Every October, as the temperatures in the southwestern US begin to drop, I make my yearly autumn trek to Moab. With an abundance of outdoor adventure opportunities — especially for climbing — it is hard to think of a better sandstone destination (which is saying a lot given that I live in Las Vegas).
Moab sits on the banks of the Colorado River, east of Canyonlands, west of Durango and Grand Junction, Colorado, and north of almost nothing. This swath of sandstone towers and canyons is known geologically as the Colorado Plateau. Chances are if you think of a desert landscape that lacks saguaros, you probably imagined this area!
When to climb in Moab
The time for visiting Moab varies as you can visit different elevations at all times of the year. However, the prime times are between October through November and March through May. If visiting during the hotter months, it is advisable to seek the areas within the La Sals, such as Mill Creek. The climate here is high desert and mostly dry, but late fall and winter can see a great deal of snow at all elevations.
Where to climb in Moab
I prefer the splitters of Indian Creek, but you’ll find every type of climbing here! For aid climbing shenanigans, you won’t find a better place than the Fisher Towers near Castle Valley. Tread lightly as the rock here is some of the softest (and muddiest) anywhere. For trad climbing, the splitters of Indian Creek immediately come to mind, but canyons such as Long Canyon and Day Canyon contain a decent amount of splitters themselves on beautiful Wingate!
Towers, sport climbing and more
There’s an array of towers to summit in Moab, most notably the towers of Castle Valley. A couple of my favorites are Lighthouse and the Devil’s Golfball. Moab’s got you covered for sport climbing as well. Much of this is along Potash Road at locations like the Scar, Mars, and Wall Street. The areas I tend to favor are the Theater and the Cinema. For bouldering, it is hard to beat Big Bend Boulders, but I also enjoy the low hanging fruit of the tough splitter boulder problems at the Crack House.
Camping in Moab
Camping around Moab has become a hot topic as of late as the popularity of the area continues to grow. I HIGHLY recommend you educate yourself on land agencies in the area and know whose land you are on. One of the best ways to do this is to visit the BLM Field Office in downtown Moab. They are there for questions just like this! There is a myriad of free BLM and Forest Service options just south of town off of HWY 191.
Make the most of Moab, hire a climbing guide
A great way to experience the pleasure of Moab rock climbing is to hire a guide. For tower pursuits and lessons, I recommend The Mountain Guides (Jackson Hole Mountain Guides). There are few people with the degree of mountain knowledge that this team has. For learning the tools of the trade for climbing true splitter cracks, I recommend checking out Red River Adventures and one of their famous Splitter Camps.