Altitude 1862m a.s.l
Storm over Elephant Rock, City of Rocks, ID © John Fletcher
Simply World Class. Utterly sublime and totally addictive - you'll never want to leave.
All grades of climber are very well served with an even and endless spread of routes. This, for many Brits, is a dream come true. The City of Rocks is a gathering of perhaps 100 or so rock islands of various sizes and heights - one 'island' can provide around 50 distinct routes (there is no time for variations here). It would take a lifetime to climb all the routes. The big new guidebook to it is still a best of. I would estimate there to be double the number of routes here than at Stanage for example.The area is for the vast majority Trad, but even sport route only climbers would need a lifetime to clip all the bolted routes. Although it is extremely popular, it is conversly never busy; you can't queue at the city of rocks there is just so much choice. Therefore everything's maintained and never overgrown, but also there's no queuing - no racing to the start of routes here.
The climbs themselves are really varied - cracks, slabs, chimneys, well proteted, run out - the whole shooting match with most lines around 45-50m in height, though some extend to over 100m. This can make a refreshing change from the multi-pitch demands of many US climbing areas. So even if intending to 'pop in' on a tour, BUY A GUIDEBOOK, you'll want to stay longer.
The 'scene' is very friendly and does not have all that portentious and pretentious big talk of say, Camp 4 in Yosemite. This is 'share a beer' climbing. You'll find the best aspects of US climbing here, whether you climb hard or are beginning.
No fee to enter the City of Rocks park. Camping is done via a self fill in fee station and is spread out throughout the park (rangers do check). It costs $12.72 per site (so if there's a few of you cheap as chips) - what genius added 72c I don't know! The guidebook claims there is no water - this is not true, even during drought there was ample water via several pumps. If the camping in the rocks is full then there is a big campsite just outside the park. There is a store selling reasonably priced provisiuons nearby, as well as 'pure health and goodness' i.e. burgers etc. There is also a hot spring nearby. Dirt roads, but fine for normal cars. Once camped you'll rarely need to drive anywhere.
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