National Geographic Adventure - Dream It. Plan It. Do It.

Rock Climbing
Web Favorites
Text: Highlights
Photo Gallery:
Climbing the Gunks

Photo: Rock climbing in New York's Shawangunk Mountains

Photographer Alex di Suvero takes us on assignment in New York's Shawangunk Mountains.
View the photo gallery

Climberville, U.S.A.

These three towns will drive you up a wall, in Colorado, California, and Oregon.
Learn where to climb
Weekend Trip Planner

Workin' for the weekend? Here are seven instant getaways.
Plan a weekend trip

Gear: Travel Bags

Photo: Travel bags for long trips

Tried-and-true bags that perfectly portage your gear.
See the travel bags

Adventure Travel:
World Class

Planning your next unforgettable trip is easy. These excursions are Adventure-approved.
Find an outfitted trip

Paddling Big Sur

Photo: Kayak Guide Bryan Jones at  Big Sur

Even a novice can paddle the swells of California's Big Sur.
Kayaking Big Sur primer

Favorite Links

100 Greatest Adventure Books
National Parks Special
Best Trips for 2005
Top Ten Trails
Instant Alaska!

Climberville, U.S.A.
By Cliff Ransom

There are rocks to climb all over the country, but only a few bona fide climbing towns. New Paltz, New York, near the Gunks, is just one. Here are a few others with devoted followers, longstanding traditions, and world-class crags to back them up.

Bishop, California: The Birthplace of Bouldering
Bouldering in Bishop began in earnest when Smoke Blanchard, a truck-driving Buddhist, started climbing here in the mid-sixties. His enthusiasm was matched by the area's huge supply of rock, and both of these factors helped make Bishop the epicenter of the fastest growing trend in climbing.

The Goods: Blanchard bouldered in the granite Buttermilks just west of Bishop, but the most popular spots today are the volcanic Happy and Sad Boulders north of town.

The Beta: Wilson's Eastside Sports ( has hard-to-find topo maps and the scoop on up-and-coming areas.

The Crash Pad: For free camping, most climbers head to the BLM Pleasant Valley Pit, or "the Pit." For a roof over your head, try the reasonable El Rancho Motel ($50; +1 760 872 9251).

The Hang: Bishop's got great Mexican restaurants, but the real spot is outside of town at one of the nearby hot springs. Ask around.
Boulder, Colorado: The King of Crags
Despite its growth, Boulder is still the undisputed king of Rocky Mountain climbing towns and one of the great mountaineering centers of the country.

The Goods: Three of the nation's most classic crags—the Flatirons, Eldorado Canyon ("Eldo"), and Boulder Canyon—are minutes from downtown, as is the best known high-altitude rock face in the lower 48, the Diamond on Longs Peak.

The Beta:  Neptune Mountaineering (, the coolest climbing shop ever, houses an unofficial climbing museum.

The Crash Pad: The Hotel Boulderado is a paragon of Victorian elegance ($195; The Hang: An icon of Boulder hippiedom, Mountain Sun Pub and Brewery ( dishes up free-range burgers and an amazing selection of microbrews.
Bend, Oregon: The Sire of the Sport
Bend was a backwater until the sport-climbing revolution of the mid-eighties. Then almost overnight it became the gateway to some of the most cutting edge routes in the world.

The Goods: "Smith Rock really was the birthplace of U.S. sport climbing," says Mike Volk, owner of Thanks, no doubt, to its long faces of volcanic tuff covered with a huge variety of routes.

The Beta: The well-stocked Redpoint Climbers Supply (+1 541 923 6207) is spitting distance from the crag. Pro Lynn Hill runs climbing camps around the country, and this fall she'll be at Smith from October 31 to November 4 ($2,195;

The Crash Pad: McMenamins Old St. Francis School has rooms, a brewpub, a Turkish bath, and a movie theater ($30; The Hang: The Deschutes Brewery ( serves some of the most acclaimed beer in Oregon.

For more great adventure travel ideas, pick up the September 2005 issue of Adventure magazine.

E-mail a Friend

Adventure Subscription Offer