If you know anything about sport climbing, chances are you’ve heard about the Wyoming year-round rock haven known as Lander, Wyoming. Climbing in Lander, Wyoming is pretty much everything you could ask for out of a climbing destination.
With more than 2,500 routes in the greater Lander region, a welcoming community of locals, and plenty of infrastructure like campgrounds and restaurants to accommodate traveling climbers, you might never want to leave.
In this blog, we’re breaking down a travel guide to Lander for climbers so that you can make the most of your climbing trip to Lander!
As always, we want to help you plan a great climbing trip but you might want to get the guidebook in town for a detailed breakdown of all the hundreds of routes in Lander. You can grab the Lander Rock Climbs guidebook at Wild Iris Mountain Sports.
Getting to Lander, Wyoming
Lander is a small town of about 8,000 people, located in west-central Wyoming. Lander is only 3 hours away from Jackson Hole, 4.5 hours away from Salt Lake City, and 5.5 hours away from Denver.
Given its relatively close proximity to many big climbing communities, Lander gets borderline crowded in the summer. Fortunately, the vast amount crags throughout the region can manage the traveling climbers well.
Driving in from the south on Highway 28 is a well-maintained road despite how small the road looks on GPS, but do note that it’s hilly. We drove our RV in that way.
Best Time to Visit Lander to Climb
As if Lander wasn’t cool enough with all its great climbing, Lander averages 320 climbable days per year! The sun-exposed dolomite walls of Sinks Canyon combined with the high altitude limestone of Wild Iris makes climbing in Lander a year-round adventure.
Depending on which crag you’re looking to visit will affect the best time of year to visit Lander.
Sinks Canyon is best climbed from winter through spring. Supposedly, even on very cold days in town (and I’m talking in 20s), as long as the sun is shining, climbing Sinks Canyon is pleasant. March and April are fantastic times to climb Sinks.
Sinks has a shady side which allows for climbing in shoulder seasons and on summer mornings.
Wild Iris, on the other hand, takes until late May to mid-June to be climbable. This is mostly because the dirt road to access Wild Iris typically takes until late May to melt out and then at that point, the weather is iffy. Last year, we tried to climb Wild Iris on June 1st and it was snowing.
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Lander Climbing Areas
Lander contains 4 main climbing areas which all have a variety of different sub-areas, plus there’s a couple more smaller crags.
First and foremost, there’s Wild Iris. Wild Iris is one of the most iconic crags in the country due to its beautiful aspen trees, easy access, and varying degrees of both easy and very difficult sport climbing.
Within Wild Iris, there are 4 different areas and more than 300 different routes. There’s OK Corral, Main Wall, Aspen Glade, and Zorro Wall.
OK Corral makes for one of the best climbing destinations for families with its short approach and spacious belay area. It contains a variety of routes primarily in the 5.8-5.10 range with more routes still being added.
Main Wall and Aspen Glade take you down into the aspen trees and contain most of the moderate and difficult classics in the area. Zorro is a smaller wall near OK Corral but contains some amazing lines.
Sinks Canyon is the stuff dreams are made of! The perfect, steep, pocketed dolomite cliffs contain nearly 300 routes and that’s just Main Wall. Sinks Canyon consist of the Main Wall, the Sandstone, the Granite, and The Shady Side but the Main Wall is typically the top choice for traveling climbers.
Sinks truly has something everyone from the classic 5.8s to epic 5.13s lining Killer Cave and more. The real struggle of Sinks Canyon is not if there’s something for you, but having the endurance to climb everything you want on the steep, pumpy cliffs.
Fairfield Hill and Granite Crags are less popular spots of Sinks Canyon, most likely due to the further distance beyond the attractive-looking Main Wall. Both of these areas however are not chops-ridden, sandbags and the sorts. Both areas are full of amazing quality lines. The Granite can be more pleasant in the summer than Main Wall and it’s most ideal in the shoulder season of spring/fall.
Though Shady Side doesn’t have nearly the same popularity or quantity of routes as Main Wall, it still holds some great lines especially in the summer when you’re looking to avoid sun exposure.
Finally, there’s Sandstone which frankly, isn’t climbed much. It was the first bolted wall in Sinks but relative to the newer lines at Main Wall, Sandstone is lower on the priority list.
Fossil Hill lies further into the canyon beyond what is referred to as Sinks and it’s an area I’m excited to eventually climb myself. The ridge-side crag contains between 70-80 lines, less ideal for the beginner climber but with plenty of 5.10s to keep a moderate climber entrained for a few days.
Little Popo Agie
Little Popo lies far down the South Pass dirt road. It’s as if you are driving to Wild Iris but you keep heading further down the road after passing the Wild Iris junction. I frankly can’t speak much about this area since high clearance (not necessarily 4WD) is required to get there.
If you’re up for an adventure and a bit more difficult access than other Lander crags, you’ll be rewarded with amazing routes all to yourself with pretty cool canyon views.
Other Noteworthy Crags:
- Miners Delight (requires high clearance)
- Baldwin Creek (requires 4WD)
- Suicide Point (requires 4WD)
Lander Climbing for Families
One thing we love about visiting Lander is that it’s a great place to go climbing with the whole family. O.K. Corral at Wild Iris is pretty much as good as it gets for kid-friendly cragging areas with a short approach. Wild Iris Main Wall also isn’t a bad choice, it’s just a 15-minute walk.
Sinks Canyon Main Wall is a little harder depending on the age and temperament of your child. It’s only a 10-15 minute hike to the crag, but it is up a steep trail and if your child has a fear of heights they won’t like hanging out at the crag as much. Note also that in summer snakes can be a concern.
Visiting Lander With an RV
Overall, Lander is one of the best places to travel to if you’re in an RV. Our Class C RV can get to 3 of the biggest areas including Sinks Canyon, Wild Iris, and Fossil Hill.
The overflow parking at Sinks provides plenty of room for RVs. And there is a campground directly across the street from Main Wall.
At Wild Iris, we can get up the dirt road just fine with our 30’ RV however I definitely wouldn’t recommend any larger RVs. In the summer, get there early to get a spot large enough for an RV. There’s really plenty of room especially if you drive up toward the campsites by Zorro Wall.
Where to Camp for Lander Climbing
Lander has a variety of different camping options to accommodate traveling climbers. Here are some different options on places to camp on a climbing trip to Lander.
Sleeping Bear RV Park
Distance from Sinks: 20 minutes
Distance from Wild Iris: 40 minutes
RV Friendly: Yes
We travel to climb in a Class C Rv and our absolute favorite place to camp in Lander is Sleeping Bear RV Park. The RV Park is affordable has nice shower, bathroom, and laundry house. There’s also full-hookups in each site, plus, there’s a picnic shelter. Tent camping is limited here however Van & RV campers might want to take advantage of the various amenities on a longer visit to Lander. There are also cabins to rent here. From Sleeping Bear, you can also walk to the Lander Bar!
Wild Iris Free Camping
Distance from Sinks: 1 hour
Distance from Wild Iris: 0 minutes
RV Friendly: Up to 30’
If I didn’t love Wild Iris enough for the great climbing, the fact that you can camp right there at the base of OK Corral and the Main Wall trailhead makes it incredible.
The area near OK Corral has a few dozens designated free camping. Through June, it’s not too difficult to snag a site mid-week however, as the summer goes on, it gets difficult to find a site. If you’re car camping, you can just overnight park in the main parking lot but for tent campers, if you can’t snag a site, you can head down to the following campgrounds.
For RVs, if you want to camp in the forested OK Corral campsites, be sure to scout out a site in advance. There isn’t a distinct turnaround spot and you can’t fit an RV in every site. I’d recommend RVs go to the campsite in the open rocky are by Zorro Wall or possibly just park overnight in the main lot.
Atlantic City Campground
Distance from Sinks: 50 minutes
Distance from Wild Iris: 10 minutes
RV Friendly: Up to 30’
Atlantic City campground is the closest designated campground to Wild Iris and Little Popo Agie. The campground is just past the turnoff for Wild Iris and can accommodate both tents and RVs.
Sinks Canyon Campground
Distance from Sinks: 0 minutes
Distance from Wild Iris: 1 hour
RV Friendly: Yes
If you want to be as close as possible to Sinks climbing, be sure to grab a campsite at one of the 2 state park campgrounds right by Main Wall. The campgrounds don’t have hookups for RVs but they do have pit toilets and water. It’s actually really cool to stay at the upper state park because you can walk straight to Main Wall from your site. These two campgrounds are great but don’t open until May so they are not a winter option.
Lander City Park
Distance from Sinks: 15 minutes
Distance from Wild Iris: 40 minutes
RV Friendly: Technically yes, but it’s just street parking
If you’re looking for a budget friendly option closer to Sinks, the City Park allows free camping for up to 3 nights. There are bathrooms and water available.
Where to Eat in Lander
Lander is a small town but has everything a climber could want in terms of places to eat and hang out. We love wrapping up our days at the Lander Bar, the popular climber’s hangout. They serve beer, burgers, and pizza here and if you’re looking for finer dining, The Cowfish next door shares an outdoor patio with the Lander Bar.
Crux Coffee also looks like a great morning hangout!
Other Things to Do in Lander
Lander itself is even more than a climbing town. Lander is the gateway to the Wind Rivers, a range that will leave any mountain lover swooning with its jagged summit and alpine lakes.
The Wind Rivers are home to incredible alpine, trad, and mountaineering routes for the most capable climbers. If that’s not within your skill set, the Wind river also contain some of America’s greatest backpacking trips including one of the best hikes in Wyoming, Cirque of the Towers.
If you’re feeling up to it, I highly recommend taking on a big hike on your trip to Lander. Important to note that RVs will not ideally be able to access the Wind River trailheads due to the long dirt roads to get in. The roads are well maintained, they’re just really slow in an RV.
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