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Suggestions for Southwest Road Trip
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Dec 7, 2012, 3:38 PM
Post #1 of 3 (1566 views)

Registered: Mar 31, 2009
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Suggestions for Southwest Road Trip
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I'm not sure if this is the right place for this thread or not. My apologies if not. I had originally posted it in the Trip Report section, but that seems like it's for ongoing/previous happened trips. Anyways:

A buddy and me are planning a road trip from Portland, OR through the Southwest for this coming late April/early May. This will be the first time climbing in that area for either of us. We're hoping to go for about three weeks. Places we're considering stopping along the way include, Moab, Canyonlands, Zion, Red Rocks, Joshua Tree, and Yosemite. We're probably looking at doing a mix of bouldering and sport climbing with maybe a small amount of trad. Are there any places you'd recommend spending more time in than others? Specific routes that can't be missed? Good guide books for any of those areas? We're probably 5.9 to low level 5.11 climbers and enjoy a good multi-pitch route. Really, any advice you can provide for our upcoming trip would be welcomed. Thanks.

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Dec 8, 2012, 7:49 AM
Post #2 of 3 (1498 views)

Registered: Sep 9, 2001
Posts: 20939

Re: [elliotay] Suggestions for Southwest Road Trip [In reply to]
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Well, you're traveling through this area at possibly the best time of year for a lot of great areas. Get psyched!

First, the places I would advie you not to go, given your schedule, area that you want to cover, and climbing objectives:

If you are wanting to focus on sport/bouldering, Moab/Canyonlands/Zion will not be the best place for you; its main draws are trad, and the best trad starts at 5.10 in the desert. Others will post in here telling you about bouldering, limited sport, and easy trad in the area, but if you only have 3 weeks, and such a huge area to cover, I would just do a few rest day hikes in Arches or Canyonlands, and move onto more concentrated areas.

Also, J-tree and Red Rocks would be getting a bit too hot this time of year. They've both got more easy trad (and Red Rocks even has way more sport than Moab area), so you may want to keep an eye on the weather forecast, and if temps are still in the 70s there, hit those areas up.

Here's where would be awesome for your itinerary--

Smith Rocks: if you're from Portland, you already know this.

City of Rocks, ID: you may still be at slight risk for some freak snowstorms in late April (the place has pretty extreme weather), but otherwise, this place fits your goals to a T. Tons of sport and trad mixed up with each other, exploratory bouldering, beautiful camping. The only thing it lacks is steep sport climbing.

Logan Canyon, UT: limestone sport climbing. not a destination, but it's on your way as you move south from OR. Also great time of year for some moderate trad climbing in Salt Lake's Little Cottonwood Canyon, but camping is a pain in the ass there.

Maple Canyon, Central UT: will just be getting good by early May. Tons of fun sport from 5.8-5.14.

Flagstaff, AZ: great bouldering at Priest Draw, sport at The Pit.

From here, you could either head further South, toward Enchanted Tower, NM, or even Hueco Tanks (though that would definitely be getting WAY hot by this point), or you could cut West via Red Rocks, and get to the East Side of the Sierras and Bishop, which I know very little about, but there is tons to do there.

Hope that helps.


Dec 8, 2012, 7:50 AM
Post #3 of 3 (1497 views)

Registered: Aug 31, 2002
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Re: [elliotay] Suggestions for Southwest Road Trip [In reply to]
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Sounds like a great drive. If you are looking for sport climbing you may have a difficult time in Canyonlands but you will find enough bolted climbs in the other areas you mentioned although a bit thin on multipitch sport. Trad multipitch would be easier to find. Good luck.

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