Top Ten National Parks for Rock Climbing

Acadia National Park, Maine

Having the distinction of being the only national park in the northeastern United States brings Acadia a lot of visitors. They come to climb 1,532-foot Cadillac Mountain, the highest point on the Atlantic north of Rio, to bike along the 45 miles of crisscrossing carriage paths, which were originally commissioned by mogul John D. Rockefeller Jr., and to drive along Park Loop Road. In the summer Acadia can get downright crowded. Luckily there are 170 miles of opportunity for the hiker to hide in this 35,000-acre park.

Acadia is located mostly on Mount Desert Island, a curled shrimp of an island off of Maine's mid-coast. The coast is delightfully rugged and rocky. America has too few spots to climb near the sea on the East Coast, but Acadia does its best to make up for the lack of venues. The park's oceanside cliff cragging, especially at Great Head, is some of the best in the world. The occasional foghorn and crashing waves (make sure you have a firm stance on sea-level belay ledges) make great background noise to an abundance of exciting climbs.

There are many single-pitch climbs on Acadia's solid, coarse-grained pink granite. Otter Cliffs, Great Head, Echo Lake, and the Precipice on the south side of Champlain Mountain are the main climbing areas. Climbing here is a mixture of "trad" and sport; there are top-rope routes at places like Otter Cliffs routes to be found. The Story of O, a 250-foot crack climb on Champlain Mountain, is a favorite among locals here.


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