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Rock Climbing and sport climbing in Arkansas

Horseshoe Canyon Ranch is the best known and premier rock climbing and sport climbing destination in Arkansas.  Whilst Horseshoe Canyon is undoubtable good, there are also other excellent crags in Arkansas such as Sam's Throne Region, Richard Creek Wilderness, and Cowell Region where you can find both sport and trad routes across a wide range of grades.  The map opposite shows all the rock climbing areas in Arkansas.  Generally the climbing at Arkansas is all about single pitch routes on good quality sandstone rock.

Rock Climbing at Horseshoe Canyon Ranch
Horseshoe Canyon Ranch is one of America’s premiere rock climbing holiday destinations and is the flagship crag of Arkansas.  Known locally as “The Ranch or HCR”, there are nearly 450 routes within walking distance of a campsite and rental cabins, which is located just 7 miles from Jasper.  The majority of the routes are well-bolted sport routes, but there are also many excellent trad routes as well. The climbing is on sandstone rock that is vertical to slightly overhanging and is covered in holds, with the majority of the routes in the 5.5 to 5.11 grade range.

Rock Climbing at Mt. Magazine State Park
Mt. Magazine is Arkansas’ highest point that offers warm south-facing crags in a picturesque location.  As long as the sun is shining it is also the best warm winter rock climbing in Arkansas.  The sandstone rock at Mt. Magazine is bullet hard that provide very technical routes requiring good footwork rather than strong arms.  There is a good split between sport routes and great moderate trad routes.

Sport Climbing at Big Piney
The Big Piney Region is a relatively small crag but it is home to the largest collection of quality hard sport routes in Arkansas.  To truly enjoy the climbing here you need to be climbing at around the 5.12 level though you will find many 4 and 5 star routes.

Map of the rock climbing areas in Arkansas.

Map of the rock climbing areas in Arkansas

Arkansas Rock Climbing Areas

No Crag Name Total No of Routes
1 Horseshoe Canyon Ranch 440
2 Lincoln Lake 91
3 Shepherd Springs 55
4 Fern 90
5 Mulberry Valley 20
6 McCracken 19
7 Mt. Magazine State Park 93
8 Darndanelle Rock 32
9 Haw Creek 68
10 Big Piney Region 50
11 Cowell Region 119
12 Sam's Throne Region 584
13 Richard Creek Wilderness 204
14 Calico Rock 7
15 Batesville 93

All of the above information has been extracted from the Rock Climbing Arkansas Guidebook that is available to buy from our shop.

Rock Climbing in the Cowell Region
The Cowell Region is a collection of 10 separate crags with nearly 120 routes.  The majority of the routes are sport routes, though the Cowell Region is also home to the best bouldering in Arkansas.

Rock Climbing at Sam’s Throne
The Sam’s Throne Region is home to Arkansas’ only true trad climbing area, which consists of 4 main areas.  In total there are over 650 routes here across a wide range of grades, including a small number of sport routes.

Rock Climbing at Richard Creek Wilderness
Richard Creek is all about trad climbing in a remote and glorious location. For those who are prepared to travel down the long remote dirt tracks and tackle relatively long approaches will be rewarded with some of Arkansas’ finest rock and a selection of excellent crags. The area includes Stack Rock, which are a series of tall free standing towers.

Rock Climbing at Arkansas logistics

Rock climbing in Arkansas guidebookThe best guidebook covering all the rock climbing and sport climbing at Horseshoe Canyon Ranch, Sam's Throne Region, Richard Creek Wilderness, and Cowell Region is called Rock Climbing Arkansas.  This guidebook covers 15 different climbing areas and nearly 2,000 routes, and is available to buy from our shop.

The best time to climb in Arkansas is from mid-September through to mid-May, with the spring and autumn times being especially good.  When the sun is shining and the air is still, then during the winter can provide many magical climbing days.

Many climbers base themselves at Horseshoe Canyon Ranch with its convenient camping and cabin options.  Many of the other crags are also only about an hour’s drive from here making it a good base to explore some of the other climbing areas in Arkansas.


Rock climbing in Arkansas guidebook

The Rock Climbing Arkansas is the definitive guidebook covering all of the rock climbing areas in Arkansas with nearly 2,000 routes. 

Buy this guidebook from our shop.