Where to Go Rock Climbing in Wyoming
Wyoming is known for its rugged landscape and incredible views. Each year one million visitors venture into Yellowstone Park to see it’s geologic wonders. So it’s no surprise that the state also has some incredible rock climbing. Here is an overview of where to head for different styles and difficulty.
Teton Mountain Range
Closest to Yellowstone itself, the Tetons are an iconic mountain range that rises dramatically from the valley bottom. Most notable is the Grand Teton itself, a historic peak with many routes to its summit. The two most common (and easiest) routes re the Exum Ridge (5.6) and the Owen-Spalding Route (5.4). If you’re looking for something harder, you can certainly find it! Keep in mind the approach to these routes is a grueling seven miles with 5,000 feet of elevation gain. If you’re new to climbing, there are multiple guide services including Exum Guides and Jackson Hole Mountain Guides.
There are multi-pitch routes up all of the peaks in the Teton Range, including the canoe-accessed Mount Moran. If you’re looking for single-pitch climbing in the area there is plenty to sample. Though, if you’re a hard-core sport climber, this might not be the destination for you.
If you want to stand atop one of the most unique geologic feature in the world, make a stop in the Northeast corner of Wyoming to climb Devils Tower. This tower is made up of igneous rock that lies in parallel six-sided columns. As with the Grand Teton, the easiest route up is a fairly moderate route Durrance (graded at 5.6, but be prepared for it to feel a little harder in modern day ratings). There are additional routes to the summit as well as single pitch climbs surrounding the feature. Be aware there is a voluntary closure in the month of June to respect American Indian culture and respectful to stay off the rock during that time.
A town named because it was “ten sleeps” from the two closest Indian Camps, this sleepy town boats some of the most prolific limestone sport climbing in the country. There are dozens of crags and over 1,000 routes ranging from 5.8 beginner routes to 5.14 test pieces. Be aware the rock here is fairly sharp if you are used to climbing on sandstone or in a gym. Another dynamic piece of climbing in Ten Sleep is the need to choose a crag based on the time of year and weather conditions. In the spring and fall you might want a sunny crag to stay warm. In the heat of summer you will most certainly want to chase shade.
Sinks Canyon & Wild Iris
These two sport-climbing areas are closest to Lander, Wyoming, a town that has been built around climbing in many ways. Sinks Canyon is 15 minutes east of Lander and offers a few hundred routes ranging from sandstone to limestone to granite (all within a four-mile range). It is certainly best known for the dolomite limestone that can be climbed year-round in a t-shirt (we know you won’t believe that, but it doesn’t make it any less true). Heading south out of Lander for about 30 minutes will bring you to Wild Iris. This climbing area has short, steep (and savage) routes inspired by the legendary climber Todd Skinner. In both areas difficulties range from 5.6 to 5.14 and boast everything in between. If you are looking for the highest concentration of difficult routes in Wyoming, check out the Wolf Point crag. This area is not for the soft rock climber though, as it requires a burly hike in both directions and an “exciting” river crossing. Oh, and snakes and bears.
If you’re looking for traditional routes on granite rock, check out Vedauwoo for hundreds of single-pitch and short multi-pitch routes. This area is known for sharp and flaring cracks that require proficiency in the off-width style of climbing. Highly recommend taping your hands wearing the kind of clothes you would wear to work on a ranch instead of the kind you might wear to a climbing gym.
Wind River Mountains
This mecca of alpine rock climbing runs down the spine of the Continental Divide and boasts some spectacular summits. The most well-known location is the Cirque of the Towers, once again with moderate routes that take you to fantastic views. A less popular, but equally stunning location is the Titcomb Basin a little farther north of the Cirque of the Towers. Less developed routes means fewer people, but also more challenging route finding and descents. The highest peak in the Winds (and Wyoming for that matter) is Gannett Peak, but it is more of a mountaineering summit than a rock climbing summit.
Off the Beaten Path
If you want to explore a few areas where you’re not likely to see many people, check out the traditional climbing around Split Rock (near the near-vacant town of Jeffery City) or Fremont Canyon (west of Casper near Alcova Reservoir). There is also some great limestone sport climbing near Story, Wyoming that doesn’t see much attention.
Wherever you take your rack of cams or sling of quickdraws in Wyoming, you’re sure to have a memorable trip.
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