Yosemite National Park, California
Yosemite is an iconic location known to pretty much every rock climber in the world. El Capitan has gained much more notoriety (even to those outside the rock climbing community) after Alex Honnold’s successful free solo attempt.
If you’re not quite ready to make the climb up “The Nose” in a few hours, many climbers take slightly easier routes over the course of a few days while camping on tethered hammocks.
The park has several other exciting rock climbing spots, from granite domes to rock formations like Cathedral Peak and the Matthes Crest at Tuolomne Meadow. There are many opportunities to test yourself on the sheer granite faces of Yosemite Valley.
Yosemite has 10 campgrounds that can accommodate RVs, so you can camp right by the incredible cliffs. However, they do not have hookups. Try Yosemite Pines RV Resort & Family for a more convenient stay, which has all the comforts and amenities you’ll need just a short drive away.
Boulder Canyon, Nevada
Located just a few minutes’ drive from downtown Boulder, this canyon holds a wide variety of climbing types and impressive scenery over rugged mountains. Easy to challenging levels of sport climbs litter the canyon, which consists of granite rock.
For those who enjoy trad climbing, moderate and classic lines are available from Elephant Buttresses up to Castle Rock. The crags on the south side of the canyon are well shaded and ideal for climbing in hotter weather. On the northern side, most of the canyon is climbable even in the winter months—a year-round destination.
After a day of climbing, head back to Boulder City and stay at Canyon Trail RV Park. It’s reviewed as one of the finest full-service RV parks in the area. Conveniently located between Las Vegas and the Lake Mead Recreation Area, you’ll have plenty to do between climbs, from exciting nightlife to hiking.
Red Rock Canyon, Nevada
Red Rock Canyon is located just 25 miles west of the Las Vegas Strip, so it’s a perfect way to combine rock climbing with an off-rock urban adventure too. The area is known for its unique geology with multicolored sandstone atop gray limestone – remember not to climb sandstone when it’s wet!
Red Rock Canyon has thousands of routes to cater to every kind of climbing, from short sport routes to multi-pitch climbs. Be surrounded by the Mojave desert landscape as you make your way up the Aztec Sandstone walls. There are formations to the summit as well as crack climbs in Black Velvet Canyon to practice techniques.
Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area has a few RV camping sites with picnic tables, grills, and firepits. Camping out here in the desert is a bit more backcountry style with limited amenities, but it sure is worth it to experience the one of a kind climbs.
Big Cottonwood Canyon, Utah
Big Cottonwood Canyon is a 30-minute drive from Salt Lake City and is known in the winter as a ski destination. The rest of the year, it is home to some world-class climbing.
The rock type you’ll encounter here is quartzite, which provides plenty of interesting holds and a change from typical rock textures. There are numerous crags throughout the entire canyon, mostly for trad climbing, but there are also several sport routes with varying difficulty levels.
Hollow Man and Chambered Nautilus are examples of some popular routes that provide overhang challenges with a short approach and ease of access.
The state-run Spruces campground is right along the Cottonwood Scenic Byway, so the canyon will pretty much be at your doorstep. All RV sites have picnic tables, campfire rings, and grills. You’ll also have flush toilets and drinking water provided. Another option if full hookups are a must would be at Salt Lake City KOA in case you prefer to stay in the downtown of Utah.
Devils Tower, Wyoming
This remarkable formation stands 1,267 feet above the Belle Fourche River. Up close, hundreds of parallel cracks divide Devils Tower into large hexagonal columns. Cracks can be large enough to fit an entire person or just a few fingers for grip. These features make it one of the most popular traditional crack climbing areas in North America.
To reach the summit of Devils Tower, you’ll need to climb up 867 ft from the base to the top. Less advanced climbers don’t have to worry as it is possible to summit via the route Durrance, which has a manageable difficulty of 5.6. There are numerous historic climbing routes from when Devils Tower was first climbed – some of these classic routes are estimated to have a higher difficulty now than the official rating.
It’s easy to camp right in the shadow of Devils Tower at Black Hills KOA, and here you’ll find all the amenities you might want for a comfortable RV camping experience. There are even a full-service restaurant and historical activities on-site in addition to full hookups and comfortable grassy sites.
Smith Rock, Oregon
Another historic rock climbing site, Smith Rock, has been calling climbers to the central Oregon High Desert since the 1980s. In fact, it is known as the birthplace of sport climbing in the US.
Climbing here is incredibly varied, with over 2000 routes and different rock types. You can find volcanic welded tuff that is soft and crumbly throughout the park. Some walls are made of perfect stone. There are even basalt columns in the Gorge for crack climbs.
Plus, difficulty levels range from beginner to advanced. Since climbs are so numerous, from classic routes from another century to modern paths being created and updated every day, it is worth picking up a guidebook to help you decide.
The state park offers only walk-in tent camping. However, just a 15 to 20-minute drive away, you can find Crooked River Ranch RV Park and Redmond/Central Oregon KOA to provide for all your RV camping needs.
A couple of hours’ drive from Seattle, Leavenworth is Washington State’s rock climbing destination that’s perfect for a weekend campervan trip.
As Leavenworth is located in the rain shadow of the Cascade Range, it is an ideal location for climbing. This alpine area stays dry most of the time and provides the best rock situation for climbing.
Leavenworth’s rock climbing consists mostly of granitic rock and divides into 3 main areas: Icicle Creek Canyon, Tumwater Canyon, and the Alpine Lakes Wilderness. You will find a huge range of crags – from three-bolt clip-ups to multi-day adventures, and plenty of bouldering problems.
In addition to world-class climbing, enjoy the incredible alpine scenery of lush evergreens, rivers, and mountain views at Icicle River RV Resort. This RV park offers a suite of amenities and is conveniently located by the Bavarian village of Leavenworth for recreation when not on the walls.
Oak Creek Canyon, Arizona
Located between Flagstaff and Sedona, this canyon is often described as a smaller cousin of the Grand Canyon because of its scenic beauty. Climbers love the views that reward them at the top after their hard work.
The rock type here is Coconino Sandstone, with more than 190 routes and multiple crags throughout the canyon.
Beginners can find great training opportunities at the moderate traditional climbs at The Overlook. More advanced climbers will want to tackle some more challenging and famous routes like the Dr’s Office and the Pharmacy. For quality sandstone bouldering, The Anvil Boulders are a collection of rare blocks found north of Sedona.
Approaches to the crags and walls vary in difficulty, and it is a good idea to have hiking shoes on hand in case you encounter a difficult approach.
Stay nearby at Rancho Sedona, right next to Oak Creek, under the shade of Sycamore and Cottonwood trees. Here you’ll find the convenience of full hookup sites and beautiful grounds close to food and entertainment.
Joshua Tree National Park, California
When you visit Joshua Tree, you’ll feel like you’ve been transported to another planet thanks to the almost alien environment and rock formations. These formations also make the area a top spot for climbing; be sure to keep an eye out for the namesake yucca plant before ascending the rocks.
There are over 10,000 climbing routes here, consisting of Quartz Monzonite granite. The majority of which are trad climbing, but there are also sport climbing and bouldering opportunities. The unique formations here mean that climbers can try out various techniques, such as on Big Mo (an overhanging face climb) and Wangerbanger (a steep crack climb).
For beginners and even first-time climbers, Joshua Tree is a great place to learn the ropes, as the rock is easy to grip, and there are several short climbs.
The most popular place to camp would be Joshua Tree Lake RV & Campground. Power and water hookups are available at the RV sites, which means a lot more convenience than the national park campgrounds. You’ll even have hot showers and WiFi, normally difficult to come by in the Mojave Desert.
We hope that our favorite outdoor rock climbing spots have inspired you. Many of which also happen to be incredible spots for mountain biking, as well as having choice trails for hikers. It’s time to pack your gear and get set for your adventure.
No matter where you’re coming from, rent a campervan easily at any of Travellers Autobarn’s locations in Los Angeles, Las Vegas, and San Francisco.