"Queen of the Clouds" by Joseph Illingworth via Flickr Creative Commons

Although many limit their climbing excursions in North America to the climbing walls in their gym or health club, the continent actually has many of the best climbs and the most bolted routes. While other locations in North America have some good climbs, the American West is perhaps the best region in the world for climbing. Yosemite National Park in California as well as states like Utah and Colorado have an abundance of bolted routes plus decent weather year round and loads of local climbing clubs, climbing schools, and tour operators.

  1. Smith Rock, Oregon The birthplace of modern sport climbing has more than a 1,000 different routes, many of the most challenging on the planet, that have been climbed by some of the best in the sport.
  2. Moab, Utah Considered the Mecca for desert climbing, Moab has a great variety of climbs on the sandstone towers of the Colorado Plateau. It can get crowded, but the wide selection for beginners, moderate climbers, and bouldering is unparallel.
  3. Tahquitz Rock, California In Socal near the town of Idyllwild, this massive rock has a 1,000 foot face that has been extremely popular with climbers for decades. Where the Yosemite Decimal grading system was developed. Sometimes called Lily Rock.
  4. El Capitan, California Yosemite’s El Capitan is a 3,000 foot vertical rock formation that rivals the Half Dome for favorite California climb. There are more than a dozen routes up the granite face, all of which are lengthy and complicated.
  5. Mount Temple, Alberta Whether you go via the North Face or the Southwest Ridge you are going to have a great climb in the middle of the Canadian Rockies high above Lake Louise.
  6. Mount Hooker, Wyoming The North Face Mount Hooker in Wyoming’s Wind River Mountains is one of the premier big wall climbs in the Americas and now has a handful or established routes that are slowly cropping up on the tourist radar.
  7. Half Dome, California Yosemite’s Half Dome can be severely overcrowded with hikers, but there are more than a dozen climbing routes from the valley below up the northwest face of the granite dome. Still one of the best climbs around.
  8. Black Canyon Gorge, Colorado The 2,000 feet vertical walls of Gunnison National Park’s Black Canyon have no easy routes, but for the experienced climber they are everything you could hope for. This is a truly raw and uncracked setting that sees only small groups of climbers.
  9. Mokule’ia Wall, Hawaii This wall on Oahu’s North Shore is considered the best climb in the archipelago. The 85 foot cliff is filled with climbers on the weekends, but come on a weekday and you will have the place to yourself.
  10. San Juan Mountains, Colorado Ouray, Colorado, in the heart of the San Juan’s is considered the world’s ice climbing capital, with ice climbing almost guaranteed during the winter months.

Click here for Top 10 Rock / Ice Climbing Vacations in Latin America