The sport of bouldering involves using no ropes or harnesses – just the boulder itself.
Check out the best bouldering locations in the U.S.
Bishop is a small town perched on the eastern slope of the Sierra mountains in California. Climbing enthusiasts rank Bishop as one of North America’s top bouldering destinations because of the variety of rock around it. Want compact, pocketed volcanic boulders? Head for the wonderfully named Happies or Sads.
If tall, feature-rich granite boulders are more your style, then check out the Pollen Grains, Buttermilks or Druid Stones. The volcanic and granite boulders that stud your path will pose all kinds of challenges. When you’re ready to call it a night, you can hit the Pit – a $2.00 a night Bureau of Land Management campground complete with working toilets.
Joshua Tree National Park, California
One of the most iconic corners of the United States, Joshua Tree National Park lies just east of Palm Springs, on the border between the Mojave and Colorado deserts. The park spreads 1,234 square miles, about three-quarters of which has been designated as wilderness.
It was established as a national monument in 1936, designated by UNESCO as a biosphere reserve in 1984 and became a national park in 1994. Rugged bare-rock ridges of gneiss and giant granite boulders form a dramatic backdrop that pans out as some epic climbs.
In fact, the park has over 400 climbing formations and 8,000 climbing routes, including innumerable boulder problems. Cue a regular influx of bouldering enthusiasts from around the world. The fee to enter Joshua Tree is $15 per vehicle, which is good for 7 days from the date on your receipt.
Hueco Tanks State Park, Texas
This bouldering hotspot situated in El Paso County, Texas, lies in a high-altitude desert basin between the Franklin Mountains to the west and the Hueco Mountains to the east. Hueco Tanks is one of North America’s most popular climbing destinations every winter from November to March.
The 860-acre zone boasts over 2,000 problems, making it one of the world’s best places to climb without rope. The place’s Spanish name rubs in its credentials. Hueco means “hollows” – a nod to the legion of water-holding depressions in the boulders and rock faces that pepper the region.
Yosemite Valley, California
No list of bouldering haunts would be complete without a nod to Yosemite Valley. The area hosts some of the world’s best granite bouldering.
Take your pick between sublimely name problems including Cathedral Boulders, Candyland, Yabo Boulder, Curry Village and Knobby Wall. Try not to get too distracted by the dazzling views of forest, glaciers and waterfalls, and keep it clean.
Joe’s Valley, Utah
Set outside of the town of Orangeville, Utah, Joe’s Valley feels specifically designed for bouldering. The approaches are usually five minutes or less from the car, and Joe’s Valley presents hundreds of intriguing boulder problems of every grade.
The vibrant boulders arranged against the sagebrush and high desert greenery constitute lovely scenery – particularly during the fall when the leaves blaze with color. Joe’s Valley has every feature imaginable. It has been near impossible to chronicle every hunk of rock climbed by locals and random travelers.