The Gunks | New York

Rock Climbing in the Gunks


Spring through fall, but September and October are best

Nearest city

New Paltz, NY, is a ten-minute drive and NYC is less than two hours

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Climbing in the Gunks is one of our favorite locations in New York. Read our review here.

Home to some of the best easy and moderate trad climbs in the country — with grades from 5.4 to 5.13b — the Gunks are just a short two-hour drive from New York City, making them the perfect place to put your indoor climbing gym skills to the test. Whether you’re a first-time climber or well experienced on the crags, there’s something for everyone in the Gunks, and a private guide will help you make the most out of your day in this iconic destination.

The Most Popular Packages and Classes in the Gunks

Gym to Crag Transition Class

Ditch the gym and leave the city behind. Hit the natural rock in this beginner class designed to help you transition your gym skills to the crag. You’ll learn the foundations of climbing on classic routes hand-picked for you by a 30-year AMGA guide that calls this place home. You’ll even learn some techniques you can take back to the gym with you so that you can continue to improve your outdoor climbing skills. 

Day of Customized Climbing With a Private Guide

Spend an amazing day climbing in the Gunks with your own private, certified guide. Your day will be customized to focus on the objectives of your choice, with your guide introducing you to climbing routes that will test your skills and leave you hungry for more. Go along for the ride or learn the skills required for top-roping, lead climbing or tackling multi-pitch routes.

Learn the Techniques of Trad Climbing

Trad climbing is the original form of climbing in which climbers place and secure their anchors as they move up the rock, rather than roping into a pre-planned route with already set anchor points. This course will teach you technique, how to stay safe, and exactly what gear you need to make this sport part of your outdoor repertoire.

Build Your Safety Skills with Self Rescue Clinic

Build the rescue skills needed to become a safer climber. This is a two-day, technical hands-on rescue training clinic for multi-pitch climbing. Taught by veteran guide Paul Curran, you’ll learn common sense techniques, with plenty of demonstrations. Most importantly, you’ll also get ample time to practice your new skills in the field.

2-Day Climbing and Glamping Adventure in the Gunks

Spend a weekend climbing crags on a luxurious glamping retreat. This two-day adventure will have you advancing your skills in a world-class destination, all while making new climbing buddies and lifelong memories (meals and accommodations included). It’s the perfect chance to escape the city and treat yourself to the ultimate climbing getaway.

Need to know

When is the best time to go?

September and October. If you climb in the fall, you’ll have a gorgeous view when you look down at all the trees turning color. You can climb spring and summer, too, but bugs and the heat make some people stay away.

What about bad weather?

Inclement weather can always get in the way of climbing, but your guide will know the best spots to move to if and when it rains. If in doubt, though, always ask your guiding service for more information.

What's a typical itinerary?

  • 9:00am: Meet your guide in New Paltz at Rock and Snow, check your gear
  • 9:30am: Gear up and carpool to the cliffs
  • 10:00am: Spend the day climbing
  • 12:30pm – 1:00pm: Lunch (bring snacks and plenty of water)
  • 1:00pm – 5:00pm: Keep climbing!
  • 5:00pm: Return to New Paltz

What about group sizes?

Group sizes are usually between 1 – 4 people with one instructor. Also, remember that the costs decrease as the group grows, so it’s the perfect opportunity to climb with friends and family.

Getting there

New Paltz, the closest town to the Gunks, is about 85 miles from the New York metropolitan area. You can drive, take the train or bus. Most guiding services like to meet up at Rock and Snow, a climbing and outdoors shop in New Paltz.

A brief background on the Gunks

The Shawangunk Mountains — or the Gunks as they’re affectionately known — are a renowned climbing destination located in NY State, near the town of New Paltz. One of the oldest climbing destinations in the country, the rocks are chiefly made of sedimentary conglomerate and sandstone, with a small amount of shale. Known for its airy roofs, big exposure and long traverses, it’s a trad climbers paradise. High Exposure (5.6) has thrilled both climbers and spectators for decades. While there are a few bolted climbs in the area, there are no sport climbing options.

There are plenty of one to three-pitch climbs in the Gunks — making it a must-climb destination for every climber.

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