The town of St. George, Utah, is in the meeting place of the Mojave Desert, the Great Basin and the Colorado Plateau. Right on the edge of the Red Cliffs Desert Reserve, and just north of the Arizona border and east of Nevada, the town provides easy access to a plethora of hiking and rock climbing routes. Fall through spring is the most popular time to visit, as the summer months bring a dusty and dry heat that makes it difficult to be out in the middle of the day. If you're looking to embark on your next outdoor rock climbing adventure here, here are some climbs you can take in the area.
1. Chuckawalla Trail and Climbing Area
The Chuckawalla Trail leads to a very popular climbing area of the same name. It's easy to get to the sandstone Chuckawalla Wall, which is popular with visitors as a result of its easy access to the town of St. George and hotels like the Best Western Coral Hills, which is under ten minutes away from the trailhead. Because of this, the Chuckawalla Wall isn't known for its wild beauty and remoteness, but it's a good place to visit if you're looking for a basic climb while you visit. The main climbing surface faces south and southwest, so you'll be able to get some sun. If you go about a mile farther down Chuckawalla trail, you'll reach Turtle Wall, which feels more remote and adventurous than Chuckawalla Wall. Turtle Wall, while it has similar sandstone to Chuckawalla, has some steeper routes for those who want more of a challenge without having to travel far. If you're looking for sunshine while you climb, visit this area in the morning, as it faces east.
2. Green Valley Gap
If you're looking for an adventure a little farther out from town but still easily accessible, Green Valley Gap might be what you're looking for. There are about 28 routes to try climbing, so you can get a lot of of variety. This area is one of the lowest in elevation around St. George, which means it's also one of the warmest during the winter, so if you find yourself visiting during the colder months, this might be the one to try. Even though Green Valley Gap is a little farther outside of town, it's still free enter, which makes it another great option for squeezing a climb in on your trip. The area is also popular with mountain bikers, so if you enjoy that, this might be the perfect opportunity to strap your bike to the back of your car and get a different kind of adventure between your climbs.
3. Black Rocks
This climbing area is known for its basalt rocks, versus the sandstone that is so commonly found in the area. This makes these rocks some of the highest quality near St. George. Black Rocks is about 15 minutes north of St. George, which means it's within the Red Cliffs Desert Reserve, so there are some additional restrictions, such as requiring dogs to be on leashes, to protect the local wildlife. This climbing area has about 65 routes, so you can enjoy visiting here a few days in a row without going far from town. While you're inside the Red Cliffs Desert Reserve, keep an eye out for tortoises and rattlesnakes, as well as the unusual mix of species in this area.
4. Snow Canyon State Park
Snow Canyon State Park is about 10 miles north of St. George, but it's still only about a 20 minute drive. Once you're there, you'll find a wide variety of climbing areas, including the popular Island in the Sky. This area alone has quite a few routes, which means you can climb the areas several days in a row or return again and again without getting bored. Because they're in a state park, you'll have to pay for a pass to enter. You can choose the day pass or, if you think you'll be returning multiple times throughout the year, invest in an annual pass. Snow Canyon State Park is unique because it's made out of sandstone that is coated with black lava rock, which prevents erosion. It's also near Zion National Park, which not only means you're going to get a hint of the majestic scenery that that area is known for, but also that you'll most likely encounter fewer people, because tourists will all be heading to Zion. As far as climbing opportunities, there are a wide variety of routes for ability, interest and time of day. Just make sure you research your routes ahead of time, as some are far more treacherous than others, and stay on the designated trials, as the wildlife and crust over the ground is very delicate.
5. Woodbury Road Crags
If you're interested in a more remote trip, a 40-minute drive southwest of St. George will take you to a limestone climbing area dubbed the Woodbury Road Crags. The collection of three climbing areas is very isolated, with few nearby towns and some climbing sites that are difficult to get to without a four-wheel-drive vehicle. There are about 50 different routes across the three climbing areas, so there is plenty to explore, and the limestone rocks make for sturdy climbing surfaces even when it rains. The crags are just north of the Arizona border and are a protected habitat for the desert tortoise, so it's important to make sure that you're staying on the trails to protect the delicate plants and animals that make up its home. Keep an eye out for the tortoises and other animals and leave them alone while you're visiting as well, especially when you're driving.
Whether you are looking to spend a week rock climbing or just want a day or two mixed in with your other outdoor activities, there are plenty of climbing opportunities in and around St. George. Do your research to find the routes that are the best fit for you and the season you're going, and then enjoy the beauty and majesty of southwestern Utah.
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