Best Bouldering Spots in the US

While there is no shortage of Bouldering spots in the US, some stick out above the rest.

The main things that make a Bouldering location “world class” are:

  • Season
  • Quality Boulder Problems
  • Rock Quality
  • Accessibility (Camping etc.)
  • Guide Book in Print

The following areas are places you can either take a quick weekend trip to or spend the entire season.

For all locations within a National Park please click the link for the latest details.

If you are planning a big road trip through some of these areas make sure you read the Car Camping guide to save yourself some money and time.

Bouldering Spots

#1 Joe’s Valley

Season: Late Fall, Early Spring

Problems: 430+ on MP and tons of undeveloped rock

Rock Type: Sandstone

Accessibility: Free Climbing, Under 5 min Approaches, Free Camping, Food Ranch

Guide Book: Multiple but none in print (as of late 2017)

Dyno

Joes Valley is an easy choice for this list. The rock quality is impeccable and the problems range from beginner to insane. The approaches for Joe’s can be done in flip flops so you can leave your hiking boots at home.

If you are a dirtbag, Joe’s is the place for you. Getting by on only a few hundred bucks a month is quite easy here considering the climbing and camping is 100% free. Also, the locate climber hangout, The Food Ranch, offers you anything you will need during your stay. You can pick up chalk, brushes, food, water, and even gas for a surprisingly low price.

The only real set back for Joe’s is that guidebooks are hard to come by. There have been multiple books published over the years but none of them are currently in print. Mountain Project is rather good for Joe’s but if you can snag a book it will definitely help!

#2 Bishop CA

Season: Winter (Fall and Spring possible)

Problems: 1000+ on MP

Rock Type: Granite, Volcanic

Accessibility: Free Climbing, Short Approaches, Cheap Camping, Gear Shops in Town

Guide Book: Yes, easy to get

Buttermilks BoulderingThere is a wide variety of Bouldering in Bishop. The Buttermilks are the gem of the area but you can also hang out at the Volcanic Table in the Happy and Sads. In the warmer months, you can also Boulder in Mammoth less than an hour away.

The Buttermilks are quite unique. Upon your arrival, you will find 2 monster 50-60′ high boulders called Grandpa and Grandma Peabody. Don’t worry there are much more manageable blocks in the field. There is something for everyone at the Milks so just take your pick.

Camping is easy at The Pit but you have to pay a small fee (around $2 a night). You can also find free camping at some of the BLM lands around the town. Make sure you know the rules.

#3 Rocktown & Stone Fort (Chattanooga TN)

Season: Winter (Late Fall and Early Spring possible)

Problems: 400+ on MP

Rock Type: Bullet Sandstone

Accessibility: Free or Paid Climbing, Easy Approaches, Free Camping, Near Chattanooga

Guide Book: Yes and Yes

Stone Fort BoulderingStone Fort and Rocktown are both just outside of Chattanooga TN. We listed them together because they are not a destination by themselves but together they challenge the best crags in the States.

Rocktown has “free” camping and climbing but you need to buy a Georgia Wildlife pass. The fee is minimal and you can read more about it here. The approach to Rocktown takes about 15-20 mins and is fairly flat. The guidebook is good and the field is dense with classics.

Little Rock City (Stone Fort) is one of the most densely packed boulder fields around. The front area has over 100 problems alone. The downside to LRC is it costs around $8 to climb every day. This can add up fast but its worth it. Camping is not currently available at Stone Fort so we suggest you travel back to Rocktown for the night.

#4 Hueco Tanks

Season: Winter (Late Fall and Early Spring possible)

Problems: 400+ on MP

Rock Type: Granite

Accessibility: Paid Climbing, Easy Approaches, Paid Camping, Limited Access

Guide Book: None in print but PDF available at gear shop

Hueco Tanks BoulderingJust outside of El Paso Texas, Hueco Tanks State Park holds some of the oldest and most classic bouldering problems in America. The park is the birthplace of the V-scale and filled with climbing culture and history.

The main issue with Hueco is the access. You can only go to 1 of the 4 mountains in the park without a guide. This can be frustrating when you want to get off of North Mountain. However, it will take you awhile to work through everything on North Mountain so don’t get worried.

There is also a limited number of people allowed in the park each day. You have to make a reservation about 3 months in advance to have guaranteed access. There are 10 walk-up passes issued each day so you can try that if you show up last minute but there is no guarantee.

#5 Squamish

Season: Summer (Fall if it’s dry)

Problems: 200+ on MP (way more in the book)

Rock Type: Granite

Accessibility: Free Climbing

Guide Book: Yes a very extensive and complete one

Squamish BoulderingWell, technically Squamish is not in the United States. It’s actually in British Columbia, Canada. That being said it is only about 2 hours over the border so we will count it.

Bouldering in Squamish is mainly at the base of the Stawamus Chief, a huge granite monolith just south of town. The Chief is the iconic feature of the area and is the center of all the climbing culture in Squamish. Bouldering is done of the large block that fell from the Chief over the years.

The rock in Squamish is similar to the granite you find other places in the PNW. Bullet hard with excellent texture and friction. Anytime it’s not wet the climbing here is as good as anything.

#6 Red Rock

Season: Winter

Problems: 250+ on MP

Rock Type: Sandstone

Accessibility: Free and Paid Climbing, No Free Camping

Guide Book: Yes

Kraft BoulderingSin City has more to offer than just gambling and drinking, it has Red Rock Canyon. Kraft Boulders is the classic area just outside of the actual Red Rock Park. Kraft is where you will find most of the best lines that Vegas has to offer.

It can get quite hot here in the warmer months so definitely plan a trip in the winter time and try to find shade during the day.

Camping in Vegas is less than ideal. It’s something ridiculous like $15 a night with no water and just a pit toilet. The good news is that hotels are very cheap here so if you want to relax you can always get a room.

If it rains while you are there, which is rather unlikely, you will need to wait to climb until the rock dries out. Many holds have broken throughout the years so please respect the boulders.

#7 RMNP

Season: Summer

Problems: 200+ on MP

Rock Type: Granite

Accessibility: Must pay admission for park

Guide Book: Yes

RMNP BoulderingSummer bouldering in the Alpine! Yes, it is possible at Rock Mountain National Park.

Located just west of Denver Colorado this Nation Park is home to multiple 14k foot Mountains are tons of boulders.

You will not be able to climb any time other than the summer due to the extreme weather and temperatures at this altitude.

These extreme conditions make it such a treat to get on these amazing granite mountain top boulders.

Make sure you make it up to the park for a summer bouldering session this year!

#8 Flagstaff

Season: Year round

Problems: 500+ on MP

Rock Type: Volcanic, Basalt, Limestone, and Sandstone

Accessibility: Mostly Free Climbing and Camping (see individual areas)

Guide Book: MP and Blog Guide

Flagstaff BoulderingIt is possible to Boulder all year in the beautiful desert of Northern Arizona. With the wide variety of rock types and elevations, you can always find something that works for you.

With so many areas are tons of 5-star problems you will never run out of something to climb. Also if you are into developing this may be on of the best places for you!

#9 Leavenworth

Season: Late Spring to Early Fall

Problems: 200+ on MP

Rock Type: Granite

Accessibility: Free Climbing and Camping

Guide Book: Yes

Pimpsqueak V9Leavenworth WA is a small faux German town located east of Seattle. Its main tourism is driven by its German culture and festivals but the real gem of the area is the bouldering in Icicle Canyon.

Here you will find many powerful gym style bouldering problems set in the eastern Cascade Mountains. This is a wonderful place to be anytime the weather is nice. The approaches are very short and the rock produces many high-quality problems.

The rock can be quite flakey in some areas which is the one downside to this location.

#10 Yosemite

Season: Spring to Fall (Summer can be hot)

Problems: 200+ on MP

Rock Type: Granite

Accessibility: Must pay to access park

Guide Book: Yes

Yosemite BoulderingYosemite, the birthplace of climbing in the US. How could we not mention this world renowned location on this list? Although bouldering is not the main feature of the valley it is still some of the best climbing around.

Where else can you be working a project while watching Honnold Free Solo El Cap?

Camp 4 is the home base for climbing in America and home to some boulders that have been climbed on from the beginning. If you end up in the Valley and decide that a 3000′ cliff is too heady for you enjoy the boulders and get some great sends!

#11 HP40

Season: Winter

Problems: 300+ on MP

Rock Type: Sandstone

Accessibility: Paid Climbing and Camping

Guide Book: Yes

Bum Boy V3Slapping slopers and miserable top out are all in a good days fun at Horse Pens. Who knew that Alabama would have such an amazing bouldering destination.

HP40 is not a place for inflating your ego. The tough man southern pride thing is very apparent with some of the grading.

You have to fail at Bumboy V3 at least 50 times before you get it to make it a true Horse Pens experience.

Camping is available only a few feet from the boulders but it is not free. The Schultz family owns and operates the field and has a nice general store right on the property for all your last minute climbing needs.

Enjoy your time getting beat up on Horse Pens wonderful Sandstone Slopers!

#12 Pawtuckaway

Season: Spring and Fall

Problems: 600+ on MP

Rock Type: Granite

Accessibility: Free Climbing

Guide Book: None in print (MP is good)

Bouldering PwayLive Free or Die, the slogan of the state of New Hampshire. Good thing that climbing at Pway is FREE!

Get ready to enjoy some of the most textured rock in the country. This grippy granite will shred your tips if you aren’t careful.

The problems are stiff at Pawtuckaway but the climbing is great. Located near Boston and the famous sport climbing spot Rumney, Pway is the premier bouldering spot in New England. Make sure to stop by whenever you get a chance.

#13 Joshua Tree

Season: Winter

Problems: 1000+ on MP

Rock Type: Granite

Accessibility: Paid to access park, Free camping in BLM

Guide Book: Yes

J Tree ClimbingWhile Jtree is better known for its amazing trad climbing, it is also a great place to boulder. Make sure to put your ego aside when you do the Jtree. Most classic lines were put up by John Bachar himself and the grades reflect that.

If you are a novice climber be careful when getting on any highballs are sketchy climbs. It’s safe to say that the hardest grade in the park is V1. If Bachar called it a V1 in the 70’s it’s probably more like a current day V7.

Camping isn’t cheap at Hidden Valley but you can camp for free in the overflow BLM lot just outside the park.

#14 The Gunks

Season: Spring and Fall

Problems: 200+ on MP

Rock Type:  Quartz Conglomerate

Accessibility: Paid Climbing

Guide Book: Yes

Gunks BoulderingThe Shawangunks are located in Upstate New York only a short drive from NYC. This destination is mainly a rope climbing area but many bouldering problems have been developed over the years.

You can climb anything from V0 up to V13+ so there is something for everyone.

Admission to the Gunks is steep at a whopping $20 a day. An annual pass is available as well. It may be worth it.

If with the high admission price it is still one of the most classic areas in the states so don’t miss it!

#15 Holy Boulders

Season: Winter

Problems: 150+ on MP

Rock Type: Sandstone

Accessibility: Free Climbing and Camping

Guide Book: No

Climbing OutsideSoIll like as in Southern Illinois. Yup, that’s what that stands for and this place is most likely what they are talking about. This is really the wild card of this list.

This is really the wild card of this list, but we feel it deserves to make the cut.

The only area in the Midwest we mention and possibly the one with the best rock quality. This is something holy about this boulder field. You have to check it out if you are anywhere near here.

Winter is definitely the best time to climb here to get the best friction and avoid all of nature’s favorite 6 and 8 legged creatures…

Currently, there is no guidebook in print but Mountain project is very helpful.

Access fund recently purchased the land so we can hope to enjoy this boulder field for years to come.

I can be a little hard to find your way around so we are currently drafting a little guide for the area so stay tuned.

Wrapping it up

We hope you enjoyed our top 15 Bouldering spots in the US. If you are blessed enough to have been to all 15 spots then you are one lucky person.

Please vote on the poll below to tell us what your favorite Bouldering Crag is and if you don’t see your favorite tell us in the comments below.

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Owner and Operator of Every Last Rock. He is dedicated to spreading the Stoke about all things climbing. Often found Bouldering around the US and obsessively training.

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