Six Scenic Climbing Destinations Around the World

The view from the top is always unbeat­able, but why not enjoy every pitch and approach along the way?

Here are six climb­ing spots that send the charts for unfor­get­table scenery.

Costa Blanca, Alicante, SpainCos­ta Blan­ca, Ali­cante, Spain
More than 120 miles of Mediter­ranean coast­line have it all: end­less sands, the bluest water, and sway­ing palm fronds are the name of the game here in Spain’s Ali­cante province. A rev­el­ry of crags, tow­ers, and sea cliffs offer a seem­ing­ly end­less num­ber of routes that range from sin­gle-pitch sport lines in Xalo Val­ley to com­plex, mul­ti-pitch trad climbs at Puig Cam­pana, which at 4,613 feet is the sec­ond-high­est peak in the province.

Leavenworth, Washington, USALeav­en­worth, Wash­ing­ton, USA
Tourists come for the kitschy Ger­man Bavaria expe­ri­ence, climbers come for the clean alpine gran­ite fea­tur­ing all the best of the Pacif­ic North­west, with views of the Cas­cades and orchards that go for miles. Cas­tle Rock, fea­tur­ing the state’s first mul­ti-pitch tech­ni­cal climb, and Snow Creek Wall’s 800-foot gran­ite face, both offer superb tra­di­tion­al climbs. Although with more than 50 crags just beg­ging for atten­tion with­in an easy dri­ve of town, includ­ing Mid­night Rock and Givler’s Dome—not to men­tion boul­der­ing at Ici­cle Creek or the sport climbs in Tumwa­ter Canyon—climbers will have a smor­gas­bord of routes from which to choose.

Queenstown, New ZealandQueen­stown, New Zealand
With a rep­u­ta­tion like “The Adven­ture Cap­i­tal of the World” to pro­tect, Queen­stown deliv­ers on all fronts: Wye Creek and Kingston both serve up a mix of trad and sport lines across a hand­ful of walls, and boul­der­ing can be found a lit­tle fur­ther afield at Lake­side Boul­der and Lug­gate Boul­ders in Wana­ka. And if you’ve brought along fear­less non-climbers, try them on Queenstown’s very own Via Fer­ra­ta, a series of iron rungs bolt­ed into the exposed, over­hang­ing cliffs of Queen­stown Hill.

Railay ThailandRailay, Thai­land
A trop­i­cal par­adise of white-sand beach­es, flow­er­ing jun­gles, and over 700 routes over, under, around, and through the upthrust karst lime­stone tow­er­ing along the sea, Railay (also spelled Rai Leh) and neigh­bor­ing Ton Sai are a climber’s dream come true. The major­i­ty of the routes here are bolt­ed sport climbs, but Railay also offers world-class deep-water solo­ing. Check the tides, then take a raft out to the near­est jut of karst and climb until you’re ready to let go and get wet!

Red River Gorge, Kentucky, USARed Riv­er Gorge, Ken­tucky, USA
A lush­ly forest­ed canyon sys­tem in the heart of blue­grass coun­try fea­tur­ing more than 100 nat­ur­al sand­stone arch­es and bridges, “the Red” is home to over 1,500 climb­ing routes. Sport lines dom­i­nate the region’s pock­et­ed and over­hang­ing sand­stone cliffs, although there are a few trad lines at places like Fortress Wall. Routes can be as unthink­ing or as prob­lem­at­ic as you please, with about 100 begin­ner-friend­ly 5.6s like Eure­ka, all the way up to a beast like South­ern Smoke, a blis­ter­ing 5.14c line only a few dozen climbers have ever sent. Even sin­gle crags like Gallery can offer routes at any dif­fi­cul­ty lev­el you like, so there’s real­ly no excuse to miss this one.

©istockphoto/Brandon_Nimon Yosemite, Cal­i­for­nia, USA
The beau­ty of the Sier­ra Neva­da is impos­si­ble to over­state, and attempts to do so invari­ably trend toward the cliché, but not with­out good rea­son. The soar­ing gran­ite walls, the deep scent of pinewoods, the pound­ing thun­der of Yosemite Falls: it’s no won­der that this scenic mir­a­cle became the birth­place of Amer­i­can climb­ing. Infa­mous big wall climbs like El Cap­i­tan and Half Dome con­tin­ue to draw climbers from around the world, but Yosemite’s gen­eros­i­ty goes beyond famed big walls. Climbers can find face climbs, slabs, crags, cracks, boul­ders and domes galore just a stone’s throw from Camp 4.