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Valley of the Moon

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Valley of the Moon Rock Climbing 

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Location: 32.631, -116.0788 View Map  Incorrect?
Page Views: 31,919
Administrators: Marc Kajut, M. Morley, Adam Stackhouse, Salamanizer suchoski, Justin Johnsen, Vicki Schwantes, Kristine Hoffman (sitewide)
Submitted By: mschlocker on Apr 16, 2007

68° | 52°

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69° | 52°

74° | 55°

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76° | 57°
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me on a great 10 @ VOM

Current San Diego County Advisories MORE INFO >>>


A miniature version of Joshua Tree right at the border between San Diego and Imperial Counties. Also on the border of Mexico! Higher elevation keeps this area slightly cooler than close-by desert areas. A mix of sport and trad routes with an emphasis on sport. See Dave Kennedy's guide for more detailed information.

Getting There 

Requires 4WD vehicle. 8 east, exit In-Ko-Pah Park Rd. Two qick rights gets you going West on the 80 for about 100 yards where you enter the dirt road on the south side of the road. Head leftish on this to end up heading south east. The road number is 155. Through some hills for 2+ miles and park at a turn - around. Do not drive into the areas posted as wilderness. Continue hiking down the road for ~1/2 hour to formations reminiscent of Joshua Tree.

Climbing Season

Weather station 5.9 miles from here

28 Total Climbing Routes

['4 Stars',1],['3 Stars',12],['2 Stars',12],['1 Star',1],['Bomb',0]

Classic Climbing Routes in Valley of the Moon

Mountain Project's determination of the classic, most popular, highest rated climbing routes for Valley of the Moon:
Look No Hands   5.8 5b 16 VI- 15 HVS 4c     Sport, 1 pitch, 55'   Sundagger Wall
Crackerman   5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a     Sport, 1 pitch, 40'   Sundagger Wall
Tec-9   5.9+ 5c 17 VI 17 E1 5a     Sport, 90'   Patina Wall
Rough + Ready Crack   5.9+ 5c 17 VI 17 E1 5a     Trad, 1 pitch, 70'   Sundagger Wall
Dog Leg Crack   5.10a 6a 18 VI+ 18 E1 5a     Trad, 55'   Tombstone
Borderline   5.10- 6a 18 VI+ 18 E1 5a     Sport, 90'   Patina Wall
French Curve   5.10a/b 6a+ 19 VI+ 19 E2 5b PG13     Sport, 1 pitch, 60'   Sundagger Wall
Saladthe   5.10c 6b 20 VII 20 E2 5b     Sport, 1 pitch, 120'   Sundagger Wall
Full Auto   5.10d 6b+ 21 VII+ 21 E3 5b     Sport, 1 pitch, 90'   Patina Wall
Shortest Straw   5.11a 6c 22 VII+ 22 E3 5c     Sport, 80'   Headbanger Wall
Street Sweeper   5.11c 6c+ 24 VIII- 24 E4 6a     Sport, 1 pitch, 80'   Patina Wall
Browse More Rock Climbing Classics in Valley of the Moon

Featured Route For Valley of the Moon
Rock Climbing Photo: Borderline

Borderline 5.10- 6a 18 VI+ 18 E1 5a  California : San Diego County : ... : Patina Wall
The first route to be put up on the Patina Wall. Just right of Tec-9. The top is entertaining with finger-lockoffs in small cracks. Goes through mostly dark brown patina towards the top....[more]   Browse More Classics in California

Photos of Valley of the Moon Slideshow Add Photo
Rock Climbing Photo: This photo was taken from a peak down on the Mexic...
This photo was taken from a peak down on the Mexic...
Rock Climbing Photo: I based this map off of the guidebook, google eart...
BETA PHOTO: I based this map off of the guidebook, google eart...
Rock Climbing Photo: Survery Marker
Survery Marker
Rock Climbing Photo: Evening light, Valley of the Moon
Evening light, Valley of the Moon
Rock Climbing Photo: Some of the great bouldering scattered throughout ...
Some of the great bouldering scattered throughout ...
Rock Climbing Photo: Keli high on Paradigm Shift (5.11b), Valley of the...
Keli high on Paradigm Shift (5.11b), Valley of the...
Rock Climbing Photo: Eric enjoying some fun face climbing at Valley of ...
Eric enjoying some fun face climbing at Valley of ...
Rock Climbing Photo: Uncannily Josh-like piles at VotM
Uncannily Josh-like piles at VotM
Rock Climbing Photo: Lots of rock, Valley of the Moon
Lots of rock, Valley of the Moon
Rock Climbing Photo: Formation on which the Headbanger Wall resides.
Formation on which the Headbanger Wall resides.
Rock Climbing Photo: Pano of the Valley of the Moon as viewed from the ...
BETA PHOTO: Pano of the Valley of the Moon as viewed from the ...
Rock Climbing Photo: This is a really fun boulder problem right on the ...
BETA PHOTO: This is a really fun boulder problem right on the ...
Rock Climbing Photo: Matt @ VOM - the poor man's Jtree
Matt @ VOM - the poor man's Jtree
Rock Climbing Photo: It goes from face to hands to wide to fingers.
It goes from face to hands to wide to fingers.
Rock Climbing Photo: Unsent crack at VOM
Unsent crack at VOM
Rock Climbing Photo: Sunset among the formations
Sunset among the formations
Rock Climbing Photo: Valley of the Moon
Valley of the Moon
Rock Climbing Photo: Here's another view of the same roadside Boulder i...
BETA PHOTO: Here's another view of the same roadside Boulder i...
Rock Climbing Photo: one of the great sport routes at VOM
one of the great sport routes at VOM
Rock Climbing Photo: Pano from Mexico.
Pano from Mexico.
Rock Climbing Photo: Mike Hack getting ready for the traverse on 'Bro's...
Mike Hack getting ready for the traverse on 'Bro's...
Rock Climbing Photo: Keli on Distant Warning (5.10d), Valley of the Moo...
Keli on Distant Warning (5.10d), Valley of the Moo...
Rock Climbing Photo: awesome boulder problem on the way to the patina w...
awesome boulder problem on the way to the patina w...

Comments on Valley of the Moon Add Comment
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Comments displayed oldest to newestSkip Ahead to the Most Recent Dated Jul 29, 2017
By Tyler Bowser
From: Red River
Aug 25, 2007
My wife and I went on a scouting trip to VOM Aug 24th. We didnt take gear because we thought it would be too hot. It actually was quite nice and climbable in the shade and in the evening.

There must have been a recent fire that had burned 99% of the foliage around all the best climbing including the patina. Too bad, what a beautiful remote place this is.

Tyler and April
By GregR
From: Tucson, AZ
Feb 14, 2011
Awesome place, with some nice routes, hopefully someone has a good topo with the names of the routes, because I have no idea what routes I am climbing. I do know where tech-9 is but and I would rate it a 5.8.. I lead the route that is two over to the left from tech-9 the crux is between the 3rd and 4th bolt. Does anyone know this routes name and what it is rated at?
By jack howard
Mar 27, 2011
full auto 10d. tec 9 is 10a
By GregR
From: Tucson, AZ
Apr 6, 2011
Really tech-9 5.10a? No way! its at most a 5.9...

Should be going out there again, found a couple long routes on headbanger wall, looks like fun. Does anybody know the names of these routes, I saw at least 3 maybe 4.
By Eric T.
From: St. Augustine, Florida
Aug 22, 2011
Just got back from a couple days in VOM...super rad! Amazing how similar it is to Josh, but in the middle of nowhere. Talked to a couple Border Patrol agents who said that VOM is one of the most popular spots for crossings and human trafficking.
By Nate KSD
Apr 11, 2015
Took my first trip out to valley of the moon yesterday and I think it was definitely worth the 1 hour drive out of town.

A note on the offroading required to get to the rock: There are three things that you are required to have in order to get out because if you don't have these then your car is going to get stuck out there. This is why the "Getting there" description tells you to hike the rest of the way there because the road sucks ass and it has harvested people's vehicles before.

1. Your vehicle needs enough clearance that you can crawl under it and still have inches to spare.
2. You need A/T or M/T tires with decent tread.
3. 4 wheel drive (slightly optional)

The most challenging part of the trail is actually on the downward part of the trail as you go towards the VOM. Gravity will allow you to surpass this part very easily going in, but if you don't have the items above you will very very likely get stuck on the way out, because you will be going uphill on the way out and the ruts are so deep and the rocks jutting out are very large. You can get out with a RWD, but if your tires start slipping at the crux then you'll have to back up and gun it which is very risky.

For less capable vehicles there is some worn out asphalt that goes pretty close to the top of the ridge, take it as far as you can and park at the last turn out that you find.

The climbing area itself is a sea of very cool stuff to climb, however alot of the rock is very weathered and will turn into sand if you put your foot on it. Alot of stuff out there isn't clean for climbing and for good reason - there is broken glass almost everywhere, spent ammo casings, and even bullets can be found in some spots. This place is very popular with recreational shooters. There are also loose choya cactus needles almost everywhere, so be wary of where you step or sit. There are lots of cool little nooks and crannies that show evidence of animal use.

Place is awesome, will totally come back.
By Coon
Apr 13, 2015
Agree with above. You need at least 12 inches of clearance, knobby AT tires and 4WD. This is not an SUV or truck road... it's a modified jeep trail for wheelin. Even with the above there are plenty of places where you will need a spotter to get by.

There are some great routes but a lot of chossy routes too. It probably doesn't get climbed too often so a ton of holds were still crumbling in my hands and granite was flaking off. I felt some climbs went way easier than the grades and others way harder. The rock is still finding it's harmony with climbers so things are bound to break and change.

I first went 3 years ago, then again yesterday. Not much has changed. So much potential for great climbing out there it's not even funny. If this were more accessible i'm sure there'd be 100's of routes up.

Does anyone know how to get to the TR anchors on the cave across from Gravity Wall?
By Adam Kimmerly
Apr 24, 2015
While the road is indeed rough, I think the comments above are a bit exaggerated. A stock 4WD Tacoma, 4Runner, Jeep Wrangler, etc. that has 10" or more of clearance is totally adequate with a little off-road driving skill. I don't consider myself any sort of advanced off-roader, and my relatively stock 2001 Tacoma (it has a custom leaf pack to bring the rear back to stock height with my pop-top camper loaded in the bed) with 31" A/T tires makes the trip in and out regularly without issue.

Here's my truck at the mine at the end of the road a few years ago...
Rock Climbing Photo: 4WD Taco
4WD Taco

Last time I was there, two late model stock 4WD 4Runners, a Jeep Liberty, a couple of old-school 4Runners, and a slightly lifted Tundra made it in and out with no issues.

Now, don't get me wrong - if you're totally inexperienced at off-roading, you could damage your vehicle or possibly just soil your shorts on this road. If you're uncertain of your abilities, stop at a pullout near the high-point of the road and walk down to the "gauntlet" to check it out and make a go/no-go decision before committing. Getting in is easier than getting out.

One last note... the road does seem to be just slowly getting worse and worse each year. Valley of the Moon is a great place. Get out there and enjoy it.
By Coon
Apr 27, 2015
^^ Props on taking a popup in and even more props on a stock Liberty making it in. You do mean all the way to Gravity Wall right? We had to park it at the big slab ~3/4 mile before Gravity Wall not thinking we'd clear it (with 33's). The gauntlet seemed simple in comparison to that part. I'm having a hard time picturing a Liberty making it through there but it must have just looked more tricky than it actually was. Without a back up car, we didn't want to risk it.
By tom donnelly
From: san diego
May 26, 2015
Coon, it sounds like where you stopped is the end of the road.
Past that is Wilderness and a sometime Jeep path which is completely illegal, but the rock crawlers and ATVs keep ripping down any Wilderness signs and posts.
By Coon
Jun 27, 2015
Ahh makes sense then. The dirt road obviously keeps going, but that area gets hairy so I would have been shocked if something stock made it. Glad you pointed it out.
By coryc
Jul 27, 2015
Anyone know what the climb is that is on the pillar between Sundagger and Patina wall?(Up on the left when in approach gully) Fun route, would be great with a little cleaning. Couldn't make the drive with our car but ended up hiking in when the road got too bad. Not bad, makes for a little adventurous day
By reubenhwk Hawkins
Sep 6, 2015
I drove out this weekend, not really knowing the way. I didn't make it all the way there. Got really close, but wasn't sure where to go. I was under the impression I would be able to drive all the way into Moon Valley, now I'm thinking that isn't really feasible.

I don't know that the road is deteriorating, but it looks like new roads are starting for form to bypass the gnarliest spots. Don't go unless you have a stout 4x4. The road is extreme. Be prepared to take on some new dents and scratches.

Rock Climbing Photo: pano near the mine
pano near the mine
By Michael Crouch
From: Boulder, co
Dec 28, 2015
Visited here this weekend... Couldn't figure out what was what based on the maps and lack of pictures. Also didn't see many bolts so I was totally confused until we realized we were just on the edge of the area after hiking up to the mine.

Ended up getting on some fun corners on this, can anyone name the crag?

Rock Climbing Photo: Unknown at VofM
Unknown at VofM

Also, based on the Map... Where is the Mine located?

Is there a guidebook that is in print for this area? Where can I find one?

EDIT: Just found a good map/topo of the area here:
Looks like this pic was in the Fortress area?
By Zackary Rehfuss
From: San Diego, Ca
May 31, 2016
My girlfriend and I went to Valley of the moon for our first time a few days ago and stayed in the valley for 3 days and 3 nights. The drive in is a little tough as people have said, but I managed to get all the way to the parking about 3/4 mile from gravity wall just fine in a stock 2003 dodge Durango with no scrapes or bottoming out. However, getting out is a little tricky, the gauntlet is rather steep with quite large rocks in it. 4x4 is definitely a must, just take it slow and don't worry if you have to back down and try another line.

I found the directions to be a little off-putting for how to get to the areas so here goes my best shot. You will get on the road numbered 155 and continue until you arrive at basically the base of tombstone wall. It will be very obvious if you are looking for it since it is a giant tombstone like feature and it is the first feature you see coming into the valley. You need to walk south for about 3/4 of a mile on a jeep trail and this will lead you to the correct place. Don't be fooled by the areas to the north and to the east, they look promising but they are not the correct place unless you want to do some exploring.

Also a note on getting to patina and sun dagger wall. When you arrive at gravity wall the trail goes to both the east and west of the wall. You want to take the trail to the east as the west trail will lead you into no mans land and down to discovery wall.

We went exploring all around the valley and found a nearly unlimited amount of areas to climb at. Beside the named areas Gravity Wall, sun dagger, ect. There are quite a few large crags with good looking cracks all over the place. One notable place was directly east of tombstone wall, there is a very prominent cave and right next to this cave there was a large wall with 3 huge caves atop it and great cracks leading to them. this looked like a fun area to do some exploring at, maybe next time!

To answer the question of where the amethyst mine is, it is about a half mile north west of gravity wall. If you are at gravity wall you can see it clearly from the large holes in the hillside where the min entrances are.

I took a photo of the area from atop the mine to give a little overview of the area, please let me know if there are any discrepancies.

Rock Climbing Photo: Here is a panoramic photo of the entire valley fro...
Here is a panoramic photo of the entire valley from atop the mine looking almost due north on the left and about 150 degrees south east on the right.

Here is a picture of gravity wall from the road you walk in on.
Rock Climbing Photo: photo of gravity wall
photo of gravity wall

To address the comment that said they did not see many bolts. You really have to look for them. There are bolts all over gravity wall and patina/ sun dagger. I did not explore much more than that where there was bolted routes. But definitely when I was atop the route tech-9 on patina wall, you could see bolts all over sun dagger and patina wall.
By Troy Pascoe
Jul 29, 2017
Valley of the Moon has incredible climbing with superb friction. However, the road as of June 2017 is completely impassable. I would say the only vehicle that could make it on that road is an ATV (4-wheeler) and even then I believe it would likely roll. There were sections of "road" so bad that we slipped multiple times while walking. Unless you have about 3 feet of clearance on your monster truck, be prepared to hike 1.5 to 2 hours to the climbing area. Be advised that the heat is extremely oppressive here, so pack lots of water. Also, about half the approach is up a steep mountain/hill. If you are willing to make the approach (which in my opinion was significantly worse than ECM) you'll find excellent sport and trad climbing. Don't mean to be dramatic, but just want to prevent others from being uninformed like we were, only to be met with a really bad situation.

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