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Pictured Rocks

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A Wall 
Chicago Wall 
Collin's wall aka Parking lot wall 
Comic Gallery 
Flying Buttress 
Gumby Wall 
Ice Cave Wall 
Mild Iowa Wall 
Primal Wall 
Razorblade Boulder 
Waystation , The 
Wild Iowa Wall 
Windy Point 
Rest Day:
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From MP's sister site:

Pictured Rocks Rock Climbing 

Photos:  Recent | Best | Popular
Location: 42.2085, -91.102 View Map  Incorrect?
Page Views: 73,020
Administrators: Bill McKirgan, Kristine Hoffman (sitewide)
Submitted By: Jon Lauters on Jan 4, 2008  with updates from Adam Knutson

87° | 62°

78° | 52°

69° | 45°

72° | 48°

66° | 43°

67° | 45°
You & This Area
Best climbs for YOU in this area
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Matt leading Buddha in the Comic Gallery area


Pictured Rocks is probably the most popular climbing area in eastern Iowa. It is often busy on fall and spring weekends. During the fall and spring, there are classes from the University of Iowa on Sunday that top rope on A Wall. During summer and early fall, the trees provide lots of shade on most walls. Windy Point often gets wind as the name implies. The rock quality is better for Pictured than other locations due to the amount of traffic the routes receive, but this also has caused polishing on a lot of routes. Due to the nature of the rock, after a good rain, the rock will drip for up to a few days after the rain depending on weather conditions.

Getting There 

Take 151 towards Monticello, get off at exit 65, and turn south on 38. Follow the signs to Pictured Rocks county park by turning left on 190th Street and follow this past Camp Courageous. The road will turn to gravel after the camps. This gravel road is the access road for the park. Once you get to the bottom of the hill, turn left. This will take you slightly uphill to a turn around with parking areas. You will see a picnic shelter and primitive restroom facilities.

The main trail to the climbs is beyond the picnic shelter. There is no longer camping at this park which is managed by Jones County, Iowa.

ORIENTATION: Getting to know Pictured Rocks
Collin's Wall is right at the parking lot. Gumby Wall is left of Collin's Wall, it is the wall and detatched pillar which can be seen right before you take your left into the parking lot on the left side. Chicago Wall can be reached by goin to the right instead of left. The rest of the walls are accessed from the main trail as you walk farther into the park.

Climbing Season

Weather station 6.9 miles from here

66 Total Climbing Routes

['4 Stars',2],['3 Stars',25],['2 Stars',29],['1 Star',7],['Bomb',0]

Classic Climbing Routes in Pictured Rocks

Mountain Project's determination of the classic, most popular, highest rated climbing routes for Pictured Rocks:
Collin's Crack   5.6 4c 14 V 12 S 4b PG13     Trad, TR, 30'   Collin's wall aka Parking l...
Tarzan   5.7 5a 15 V+ 13 MVS 4b     Sport, 50'   Shiprock
Mild Iowa   5.8 5b 16 VI- 15 HVS 4c     Sport, 40'   Mild Iowa Wall
Jugular   5.8 5b 16 VI- 15 HVS 4c     Sport, 40'   Mild Iowa Wall
The Young and the Bold   5.8 5b 16 VI- 15 HVS 4c     Sport, 30'   Collin's wall aka Parking l...
Whipper Snapper   5.8 5b 16 VI- 15 HVS 4c     Sport, 40'   Mild Iowa Wall
Over The Counter   5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a PG13     Sport, 75'   Shiprock
Hollywood on a Buck O' Five   5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a     Sport   Windy Point
Schoolio   5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a     Sport, 40'   Ice Cave Wall
Three Strikes No Balls   5.10a 6a 18 VI+ 18 E1 5a     Sport, 40'   Comic Gallery
Hope for a Boner   5.10a 6a 18 VI+ 18 E1 5a     Sport, 40'   A Wall
Atropine   5.10a 6a 18 VI+ 18 E1 5a     Sport, 30'   Wild Iowa Wall
Virgin Lemonade   5.10a 6a 18 VI+ 18 E1 5a     Sport, 30'   Wild Iowa Wall
Silk Road (aka Somn Somn)   5.10b 6a+ 19 VII- 19 E2 5b     Sport, 70'   Shiprock
Tazmanian Devil   5.10d 6b+ 21 VII+ 21 E3 5b     Sport, 30'   Comic Gallery
Ghost Dancer   5.11a 6c 22 VII+ 22 E3 5c     Sport, 70'   A Wall
Border Town Donkey Show   5.11a 6c 22 VII+ 22 E3 5c     Sport   Windy Point
Bird in Hand   5.11b 6c 23 VIII- 23 E3 5c     Sport, 30'   Wild Iowa Wall
Flash   5.11b 6c 23 VIII- 23 E3 5c     Sport, 50'   Comic Gallery
Super Fly   5.11b 6c 23 VIII- 23 E3 5c     Sport, 70'   A Wall
Browse More Rock Climbing Classics in Pictured Rocks

Featured Route For Pictured Rocks
Rock Climbing Photo: Jason crushing the Donkey Show

Border Town Donkey Show 5.11a 6c 22 VII+ 22 E3 5c  Iowa : Pictured Rocks : Windy Point
Climbs up the arete. This route has seen more traffic as of fall of '07 possibly reducing the amount of loose rock. More recently, Joe Stark and Troy Davidson have done some scaling work over the winter with the approval of the land managers to remove the dangerous choss (ie, loose rock) so that it is now a safe and worthwhile climb....[more]   Browse More Classics in Iowa

Photos of Pictured Rocks Slideshow Add Photo
Rock Climbing Photo: Just getting back into the park 3/30/14 and overco...
Just getting back into the park 3/30/14 and overco...
Rock Climbing Photo: Jonny in Pictured Rocks.
Jonny in Pictured Rocks.
Rock Climbing Photo: Pictured Rock climbing topo from Jones County cons...
BETA PHOTO: Pictured Rock climbing topo from Jones County cons...
Rock Climbing Photo: Leading a route at Mild Iowa
Leading a route at Mild Iowa
Rock Climbing Photo: ...
Rock Climbing Photo: parking lot shot
parking lot shot
Rock Climbing Photo: thick ground cover flourishes at pictured rocks
thick ground cover flourishes at pictured rocks

Comments on Pictured Rocks Add Comment
Show which comments
Comments displayed oldest to newestSkip Ahead to the Most Recent Dated Sep 15, 2016
By Jon Lauters
From: Boulder, Co
Jan 6, 2008
A lot of this information is just ported over from There was nothing for Iowa listed, and I noticed that no current Iowa residences had spoken up in regards to two posts asking info about Iowa climbing.
By Greg J. Wencl
From: Logan
Jan 30, 2008
Nice to get some Iowa climbing up, thanks!
By Michael Schneiter
From: Glenwood Springs, CO
Feb 7, 2008
Jon, thanks for putting Iowa on the Mountain Project map. I was going to do so myself but never got around to it. I grew up in Monticello and have many fond memories of tromping around in Pictured Rocks and the surrounding area.
By Kaner
From: Eagle
Mar 6, 2008

this site has a lot of good info and is the reason i never tried putting up an iowa section. thanks for doing it though

edit: pdf guidebooks are no longer available thru that link.
By Jon Lauters
From: Boulder, Co
Apr 3, 2008
Thanks for the comments, glad to help. Hope to see some more pictures posted as things warm up and we are all getting out.
By Jon Lauters
From: Boulder, Co
Sep 16, 2008
A few updates:
There is no longer overnight camping allowed at Pictured Rocks or open fires.

This Saturday (September 20th) is the annual Pictured Rocks Adopt-A-Crag cleanup show up for some trail work, a gear raffle and some climbing!
By Eric Porter
From: Keiler Wi.
Nov 2, 2008
Hey all,

I am looking for a climbing partner at pictured rock or elsewhere.
I climb mostly tr 9-10 at devils lake. I have most of the pro needed to lead just haven't had the chance.Would like a partner to do some extensive tr or lead at the lake or anywhere else.
By Dan Roberts
From: Eastern Iowa
Feb 16, 2009
P-Rocks is just a fun place to climb. Don't be afraid to explore up river once the trail narrows. Over the Counter is a classic anywhere so go find it.
By Langlois
From: NYC
Oct 29, 2009
Big thanks to who ever has been rebolting and fixing anchors (ICC?). Really appreciate all the time and effort into keeping this place a fun safe place to climb
By crimpandpeel
Nov 15, 2009
Glad to see people are noticing improvements to P.R.. this is going to be an ongoing process for a few months so please be patient. This isn't the ICC doing it but a few of us were elected to bring this area back where it needs to be and safety is at the top. So, more to come out there and thanks for the props. have fun and climb hard and safe.
By J. Stark
From: Iowa
Jul 2, 2011
I am going to start leaving steel snap links at the tops of routes at Pictured Rocks. Threading a lower is a time-consuming pain in the ass. Please respect this gear donation by leaving the links in place.
By Michael Schneiter
From: Glenwood Springs, CO
Jul 3, 2011
JStark, what do you mean by "snap links"? Are you talking about hardware store stuff?

If you're serious about making lowering stations on the anchors, I really encourage you to use good hardware. Stuff like the CAMP Gym Safe carabiners are great because they have a pin that is placed and removed with a small allen wrench, thus making it really hard for people to take.
By Michael Schneiter
From: Glenwood Springs, CO
Jul 4, 2011
I grew up in Monticello so I have great love for the place. Unfortunately, I don't get to climb there much but I agree, the place needs some serious care. I have a lot of experience replacing bad bolts and doing anchor work where I live now and I would love to help out with the work at Pictured Rocks but I keep hearing there is resistance from some climbers and obstacles from the park's governing body to doing some of that work. Some of the bolts and anchors just make me shudder with fear. I would love to see the use of glue-ins at this area. They are such a great bolt for the long term.

Good on you for helping out JStark. I ask about the "snap links" because snap links from the hardware store tend to be inappropriate for climbing. Recently I was looking at snap links at Lowe's and saw they had a working load limit of 250 lbs. Quick links and cold shuts have much higher working load limits so that's why most people have much greater trust in those compared to a snap link. Plus, the snap link gates tend to be really poor and often don't close smoothly, greatly increasing the chances of having a weighted snap link with the gate open.

Those CAMP gym safe carabiners are great and we use them a lot in our area. I think the snap links would likely be taken by people but the CAMP biners are much harder to take. In places like the Owens River Gorge, Mussey hooks are popular and can serve the same purpose. Fixe also makes a nice steel carabiner just like the CAMP and they also have the Draco, which is pretty much useless to a regular climber, thus helping to keep people from taking them.
By Michael Schneiter
From: Glenwood Springs, CO
Jul 6, 2011
Troy, good on you guys for replacing the stuff. I really thank you. I was long tempted to start replacing stuff myself but because I don't live there anymore and rarely get back to climb I didn't feel it was my place. I am totally happy to help any time I am back home and have access to free stainless hardware from other rebolting projects that I help with.

Regarding the links, I asked because he mentioned "snap links", which are these , and not "quick links", which are these. I brought it up because recently I've found people using snap links to bail and use at anchors which seems rather poor style considering their cost and the relatively cheap cost of a carabiner when considering what they are rated for. Quick links, on the other hand, I have no issue with and I use well over a hundred a year on the climbs I establish or help maintain.
By crimpandpeel
Jul 7, 2011
No problem, i can always use some help doing one of many things out at P.R.. I'm really trying to make the place safer and in all better for everyone, i hope you get out and enjoy it and thanks.
By J. Stark
From: Iowa
Jul 7, 2011
I agree with you, Michael. I hadn't properly researched the breaking strength of snap links. I thought 3/8" stainless would have been stronger. Thanks for the spot! Any leavers I put up will be the CAMP USA Gym Safe carabiners mentioned above.
By Matt Kowske
From: Madison, WI
Oct 6, 2011
Anyone have camping suggestions? Can you not tent in the park?
By Michael Schneiter
From: Glenwood Springs, CO
Oct 6, 2011
No more camping, is my understanding. Walnut Acres is a private campground in town or Central Park, a county park is pretty close.
By yaniv schiff
Jun 6, 2013
Can anyone provide an update on the camping situation at Pictured Rocks? Leaving tomorrow.

By Mees
From: Iowa
Jun 7, 2013
camping is not allowed at PR.
" Walnut Acres is a private campground in town (Monticello) or Central Park, a county park is pretty close."
Another option would be camping at Indian Bluffs
By crimpandpeel
Aug 5, 2013
Hey person that is putting fixed biners on the Wild Iowa wall- I need you to please contact me asap as there is a problem with your set-ups. If you don't respond by Saturday August 10th- I'm going to remove your systems and go back to quicklinks. You are compromising the anchor systems that took me over a year fix them all. I am very serious about this, it's a safety issue- and this goes for all routes at Pictured Rocks.
Any routes that climbers would like to have fixed biners on, you need to contact Joe Stark or Troy Davison, we will review it and if it's agreed on, we will install the system to the correct and proper requirements and gear- any routes equipped by anyone else will be takin down and gear turned in to the county and not returned. Safety is top priority here and at any climbing area.

thank you

By Bill McKirgan
From: Cedar Rapids, IA
Apr 2, 2014
Here's a report...albeit late.

The park gate was open last weekend. Just a trace of snow/ice under leafs on the trails. One large fallen tree blocks the trail as it approaches ice cave. That fell due to wind. Nearby other smaller trees are down because of beavers.

Things were dry enough at Mild, A, and B wall, Ship. Didn't see anyone on Wild. Not sure how wet that area is/was.
By Robyn515a
Dec 6, 2014
Has anyone followed up on the anchor situation in the area (e.g., Troy, Mike)? I would be happy to first contact the agency to communicate the need to update anchors to minimize risk/liability, decrease resource impacts and improve access/climbing experiences. We could check on the current achor systems and replace compromised gear after an expert consensus of anchor type and location. Mike S... has anyone ever organized a Friends of Pictured Rocks? I am back in the area and could contact the UNI cohort to rekindle interest. I will visit the area and give a report in mid-December.
By J. Stark
From: Iowa
Dec 6, 2014
All anchors in Pictured Rocks have been recently checked. Bad bolts were replaced and existing hardware was painted. There is a climbing management committee that works with the DNR to maintain the bolts and trails.

The Iowa Climber's Coalition has been hosting annual trail building days as well. Many of the trails & belays have received facelifts. The park is starting to look great. New walls and new routes are on the horizon.
By Erik Keldahl
May 12, 2015
Does anyone have an overhead topo of the area (walls/trails in relation to parking lot)? Would be handy to print for first time visitors like myself.
By pete cutler
From: Des Moines, IA
Oct 23, 2015
Whats the deal with the rock on the other side of the river? Looks great, and sunny for colder days. Is it in the park or on private land? Access?
By J. Stark
From: Iowa
Oct 23, 2015
The other side of the river is part of Pictured Rocks, but currently is off-limits for climbing.

The Iowa Climber's Coalition has been working to expand the area available to climbing at Pictured Rocks. Hopefully the other side of the river will one day be on the plate.
By pete cutler
From: Des Moines, IA
Oct 24, 2015
From a distance the climbing over there looks like some serious potential. Any thoughts on how to help open access?
By Mees
From: Iowa
Nov 4, 2015
It's not as good as it looks over there near the main areas. The best routes in that section of the park are on the open side.
By Cryo
From: Bolingbrook, Illinois
Mar 24, 2016
I know it has been awhile since anyone has mention/asked about a guide book for this place.

Any chance anyone has the PDF they used to have or have news on a new one? Would love to have a copy for my collection for when I head out there.
By Kyle Goodnow
From: Columbus, Ohio
Sep 13, 2016
Hey just moved to Iowa this year and I am looking to do some climbing in the area. Any guidebook for the area or does a local want to make a buddy and show me around?
By Mees
From: Iowa
Sep 15, 2016
New digital guide for Iowa Sport Climbing just released
Updates will be frequent and encourage feedback

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