body is fist size of an adult person and the legs on these guys are at least 5-7 ". no kidding. first time I saw 'em was 2 years ago and of course I left my camera at home. posted 4/10
By Chris treggE
From: Madison, WI
Apr 7, 2010
The cave by group B or the cave by Twin Valley? Sounds impressive. Personally I worry more about the damn ticks.
By TheBirdman Friedman
From: Eldorado Springs, Colorado
May 20, 2010
Anyone want to climb on Sunday? I'll be at Twin Lakes campground site 278 bouldering by my lonesome. 732-299-8582.
By Sam Daley
From: Minneapolis, Minnesota
Nov 22, 2010
I would love to visit Governor Dodge on a bouldering expedition this upcoming weekend. Is there enough southern exposure/ protection from the wind for winter bouldering to still be enjoyable? It looks like the temps will be nice on Saturday. Will anyone else be getting out there?
By Chris treggE
From: Madison, WI
Nov 23, 2010
Sam, hit Group B. Highest concentration of good stuff and if it's windy, one side should be sheltered. Barrel Ridge would be ok too, and good concentration of stuff. The Lonlies are always fun too, but not as much to do.
By glclimber
Mar 27, 2011
Hello wisconcin folks...Im planning a visit to this area and was fishing for advice. Never been to this park, plan to treat it with the utmost respect, but als plan on getting lost. Is there a map of the bouldering anywhere? 10 minute hikes can turn into epic never-finds at some places, is the dodge like this? whats the best plan of attack to find the problems in general?
By Remo
From: Madison, WI
Mar 27, 2011
Hey glclimber, go to the park office and ask for a map of the park. Sometimes they just give you a little newspaper like publication with a map in it, but ask for the one-page park map with trail updates(free), it's better. Each major area on MP has nice little hand drawn maps which are super usefull if your new to the park, print those off if you can. Most areas are fairly easy to find like Group Camp B, Box Canyon and the Boat Landing Boulders. Some are a little trickier like The Complex, Barrel Ridge, Boulder 401 area, etc. Good luck, and have fun.
By Chris treggE
From: Madison, WI
Aug 24, 2011
Nick were the stolen biners zip tied?

I will donate new biners to the cause. Not sure when I will get out there on a rope again though. Unless of course the folks who accidentally cleaned them with their draws would like to fess up and return them. Or just return them.
By Tradiban
Aug 25, 2011
Yes, zip tied, so not thief proof but it was obvious they were meant to stay there.
By Kale K
Dec 3, 2011
Has anyone been by Stephens Falls lately to know if ice is forming yet? I live in Chicago, and would love to get some info from locals to avoid a 7hr round trip drive just to see. Looking forward to a great ice climbing year. Be safe.
By Paul Campbell
From: Waukesha, WI
Dec 4, 2011
I imagine not yet. Really no days under freezing so far.
By Eero46
Feb 28, 2012
would anyone be willing to draw up a map of the boulders locations
By Tradiban
Feb 29, 2012
Dude, look around a bit before asking questions. Quite a few topos have been posted already and I think they cover almost the entire park. If some are missing there are clear directions to every area to which you could visit and draw a topo for the rest of us. Thanks!
By Chris treggE
From: Madison, WI
Feb 29, 2012
As usual the Ninja simply says what everyone is thinking to themselves. Eero, I have thought about doing an overview of the park bouldering areas, but you would still need the directions since it would be way too "bird's eye" to be useful for navigation.

As Nick said there are topos for most of the main individual areas. The ones that are kind of hard to find include the ABC boulder (@ Barrel Ridge), the Complex, and the 401 boulder, as well as to a certain extent Steve's ZZ boulders. However, you seriously would have to be busy for weeks to months at the rest of the park to run out of stuff and feel compelled to go looking for the more obscure areas. Have fun and don't park where it's stated not to park.
By Eero46
Mar 4, 2012
Sorry I am just heading up there in May and want a good experience.
By Josh Olson
From: Durango, CO
Mar 5, 2012
You will, the rock is great. When time gets closer, ask on here for a "guide."
By AdamH
Mar 19, 2012
For anyone who wants I added a photo with the location of climbing areas at Dodge. This should hopefully clear up any confusion. Again these are approximations based on where I have been. Good luck!
By Kris Litchfield
Dec 16, 2012
Found a nice green wool cap on the backbone ridge at group camp B on dec 13, can leave at boulders.
By Chris treggE
From: Madison, WI
Sep 19, 2014
boulder bash 2014 next weekend at governor dodge! Check out the promo video:

By Doug Hemken
From: Madison, WI
Oct 20, 2014
Thank you to the LE ranger who took the time yesterday to chat with the climbers at the Plan B area, about various climbing management issues. That was very helpful.
By KurtH
Oct 20, 2014
We were also approached by a very friendly Ranger this weekend at the Qual Wall. He mentioned that they had caught wind of reports (from Mountain Project) of plans to replace anchors on the sport routes. He mentioned that the current bolts are in illegally, and that replacing bolts / adding new ones could result in closing the rope climbing here. That said, he was polite, said they were open to dialogue about safety concerns of aging hardware, but until a formal conversation has been started / policy in place, any action could harm access. We all appreciated them going out of their way to talk to climbers and the ranger expressed their desire for climbers to fully enjoy the park. I'm not form the area, so I thought local leaders in the climbing community should know! Looks like this may not be something new though...
By Joel Allen
From: La Crosse, WI
Oct 30, 2015
Can anyone think of some good boulders in the v4-v6 range that could protect reasonably well with one jumbo pad? I'm looking for some good solo projects for when I randomly get time off during the week. It's kinda hard to tell from some of the pictures if one pad is enough.
By Remo
From: Madison, WI
Oct 30, 2015
Hey Joel, you are in luck. Check out the Lonely Boulders, good landing with a couple good problem in that grade range. Check out Grounded for Life, Split Personalty, Nameless Arete, Venom, Get the Hell out of Dodge, Alpine Bouldering Club and others throughout the park, the list goes on. PM me if you have any other questions. Happy sending!
By madisonchoss
Oct 30, 2015
Hey Joel -

Here are some tips I've found useful when bouldering alone -

1. Avoid problems with very uneven landings. These often require multiple pads - one on the rock and one below, for example.
2. Avoid problems that traverse - I'd rather fall from a little higher onto a pad than sprain my ankle on a tree root.
3. Consider investing in an organic slider pad ( - they are incredibly useful for covering pesky rocks and free you up to use your pad in the main landing area.
4. Use sweatshirts similarly. Or stuff a puffy jacket into a durable backpack to prevent it from being ripped when used to augment your pad.

Hope that helps
By fatima amador
Jul 23, 2017
Hi is camping allowed at this park?
By jon jugenheimer
From: Madison
Jul 23, 2017
@fatima. Yes.

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