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The Best Sport Climbing Destinations to Take Your Kids

When we first started traveling in search of sport climbing destinations, my youngest two kids were four and six years old. Old enough that they no longer required being carried in a backpack but not old enough to hike up steep hills or hike an hour straight to get to a climbing area (not that I didn’t try).  Here are some of our favorite sports climbing destinations that are perfect for younger kids. 

Each of these scenic rock climbing destinations are perfect for family outings. The approach times are under 15 minutes with gentle inclines.

These spots offer safe spaces for kids to play near the climbs, ensuring worry-free belaying while enjoying sports climbing.

Additionally, these rock climbing destinations are chosen for their proximity to towns, ensuring easy access to replenish supplies like water, diapers, and Tylenol for any unexpected fevers on your travel adventures.

best climbing destinations for kids

New to rock climbing? Be sure to check out our Guide to Getting Started Rock Climbing and our blog, Best Beginner’s Rock Climbing Shoes.

Best Rock Climbing Destination in the U.S.

1. Chuckawalla & Black Rocks, St George, Utah

With only a 5 min approach and plenty of room to roam this is a great destination for kids. Pit toilets at the trailhead make it nice when your younger kids need to use the bathroom. The short approach is relatively flat and nice and flat at the crag. The red sandstone is pocketed making it great for kids learning to push themselves. There aren’t many routes below 5.9 in this area but perfect for kids to run around and play.

If you want a great 5.8 for kids to learn on, hike out 1 mile to turtle wall and climb Voodoo Economics. This has been a great climb for my kids to learn how to lead climb on.

Related Blog: Best Rock Climbing St George

2. Maple Canyon, Utah

What makes Maple Canyon ideal for rock climbing with kids is the proximity of the camping sites to the rock climbs. Being able to walk back to your campsite for breaks, snacks, or even to leave older children back while you climb makes this a great rock climbing destination for families .

Kids adore this area and the vibrant family-friendly atmosphere adds to the comfort. Plus, numerous easy routes within 10 minutes of the campground make it a slam dunk for families.

While it’s a popular destination, remember there’s limited cell coverage and resources, so come prepared.

If you’ve never climbed conglomerate rock you will enjoy how different it feels from sandstone and limestone.

3. City of Rocks, Idaho

Nestled on the border of Utah and Idaho City of Rocks is a rock-climbing mecca but don’t let that discourage you if you have small children. The beauty of the area is that it’s vast and has plenty for your kids to do around your site and at the crag.

Bring everything you need because it is off the beaten path and you won’t want to run to get stuff when you need to drive on a gravel road for 8 miles. This area has pocketed and varnished granite. Our kids enjoy pointing out the rocks and telling us what they look like.

Related Blog: Climbing and Camping City of Rocks

4. Q’emiln Park, Post Falls, Idaho 

This is a hidden gem and one of my favorite climbing areas ever. It sits right next to a state park where you can play in the water or go boating. Personally I love that Post Falls Brewery is only a five-minute walk to after you climb.

There are over 100 routes, many of which can be top-roped, and most are shaded by trees throughout the day.  

My two favorite walls with the kids were Post Wall, which has the most shade but is also the most popular and Outback Wall.

Related Blog: Idaho Adventure Family Road Trip

5. French’s Dome, Oregon

Best Oregon Campgrounds- Trillium Lake
Views of Mt Hood from Trillium Lake Campground, Oregon

This is a small area thirty minutes outside of Portland by Mount Hood.  It’s a bit off the beaten path so check out the directions here.  

This rock has a nice mix of easy and hard climbs but the less than five-minute approach and the surrounding trees that are perfectly spaced for hanging a hammock make it a great destination to climb for the day. 

Related Blog: Oregon Road Trip Itinerary

6. Red Rocks, Nevada

How to Rock Climb: Learn How to Start Getting on the Wall
The ritual…Isabelle slipping on her climbing shoes to get ready to climb (climbing shoes are so tight people usually wait until they’re about to climb to put them on)

While a few walls can be a longer approach, the amount of space for kids to play allows it to sneak into this list. It’s a great winter destination (assuming rain isn’t in the forecast) and the nearby camping is cheap. Plus you are close to Vegas if you forget anything or get tired of the outdoors and want a different type of escape. 

7. Ouray, Colorado

ouray climbing

While there’s climbing by the old ice rink that has absolutely no approach (you park at the base of the climbs), I preferred the walls above the hot springs, mainly at The Alcove at the Pool Wall.  

These climbs do require walking up some scree to get to, so it’s not the easiest approach, but the steep scree is a short section and there are a few climbs here that are so great for little kids.

I loved seeing the expression on my four-year-old’s face when she topped out First Time Out.  

If you’re making a climbing trip to Ouray, Colorado with your kids check out Things To Do In Ouray.

Related Blogs: Colorado Road Trip Itinerary for Adventurers and Guide to the Million Dollar Highway.

8. Horseshoe Slabs, Mammoth Lakes, California

Rock Climbing Horseshoe Slab, Mammoth, California: Best Sport Climbing Destinations To Take Your KidsThis was one of the best for our kids (and great when you are just learning to lead climb like we were two years ago when we stopped here). Many of the routes can be top roped here and there were a dozen routes 5.8 or less.

Park at Horseshoe Lake and it’s a quick fifteen-minute hike through the forest.  This is also a great place to mountain bike and hike.  

Related Blog: Best Campgrounds California

Rock Climbing in Canada With Kids

9. Smoke Bluffs, Squamish, British Columbia

climbing the smoke bluffs in Squamish
Kids climbing Smoke Bluffs

I was shocked that places like this exist. In the middle of a residential area of a major town here lies over three hundred routes, many of which could be top roped, which was great since a lot of climbs are trad and we don’t have gear for it yet.

My favorite wall with the kids was High Cliff but Burgers and Fries was nice too. A little longer and steeper approach takes you to Fern Gully (and you pass the playground on the way), but it’s still only a fifteen to twenty-minute hike to get to. Mountain Project is extremely comprehensive for the entire Squamish area.

Related Blog: 18 Radical Things To Do in Squamish

Rock Climbing in Europe With Kids

10. Bad Hindelang, Algäu, Germany

It doesn’t get much more picturesque than this (although Norway comes close).  The views of the mountains, the Bavarian homes with gorgeous flower boxes, and meadows filled with cows (oh! the number of cows here) make climbing here a feast for the eyes.  

Best Rock Climbing in Europe- Germany

The approach is a quick walk up the hillside (watch out for the large cow patties) after you step over the barbed wire fence.  We got our guidebook for this area in the nearby town of Sonthofen.  There is another crag near here with easy routes, but it requires a longer walk to get to.

11. Frankenjura, Germany

While overall climbing in Frankenjura is what I would consider advanced, numerous spots were convenient, had short approaches, and had plenty of space for kids to play.

The sport climbing book, Climbing Europe, was very helpful for us in finding great climbing areas in Frankenjura.

12. Paklencia National Park, Croatia

Best sport climbing in Europe- Croatia
The easiest approach ever with tons of climbing on both sides of the large pathway.

13. Everywhere in Spain

Best climbing destinations in Europe- Spain
Zero approach at this crag near Lleida

Seriously, Spain bolts everything and a lot of it is roadside. Lleida is a great starting area.

One unique area we climbed was called Santa Barbara. It requires driving narrow roads to get here, but the crag is only a few minutes walk and the base of the climb is a grassy hill with sheep grazing. The climbs were perfect for the kids and made for a nice day.

14. Stryn Climbing Field: Beachen, Norway 

Finding the perfect parking spot might take a bit, but the climb-up offers stunning vistas atop the crag. This spot in Norway boasts unparalleled views—think turquoise fjords, glacier-capped peaks, and lush hills. It’s a hidden gem discovered through the Visit Norway app, your gateway to the country’s breathtaking secrets. Download it now for more details on this area—the best sport climbing experience awaits!

15. Benny Beg, Scotland

Rock Climbing Benny Beg, Scotland: Best Sport Climbing Destinations To Take Your Kids

This may be the most kid-friendly crag ever. While there are less than thirty routes here (& not any difficult routes) this is the perfect place to teach kids to lead and to get them repetitions to overcome their fears. We bought a book for the area though you don’t need one because nearly all of the routes are below 5.10. You can also see most of the routes on this website.

Hope this helps you get outside as a family and climb more. Rock climbing and skiing are our favorite adventures to do together as a family and they help our kids stay healthy and active.

To get stronger and more athletic for rock climbing, or any adventure for that matter, download my book, A Playful Life, for free.

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best climbing destinations for kids

Tips for a Successful Climbing Trip with Kids:

  • Safety First: Prioritize safety by ensuring everyone has proper gear and understands climbing basics.
  • Start Easy: Begin with easier routes to build confidence and gradually progress to more challenging climbs.
  • Patience and Encouragement: Climbing can be challenging, so offer plenty of encouragement and support to kids throughout the experience.
  • Have Fun: Emphasize the joy of climbing and spending quality time together in nature.

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Chris Peck

Thursday 4th of March 2021

The Gunks! You seriously didn't include the Gunks? WTF. 375 rated climbs.

Robyn

Thursday 4th of March 2021

We haven't been there! I only put destinations that we've actually been to but the Gunks definitely are on our bucket list.

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