Top Ten National Parks for Rock Climbing

Zion National Park, Utah
  |  Gorp.com

The Mormons who named the wild canyon country in southwestern Utah "Little Zion" knew a promised land when they saw it. The 150,000 acres that are now Zion National Park are a true desert paradise.

Throughout the park wind-sculpted sandstone arches, sheer, multihued canyon walls, plateaus, canyons, and monoliths invite the child within to come out to this sandstone playground. Because nearly a mile separates the highest and lowest elevations in the park, this otherworldly territory is home to a spectacular multitude and diversity of plant and animal life. Both the living and the inanimate are cause for jaw-dropping amazement in Zion National Park.

The beautiful Virgin River, which carved the park's centerpiece, Zion Canyon, snakes below cliffs as much as 2,200 feet high. Here is where you will find the classic big wall climbs of Zion. Much like Yosemite, these walls require commitment. You will find beauty, serenity, and few other climbers on these difficult multipitch routes.

Zion is not a place for the beginner. Solid crack-climbing skills are a must for many lines here. There are no "easy" climbs here. The main type of rock is Navajo sandstone, which is soft and unpredictable. Stories abound about the hazards of climbing in Zion: Pay attention to them. Zion has some excellent routes for the experienced climber, but even the seasoned rock rat should be aware of the dangers.


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