Top 3 Favorite Lesser Known Climbing Areas In the US


Traveling to rock climb has become a huge part of my life, even before trailer life. I really enjoyed my out of country solo trips with just my personal gear and found other traveling climbers to partner up with. My vacations were not only a trip to enjoy culture, but also filled with memories of meeting incredible people who inspire me to climb stronger and made me fall more in love with the climbing community. Before the pandemic, I would travel to the easier to access crags in the US because optimizing climbing time is important due to the limited amount of vacation days I had. In the trailer though, I am now able to get to amazing climbing areas I’ve never heard of and stay for more than a few days to fully enjoy climbing and not feel rushed to climb multiple days in a row. The three lesser known sport climbing areas I absolutely loved are Ten Sleep, Maple Canyon, and Shelf Road and here is why.

Ten Sleep, WY


This climber’s paradise with over 1400 routes of varying difficulty is nestled away in the center north section of Wyoming. The tiny town with a population of fewer than 300 people hosts many climbers throughout the years. It isn’t easy to get to as there are no direct flights to their closest airport which is about 2 hours drive away. Many climbers drive a long way to get there and stay for a while. No point in driving for hours to just get a few days of climbing in, especially, where there are so many great routes to get on.

Something to keep in mind is that there isn’t any reliable cell service in the canyon, which is also where many of the campgrounds are, so be prepared to be out of pocket while you are in there. There will be some coordination needed if you want to meet up with other climbers, especially if they aren’t in your campground. We stayed in the RV park in town and were able to work east coast hours and went climbing in the afternoon. There are cabins that can be rented, so for the remote workers, this is a great option. I was told by a friend that airbnb options are pretty limited. Alternatively, Ten Sleep Brewery has dry camping available, with free wifi available in the brewery. Showers are an additional charge. It is a great place to hang out in general and kick back with some food and beer.

Another thing to look out for are pronghorn sheep. Keep a watchful eye out for them when you drive, because if you hit one, your vehicle will most likely be totalled. I had a friend experience this and this small sleepy town is probably not a great place to deal with a broken down vehicle.

Now, as to why this canyon is so incredible, aside for the sheer number of climbs. Once you get there access to the climbs are pretty easy. You literally see the walls as you drive through the canyon. There are climbs for all levels of climbers, and for the most part during the day, one side of the canyon is shaded so you can easily plan your days depending on how much sun exposure you are looking for.

My favorite climb at Ten Sleep is Big Bear Memorial, rated at 5.10b. This 100ft climb is pretty much a juggy stem climb until you get to top where you confront a cruxy few moves to the anchors. If you are a moderate climber, this climb is a must do! The crag that this climb is in is pretty popular, so if you may have to wait for this climb.

Maple Canyon, UT


What makes Maple Canyon so unique is conglomerate rock. At first glance, one wouldn’t think the rock is solid enough to climb on. Something about different sized pebbles seemingly glued together like cement makes climbing on these rocks unsettling when you first get there and there are times when being worried is appropriate, especially in the early spring. Save yourself a lot of headaches and climb with a helmet. Most of the climbs are solid, but my climbing partners and I have experienced pulling rocks straight off the wall. When it happened to me, it messed with my head game and the rest of the climb felt sketchy, and the overhung portion of that climb gave me a lot of anxiety. Overall though, climbing at Maple Canyon is a lot of fun and so different from your typical climbing crag.

The closest big airport to Maple Canyon is Salt Lake City, UT. It will take almost two hours to drive there. If that is too far of a drive, there are many climbing areas along the way that have amazing climbs, but to get away from the crowds from the city and the fun conglomerate rock, keep going until you get to Maple! It will be worth it.

Cell service in the canyon is pretty spotty, so I wouldn’t rely on it when you are there. Camping is available and can be reserved online via There is a day use fee of $5, but if you have the national parks pass, you won’t need to pay. There isn’t much of a town outside of the canyon, but Mt Pleasant is a nice quiet town to visit if you wish to have some semblance of civilization. We stayed in the Standing Bear RV Park in Fountain Green, which is about 20 minutes away from the canyon. It is a new RV park and aside from the highway noise, it is pretty quiet, the host is friendly and the park has good cell service. The drawback is that the winds were strong and the small trees did not offer much shade for your site.

Now back to reasons to climb here! Because Maple Canyon isn’t very close to a major airport, the crags are less crowded in general. The weekends do get pretty busy, but with about 700 climbs, there is plenty of climbing to go around. Most of the climbs are single pitched and a lot of them are long routes, which I appreciated. One of my favorite crags is Orangutan Wall. There are many climbs here that have first bolts so high that a typical stick clip won’t be able to get to it, but the climb to the first bolt is pretty low angled and getting to it is pretty easy for a climber who has a head for free soloing/run outs. This crag does get pretty busy since the approach is super short and easy to get to, but it is worth it if you climb in the 5.7 - 5.10c range.

Shelf Road, CO


If you love to climb and make it to Shelf Road, you may never want to leave. This limestone heaven has over 1200 climbs and the access to the crags from the campground makes the crags so easy to get to. The only reason to leave is to re-up your supplies. The campground is dry camping only, so you have to bring in all the water and food you are going to need for your stay. The upper campground is not big rig friendly, as the road getting up there is steep and uneven, but if you can get your camper up there, do it! Your stay will be more comfortable. It is encouraged to book your site ahead of time, especially in the fall and winter.

This is again another climbing area where the closest major airport is a bit of a drive away. To get to cliffs, you will have to drive about 2.5 hrs from Denver, so do reserve multiple days if you are coming from out of town. Cell service wasn’t a problem at Shelf Road.

We learned about Shelf Road from a quick google search and didn’t realize that summer is not a good time to go. For the week we were there, temperatures were around 100 degrees, so we were only able to climb in the mornings. The crags we wanted to climb at either had shade until noon or after 4PM, so most of the days we were suffering in the heat. Though there was plenty of sunlight, our solar panels didn’t provide enough energy for us to run the AC so we sat around, trying not to move with wet towels on us.

I don’t even know where to begin with picking the best climbs here. I don’t remember any particular climbing being amazing, but remember that pretty much all of the climbs I did were enjoyable and I was sad everyday when the sun hit the walls. What I will say is that though The Dark Side was shady in the middle of the day, the climbing there felt insecure and the approach wasn’t amazing. I was also eaten alive by mosquitoes, so that was another reason I wasn’t keen on going back to that crag. I can’t imagine this would be a problem in the winter though, so don’t be like me and go in the summer, unless you like suffering.

There you go, my favorite lesser known climbing areas I would love to go back to over and over again. I hope this gives you a glimpse of the fun you could have if you love to sport climb and hopefully I will see you at the crag!

Happy sending!