100 Best Rock Climbing Routes in the U.S. Mapped

Rock climbing is a popular sport. Whether a group pursuit with friends or a solitary activity like it is for the free solo climber Alex Hammond, people with varying athletic abilities and goals can participate. As such, different types of rock climbing have developed along with assorted difficulty levels that determine which routes you can climb.

There are also places where multiple of the best rock climbing routes are located, like Rumney, New Hampshire. Climbers who live here have access to top rock climbing routes in their own backyard while others must travel miles to access popular routes in the United States. Speaking of states, there are those like Colorado which contain more top rock climbing routes than others. You can easily determine this and more when you enable Cluster View on the map below.

View Best U.S. Rock Climbing Routes in a full screen map

We mapped Climbing.com‘s 100 best U.S. rock climbing routes. Identified in October 2015 thanks to Facebook users, climbers, Mountain Project’s Top 50 Classics, and route finder tools, the data also contains the difficulty grade or rating of each route. Rock climbing ratings are set by local climbers and can have additional details (such as a + or -). Now let’s take a look at places in the U.S. where multiple of the best rock climbing routes are located.

Locations with Multiple Top Rock Climbing Routes

Chalk it up to these places’ geography. If you visit one of the following locations, you’ll have at least five of the U.S.’s best rock climbing routes at your fingertips.

  • Rumney, New Hampshire
  • Red River Gorge, Kentucky
  • Smith Rock, Oregon
  • Red Rock, Nevada
  • New River Gorge, West Virginia
Photo of White Mountain National Forest by Yefta Albert on Unsplash

Rumney, New Hampshire is a town located at the southern edge of the White Mountain National Forest, the only national forest in New Hampshire or Maine. It’s home to 10 of the U.S.’s best rock climbing routes, the most of any other location in the U.S. Rumney rock climbing routes include Beat Junkie, China Beach, Cold War, Crowd Pleaser, Flying Hawaiian, Junco, Lonesome Dove, Millenium Falcon, Technosurfing, and Waimea. They range in difficulty from one easy route to three elite routes, though most of Rumney’s routes are intermediate.

With eight popular rock climbing routes, Red River Gorge, Kentucky is not far behind Rumney. Red River Gorge rock climbing routes includes Amarillo Sunset, Gettin’ Lucky in Kentucky, God’s Own Stone, Jesus Wept, Mercy, the Huff (one route), The Force, To Defy the Laws of Tradition, and Ultra-Perm, lies within the Daniel Boone National Forest. These climbing routes are either intermediate (two), hard (three), or reserved for an elite few (three).

Both Smith Rock, Oregon and Red Rock, Nevada have six of the country’s best climbing routes. Smith Rock climbing routes are 5 Gallon Buckets, Cry Babies, Dreamin’, Just Do It, Moons of Pluto, and Screaming Yellow Zonkers. Red Rock climbing routes include Big Bad Wolf, Monster Skank, Mr. Choad’s Wild Ride, Sunny and Steep, The Gift, and Under the Boardwalk. Then there’s New River Gorge, West Virginia, the last city to offer five or more routes. The top New River Gorge climbing routes are Legacy, Mrs. Field’s Follies, Narcissus, Porter for Recorder, and Quinsana Plus.

Rumney and New River Gorge are located to the country’s East while Red River Gorge sits in the Midwest. If Smith Rock and Red Rock represent the West Coast of the U.S., what about Mountain West—a subregion of Western U.S.—climbing?

Mountain West’s Top Climbing Location

You already know about the many best rock climbing routes in the East, Midwest, and West Coast. The location in the Mountain West with the most highly-regarded routes is Ten Sleep, Wyoming. While you’ll want to be on the lookout for bears when climbing in Ten Sleep (Wyoming is one of the country’s fatal bear attack hotspots, you’ll have access to four excellent climbing routes like Beer Bong and Circus in the Wind, among others.

Additionally, though the Mountain West’s top climbing location only has four of the U.S.’s best rock climbing routes, it is the overall region with the most routes scattered about. The Mountain West is home to 30 of the 100 best rock climbing routes in the country, while both the West Coast and the Midwest have just 25 and the East has 20. Now, which Mountain West states have the most routes?

States with the Most Top Routes

Looking at the locations of multiple top climbing routes may lead you to think that those states have the most top routes, but that’s not 100% accurate. New Hampshire, Kentucky, Oregon, Nevada, and West Virginia are included in the top ten states with the most top routes, though none are the #1 state with the most top routes.

State # of Routes
Colorado 12
New Hampshire 10
California 9
Kentucky 8
West Virginia 7
Utah 6
South Dakota 6
Oregon 6
Nevada 6
Wyoming 5

Those who live in Colorado have access to the most top rock climbing jaunts: 12 to be exact. Across the country, New Hampshire touts 10 top rock climbing locations, the second most after Colorado. Back on the West Coast, California has nine destinations. Kentucky offers eight and West Virginia has seven of the best rock climbing routes.

Six other states have five or more top places to climb, which you can also easily see on the map when you enable Cluster View.

Use Clustering to View a Representation of Multiple Markers

With 100 of the best U.S. rock climbing routes represented as markers on the map, many of which are located in the same state and even city, it can be difficult to get a good sense of them all. While you can zoom in and out of BatchGeo maps as you please in order to better see the markers that sit atop each other, you may just want easy access to some sort of marker summary. This is what you can see with Cluster View.

Map clustering looks for markers that are near each other and replaces them with one icon that represents multiple markers. These markers, by default, are labeled with the number of markers they contain for a simple way to see just how many markers—in this case, rock climbing routes—are located in one area. As we zoom in further with Cluster View, we begin to get a sense of the states’ number of popular rock climbing routes without manually counting each individual marker.

But the default number of markers they contain is just scratching the surface of Cluster View, because you can also discover the average and sum of your data via Cluster View. Learn more about BatchGeo’s Cluster View with a cluster map markers demo and tutorial or get started with your own map today at batchgeo.com.