ROCK CLIMBING USA
We were here 14 April 2019
We do not recommend coming here if you have anywhere else to go. The only acceptable reason is that the crag clears out of snow sooner than other areas in the region. The routes were graded 2 or 3 grades harder than appointed and were not interesting at all. Do not start leading here as a novice! You will need basic leading skills to come lead climbing or hang a top rope here.
Area: Kila crag
Approach: 5 min
Shade / Sun: Sunny almost all-day
Type: Sport climbing and top rope
Grades: 5a to 6b+ (5.7 to 5.10d)
How to get there
Google maps parking location
Google maps crag location
You can park almost next to the crag. Follow the dirt road until you hit the wall.
The crag is located next to the dirt road. You have a view over the fields. All the walls are south facing which makes them possible to climb before a lot of other areas in Kalispell. The Kila crag was completely snow-free and enjoyable in April. The sun is on the wall almost all day long.
The sport climbing seemed to be graded extremely difficult. At least expect two or three grades higher than appointed. Be careful to start leading here as a novice! Even a 5.9 (5b) was extremely difficult for us. It was possible however to put up topropes, if you walked around to the anchors, in al lot of the routes. Also, the locals told us this is a crag used as a last resort in the neighborhood when the rest is not possible due to snow.
Gear up with
Bitterroot National Forest
Lost horse boulders
We were here 15 April 2019
If you are looking for a couple of days of secluded but fun bouldering around Missoula this is the spot for you. The grading is a tad on the hard side but both beginner to intermediate level boulderers can enjoy themselves for a couple of days here. You can enjoy this site as a complete rookie but bare in mind that any type of climbing requires common sense and climbing skills.
Area: Lost horse boulders – Roadside boulders
Approach: 0 – 15 min
Grades: V0 - V6
Camping possible for a maximum of 16 days
This is the Google maps location where you can park. In the map (in the picture section) on the bottom this location is indicated with a red circle.
There are several sub-areas to be found here. Some areas are covered by the trees, others are only surrounded by low bushes giving them sun all day long. Depending on the day's conditions it is possible to choose a different sub-area. We did not encounter other climbers while staying here for 4 days. The forest is beautiful and quiet. We did see some rock squirrels, chipmunks and deers around. At a certain time of year, you need to be watchful for thicks. It is possible to camp freely on designated camp spots up to 16 consecutive days. Fire rings are available and wood can be gathered from the forest ground. Water can also be found in the nearby river.
We found the grading here to be a tad on the hard side. V0 - V6 level climbers can enjoy themselves here for a couple of days for sure. There are slab, steep, overhanging routes and even some dynos to be found. Even though this area is unknown to the bigger public, the routes and ground seem to be cleaned regularly
An online pdf can be found on this website
City of rocks national reserve
We were here 29 april 2019 – 5 may 2019
We really loved our time in City of Rocks. This is a place worth visiting of its own accord! It’s possible to enjoy almost every type of climbing here, from bouldering to multipitch trad climbing. For this reason you might be able to have extensive prior knowledge about multipitch trad climbing or no knowledge at all when you go bouldering. Most of the climbs we did here felt graded on point. Take the time to come here and enjoy the wonderful climbing in a very beautiful setting.
Area: City of rocks
Approach: 2min – 45min, entirely dependent on the sector
Shade / Sun: Different options due to rock walls facing in every direction
Type: Trad climbing, Sport climbing, Multipitch trad, Multipitch sport, Boulder
Grades: 4th to 8th (5.6 – 5.13)
Price: Free day use
BLM land outside of the reserve: Free
Designated campsites inside the reserve: 12.72 USD
How to get there
It is possible to drive through the city of rocks national reserve from east to west with some side roads along the way. A lot of the interesting crags have parking areas almost right at the crag.
Google maps east entrance location
Google maps crag locations:
This is an exquisite place to start practicing your trad climbing skills. There are a fair amount of very low grades around with possibilities to practice your finger jams, hand jams, fist jams, locks of any kind and even some wider double hand cracks. For better trad climbers there is still enough challenge to be found. The scene is very friendly and people will generally share their gear, their guidebooks and their advice with you. After you’ve had your fill of the cracks you can still enjoy good sport climbing from 4th (5.6) to 8th (5.12) grade. For the real all rounders among you, you can then top of your day with some boulders close to the official campgrounds.
PARKING LOT ROCK
Parking lot rock only has a 2 minute approach from the nearby parking lot. There are routes to be found on all sides making shade or sun possible during the entire day.
Parking lot rock also features both trad climbing and sport climbing. The majority of the routes are between 5.8 and 5.10. For trad climbing beginners like us, there are some low grade routes to be climbed here, but be on your watch for stiff grades. There are some anchors fixed on the wall to rappel down. Be sure try and locate them beforehand.
Elephant rock lies nice and close from the parking lot as well. Just 1 minute approach will suffice here.
You can find both sport and crack climbs here, but most people come for the low graded cracks. The majority of the grades can be found between 5.7 and 5.10b. There are interesting possibilities for beginning crack climbers here, but be aware that some of the routes take bigger gear. Be sure to carry a couple of #4, #5 and maybe even a #6 black diamond cams when bagging them to feel secure. Definitely try Columbian crack and Rye Crisp for some wider action and be sure to keep some bigger gear for the top. Elephant rock can be walked off from the back with a little down climbing. On the front coming down is usually done by using the fixed anchor at the top of ‘Just say no’. If you are lucky like us, someone might just hang a spare rope to be used for all!
Only 2 minutes to approach the bread loaves as well. The majority of the grades can be found between 5.8 and 5.11 and both sport and trad climbs are present.
This crag has a beautiful section to practice all types of jamming named the ‘Bloody fingers corridor’.
LOST ARROW SPIRE
Looking to bag your first multipitch trad with a free rappel to boot? Here’s your chance! ‘Lost arrow’ (5.7) is a classic and a beauty. 2 pitches long with a 5.7 to start and a 5.5 to finish. Consider taking runners and gear placement to minimize your rope drag. Not only beginners love this route. Even with its far approach of 50 minutes you can expect multiple teams waiting at the base to start climbing on a weekday. Come early and try to move as quickly as possible for you within save grounds. Enjoy the view from the top before creeping over the edge for the free rappel. A 70 m rope or two 60 m ropes get you down safely.
APPROACH FOR LOST ARROW SPIRE
GPS route tracked with our Garmin watch
Distance: 2,5 km
Elevation gain: 100 m
Time: 50 min
The lost arrow spire lies further into the reserve and takes a proper approach to arrive there. Park at the ‘Flaming rock trailhead’. Walk North past South Creek and Center Creek for 2 km. Follow the path curving to the East just after Center Creek. There is a sign pointing left (North) to Lost Arrow spire after 100 m.
The city of rocks national reserve is marked, not only by beautiful climbing, but also by beautiful natural features. The whole park is covered in rock features which are just waiting to be explored. Just by walking around you will find caves, spires, windows and arches to investigate. During the climbing you will find little to no tree cover surrounding the climbable rocks. Your best bet for shade or rain cover is searching a wall facing in the right direction for that time of day. While climbing, be on the lookout for bird nesting and watch out for snakes on the approaches.
As you might have noticed, we really liked our time in City of Rocks. At that time we were really trad nubes, but we still found a lot of fun challenges which were within our reach. Generally, the grading is considered on the soft side, which is actually good if you want a confidence boost. The rock quality is really superb. The rock is granite and has a great stick to it. the classics still have a lot of friction. The area holds something for everybody. There are sport climbs, multipitch sport climbs, crack climbs, multipitch trad climbs and bouldering areas spread across the reserve. Yes, the scene is mostly fixated on crack climbing, but with almost 300 trad climbs and 250 sport climbs on Mountain Project alone there’s enough routes to enjoy for any type of climber. Grades vary from 5.6 to 5.12 making this area fit for beginners as well as advanced climbers.
Routes we really loved:
Wheat thin (5.7): Elephant rock
Rye Crisp (5.8): Elephant rock
Lost arrow (5.7): Lost arrow spire
Sinocranium (5.8): Steinfell’s dome
You can buy the Dave Bingham ‘City of Rocks and Castle rocks state park’ here
You can find some designated campsites inside the park, some privatized campsites outside the park and BLM land all around the national reserve. Take a pick of what works best for you.
All around the national reserve you can find BLM land or USFS land on which it is allowed the camp freely. You can even find some more developed spots with fire pits. There are more than 60 designated campground to be found inside the park. All sites have a grill and a picnic table at hand. Vault toilets are located in central areas. Most of them are located close to or even in between boulders. A campsite costs 12.72 USD. You can register for them in advance on the Reserve America website, but this will add a 10.60 USD reservation fee independent of how many days you reserve.
Gear up with
Double standard rack with a couple of bigger pieces (#4, #5, #6 BD)
Two 60 m ropes or one 70 m rope
Rope bag for the sandy bottoms
Climbing tape or crack climbing gloves
Harness, Versatile climbing shoes, Helmet