4. Maple Canyon

Located on the east side of the mountains, southeast of the town of Fountain Green, Maple Canyon is secluded and maintained by the Forest Service. Conglomerate rock may best be described as a riverbed that became vertically oriented. Compressed into a cement-like base called a “matrix,” cobbles of quartzite and other rock types stick out like your favorite gym slopers. This rock gives us the incredible sport climbing destination that is Maple Canyon.  

What to expect from climbing Utah’s conglomerate rock

I certainly found climbing on conglomerate for the first time challenging as the orientation of the rocks is random and the holds are often slick. Taking time to practice orienting your body to the shape of the holds helps so much. This is especially true because much of Maple is steep, making this a difficult task. 

The author, pulling on the steep conglomerate of Maple Canyon. Photo by Elizabeth Dalley

My all-time favorite climbs in Maple Canyon

My favorite area to warm up to Maple is Zen Garden where, while steep, there are plenty of grades (5.9) and well-bolted routes to get your feet wet. Routes such as Zen Fen and Zen Jen (5.9) serve as excellent warm-ups. Zen Master is the star of the show here (5.10d), however, I think Mini Meditation (5.10c) is the better of the routes. Just across and back towards the road is the Minimum Crag. It hosts an excellent selection of harder routes (5.11-5.12) complete with easier (5.5-5.6) just to the right. My personal favorite is 49 (5.12a)!

If you’re seeking a host of more challenging routes, as well as a slot canyon experience, Box Canyon towards the mouth of Maple Canyon has what you are looking for. With routes ranging from 5.10-5.13+, you’ll likely find your test piece here. With many of the harder routes equipped with parma-draws, you might feel like you’re in an outdoor gym. Routes such as Downloader (5.11) and Watermelon Sugar (5.12a) will surely have you smiling during your descent.  

 Best time to visit Maple Canyon to enjoy the weather

The main road also doubles as your campground which can become impassable by November due to snow, so plan for early fall at the latest. Snow may also cover the road well into May as well. Situated at just below 7,000 feet, Maple stays cool even in the height of the summer time where shade is easily found within the maze of drainages.  My favorite time to visit is September where the nights are chilly and the daytime temps are ideal regardless if you’re in sun or shade!  

Approaching in Box Canyon. Photo by Cody Bradford

How to get the most out of Utah’s Maple Canyon climbing

If you time your visit right during winter and happen to have a 4X4 vehicle, ice tools and crampons, Maple has some of the best ice climbing in Utah. For easy eats on your rest days, Juanita’s as well as Biggies in Moroni are great. Cavalier Pizza and El Mexicano Restaurant in nearby Mt. Pleasant are also good options. Camping is available in Maple Canyon proper along the access road, managed by the Forest Service for $10. Keep in mind that there is a $5 day use fee in the canyon, however, I have heard that this is covered by your camping payment. The camp host is typically a climber, so I highly recommend you get to know them!

About the author

Cody Bradford

Cody Bradford

AMGA Certified Rock Guide and 57hours Ambassador

Cody began his guiding career with the North Carolina Outward Bound School in 2012 where he received his AMGA Single Pitch Instructor certification in November 2012. Cody gained his AMGA Rock Guide Certification in April 2018. Follow him on Instagram @thecodybradford to see #TechTipTuesday where each week he demonstrates a skill or technique to make your climbing more efficient and fun.

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