Now that summer is approaching, those among us who like to channel their inner Spider-Man can rejoice. The warmer weather means that rock climbing no longer has to be relegated to sweat-infused climbing gyms and faux-rock walls. Instead, test your scaling skills for free at one of the country’s beautiful national parks. Many are chockfull of climbing routes–guaranteed to have a better view than any gym.

Hemingway Buttress, Joshua Tree National Park, California


The rangers at Joshua Tree are committed to climbers, as long as you make sure to “Leave No Trace” and protect the fragile desert environment of the park. Throughout its 100,000 acres, the park boasts an impressive 400 climbing formations (it’s famous for its traditional-style crack, slab, and steep-face climbing) and a whopping 8,000 climbing routes. For a moderate climb, we recommend some of the popular routes on Hemingway Buttress.

Half Dome & El Capitan, Yosemite National Park, California

👊SO NOT MODERATE WEEK😱💥DAY 5💥 Snake Dike has got to be one of the most unique climbs you’ll ever do. A 2+ hr hike and then some spooky and runout slab (the 5.7 crux) on the first two pitches gets you to one of climbing’s most iconic features – an uninterrupted 1,000ft dike that allows easy (but very runout) passage to 1000ft of stair-master slab and finally the other-worldly summit of Half Dome. After that it’s just an 8 mile cruise back down to the valley. #sogood #yosemite #yosemitenationalpark #halfdome #mothernature #snakedike #tradclimbing #climbingphotography #climbing_pictures_of_instagram #climbing #californiaclimber #californiaadventure #california #yosemitevalley #klettern #escalada #grimper #outside

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Yosemite is home to one of the world’s largest climbing areas. Featuring both multi-day climbs like Half Dome and crack climbs, not to mention the famously challenging El Capitan, this national park has become known as a climbing mecca to many. And if you’re not sure your skills are up to par, Yosemite Mountaineering School and Guide Service has been teaching and guiding thousands of climbers of all levels since the 1960s.

Long’s Peak, Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado

Intrepid travelers have been climbing the granite rock formations of Rocky Mountain National Park since the 1800s, and with it’s myriad options, it’s not hard to see why it’s maintained its popularity for hundreds of years. Opportunities available in the park include rock climbing, multi-day big wall climbing, bouldering, and mountaineering. The park is home to the 15th highest peak in the Colorado, Long’s Peak, which summits at 14,259 ft. 

Otter Cliffs, Acadia National Park, Maine

Great weekend in Acadia with some stellar 7th graders #lovemyjob #ottercliffs

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The West Coast doesn’t dominate the rock-climbing circuit, and luckily, the East Coast’s northernmost national park, is located minutes from downtown Bar Harbor, Maine. Opportunities for seaside cliff climbing are rare in America, but Acadia is home to the Otter Cliffs, one the few true sea cliffs in the United States, which offers terrain suitable for a wide spectrum of skill levels. (And if that’s not enough to sell you on a trip, most of the cliffs are composed of pink granite!)

Owl Rock, Arches National Park, Utah

The Delicate Arch is probably one of the most recognizable natural land formations in the country, but it, in addition to all of the other fragile arches throughout the aptly named Arches National Park are off-limits to climbers. Fortunately it’s spires and towers, including Owl Rock, are available for play. Despite its sandy environment, the park is a destination for avid adventurers from all over, though be warned that many of the climbs are recommended only for those with advanced skill sets.