Boulderers are badass. Opting to forgo the ropes and harnesses that keep others from falling, these climbers rely on their chalked-up hands, a pair of climbing shoes and (if they’re cautious) a crash pad to help cushion their falls. Less a test of an individual’s endurance, this kind of climbing is about strength and skilled, careful movement.
Bouldering is definitely a social sport, so grab your friends and head out to these seven scenic bouldering spots:
Yosemite National Park, California
Yosemite Valley features some of the best granite bouldering the world has to offer. And in heart of Yosemite National Park, it also has some of the greatest views. Glaciers, waterfalls and forest surround the boulders in Yosemite National Park, and the beauty of the High Sierra will help make up for any frustration that arises because of how difficult these climbs are—because they are difficult.
Joe’s Valley was practically made for bouldering. The sandstone rocks that line the hillside have skin-friendly texture and the approaches are almost always 5 minutes or less. Plus, the black and brown boulders against the sagebrush and high desert greenery make for awesome scenery—especially in the fall when the leaves turn orange.
Seated on the perimeter of a dry desert lake in Southern Utah, Ibex’s giant red quartzite cliffs and blocks aren’t just gorgeous, they make for some epic bouldering. With no civilization for 50 miles, the area has a desolate, eerie feeling, and the boulders are tall, so it’s perfect if you want to climb high.
Bishop is located on the eastern slope of the lower Sierra Nevada Mountain range and is one of the most popular bouldering destinations in the world. But don’t let the gorgeous mountain views of the Sierras and high desert scenery distract you from your climb, because you’ll need to focus your attention on making your way up and around the difficult problems on these granite and volcanic boulders.
Horse Pens 40
Located in the foothills of the Appalachians, this historic park is full of sandstone boulders you’ll be dying to climb. With some bigger rocks and more difficult problems, Horse Pens 40 also allows overnight camping and night climbing, so be sure to pack your tent and headlamp. Go in the fall when the leaves are changing color and you’ll be treated to a challenging bouldering experience surrounded by golden, orange and red trees.
Just outside of El Paso, Hueco Tanks is the ultimate destination for climbers every winter between November and March. The 860-acre area has over 2,000 problems and is known for its wonderfully dry, sunny weather, sublime rock formations and bombproof igneous rock—so basically: it’s flipping gorgeous.
Joshua Tree National Park
“Oh hey there, beautiful,” said everyone ever who visited Joshua Tree. In all seriousness, the views at this bouldering destination in the Mojave Desert are, indeed, awe-inspiring. Home of the Joshua tree the park is named after, the landscape features hills of bare quartz monzonite rock broken into smaller boulders—making for some epic climbs.