Top Ten National Parks for Rock Climbing

Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado

Seeing the snowcapped peaks of the Rockies for the first time is like an initial visit to the Grand Canyon or the Statue of Liberty: This "gateway to the West" is an American icon. And like other grandiose icons, say Stonehenge or the canals of Venice, no picture or video can do justice the beauty and majesty of the real thing.

With more than 70 summits above 12,000 feet, the rarefied air and spectacular views of Rocky Mountain National Park combine to take your breath away. Jagged peaks, lush valleys, sparkling lakes, and enough unspoiled backcountry to lose yourself in for weeks are all easy-to-find hallmarks of this mountain lover's paradise.

Rocky Mountain NP offers some of the best alpine climbing in North America on peaks carved by ancient glaciers. Technical climbing here is also worthy of praise. The Diamond on Longs Peak is considered to be one of the top ten rock climbs in the world. Once deemed impossible, there are at least 35 climbing routes and variations on the Diamond today.

Though the glory often goes to the Diamond, there are many other challenging and breathtaking routes within Rocky Mountain. Petit Grepon's South Face offers an excellent line that rewards the climber with incomparable views. Sykes Sickle on 12,575-foot Spearhead is one of the best climbs in the park, and Culp-Bossier on Hallet Peak serves as a fantastic introduction to multipitch climbing.


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