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Willow River State Park

Routes Sorted
L to R R to L Alpha
Able S 
Bolt Ladder to Upper Deck S 
Brass Monkey S 
Business Time S 
Cain S 
Couch Time S 
Cypher 2 S 
Daily Grind S 
Doppler Effect S 
Double Trouble S 
Drop Test S 
Dry Lightning S 
Fox Confessor S 
Genesis Effect S 
Getting Slightly Higher S 
Guess and Check S 
High Road to China S 
Hurtful Pleasures S 
Jar of Flies S 
Leftovers S 
Link Up S 
Living Slightly Larger S 
Mermaid S 
Middle Cyclone S 
Midsummer Daydreams S 
Midsummer Selection S 
Mono Mercy S 
Mono Route S 
Natural Daydreams S 
Natural Selection S 
New Beginnings S 
No Crack for Old Men S 
Play Time Is Over S 
Pride and Prejudice S 
Quit Your Day Job S 
Radioactive Man S 
Rejection and Mercy S 
Requiem S 
Speedy Delivery S 
Sudden Daydreams S 
Sudden Shock S 
Sunday Sermon S 
Surf Selection S 
Tsunami S 
Unknown S 
Water Music S 
White Noise S 
Unsorted Routes:
Rest Day:
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From MP's sister site:

Willow River State Park Rock Climbing 

Photos:  Recent | Best | Popular
Elevation: 866'
Location: 45.0196, -92.6742 View Map  Incorrect?
Page Views: 51,531
Administrators: Doug Hemken, James Schroeder, Chris treggE, Kristine Hoffman (sitewide)
Submitted By: randy baum on Feb 8, 2006
You & This Area
Best climbs for YOU in this area
Your opinion of this PAGE:    [2 people like this page.]
Another lap on the amazing 'Natural Selection'. Mi...

Open with restrictions: MORE INFO >>>


Steep sport climbing in the large amphitheater near Willow Falls. Some of the steepest stone in the Midwest. Most climbs tend to be endurance fests on large holds. Climbs range from 5.11 to 5.13 and harder. This area is best for the 5.12 and up climber, although there are a few 5.11's. Approximately 25 routes total. Do NOT rappel from the overlook above the climbs. Across the river from the huge roof area is another cliff face that has bolts, rangers are not pleased that these bolts exist so don't climb there. Access is somewhat tenuous, so don't give the rangers any reason to close Willow to climbing.

There is also a big river that is right next to the climbing so you can pack your day of climbing and also a little whitewater. All and all it will be fun.


If you plan to TR after leading something, use your own draws for this. The anchors are showing signs of the increased traffic. If you see biners at the top of a climb that are worn or do not open and close properly, please replace them!

Getting There 

Its in Hudson, WI.

Take exit 4 off of I94 and follow the signs to the park. Go past the main entrance to the small parking lot about 400 yards further. Follow the trail down the long gradual hill and to the bridge where you will see the amphitheater.

Access Restrictions 

September 15 - May 15 (fall/winter/spring)
Climbing is open all day for every day of the week except for Friday and Saturday. On Friday, climbing is only open 6am-Noon. On Saturday, climbing is prohibited.

May 15 - September 15 (late spring/summer)
Climbing is open all day for every day of the week except Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. On Friday and Sunday, climbing is only allowed 6am-Noon. On Saturday, climbing is prohibited all day.

See this photo for the official park rules.

Climbing Season

Weather station 4.9 miles from here

47 Total Climbing Routes

['4 Stars',9],['3 Stars',28],['2 Stars',7],['1 Star',2],['Bomb',1]

Classic Climbing Routes in Willow River State Park

Mountain Project's determination of the classic, most popular, highest rated climbing routes for Willow River State Park:
Bolt Ladder to Upper Deck   V-easy 3     Sport, Boulder, Chipped, 1 pitch, 10'   
Link Up   5.10d 6b+ 21 VII+ 21 E3 5b     Sport   
White Noise   5.10d 6b+ 21 VII+ 21 E3 5b     Sport   
Daily Grind   5.11a 6c 22 VII+ 22 E3 5c     Sport   
Sudden Shock   5.11d 7a 24 VIII 25 E5 6a     Sport   
Sudden Daydreams   5.12a 7a+ 25 VIII+ 25 E5 6a     Sport, 1 pitch, 60'   
Natural Selection   5.12b/c 7b+ 27 IX- 27 E6 6b     Sport   
Couch Time   5.12c 7b+ 27 IX- 27 E6 6b     Sport, 1 pitch, 65'   
Fox Confessor   5.12c 7b+ 27 IX- 27 E6 6b     Sport, 55'   
Midsummer Daydreams   5.12c 7b+ 27 IX- 27 E6 6b     Sport   
Tsunami   5.12d 7c 28 IX 28 E6 6b     Sport, 1 pitch   
Middle Cyclone   5.12d 7c 28 IX 28 E6 6b     Sport   
Genesis Effect   5.12d 7c 28 IX 28 E6 6b     Sport   
Brass Monkey   5.12d 7c 28 IX 28 E6 6b     Sport   
Hurtful Pleasures   5.13a 7c+ 29 IX+ 29 E6 6c     Sport   
High Road to China   5.13- 7c+ 29 IX+ 29 E7 6c     Sport   
Mono Mercy   5.13b 8a 29 IX+ 30 E7 6c     Sport, 80'   
Business Time   5.13b 8a 29 IX+ 30 E7 6c     Sport   
Dry Lightning   5.13b/c 8a+ 29 X- 30 E7 6c     Sport   
Requiem   5.13+ 8b 30 X- 31 E7 7a     Sport, 55'   
Browse More Rock Climbing Classics in Willow River State Park

Featured Route For Willow River State Park
Rock Climbing Photo: Matt sending this long and pumpy route

High Road to China 5.13- 7c+ 29 IX+ 29 E7 6c  Wisconsin : Willow River State Park
The new enduro line here at Willow. Comparable to "Rejection and Mercy" and "Business Time". Pull through the crux in the first large roof. Then traverse right at the huge hueco (6th bolt) on great solid rock. Then head straight up at the break in the second tier. Climb with caution from here to the anchors, this is a new route, stuff is still breaking off....[more]   Browse More Classics in Wisconsin

Photos of Willow River State Park Slideshow Add Photo
Rock Climbing Photo: The Falls.
The Falls.
Rock Climbing Photo: Visual of lines at Willow Updated on 4/27/09
BETA PHOTO: Visual of lines at Willow Updated on 4/27/09
Rock Climbing Photo: Redpoint crux of 'Cain'.
Redpoint crux of 'Cain'.
Rock Climbing Photo: view of the falls from the top of daily grind.
view of the falls from the top of daily grind.
Rock Climbing Photo: A normal summer day!
A normal summer day!
Rock Climbing Photo: The Falls.
The Falls.
Rock Climbing Photo: Looking up at White Noise (left) and Daily Grind (...
Looking up at White Noise (left) and Daily Grind (...
Rock Climbing Photo: Willow
Rock Climbing Photo: the waterfall
the waterfall
Rock Climbing Photo: The falls.
The falls.
Rock Climbing Photo: Many different link-ups have been done by bored lo...
BETA PHOTO: Many different link-ups have been done by bored lo...
Rock Climbing Photo: Can't remember which route.  Sometime in 2006, I t...
Can't remember which route. Sometime in 2006, I t...
Rock Climbing Photo: view of the bridge from the top of daily grind.
view of the bridge from the top of daily grind.
Rock Climbing Photo: Our spring friend the snake
Our spring friend the snake
Rock Climbing Photo: if you value climbing at willow, please give back ...
if you value climbing at willow, please give back ...
Rock Climbing Photo: The cave.
The cave.
Rock Climbing Photo: A new season at Willow. Nearing the end of 'Natura...
A new season at Willow. Nearing the end of 'Natura...
Rock Climbing Photo: Willow
Rock Climbing Photo: during a rainy spell, the falls can get huge! phot...
during a rainy spell, the falls can get huge! phot...
Rock Climbing Photo: Not just another waterfall shot, climbing going on...
Not just another waterfall shot, climbing going on...
Rock Climbing Photo: Watch out for the little guys
Watch out for the little guys
Rock Climbing Photo: White Noise or Daily Grind, 2005?
White Noise or Daily Grind, 2005?
Rock Climbing Photo: New park climbing rules and hours open sign at cli...
BETA PHOTO: New park climbing rules and hours open sign at cli...
Rock Climbing Photo: Willow Roof
Willow Roof

Show All 24 Photos

Only the first 24 are shown above.

Comments on Willow River State Park Add Comment
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Comments displayed oldest to newestSkip Ahead to the Most Recent Dated Jun 13, 2017
By John W. Knoernschild
From: Wisconsin
Sep 22, 2008
This area is sorely lacking in photos. Let's see some more photos of the routes and climbers actually on them. That would be great!
By george reynolds
May 9, 2009
I am confused at the state of affairs of this climbing area, it says that the use of fixed protection is prohibited does this mean that no more bolts can be placed or that people cant use existing bolts??? as far as the other bluff goes is climbing allowed at all or is it closed??? they way the description is written seems to gives an impression that its a locals only crag and that all others should not attend?? whats the story here???
By Chris Hirsch
From: Rapid City, SD
May 9, 2009
The whole situation with Willow is a bit confusing. You certainly can use existing bolts, but as for placing new ones or replacing old ones it is best to consult Jeff Engel (as it states in the guidebook). But what I think Colin may be referring to is quickdraws, it is prohibited to leave your gear hanging overnight. The other cliff opposite the Main Amphitheater is permanently closed to climbing, those bolts have been removed. Willow is somewhat of a local's only crag (not in the private sense of course) due to the unusual restrictions that are enforced, and it being only 30min from downtown St. Paul. Most out-of-town climbers can't make it here during a weekday, and there is practically no climbing allowed on the weekend. It's a shame since this place is such a gem! In the last couple years there has been a boom in the number of climbers coming here, which is awesome!! But "all others" are more than welcome to check this sick crag out, I'd say it's well worth the visit if you can get a day or two off from work. Especially in the summer, this is a great summer time crag.
By george reynolds
May 13, 2009
thanks for the info the area looks amazing but i didnt want to step on anybody's toes or cause a problem by just showing up and not knowing the whole story.
By John W. Knoernschild
From: Wisconsin
Jun 25, 2009
Just to shed some more light on the climbing times..... The park is open during the weekdays from 6am to 11pm. Mon-Thurs, you can climb during those hours. Friday only till noon, saturday closed, and sunday only till noon.
By Nathan Migdal
From: Bloomington, mn
Oct 20, 2009
I wonder why there's no mention of the not-too-bad bouldering adjacent to the falls. It's obvious that the sport route quality trumps any bouldering here to the nth degree, but if nobody brings up a few of the better "problems" and traverses on the left side of Willow Falls, I'd be glad to. Anyone who wants to beat me to the punch, go ahead. At this point, I'm not going to name anything: probably just describe the problems and take a few photos.
By AntVicino
Mar 8, 2010
Nathan, what side of the falls are you talking about? The side with all the routes or the other side? The other side of the falls is off limits to climbing, even bouldering, so if you are climbing over there, you should stop. If you are talking about the little bit of rock right underneath the main amphitheater, then that rock is super loose and chossy and totally not worth traveling out to Willow for.
By Nathan Migdal
From: Bloomington, mn
Mar 30, 2010
Heheheh. Willow as a "bouldering destination": that would set em up for disappointment huh? What I refer to are some of the great warm up traverses beneath the amphitheater that don't involve topping out so much as long traverses to finishing holds. Similar to gym problems in concept I suppose. A few clean boulder problems sit amidst the amphitheater chockstones but they tend to be over just as soon as they start. My goal for posting is to briefly describe where leaders can warm up below the main wall before taking off into the stratosphere. None of these four or five problems will include stone on the "off limits" side of the falls. Anything too chossy will not be included. A few should be up by August let's say.
By J.Flunker
May 5, 2010
How is the seepage factor at this time of year?
By AntVicino
May 7, 2010
Sudden Shock is the only route that suffers from any sort of consistent seepage. This time of the year it is perfectly fine. The route is as dry as it ever is.
By J.Flunker
May 8, 2010
Thanks antvicino
By Joe O'Shea
Jun 13, 2010
sudden shock is wet and slimy lower on the route depending on the moisture in the air, and if it's been consistantly rainy. The slippery stuff normally doesn't affect any of the harder moves anyway
By AntVicino
Jun 21, 2010
The wetness of Sudden Shock is a result of some rock that broke inside the wall a couple years ago. The seepage usually only hits the large ledge at the third bolt, just dont go too far back on the ledge, for it will be muddy, otherwise it will be perfectly dry.
By AntVicino
Oct 19, 2010
10/18/2010 I cleaned two draws off the anchors of Natural Selection. If these belong to you, shoot me a message and I will get them back to you.
By AntVicino
Oct 24, 2010
  • Begin shameless promotion*

For those that are interested, by the way, there will be a specific Willow River Guidebook coming out in the next couple months or so. The guidebook will be very useful because the nature of Willow and its linkups make it very hard deciphering where certain lines go. There will also be information in the guidebook about climbs not yet listed on Mountain Project. You'll be able to pick up the book from before also being released to Vertical Endeavors and Midwest Mountaineering. If you want more information you can message myself or Ryan Angelo.

  • End shameless promotion*
By Joe O'Shea
Oct 29, 2010
Theres a cool alternative start to sudden shock, start under the large roof to the left
By AntVicino
Dec 28, 2010
The Willow River Guidebook will be available at Vertical Endeavors, Midwest Mountaineering, and by the end of this week. In the land of link-ups, this book will prove very useful. Come check it out!
By Evan Fales
From: Iowa City, IA
Sep 9, 2011
Can someone explain to me why climbing is so restricted in this area on weekends? There appear to be no such restrictions on camping there.
By Chris treggE
From: Madison, WI
Sep 9, 2011
Evan pick up the new guidebook at a local shop! Good explanation in there.
By randy baum
From: Minneapolis, MN
Oct 10, 2011
This year's event will be hosted by the Minnesota Climbing CO•OP. The Willow River Clean-Up will be on Sunday, October 16, 2011 from 12-5p.

Please check-in at the park office and then continue to the maintenance shed. If you do not have a parking sticker, pick up a temporary sticker at the park office.

Make sure to wear appropriate clothing and bring work gloves and have plenty of water.

THINGS TO DO: litter pick up, break new trail, replace anchors & bolts, build benches, & trail maintenance.

See your there!


For more information/questions/comments:
By Ryan Angelo
Mar 13, 2012
Its willow season and the willow river guidebooks are now $15.95 with free shipping (was $19.95) at
By J.Roatch
From: Leavenworth, WA
Mar 14, 2012
So I lead the climb farthest left in the really crumbly/breaking rock area (not a big fan) and I was given the impression by some other climbers that it was newly bolted since last year (2011). Anyone have any information on it? Some of the bolts on it did not look very new, but the top were in very good condition. The route starts far left, (just left of jar of flies) and trails up just left to jar of flies and then goes left at a small "arete" where it ends. You could set up a top rope for it from jar of flies with a little traversing, or just use the same anchors for a bit of it while trailing a rope and set it up. I think I'd give it a 5.10 rating.

By Tyler
Jun 27, 2012
I have someones Scarpa shoes, left a couple of weeks ago at Willow.
Email me at with scarpa type, color and size if you want them back.
By ErikaE
Sep 3, 2012
What's the season like at Willow? How late into the fall can you climb? Can this info be added into the area description? Can you find partners locally when you want them?

I just moved to Chicago, hoping to make it up this fall! Looks rad. :)
By randy baum
From: Minneapolis, MN
Sep 4, 2012
hi erika,

as long as the temps are 40 and above, you can climb at willow. this means it's possible to climb there nearly every month of the year. during last year's mild winter, for example, i got out twice in february. in a "normal" MN winter, however, the season wraps up in late november and opens again in mid-march.

i'll add this info to the description.

as for finding partners, post on this site, check out the climbing meetup group, or visit any of the local gyms (vertical endeavors two locations or the minnesota climbing co-op, which has open hours 5:30-9:30 on monday, wednesday, and friday). lastly, if the temps are good, chances are high that you'll find a partner at the crag.
By CharlesErickson
From: Evergreen, CO
Sep 26, 2012
Willow River Climbers,

Just out of curiosity-

I know that a clean up was held at Willow River last year, sometime in October if I remember correctly, will that be happening again this year?


By David P. Pierce
From: Minneapolis, MN
Sep 26, 2012
Hey Charles, the cleanup will be Sunday October 14th this year starting at noon. You can get more details or ask questions on the Facebook event page,
By Doug Hemken
From: Madison, WI
Oct 29, 2012
Am I right in thinking the new hunting proposal (extended seasons) won't affect climbing here much?
By randy baum
From: Minneapolis, MN
Oct 29, 2012
doug, you're correct. the climbing area, which is located at the falls, falls just outside of the hunting area. and aside from the falls, there are no other climbing areas located in the park, so we're in the clear.
By Doug Hemken
From: Madison, WI
Oct 29, 2012
Thanks Randy! You should look at some of the other property maps, too. I think Interstate is also no problem for climbing?
By randy baum
From: Minneapolis, MN
Oct 31, 2012
yep, doug. interstate (aka taylors falls) is good to go, as well. (i was there today, in fact.)

in terms of being in harms way of hunters, the problematic areas are sandstone (the bouldering area only), swede's forrest, and the duluth areas, especially the lake county road 6 crags (sawmill, mystic mountain, section 13, ely's). wear orange and be alert!

doug, we need to meet up. i'm planning a trip to dl/madison sometime this winter. there are many problems at the lake that i want to try. i also want to stop by madison for a bite and a drink. i'll contact you with dates when i get a time frame figured out.
By Walter De Kock
May 8, 2013
How easy is it to TR at Willow? I haven't tried climbing at the falls and am not solid enough on sport.I've been to the falls a lot, and know that the overhang is pretty significant.
By Byron
From: Tucson, AZ
May 14, 2013
Walter. The first couple (2-3) climbs can be decently TR'd (please use your own draws for anchors): Jar of Flies, Daily Grind, and White Noise. For the others it gets steep pretty fast but you can give some of them a burn by seconding. Not sure about the climbs on the Mezzanine.
By randy baum
From: Minneapolis, MN
May 17, 2013
Curious as to which Willow 5.12c is the hardest? Which 13b? Here's a list of Willow routes from easiest to hardest, irrespective of the Mountain Project grade.

This list was compiled by myself and some longtime Willow locals. With only a handful of true lines, climbing at Willow can get repetitive. These lists help keep things fresh. Happy climbing and watch out for falling choss. :)
By Scott7777
Jun 28, 2013
WIth all the rain lately is the cave climbable?
By Roberto de la Riva
Jul 3, 2013
Hey all,

I'm looking for a climbing partner, I want to send most of the routes here and I got some time on my hands. Please call email me if you are interested.
By randy baum
From: Minneapolis, MN
Mar 22, 2014
climb all 5.12s in a single after-work session. draws must be hung by climber. there are 14 5.12s in all. i have excluded one-move linkups like natural daydreams, surf selection, and new beginnings. no prize to the winner. just lots of enduro gained.

here are the routes (listed left-to-right):

sudden day dreams, 12a
midsummer day dreams, 12c
natural selection, 12b
tsunami, 12d
middle cyclone, 12c
genesis effect, 12d
couch time, 12c
cypher 2, 12c
brass monkey, 12d
water music, 12a
left overs, 12a
fox compressor, 12c
sunday sermon, 12b
dopler effect, 12a
By Chris treggE
From: Madison, WI
Jul 16, 2015
Randy - is it time to organize these routes from Left to Right?

It's been ages since I climbed at Willow, otherwise I would try to tackle this myself.

Anyone care to try to take this on?
By madisonchoss
Jul 17, 2015
Or draw a topo if any of the MN crew wants to reveal their true stance on linkups.... Shit this is in Wisconsin.

But the Cave Boulder! Shit, also in Wisconsin.

God damnit.
By Mark Lutterman
Mar 25, 2016
Randy or others. I don't see anything here about the negotiated access for off-season access all day Sundays Sept 15th to May 15th. Can someone confirm that as of 2015 Willow is now open all day Sundays until May 15th and will reopen after Sept 15th? I had fun October 2015 climbing there with lots of others late on a Sunday.
By randy baum
From: Minneapolis, MN
Apr 7, 2016
madisonchoss, willow seceded to MN years ago. aside from you and nimmer, willow had no able bodied curators to speak of in the badger state. it was further saddened by the wisco crews aversion to bolts and love of lowball, contrived chunks of quarzite. now, willow rests easy in the arms of those from god's country, lovers of limestone choss, shitty link-ups, and terrible climbing conditions.

mark, i've updated the access details. see the description above.
By Sean Foster
Jun 8, 2017
Chris treggE - I would like to see the routes listed L to R (as best you can in the land of 10,000 link ups). If you need someone to reorganize them, I will do it.
By Sean Foster
Jun 13, 2017
I've organized the routes from L to R. For all link up routes, they are ordered first by what route it starts on and then by where they end. The three unsorted routes are closed.

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