The Best National Parks for Rock-Climbing in the USA

The American continent is known for being big and bold, and their mountains are no different. Nothing beats the views from the top of a national park mountain in America, which is part of why mountain-climbing is so popular in the States. Here are the biggest national park mountains and some advice on getting you up the summits.

Rocky Mountain, Colorado

As its name suggests, Rocky Mountain is great for rock climbers of all ages and levels. Hiking or driving along the highest paved road in America, the Trail Ridge Road, is a good place to start your climb. The road is a prehistoric route connecting the western and eastern slopes of the park. Be careful when you get there, as it gets very cold (up to 30 degrees cooler than down on the lake) and the winds can chill hikers to the core. However, the majestic view of Colorado from the top of the Rockies is worth battling against the elements.

Mount Rainier, Washington

Mount Rainier is a heavily glaciated active volcano. Whereas Rocky Mountain is a mountain range with no obvious route, reaching the 14,410-feet peak offers an ambitious objective to the experienced mountain-climber. It requires elite physical conditioning to be able to conquer the rapid inclines in the four official routes. The weather massively dictates if you are able to climb safely though, so don’t hesitate to turn back round if conditions get icy and snowy.

Death Valley National Park, California/Nevada

Rogeris Peak and Wildrose Peak are great climbs, but it is Telescope Peak in the eerily named ‘Death Valley’ is the tallest of the dry and humid Panamints and the most challenging climb, with an elevation of 3,000 feet over 7 miles. From the Mahogany Flat Campground, the trail climb meanders around Rogerís Peak through mountainous woodlands. Watch out for scattered pine trees at Arcane Meadows and the narrow ridge before the final ascent, as the sharp bristles may break the skin.

Inexperienced climbers should watch out if the trail becomes slippery under foot, but if you make it on the dry day, Telescope Peak has an enormous view of the desert landscape. Pack extra clothing for when the temperature changes.

Great Smoky Mountains, North Carolina/Tennessee

The serenity of Tennessee certainly stretches to the Easterly mountain regions. One of America’s oldest and ever-changing mountain landscapes, climbing any of these peaks is a lesson in culture as well as an endurance test. You have 25 to choose from above 6000-feet and at least 30 more above 5000 for intermediate climbers. For a Smokies challenge, the Appalachian Trail from east to west crosses some of the largest peaks, such as Clingman’s Dome at 6643-feet high, and Mount Guyot, which is 22 feet less.

Yosemite National Park, California

Yosemite boasts not one but two almighty climbs which are both over 10,000-feet. Mount Lyll will have you climbing rugged, scraggy features for miles, while less able rock climbers may prefer the steadier incline of the Half Dome. Thousands reach the top of both every year but conquering The Half Dome and Mount Lyll over a weekend is no mean feat.