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You know winter’s running out of steam when you start dreaming of splitter cracks, perfect pockets and desert towers. That glorious red sand has a way of permeating every article of clothing and crevice of our brains– and we love it. It’s a sign of spring as much as baby bunnies and flowers. Yet if for some reason you’re hoping to switch things up this season, have a look at these other spring crags which feature cool rock and tons of route variety for your soft, pale winter body.
RED ROCK, NV Routes: 1025 Trad, 667 Sport, 170 Boulder, 73 TR Rock: Sandstone Peak season: March-April Nearest city: Las Vegas Abundant cheap flights to town make this a quick and easy spring trip for anyone looking to get their sunshine fix without committing to days on the road. It doesn’t hurt that the area offers a huge range of routes, from one-pitch wonders to 20-pitch odysseys. Stay off the rock if it’s wet to prevent damage, and permits apply, so know before you go. Off Day: Rumor has it there are activities available in Vegas.
SOUTH PLATTE, CO Routes: 770 Trad, 570 Sport, 132 Boulder, 72 TR Rock: Granite Peak season: May-June Nearest city: Colorado Springs or Denver From Turkey Rocks, which is considered some of Colorado’s best granite crack climbing, to Devils Head, which boasts a high concentration of three-star routes; the expansive S’Platte zone might just have a granite-flavored adventure for you. Different camping rules apply to different crags. Off Day: Flyfish Waterton Canyon. Handy if you’re out of food.
RED RIVER GORGE, KY Routes: 812 Sport, 357 Trad, 11 TR, 39 Boulder Rock: Sandstone Peak season: March- April Nearest big city: Lexington A tick-list trip for most climbers, the Red offers lifetimes of stunning sandstone climbs, from the moderate Muir Valley crag to overhanging test-pieces like Thanatopsis (5.14b). Spring is a perfect time to visit, with cooler temps and slightly less crowds than in the fall. Off Day: Visit Miguels, local pizza joint and climbing community hub.
ZION NATIONAL PARK, UTAH Routes: 182 Trad, 25 Sport, 13 Boulder, 3 TR Rock: Sandstone Peak season: March Nearest big city: Saint George Zion is known as a mecca of big wall sandstone climbing, but it’s got plenty of moderates and 1-2 pitch adventures if you’re still getting into the swing of things. National park fees apply, so if you’re planning on staying for more than three days (at $25 per day), it’s worth investing in an annual pass for $80. Off Day: If your fingers are shot but being out of your harness makes you uncomfortable, you can go canyoneer Angel’s landing.
RUMBLING BALD, NC Routes: 158 Trad, 116 Boulder, 69 Sport, 5 TR Rock: Granite Peak season: March Nearest big city: Asheville Rumbling Bald has been called the Hueco of the East, with its strong bouldering scene and high concentration of quality routes. New development has increased trad and sport offerings, and the granite is superb. Camping isn’t allowed, but can be had across the river at Chimney Rock Park. Off Day: Visit the Old Riverside Pavilion, or simply “the biker bar,” for food, beverages and live music.
NEW RIVER GORGE, WV Routes: 612 Sport, 385 Trad, 39 TR, 14 Boulder Rock: Sandstone Peak season: April-May Nearest city: Fayetteville The slightly rowdier relative of the Red, the New offers bulletproof sandstone and technical, runout routes. If you’re looking to beat the crowds and get your spring reality-check, this might be the trip for you. Plenty of options for camping and rainy-day activities. Off Day: Fuel up at the Secret Sandwich Society, except on Tuesdays, when it’s closed.
SANTA FE, NM Number of routes: 197 Sport, 55 Trad, 6 TR, 27 Boulder Rock: Basalt, Granite, Conglomerate, Sandstone Peak season: March Nearest city: Santa Fe From the once-famous pockets of Cochiti Mesa to the short conglomerate pitches of El Rito, the Santa Fe area has a crag to match your style. If you’re looking for a quiet, Southwesty vibe with more artists than wall-rats, this could be your next spring trip. Off Day: Visit the Georgia O’Keefe Museum. They’re flowers, ok? Numbers and most beta courtesy of Mountain Project.