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Ship Rock

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Better Late Than Never Wall 
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Ship Rock Rock Climbing 

Photos:  Recent | Best | Popular
Elevation: 4,394'
Location: 36.099, -81.7815 View Map  Incorrect?
Page Views: 60,483
Administrators: Ryan Williams, Aaron Parlier, Steve Lineberry, Kristine Hoffman (sitewide)
Submitted By: Nick Stayner on Nov 16, 2006

60° | 54°

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55° | 34°

44° | 32°

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cruz mclean on castaway 5.11+


Ship Rock is located on the Blue Ridge. It offers an excellent selection of routes at all grades, most of which are very high quality and quite protectable. Its northwestern exposure means that it comes into the sun late in the day, making it an excellent spot for the warmer months. Due to its number of excellent moderates and proximity to Appalachian State University, it's pretty popular. The rock is a bomber metamorphic (quartzite?) scored with numbers of awesome horizontals that make great holds and take excellent gear.
A "standard Shiprock rack" may consist of a set of stoppers, doubles on cams from 00 TCU-.75 camalot, and singles of #1/2 camalots. See individual descriptions for more info.

Getting There 

Ship Rock is approached via the Rough Ridge parking area on the Blue Ridge Parkway, located ~2 miles north of the Linn Cove Viaduct. From Rough Ridge, walk south down the parkway for 1/3 of a mile. Cross a bridge, pass a roadcut, and look right. A trail should become apparent immediately after the roadcut.

Climbing Season

Weather station 1.9 miles from here

41 Total Climbing Routes

['4 Stars',5],['3 Stars',29],['2 Stars',7],['1 Star',0],['Bomb',0]

Classic Climbing Routes in Ship Rock

Mountain Project's determination of the classic, most popular, highest rated climbing routes for Ship Rock:
Edge of a Dream   5.7 5a 15 V+ 13 MVS 4b     Trad, 70'   Upper Tier
Boardwalk   5.8 5b 16 VI- 15 HVS 4c     Trad, 2 pitches, 130'   Main Tier
Hindu Kush   5.8 5b 16 VI- 15 HVS 4c     Trad, 2 pitches, 180'   Main Tier
Lost at Sea   5.8 5b 16 VI- 15 HVS 4c     Trad, 70'   Upper Tier
Walk The Plank   5.8 5b 16 VI- 15 HVS 4c     Trad, 1 pitch, 80'   Upper Tier
Maiden Voyage   5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a     Trad, 1 pitch, 70'   Upper Tier
Borrowed Time   5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a     Trad, 1 pitch, 60'   Main Tier
Airlie Gardens   5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a     Trad, 2 pitches, 130'   Main Tier
Fire Point   5.9+ 5c 17 VI 17 E1 5a R     Trad, 1 pitch, 100'   Main Tier
Harpoon   5.10a 6a 18 VI+ 18 E1 5a     Trad, 1 pitch, 50'   Main Tier
Linn Cove Lullaby   5.10a 6a 18 VI+ 18 E1 5a     Trad, 2 pitches, 120'   Main Tier
KB Capers   5.10a 6a 18 VI+ 18 E1 5a     Trad, 2 pitches, 140'   Main Tier
Special Forces   5.11a 6c 22 VII+ 22 E3 5c R     Trad, Sport, 1 pitch, 80'   Main Tier
BOG Man   5.11a 6c 22 VII+ 22 E3 5c     Trad, 2 pitches, 110'   Main Tier
Welcome to Watauga   5.11a 6c 22 VII+ 22 E3 5c     Trad, 2 pitches, 110'   Main Tier
First Flight   5.11- 6c 22 VIII+ 22 E3 5c     Trad, 2 pitches, 150'   Main Tier
Anguish of Captain Bligh   5.11b 6c 23 VIII- 23 E3 5c     Trad, 1 pitch, 50'   Main Tier
Gumfighter   5.11+ 7a 24 VIII 24 E4 6a     Trad, 1 pitch, 80'   Main Tier
The Broach   5.11d 7a 24 VIII 25 E5 6a     Trad, 2 pitches, 140'   Main Tier
Alternative Man   5.12b/c 7b+ 27 IX- 27 E6 6b PG13     Trad, 2 pitches, 200'   Main Tier
Browse More Rock Climbing Classics in Ship Rock

Featured Route For Ship Rock
Rock Climbing Photo: Me leading P1 of Airlie

Airlie Gardens 5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a  North Carolina : Ship Rock : Main Tier
One of the best 5.9 in the entire state. It has great movement, tons of exposure, and bomber gear. Both pitches have unique features that are hard to beat anywhere.P1 begins next to a tree in a shallow right facing dihedral. Follow this to a short unprotected face. Continue up to the left side of the arete. Be sure to place the crucial piece of gear here before pulling around. Pull around the sharp arete to the right and up. There is an optional piece of gear out right, but can cause a lo...[more]   Browse More Classics in North Carolina

Photos of Ship Rock Slideshow Add Photo
Rock Climbing Photo: This photo was taken from just North of the Linn C...
BETA PHOTO: This photo was taken from just North of the Linn C...
Rock Climbing Photo: Mike Trew on Special Opps 12a Ship Rock
Mike Trew on Special Opps 12a Ship Rock
Rock Climbing Photo: Stunning scenery at Ship Rock.
Stunning scenery at Ship Rock.
Rock Climbing Photo: Ship Rock from the Grandmother overlook at Grandfa...
Ship Rock from the Grandmother overlook at Grandfa...
Rock Climbing Photo: Beautiful view of Grandfather Mountain while climb...
Beautiful view of Grandfather Mountain while climb...
Rock Climbing Photo: From the BRP
From the BRP
Rock Climbing Photo: Boardwalk
Rock Climbing Photo: The ships prow?
The ships prow?
Rock Climbing Photo: SS and SF on the Blue Ridge Parkway Oct. 09
SS and SF on the Blue Ridge Parkway Oct. 09
Rock Climbing Photo: A view south from the top of Ship Rock towards Tab...
A view south from the top of Ship Rock towards Tab...

Comments on Ship Rock Add Comment
Show which comments
By Nick Stayner
From: Wymont Kingdom
Mar 27, 2007
As of 3/7/07, the NPS is closing the clifftop of Shiprock. Everything above Anguish/Harpoon is off-limits, and all descents of the main tier must utilize the Boardwalk rappel. Go to for more info.
By John Braun
From: Hendersonville, NC
Nov 5, 2013
Can dogs make it to the Upper Tier?
By D B
From: Denver
Nov 5, 2013
They can, saw a couple last weekend. Tie them up if other people are around, though!
By bumbum
Dec 3, 2014
By Benandstuff
From: Winston-Salem, NC
Jun 5, 2017
This crag is without a doubt one of the best crags I have been to. The quality of everything- rock, climbing, approach, protection,setting- it's all either great or utterly fantastic. Highly recommend.
By Brian Payst
From: Carrboro,NC
Jun 12, 2017
Friendly reminder - please do not park alongside the parkway. You can park in the Rough Ridge lot before you get to Ship (headed South) or at the Wilson Creek pull off just past the cliff. The approach is basically the same for each.
By Brian Abram
From: Celo, NC
Jun 15, 2017
FWIW, I've have asked park law enforcement about this, and I was told you can park on the side of the road anywhere on the Blue Ridge Parkway that does not have a No Parking sign except for the Asheville Watershed area, as long as all four wheels are off the pavement. That doesn't mean folks should not try to keep as low a presence as possible, but that is what I was told. And there is an argument to be made for climbers to not take up a bunch of parking at the often overflowing Rough Ridge trailhead lot
From: Winston-Salem, NC
Jun 15, 2017
This was my understanding, as well. It always seemed strange to me that climbers were held to a special parking standard that no other group on the parkway was required to obey. That being said. I am all for parking in a paved area where it makes sense.
By Scott Phil
From: NC
Jun 15, 2017
I'm speculating, but any restriction may be due to proximity to the viaduct or being on Grandfather Mountain. It is a fragile environment which is why the viaduct exists.

Even if there is no restriction, a concentration of climbers parking in the same area would quickly impact the road shoulder and lead to a formal restriction.

It's not that climbers are held to a different standard, but that we would all want to park in the same places. The policy of allowing parking on the shoulder is too encourage picnics, photography, etc. -- activities that tend to spread people out.

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