Altitude 1877m a.s.l
Elephant Rock City of Rocks Idaho © bhood
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. 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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