Mountaineering and climbing are exciting and adventurous sports. It takes a lot of grit, determination, and courage to scale a mountain. Even more so, when you climb a sheer cliff overlooking a vast expanse. Adventure seekers often follow these activities and the rewards are enthralling. Here we look at some national parks that offer amazing opportunities and landscapes for climbers in the USA.
5 National Parks That Are A Treasure For Climbers
1. Yosemite National Park, California
Yosemite is one of the most well-known and popularly visited national parks. Located in the western Sierra Nevada, the park is an amazing trove of natural beauty. Its expansive forests, waterfalls, and meadows are wonderful. But it’s the granite cliffs that are so inviting to climbers.
El Capitan is, of course, the most sought after, but the other areas are fairly popular with climbers as well. Washington Column, Leaning Tower, Liberty Cap, and several other areas attract many climbers every year. From climbing to bouldering, the park offers a lot for adventure seekers. Permits are required for wilderness camping, so those on a multi-day climb should pay extra attention to the rules. Yosemite does not allow motorized drills, but hand-powered drills can be used to add bolts.
2. Zion National Park, Utah
Climbing and bouldering at Zion National Park can be both challenging and exciting. The famed sandstone cliffs of the park can ascend to as high as 2000 feet for some routes. Most of the big wall climbs in Zion are tough and are recommended only for expert climbers. There aren’t many areas here suited to beginners or inexperienced climbers.
However, there are some great opportunities for bouldering that experts and beginners can enjoy. The main canyon has two accessible bouldering areas, each with its own unique features and challenges. While the park does not require special permits for day climbs, they are required for overnight stays and bivouacs. Unshaded as they are, many of these cliff faces can get pretty hot in the summers. Spring and autumn are the most popular times for climbing.
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3. North Cascades National Park, Washington
Climb the Forbidden Peak, you say? Well, it’s not actually forbidden, but with a name like that, it doesn’t fail to get attention. North Cascades National Park has some amazing areas to explore and climbers are always eager to take on the challenges posed by the rocks and peaks of this beautiful national park.
The rugged terrain and environment seem daunting, but for adventure seeking climbers, they might as well be engraved invitations on granite! Sport climbing and bouldering are popular throughout the park. Many of the approach routes to climbs are difficult and can require a trek for days before the activity starts. The alpine environment of the park means several areas are touched by glaciers, steep snow, and icy creeks or rivers.
4. Olympic National Park, Washington
Olympic National Park is a challenging area for climbers. It’s not just the inhospitality of the alpine environment, but the fact that the rock is often fragmented and loose. So climbs can often go through treacherous terrain and climbers have to be prepared for tough conditions. Most of the rocks in this national park are shale, sandstone, and pillow basalt.
Many climbing areas are far off and may require travel through dense plants and/or rainforest. The park advocates taking every single protective step you can, all the way from packing to climbing. Routes can be tough and rescue can take days, so climbers are advised to be self-sufficient and knowledgeable for quick response where possible.
5. Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado
Rocky Mountain National Park has been a haven for climbers since the 1800s. There’s a wide spectrum of activities and challenges available here, going from conventional mountaineering to bouldering, rock climbing, ice walls, and big wall climbing. Its granite rock formations and peaks are inviting for climbers.
Clean-climbing techniques are encouraged by the park, so as not to deface the rock. This is particularly important given the popularity of both the sport and the park. The ideal of leave no trace often extends to not putting up bolts or leaving permanent marks on the rock. Climbers are encouraged to use removable, or preferably, natural anchors. Bivouac permits are required for wilderness camping in this park.
Quick Tips For Climbers
1. Food And Supplies
Food and water are human necessities. Carrying potable water along is important but food can be more complex. Gourmet meals obviously aren’t happening, so get creative and carry food that is lightweight and nutritious. Simple camping food ideas that don’t require extensive preparation can be helpful. Apart from food, carry some medical supplies. At the very least, have a first aid kit handy.
2. Park Rules And Regulations
National Parks, or for that matter, other climbing areas might have their own sets of rules and regulations. These may include shutting off some trails and climbing routes for wildlife protection, or procedures regarding rope use. Following these regulations helps maintain the natural beauty and outlook that attracts climbers to these areas. Since parks may have different rules about their climbing areas and trails, it is best to check before you start.
3. Be A Responsible Climber
An important tenet of visiting these wonderful natural areas is to leave no trace. Human activity should not change the ecology or appearance of these natural treasures. Carry your ropes, waste, and garbage with you and dispose of them with proper methods. Most climbers are conscious of these issues. Yet, many parks report finding improperly disposed waste or gear like ropes.
4. Look Around For Professional Solutions
National Parks often have businesses or places around them that offer some activities to visitors. For example, you could look around Rocky Mountain National Park for cliff camping experiences. In these ways, businesses offer some exciting services to those who want a taste of the sport but may not otherwise have the opportunity.