Rock climbing New Mexico is filled with a diversity that is rarely rivaled with fewer crowds, Whether you are a pebble wrestler, a traditional adventurer, summit bagger, or bolt clipper, New Mexico has a place for weekend warriors and dirtbags alike.
1. For The Pebble Wrestler: Box Canyon In Cibola National Forest
Location: Magdalena, New Mexico
Just about every corner of the state is brimming with established boulders waiting for you to explore. From the roadside classics to the backcountry epics, the land of enchantment is overflowing with possibility. Box Canyon will keep you stoked with its quality rhyolite and acrobatic movements. In addition to spectacular bouldering, you’ll find moderate sport routes in the 5.10-5.11 range. You’ll find camping on site close to your beloved boulders, however many folks like to stay 10 miles away at Water Canyon Campground.
2. For the Traditional Adventurer: Jemez Mountains
Location: Sandoval County, NM
No proper adventure epic can begin with a simple approach, and Capulin Canyon of the Dome Wilderness does not fall short. A steep descent traversing the remains of wildfires in 1996 and 2011 promise a rugged start to the day, but soon make way to extraordinary, Indian Creek quality splitter cracks. Yep, that’s right, splitters in New Mexico. However, the welded tuff here is not for the inexperienced. Soft rock and the backcountry nature of this crag are not to be taken lightly. With summer temps roasting in the canyon, we recommend this crag for a winter four wheel drive adventure. This is one of our favorite places for rock climbing in New Mexico!
3. For the Summit Bagger: Wheeler Peak
Location: Taos Ski Valley, NM
At 13,167 feet, Wheeler Peak of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains is the highest point in New Mexico. No technical climbing is required making it a great rest day activity for those of you whose fingers need a break. There are several options to ascend the peak including the longer scenic route. Bull of the Woods Trail (Wheeler Peak Trail) offers a 16 mile round trip journey to the top of this mountain giant. For a shorter option, the Williams Lake trail is roughly 7 miles round trip with the final 1000 feet comprised of scree. Wheeler Peak is located in the Carson National Forest, but most trail options cross private property at some point. Be sure to respect the landowners when out adventuring! Best season is May through November, although start early to avoid monsoons in the summer months.
4. For the Bolt Clipper: Big Block
Location: Albuquerque, NM
Big Block is a sprinkled with a smattering of grades complimented by easy access and close enough to Albuquerque for beer at the end of the day. It makes for a short and accessible day of rock climbing in New Mexico! A short, marked trail leads you to this lovely nugget of limestone ready to provide a day of climbing moderates and a few challenging routes to keep you on your toes. With little sunlight making its way into the canyon, Big Block is a great summer reprise.
5. For the Top Rope Hero: Sugarite Canyon State Park
For the beginner leader, Sugarite offers a playground of possibilities. While all the 40-50 foot basalt climbs are able to be led, they also have the ability to be top roped. Most are bolted and easily set up, while some require a bit of static line or webbing and ingenuity to get going. 8000 feet up, the SE facing walls like to soak in the sun making it a tad warm at times. The state park requires a $5 day fee or a $10 camping fee to stay in Soda Pocket campground. While you dirtbags may scoff at this, that $10 camping fee includes a lovely, refreshing shower!
New to rock climbing New Mexico? Join New Mexico River Adventures for one of our various beginner climbing trips! It’s the perfect way to experience our various sandstone and limestone walls. Book online today!