People flock from all over the globe to indulge in a little Moab climbing. Rock climbing in Moab isn’t like climbing anywhere else. Seasoned vets and newbies alike will be wowed by the magnificent views and challenging routes.
If you’re really looking to hone in on your crack climbing, sandstone pinching, and sticky slab moves, then Moab is your climbing destination.
Honestly, rock climbing is one of the best things to do in Moab, especially if you love adrenaline-pumping adventure.
However, be warned – climbing here isn’t like a gym. It’s rugged, real, and – at times – a little freaky.
As an avid rock climber who jumps on the sharp end of mega-multi-pitches to your casual crag day, I’ve got you covered.
Moab is like a second home to me. I’ve been here countless times and make it a point to shlep my rack out here several times a year to climb.
This exclusive guide to Moab climbing will give you a solid lay of the land, so you can plan your dirtbagging adventure like a pro, not a tourist.
About This Guide to Moab Climbing
This guide to Moab climbing is mostly geared towards folks who already have the gear and know-how. If that’s not you, don’t worry, skip down to the “climbing with a guide” section. You can certainly learn the ropes here.
Inside this guide to Moab climbing, you’ll find:
- Basic info about rock climbing in Moab
- The best areas for trad climbing (along with a few fun routes)
- Multi-pitch trad (and sport – wait huh – yes sport!) climbing in Moab
- Best places for bouldering in Moab
- Where to find sport routes
- Info on climbing with a guide in Moab
- The best places to nosh, grab gear, and hang in town
- Camping recommendations for rock climbing
- Additional Moab travel info
The Basics of Rock Climbing in Moab
Moab is a truly special place to climb, featuring beautiful red sandstone in a gorgeous desert environment. Even though Moab is known for splitter cracks, desert towers, and plenty of slab,
Climbers flock here from all over, and there is climbing for everyone.
The most important thing to remember when rock climbing in Moab is that you absolutely never climb on wet rock! Sandstone is super fragile, and you must give it time to dry out after rain. Do your part to protect both the climbs and yourself.
For more detailed info about the rock climbing routes in Moab, you’ll want to grab a guidebook. The two main guidebooks for Moab are Moab Climbs: High on Moab which covers just about everything except the Creek and Creek Freak which is the bible for Indian Creek.
Best Moab Climbing Areas
Honestly, there is so much incredible climbing in Moab that it’s hard to narrow it down! But here we’re going to break it down by discipline – trad, sport, and bouldering – so you can easily find your favorite.
Trad Climbing in Moab
Moab is most known for its trad climbs. This type of climbing requires specific protection, is unbolted, and typically found in the single-pitch variety (although there are a few stout multi-pitch routes around).
Climbing at Indian Creek
Moab is truly a trad climbing mecca, and if you are addicted to crack, you’ll never want to leave Indian Creek. The splitter cracks go on for days, so know your hand size and bring way more than doubles of the cams you need.
Classic climbs include Incredible Hand Crack and Supercrack of the Desert (both 5.10), Scarface (5.11a//b), Way Rambo (5.12-), and Belly Full of Bad Berries (if you can climb 5.13a), but you will really never run out of amazing climbs in the Creek.
Indian Creek is also home to two phenomenal multi-pitch towers, North and South Six Shooter. South Six Shooter – in the Needles District of Canyonlands – features easier climbs, with routes to the top from 5.7-5.10. North Six Shooter is the taller tower and the more difficult to summit, with the classic routes in the 5.11 range.
Local Tip: There’s not much at Indian Creek below 5.10, so if you’re brand new to crack climbing, prepare to get spanked. Heck, even if you’re not a noob, the Creek will beat you down, but that’s part of the fun!
Time/Distance from Moab: ~45 min (55 miles)
Camping Nearby: Several paid campgrounds, including Superbowl, Creek Pasture, and Hamburger Rock, as well as dispersed camping at Bridger Jack Mesa.
PSST, want more? If you’re hankering for an epic desert tower adventure, head to Castle Valley off of Highway 128.
Here you’ll find the uber-classic Castleton Tower featuring the North Chimney and Kor-Ingles Route (both 5.9+ classic ratings).
Arches National Park Tower Climbs
For a different kind of trad climbing experience, head to Arches National Park and make your way up some funky formations and towers.
Highlights include Owl Rock (5.8), a spire that totally looks like an owl and not something else (wink, wink), the Right Chimney (5.10c) of the Three Penguins, and Trail of the Navajo (5.11+), an excellent 8-pitch climb located off of River Road.
Local Tip: Free registration is recommended for all climbing in the park, and can easily be done by filling out a quick form outside the visitors center at the entrance. Also, if you choose to use chalk, it must match the color of the rock – white chalk is not allowed.
Time/Distance from Moab: 10 min (5 miles) from the center of town
Camping Nearby: The only campground in Arches is Devils Garden. You can also camp right in Moab at the KOA or other paid campgrounds, or find dispersed camping on BLM land outside city limits.
Fisher Towers for Multi-Pitch Climbs
If you’re looking for some adventure climbing in Moab, you’ll love the Fisher Towers. These summits require physical and mental fortitude, and the ability to climb on rock that seems as stable as mud.
The most popular route by far is Stolen Chimney (5.10d) which takes you to the corkscrew summit of the Ancient Art Tower. This is the most moderate route in the Fisher Towers, but it is not for the faint of heart.
Time/Distance from Moab: ~35 min (25 miles)
Camping Nearby: The Fisher Towers Campground is the obvious choice. It’s very small, so you’ll be lucky to get a site, but it is an amazing place to spend the night in the desert and then wake up to the sun rising over the towers.
Sport Climbing in Moab
Okay – being honest here – so compared to other areas such as Rifle, Shelf Road, and others, the sport climbing in Moab is kind of meh. However, there are a few climbs worth doing if you just can’t stop clipping bolts.
This climbing area along Potash Road couldn’t have an easier approach (the joke is that you could belay from your car), but be aware that the vibe is more like a frat house than an escape into nature.
Still, the climbs (sport, trad, and mixed) are quite fun, and the atmosphere is, too, if you embrace it – bring a cooler full of beer and your camping chairs, and you’ll have a grand old time.
Check out 30 Seconds Over Potash (5.8+ Trad), Flakes of Wrath (5.9+ Trad), Banana Peel (5.10a Sport), A Fistful of Potash (5.10 Mixed), and Bolts to Bumpy Land (5.11 Sport).
Local Tip: You’ll find lots of crag dogs here, but be sure to keep them tied up because you are right next to a busy road.
Time/Distance from Moab: ~15 min (9 miles)
Camping Nearby: Jaycee Park Campground is walking distance away along the river, and has 7 tent sites available on a first-come/first-serve basis.
You’ll find lots of climbing and fewer crowds in the 191 South area, but the main attraction is Looking Glass Rock.
The Regular Route (5.4) is a special kind of sport climb – super easy but sparsely bolted, this route takes you to the top of a cool arch formation. An epic free-hanging rappel is the only way down! It’s more scramble than climb, but it’s certainly worth it!
Time/Distance from Moab: 30 min (25 miles)
Camping Nearby: There’s lots of dispersed camping available on BLM land right by Looking Glass Rock.
Bouldering in Moab
Love pebbles? Then you’ll love the bouldering options in Moab. Some of the best Moab climbing can be found on those enormous boulders that have crashed down from the canyon walls.
Pebble wrestlers in Moab congregate at the Big Bend bouldering area along River Road. The boulders are easy to find with almost no approach, although the consensus is that they are often sandbagged and stiff for the grade.
Warm up on Back Alley (V0), try The Punisher (V2), and check out the Chaos Boulder for classic problems from V5-V11.
Time/Distance from Moab: ~15 min (10 miles)
Camping Nearby: Big Bend Campground and Upper Big Bend Campground are right up the road, so you can camp along the river on a first-come/first-serve basis.
Climbing with a Guide in Moab
If you’re new to climbing, but really want to try it out on the sandstone of Moab, check out one of the many climbing guide companies in Moab. Climbing with a guide is a great way to learn skills and help overcome a fear of heights.
The pros at Moab Desert Adventures, Moab Cliffs & Canyons, Windgate Adventures, and others can teach you how to climb the cracks in Indian Creek or take you to the summit of a tower, and give you an experience you’ll never forget.
Nearby Attractions in Moab
If you need some new climbing gear (or didn’t bring enough cams for the Creek), Gearheads in downtown Moab is the place to go for all your dirtbag climbing needs. They even let you fill up on all the free filtered water you need for days in the desert.
For a yummy breakfast, stop by Love Muffin Cafe. The breakfast burritos are exactly what you need for a big day of climbing, and they also have paninis, poutine, and more.
If you need a sugar rush to keep you going, head to Moab Coffee Roasters, which features delicious ice cream and gelato, along with a hit of caffeine if you need it, too.
Additional Resources for Visiting Moab
Planning a trip to Moab? You’ve come to the right place. Here are a few handy resources to visit Moab like a local, not a tourist.
- The Best Time to Visit Moab
- Amazing Hikes in Moab for All Abilities
- Where to Find the Best Camping in Moab (coming soon)