Rock climbing is fun, exciting and dangerous. It is a full body exercise, and it can double as a sightseeing tour. All around the world, some of the most beautiful places have options for rock climbers of any skill level. A passion for rock climbing can double as a wonderful vacation.
Below is a list of 10 of the best rock climbing destinations in the world. Just please note that all of these suggestions are definitely for people who are at least somewhat comfortable climbing outdoors in natural conditions. Those who are just beginning should always go with a climbing route that matches with their current level.
Yosemite National Park (California)
Yosemite National Park is one of the most well-known parks in the United States. There are a ton of activities for people to do that have absolutely nothing to do with rock climbing. Of course, rock climbers specifically know all about Yosemite, mainly because of one thing: El Captain.
While there are a ton of routes to choose from, El Captain is the challenge experienced climbers come for. It has one of the most imposing cliff faces in the world, but the reward at the 3,000-foot summit is worth it.
It can’t be stressed enough that El Captain is meant for the best rock climbers. Stick to other routes if rock climbing is new. Or, just go along for the ride with other rock climbers and take in everything else there is to offer in the park.
Joshua Tree National Park (California)
Sticking in California, Joshua Tree National Park is another well known area in the United States for rock climbers to visit. One of the advantages of this park is that it can be visited throughout the year. It is located in the middle of a high desert, and there are a total of about 8000 routes in the parking to choose from. Even though the area can get rather busy, with all the routes it can be fairly easy to still have plenty of space to yourself.
One thing to keep in mind with this park is that in the summers, it is best to get there extremely early or later in the day. It can be absolutely miserable with the heat during the middle of the day in the summer, with not much relief in the form of trees and clouds in sight.
Boulder Canyon (Colorado)
A rock climbing list wouldn’t be complete without one entry from Colorado, right? Out of the countless options the state has to offer, Boulder Canyon is pretty tough to beat. On any trip to the area, visitors will see pros training and beginners dipping their foot into the rock climbing water. One of the best features of Boulder Canyon is that there is something for every type of rock climber out there.
For those who want to have a top rope anchor, this is the place to go in the United States. There are over 200 spots to set up shop, making it a safe option while still feeling the thrill of rock climbing.
Since this is Boulder, the views are breathtaking. People will be out enjoying Boulder Canyon all months out of the year, but rock climbers really fill up the area during those nice summer days.
Red River Gorge (Kentucky)
The Rocky Mountains get all of the attention in the United States for the most part, but there are some pretty great places closer to those on the East Coast to consider. Perhaps the best place to climb in the eastern time zone is Red River Gorge in Kentucky.
Those who visit will find that there are a number of routes for just about any type of rock climber. That means that even beginners can find it to be a enjoyable experience overall.
Known mostly for sport climbing, what makes this great is that it is pretty centrally located for just about everyone on the East Coast. This can easily be done on a long weekend trip instead of having to take off a week or two for vacation.
Otter Cliff (Maine)
The state of Maine is often overlooked, but it is home to one of the best rock climbing destinations in not only the United States, but the world. The sea cliff itself stands 110-feet, and it provides a beautiful views for visitors.
Routes at Otter Cliff are very friendly towards all climbing levels, and since it is one the East Coast, it is once again very accessible (especially to those in major cities like Boston, New York City and Philadelphia).
Maine is pretty cold in the winter months, so this is mostly a destination to consider in the summer months. There are other things to do in the area, but rock climbing is mostly reserved for those warmer days.
Castle Hill, North Island, Kawakawa Bay (New Zealand)
For most of the world, getting to New Zealand is extremely difficult. That is why once a person is there, they usually try to explore everything possible in the country before they return home. Instead of giving one specific location within the country, listed are a few of the very best in different regions.
From sport to traditional to bouldering, any type of climbing can be enjoyed in New Zealand. The views are amazing all over the country, and a lot of people feel as though they have traveled to an entirely different world. It really all comes down to what a person wants to see in New Zealand while visiting.
The fall months are said to be the best because of the weather, and the price of travel. It is definitely a bit of a hike to get to New Zealand, but it’s something very few regret doing.
Railay Beach (Thailand)
Thailand is another area of the world that is somewhat difficult to get to for most, but it is worth the trip for rock climbers. Look up a “best of” list for rock climbing anywhere and you will find Railay Beach popping up quite a bit.
Located on the southwest coast near Krabi, rock climbers can take in the beach, the palm trees and the sea that looks like it is dyed turquoise. There are roughly 700 climbing routes in the area, broken up into three different sectors.
Visitors usually tend to stay in Tonsai, as it is very affordable. The tropical vibe that surrounds the entire area makes this feel like a true vacation designed specifically for climbing enthusiasts. Sport climbers will get the most out of this area, but it really is an area all climbers should find a way to get to at some point in their life.
El Potrero Chico (Mexico)
In the United States, a lot of the rock climbing is done in the summer months. Shooting down to Mexico during the winter is easy and affordable, and El Potrero Chico might be the top place to go in the country.
What really makes El Potrero Chico stand out is the area’s limestone cliffs and their spires. There are so many different routes that offer everything a climber can think of. This is another destination mostly suited for sport climbers, but they cater to a wide array of levels and types of climbers.
Visitors mostly stay in Hidalgo, which is only about a 10-minute walk from the main area for climbers. It is an affordable getaway, and easy to fly into or even drive to from the United States.
Peak District (Great Britain)
It is always an enjoyable experience to go back to one of the areas where rock climbing really started to become popular. In fact, the Peak District is considered to be one of the birthplaces of traditional and technical climbing. The entire look and feel of the area is very old school, which appeals to climbers from all over the world.
Many of the crags, like Stanage, Curbar and Froggatt Edges, require more advanced climbing techniques than the average location. Because of that, this destination isn’t really suggested for true beginners. Those who want a challenge, dealing with short cliffs and perfectly placed cracks, should give it a shot.
Since this is Great Britain, it really is a destination for the summer months only. Weather is not always the greatest even in the summer, so it helps to be at least a little bit flexible with plans when in the area. Going on the best day weather wise can really enhance the experience.
Costa Blanca (Spain)
Spain has a lot of rock located all over the country, so of course it would make sense that they have a few popular rock climbing areas. Costa Blanca is popular for their limestone cliffs that hang over beautiful, white sand beaches on the Mediterranean.
There are a variety of terrains to tackle at Costa Blanca. From sea cliffs to canyon walks to sunny crags, there is a lot of variety. It is a beautiful region of the world to visit just to see all that is out there to offer.
Elizabeth Sparks received a Masters Degree in geology from The University of Colorado. Elizabeth has been working as a full-time geologist for the past 5 years. In her spare time, Elizabeth participates in rock climbing competitions and frequently goes camping with friends.