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The Refuge

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The Refuge Rock Climbing 

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Location: 33.2728, -111.0475 View Map  Incorrect?
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Administrators: Greg Opland, Luke Bertelsen, JJ Schlick, Kristine Hoffman (sitewide)
Submitted By: arjunmh on Nov 22, 2011
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The white wolf at the upper end of The Refuge, nea...

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The Refuge is the valley of Upper Hackberry Creek. We had a great year and a half of developing routes here and are now happy to put these routes out there for more enjoyment. We named it The Refuge as it is not only a refuge from the mining exploration, but also is a particularly peaceful and wildlife-filled region. While it lacks the running water of Devils Creek, it shows obvious signs of plentiful groundwater and hosts all sorts of wildlife beyond cattle. The road through The Refuge connects with a better-traveled dirt road that comes in off 177 and is a fun 4WD adventure trip.

There are currently four climbing areas in the Refuge, listed here from north to south (see map): Dog Town; The Torch; Faulty Towers; and Godhead, which is further divided as Godhead North and Godhead South. There is now also an area between the two, Heaven's Gate, that is not shown on the area map in the mini guide. Each area has separate trails in and there are three easy parking areas. We are projecting in other areas and now have an updated mini guide. There are over 80 climbs set and ready for you to explore. The approaches to the various climbing areas are short and easy to find with cairns. We hope you enjoy!

Please thank Geir Hundal for posting our mini-guide to this area! Also thanks Melina Lew for much improving the original mini guide with her editing and graphic arts skills.

The NEW (August 5, 2012) mini guide is posted here:

And, note that the original guide is still posted at:

Rock: Rock quality is mixed, ranging from superb for the north facing climbs to quite poor for some of the south- and west-facing climbs. We have done a lot of work cleaning the loose rock away, but there is always the potential for loose holds to remain. Climbs will naturally improve with more use: so, don’t shy away from them. By and large, the quality of climbing is surprisingly good.

Ethic: We follow traditional climbing guidelines when setting these climbs by going ground-up and placing bolts only when needed. Note that if the rock quality is poor we will only put in a bolt if we had a 5.5” bolt handy. There are just a few exceptions with some harder routes that we decided to bolt entirely and we call these routes “Sport.”

Anchors: We have adapted the EFR approach to top anchors: in most cases we use two hangers with quick links and carabiners (standard). In some cases chain is added to decrease rope drag. When a top belay is advised only two hangers with quick links to rap rings are rigged.

NOTE: THE ANCHOR BINERS ARE NOT BOOTY!! Please leave in place. Copying Marcy's photo from LDE, this is what a typical anchor with biners in place looks like unless we've gotten around to painting it. Please follow the ethic of LDE and if you see worn biners replace them or let us know. Thanks and enjoy!

Rock Climbing Photo: LDE anchor by Marcy as a good example.
LDE anchor by Marcy as a good example.]]h...

Getting There 

The Refuge can be accessed from the same gravel road that heads off south from the Magma Mine paved road that you would take to get to all other Lower Devils Canyon climbing areas. At the base of the steep switchbacks turn right on a gravel road—this portion of the road looks like a wash but is actually Hackberry Creek— that heads up the valley that you would have been looking south into as you descended the switchbacks; the stock pond and the windmill can be viewed ahead of you. This valley is the upper extent (headwaters) of Hackberry Creek. Please refer to the overview location map to see how The Refuge is oriented relative to the better-known landmarks for LD.

Climbing Season

Weather station 2.1 miles from here

119 Total Climbing Routes

['4 Stars',2],['3 Stars',47],['2 Stars',54],['1 Star',15],['Bomb',1]

Classic Climbing Routes in The Refuge

Mountain Project's determination of the classic, most popular, highest rated climbing routes for The Refuge:
L.S.D.   5.10a 6a 18 VI+ 18 E1 5a     Sport, 1 pitch, 60'   The Torch : Wall Drug
Torchraker   5.10b 6a+ 19 VII- 19 E2 5b     Trad, 1 pitch, 50'   The Torch : The Torch
Torched   5.10b 6a+ 19 VII- 19 E2 5b     Trad, 1 pitch, 35'   The Torch : The Torch
Stairway to Heaven   5.10 6b 20 VII- 19 E2 5b     Trad, Sport, 1 pitch, 100'   Heaven's Gate
Shadow Boxing   5.10 6b 20 VII- 19 E2 5b     Sport, 1 pitch, 100'   The Torch : Shadow Buttresses
Octabulgey   5.10c 6b 20 VII 20 E2 5b     Trad, 1 pitch, 110'   The Torch : The Bulges
Lighting the Torch   5.10c 6b 20 VII 20 E2 5b     Trad, 1 pitch, 35'   The Torch : The Torch
Gabriel's Watch   5.11c 6c+ 24 VIII- 24 E4 6a     Sport, 1 pitch, 135'   Godhead South : The Face of God
Live and Let Dyno   5.11c/d 7a 24 VIII 25 E4 6a     Sport, 1 pitch, 100'   The Torch : The Torch
Double Fault   5.12 7b+ 27 VIII+ 26 E6 6b     Sport, 1 pitch, 60'   Faulty Towers : The Towers
Browse More Rock Climbing Classics in The Refuge

Featured Route For The Refuge
Rock Climbing Photo: AMH nearing the end of the crux section on the FA.

Stairway to Heaven 5.10 6b 20 VII- 19 E2 5b  Arizona : Central Arizona : ... : Heaven's Gate
The prominent and narrow arête that points to the southwest towards the northern side of this area. Just to the right of "In Alignment" and starts about 20-30 ft to the right. Climb the lower crest of this arête through easy ground protecting with gear. Clip the first bolt as the gear thins and the climbing gets more challenging. Stay on the arête crest to maintain the exposure and the grade. Clip 3 more bolts and protect with solid gear through the steeper crux section. Easier ground with go...[more]   Browse More Classics in Arizona

Photos of The Refuge Slideshow Add Photo
Rock Climbing Photo: They've started monitoring our new development wor...
They've started monitoring our new development wor...
Rock Climbing Photo: 257 Fire in the Refuge; this year.
257 Fire in the Refuge; this year.
Rock Climbing Photo: the refuge
the refuge
Rock Climbing Photo: Godhead south and heaven's gate area after the 257...
Godhead south and heaven's gate area after the 257...
Rock Climbing Photo: Faulty towers area after the 257 fire
Faulty towers area after the 257 fire
Rock Climbing Photo: The most excellent seeming, but very hard new proj...
The most excellent seeming, but very hard new proj...
Rock Climbing Photo: The Icy Torch!
The Icy Torch!
Rock Climbing Photo: Looking down at The Torch area and DogTown in the ...
Looking down at The Torch area and DogTown in the ...
Rock Climbing Photo: Ah, la, sometimes we just have to sip espresso and...
Ah, la, sometimes we just have to sip espresso and...
Rock Climbing Photo: Refuge Climbing areas map
BETA PHOTO: Refuge Climbing areas map
Rock Climbing Photo: Overview map
BETA PHOTO: Overview map
Rock Climbing Photo: The Torch
The Torch

Comments on The Refuge Add Comment
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Comments displayed oldest to newestSkip Ahead to the Most Recent Dated Jan 8, 2017
By arjunmh
From: Phoenix & Prescott, AZ
Nov 23, 2011
Note that better resolution topo maps will be in the mini guide and that climb descriptions will all be posted as soon as possible.
By Geir
From: Tucson, AZ
Nov 24, 2011
yay!!!!! i am so glad that you guys have posted up this wonderful area!

arjun, david, and friends did a terrific job of putting up some truly fun routes. i was lucky enough to climb a couple of these routes already and have had a great time every time i have gone there.

take some time to check out these climbs, they are definitely worth it!
By arjunmh
From: Phoenix & Prescott, AZ
Nov 25, 2011
Thanks Geir! You and Marcy were major sources of inspiration for me with your development in LDE. I absolutely LOVED those days of being over there while you two were getting that area going and it was awesome to meet DAS and have a route-setting partner (thanks to Marcy's introduction!) at the same time that the road cleanup gained us such easy access to The Refuge. Yay indeed! Good timing all around, and it continues to be a delightful refuge for us all. Hopefully more can now enjoy.
By Ben Beard
From: Superior, AZ
Dec 1, 2011
As far as the road goes, as of November 2011, if you can drive to Lower Devil's, you are able to drive up to the Refuge. Also, I would recommend helmets for the belayer as there is still some loose there. Nice job on developing the area! Still a lot of rock out there!
By susan peplow
From: Joshua Tree
Dec 9, 2011
I like to see the new stuff getting posted. I'm pretty excited to see what you've done to the area. All this activity just as I leave AZ for CA full-time. Guess I'll start reversing my trips and head east for the cool stuff.

Keep 'em coming guys! Very exciting!
By arjunmh
From: Phoenix & Prescott, AZ
Jan 18, 2012
Was great to see so many folks out in The Refuge the last couple weekends. Glad to see interest growing and hope you all give us feedback and input to help us improve the area and also any suggestions. Am posting a draft version of a mini-guide (i.e. w/o any formatting and haven't done a detailed proof-read yet) to help as you find your way down there. Please bear with me as I figure out how to get the high resolution images that the topos were based on down to a manageable size for a mini guide. For now, the resolution isn't great.

This draft is now posted thanks to Geir on his web site:
By arjunmh
From: Phoenix & Prescott, AZ
Feb 6, 2012
David and I remain psyched to see so many new faces around the Refuge. Glad you're enjoying and do post comments and any input about grades and rock quality as we would love your input.

ALSO, PLEASE PICK UP YOUR CIGARETTE BUTTS! We found a bunch of Marlboro butts scattered around at Dog Town yesterday and it was awful. Would really appreciate you picking up your trash and being respectful of the efforts that we and others have put into making this a real refuge. Thanks much!
By Catherine Conner
From: Phoenix, AZ
Mar 5, 2012
Arjun, David - Great job on the Refuge-I love climbing there! Glad it's posted, it's cool seeing people headed out there. So much FUN!!!!
By arjunmh
From: Phoenix & Prescott, AZ
Mar 5, 2012
Thanks Catherine! It's very cool to get good feedback and to see so many folks out enjoying the place.

Also, I found a blue jacket in Dog Town yesterday and have it with me to return to whoever lost it. Just get in touch. Will post on Dog Town too.
By arjunmh
From: Phoenix & Prescott, AZ
Aug 5, 2012
See above Refuge description for link to new mini guide.
By Geir
From: Tucson, AZ
Aug 6, 2012
I just looked over the new Refuge guide and it is fantastic. Nice work!!
By Ben Beard
From: Superior, AZ
Aug 19, 2012
As a result of the fire and the recent rains, the numerous stream crossings on the road to the Refuge (~10 crossings?) have a large amount of mud/silt. If there aren't ruts to drive through, there is a high risk of getting stuck. The mud/silt can be a foot deep. If there has been any recent rains, make sure you have good 4x4 skills or plan on walking the road.
By arjunmh
From: Phoenix & Prescott, AZ
Oct 2, 2012
Hanna and I managed to get back in to The Refuge last weekend and it was a terrific day to be out there. Mild in the shade (late morning in Heaven's Gate, after lunch at the Glade Wall) and totally pleasant. Yes, the road's in bad shape after the rains. Yes, it's sad to see the post-fire damage to the groves of trees that helped create the aura of the Refuge, but recovery is a natural part of these cycles. With the exception of the loss of the older oaks and juniper, most of veg will likely be back within a couple years. The soils, on the other hand, will take longer to replenish and so we have much trail work to do to repair the access to the areas. Fun times once it gets cooler for trail work!

Lastly, the road is definitely high clearance now and there are a few parts, especially getting back up the switchbacks, that are helped considerably 4WD.
By Geir
From: Tucson, AZ
Oct 3, 2012
Hey Arjun!

Psyched to hear thet the Refuge temps are getting comfortable again. I look forward to getting out there and climbing some more of the routes you guys established!
By arjunmh
From: Phoenix & Prescott, AZ
Oct 4, 2012
Hey Geir!
I was looking back over the years and noting that this is about the time when I've gotten back into LDE (the years before we got into developing The Refuge) and, before that, LD, and so many fond memories of my favorite area. Yes, looking forward to being out with you again soon. And, for a fantastic occasion very soon!

On another note, the "pink" rock that David notes in his photo from earlier in the summer turns out to be fire retardant. Hanna and I noted the swaths of pink from on top of our first climb in Heaven's Gate (one of yours and Marcy's) last weekend and investigated more closely when we headed over to Glade Wall after lunch. Well, the helicopter or plane obviously laid down these broad bands of fire retardant to help stop the spread of the fire! So, we've got nicely painted pink rocks all over the place now ... not nearly as bad as it sounds. You should see the turquoise pom-poms.
By Marcy
From: Tempe/Tuscon, AZ
Oct 9, 2012
Thanks for the update, Arjun! Geir and I are planning to be out that way very soon, perhaps as quick break from planning the upcoming festivities in the Stonghold. Looking forward to seeing you and Hanna again!
By arjunmh
From: Phoenix & Prescott, AZ
Oct 30, 2012
An excellent weekend in the Refuge and the road improvement that Ben mentioned for LD extends all the way to the drill pad. Such an honor to have Geir and Marcy wind down their climbing honeymoon in The Refuge, and to have Jim come out for the first time and check it out. And, Lori's Jeep gets ready to tackle the road south!
By Jimbo
Oct 31, 2012
I can't remember the last time I had so much fun climbing. A great combination of great routes and great people. We climbed stuff from 5.7 to 5.11 and it all had great movement on truely unique rock.
The horizontals are outrageous for gear and hand holds!!
By David Arthur Sampson
Nov 9, 2012
Hoot! The season is open. If you are ever looking for me you can find me here!
By arjunmh
From: Phoenix & Prescott, AZ
Nov 26, 2012
STASH STOLEN!! Am afraid I have bad news to report. David and my development stash was stolen from its hiding place behind rocks and brush just uphill of the Dog Town parking area and camping spot. It was one of those large Action Packers, spray painted brown, and filled with a new static line and 3 dynamic ropes. A big loss in terms of gear, but a bigger loss in terms of our faith in humanity. This theft will obviously result in some seriously bad Karma for whoever took it and this post is just a heads up to our community in case you may have witnessed something, or have word of such gear suddenly for sale somewhere. I will try to keep the faith, but this was a seriously bad discovery yesterday while we were out there on a stellar day. Thanks for any input/help if you have it.
By Geir
From: Tucson, AZ
Nov 26, 2012
I posted up on the Queen Creek page but thought I would add a response here too. Sorry to hear about this David and Arjun! I will be happy to donate to you guys to help recover some of your loss.
By arjunmh
From: Phoenix & Prescott, AZ
Oct 30, 2013
David and I got back in last Friday and were greeted by a road that looks more like a creek bed than a road from The Torch onwards. Pretty rough all the way in -- Not having the mine activity in here means we've got the monsoon to deal with! Good to see the vegetation coming in to help mask the fire impacts and oh so great to be back in there! It's going to be a tougher drive in though...
By arjunmh
From: Phoenix & Prescott, AZ
Dec 22, 2013
No road improvements up this way, but somehow not seeming as bad as it did a couple months ago. Maybe the rain helped.
By arjunmh
From: Phoenix & Prescott, AZ
Oct 6, 2014
Like DAS wrote 2 years ago November, "hoot, the season's open" (but, I'm staying out of the sun for a while yet, ooof!). LOTS of trail work to be done to get this area back in order -- the rains have brought much revegetation after the fires and, of course, wiped out much of our old trail work.

Whoever that Norther Devils trail worker was sure would be appreciated down here, hee hee! Trails lined with rocks and the like, wow. Anyway, hopefully we'll revive the trails. In the meantime, the road's not that bad, though high clearance is needed as always.
By Gaar
From: Springdale / Zion UT / Moab
Dec 8, 2015
As of today (dec8th) with a normal 4LO, competent driver, and a very small set of nuts you can drive back to godhead north and park at the oil pad..Further then that you'll want more vehicle....
By arjunmh
From: Phoenix & Prescott, AZ
Jan 8, 2017
The biners attached to quick links at the anchors ARE NOT BOOTY! PLEASE DO NOT TAKE. Over the last few weeks, I've been stunned to find many of our hard placed biners gone throughout Lower Devils and also in The Refuges. Please leave the biners in place! Gradually we are replacing with chains as it's frustrating to be constantly losing these key parts of the anchors.

NOTE The picture above!

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