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The Best Sport Climbing Destinations to Take Your Kids

best climbing destinations for 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 sport climbing destinations that are perfect for younger kids. 

Each of these destinations have an approach of 15 minutes or less and are not steep.  These areas also have a good area for kids to play at the base of the climb so you aren’t worried about them falling off a ledge while you are belaying your spouse.  I also chose these because they were close to towns or somewhere you could get restock supplies of water, diapers, and Tylenol for that random fever kids tend to get while traveling.

New to rock climbing? Be sure to check out our guide to the Best Beginner’s Rock Climbing shoes.

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 are jaws hit the floor. This spot is amazing because your campground is minutes from climbing. Anytime you climb with younger kids it always helps to be close to your campsite to take breaks, grab a snack or leave them with an older sibling. This is a popular climbing destination with very little cell coverage and resources around so come prepared with everything you need. This area boasts some of the best conglomerate rock in the nation it looks as if large rocks have been cemented together. Your kids will the love the area and the fact that so many families are in the area makes it a very comfortable vibe. Plenty of easy routes within 10 minutes of the campground make it a slam dunk.

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

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: 10 Destinations you Can’t Miss

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. 

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 (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

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).  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

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. 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.

Frankenjura, Germany

This is such a large climbing area spread out that it’s hard to narrow down just one spot but there was one that we liked a lot because the parking was right next to the wall, there was a porta potty, and a lot of space for the kids to play. A climbing book would be extremely helpful to have here because of how spread out everything is. This is the one we used, Climbing Europe, to find the crag we liked.  It might be beter to buy it off Amazon becasue if you buy a book in Germany it will probably be in German.  Though we usually stick to Mountain Project, there isn’t info on Germany on it, but there is a great climbing app called Vertical Life that has lots of details about Germany.  Download Vertical Life here.  If you’re interested in making a trip, check out this great blog for details on climbing in Frankenjura (especially for beginners).

Paklencia, Croatia

It doesn’t get much easier than this. Pay your admission to the national park and drive straight up the hill. Follow the concrete sidewalk and within five minutes you will be in a valley with climbs lining both sides of the wall. One side is always in the shade and there is plenty of room for kids to run around and explore. There is a climbing book you can look at in the small gift shop at the national park, but most of the routes have labels at eye level (for reals!).

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 right pull off to park at can be a little tricky here but once you do, it’s a short walk up a small climber’s trail to a nice open area at the base of the wall. I can’t think of any place in the world (that I’ve been to at least) with such a beautiful view from the top of the crag. The turquoise fjords, the glacier topped mountains, and the green rolling hills are incredible.  We found this hidden gem via the Visit Norway app which has all kinds of beautiful secrets in the country.  Download the Visit Norway app.  Get details on the area here.

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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best climbing destinations for kids

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