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 sport climbing destinations that are perfect for younger kids.
In each of these scenic destinations, perfect for family outings, approach times are under 15 minutes, featuring gentle inclines. These spots offer safe spaces for kids to play near the climbs, ensuring worry-free belaying while enjoying sport climbing. Additionally, these locations are strategically 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.
New to rock climbing? Be sure to check out our guide to the Best Beginner’s Rock Climbing shoes.
Table of Contents
Best Rock Climbing Destination in the U.S.
Chuckawalla & Black Rocks, St George, Utah
With only a 5 min approach and plenty or room to roam this a great destination for kids. Pit-toilets at the trail head make it nice when your younger kids need to use the bathroom. The short approach is a relatively flat and nice and flat at the crag. The red stand stone 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.
Related Blog: Best Rock Climbing St George
Maple Canyon, Utah
When we first arrived at Maple Canyon, our jaws hit the floor. This spot is amazing for sport climbing, with the campground minutes away from the climbing sites. Climbing with younger kids is made easier by the proximity to the campsite – perfect for breaks, snacks, or leaving them with an older sibling. While it’s a popular destination, remember there’s limited cell coverage and resources, so come prepared. The conglomerate rock here is among the nation’s best, resembling giant rocks fused together. 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.
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. 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 point out the rocks an telling us what they look like “look at that one it looks like a elephant”. The beauty of the area is that its vast and has plenty for your kids to do around your site and at the crag.
Related Blog: Climbing and Camping City of Rocks
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 (and the 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 (the most shade, most popular) and Outback Wall.
Related Blog: Idaho Adventure Family Road Trip
French’s Dome, 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.
Red Rocks, Nevada
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.
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 (the Pool Wall). They do require walking up some scree to get to, so it’s not the easiest approach, but there are a few climbs here that are so great for little kids. I loved seeing the expression on my four year olds face when she topped out First Time Out. If you’re making a climbing trip to Ouray, Colorado with your kids check out our other blog, Million Dollar Highway.
Related Blog: Colorado Road Trip Itinerary for Adventurers
Horseshoe Slabs, Mammoth Lakes, California
This 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). 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. Many of the routes can be top roped here and there were a dozen routes 5.8 or less.
Related Blog: Best Campgrounds California
Rock Climbing in Canada With Kids
Smoke Bluffs, Squamish, British Columbia
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. I loved this area and want to come back here as soon as possible. My favorite wall with the kids was High Cliff but Burgers and Fries was really 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 (download now).
Related Blog: 18 Radical Things To Do in Squamish
Bonus: Fun Destinations We’ve Rock Climbed With Our Kids in Europe
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. 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 guide book 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.
This expansive climbing area offers numerous spots, but we found one gem with convenient amenities and space for kids. The best sport climbing guide, Climbing Europe, was invaluable. Consider buying it on Amazon for English content in Germany. While we often rely on Mountain Project, Vertical Life is an excellent climbing app with detailed information on Germany. For those planning a trip, this blog provides valuable insights into the best sport climbing in Frankenjura, especially for beginners.
In exploring this vast climbing area, finding the ideal spot with amenities near the wall was crucial. We discovered Climbing Europe, an invaluable book, and recommend purchasing it through Amazon for English content. While we typically rely on Mountain Project, Vertical Life is excellent for detailed German climbing information. For the best sport climbing experience in Germany, especially for beginners, delve into our blog detailing climbing in Frankenjura.
Santa Barbara, Spain
While it requires driving narrow roads to get here, the crag is only a few minute 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. We found this via our favorite app for finding climbing areas, Climbing Away (download now). And here’s the best part about his area, at the base of the five-minute approach is a trail sign with a picture showing details of every single route on the wall.
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!
Benny Beg, Scotland
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.
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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.