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Whether it’s your first time climbing up a wall or you enjoy the thrill of taking a massive whipper; Flagstaff is sure to suit your climbing needs.
From multiple indoor climbing gyms scattered throughout the city to dozens of outdoor locations, the wall is calling your name. Flagstaff and the surrounding area feature incredible outdoor climbing spots during the warmer months when the rocks are dry and the sun stays out to play longer. For the cold and wet snow season, Flagstaff offers multiple climbing gyms with constantly changing routes and climbing levels.
For all bouldering climbing levels, check out Beta Bouldering Gym located off Butler Avenue not far from downtown Flagstaff. With first-timers special membership deals and student packages, Beta is the perfect place to grow your climbing skills. Beta only offers bouldering, so if you love free soloing, no ropes or harness attached, this is the gym for you. With 4,500 sq. feet of climbing walls-ranging from a kid’s wall, beginner to advanced routes, and regular climbing competitions, Beta has all the boulder love you want. Classes for adults include NAU Bouldering Class, Women’s Climbing Class, Beta Training Program, and Private Lessons. If you’re looking for a new way to exercise or want to advance your bouldering skills; check out Beta Bouldering Gym.
For a convenient downtown location and all types of indoor climbing, look no further than Vertical Relief and their sister location Main Street Boulders. Also known as Flagstaff Climbing, Vertical Relief is located in downtown Flagstaff on South San Francisco Street. They offer bouldering, top-roping, and lead climbing. The downtown location is known for its high walls to top-rope and lead climb with a smaller bouldering area, while Main Street Boulders offers 2,000 sq. feet of only bouldering walls. Vertical Relief offers classes both indoors and outdoors, from Intro to Climbing, Climb Like a Girl, Sport Climbing and Rescue Skills, there’s a perfect class for you. While these two locations offer beginning to advanced levels, I have found them on the more intermediate to advanced level skill set. If you’re looking to advance your skills in bouldering, top-roping or lead climbing, these locations and classes are perfect for you.
For university students who want to get their foot in the wall for the first time, NAU Recreation Center in the Health and Learning Center offers a 38-foot climbing wall. The NAU climbing wall offers great routes for beginners, and free classes led by advanced students to help you become wall and safety experts. With the free certification classes offered to students, getting your belay and safety certification couldn’t be easier- and convenient since this certification can be used at the Flagstaff Climbing Center downtown as well. The NAU climbing wall is the perfect place to learn bouldering, top roping, and even lead climbing techniques- and it’s all FREE for NAU students.
When the sun stays out later, and the rock is dry, climbing outdoors in Flagstaff and the surrounding areas is unforgettable. Priest Draw, a local hotspot and one of my personal favorite climbing areas, offers climbing routes for all levels. It is located only a few miles off Lake Mary Road, a convenient location for Flagstaff locals, with a short approach walk and short hikes to some of the famous rocks. Known for its bouldering routes, and countless “roofs,” Priest Draw is an outdoor location that can be climbed almost any time of year. With many routes on the underside of the rock roofs, Priest Draw stays dry and sheltered from the elements, creating a year round outdoor climbing opportunity. If you’re not into hanging horizontally off a rock and want the traditional vertical climb, it is best to go during the warmer months as the vertical rocks can be slippery or covered in snow half of the year. With its beautiful scenery, endless routes and famous roof climbs, Priest Draw will quickly become a favorite location for you too.
Another local favorite just outside of Flagstaff is The Pit. With its beautiful white Kaibab limestone rock, The Pit is known for its short pitches with pocketed and edgy climbs. Because this limestone wall is south facing, the sun keeps the rock dry and accessible for year-round climbing. Located a 10 minute drive out of Flagstaff, this location is great for anyone wanting to check out the outdoor climbing scene. Vertical Relief climbing gym also conveniently offers day trips to this outdoor location for guided climbing tours. If you want to spend a couple days in the area, Canyon Vista Campground, located at the trailhead entering The Pit, is available on a first come first serve basis. Whether you’re a beginner or advanced sport climber, The Pit has routes for every level.
The San Francisco Peaks are the tallest mountains in Arizona. The Peaks offer only a small array of climbing opportunities, primarily for the more experienced climber. The most opportune time to get on the rock is during the dry spring and summer months. The Peaks Crag is only one of a few crags available on these majestic mountains. Experts love the above average area as nothing is really rated below a 5.9, and offers multiple great lines ranging from 5.10-5.14. Not only is it a beautiful climb, but a scenic approach hike up the mountain to begin your line. The best time of day to climb these crags is in the morning as it is a Southeast facing wall, when the sun is shining brightly on the rock until the early afternoon. Climbing up the weathered dacite wall of an old volcano, surrounded by aspen and ponderosa trees, is the perfect experience for the advanced climber.
Michelle Cueto is a 2016 graduate of Northern Arizona University. Originally from California, Michelle spent the last few years in Flagstaff earning a B.S. in Strategic Communication with an emphasis in Public Relations and a minor in International Relations and finding the best spots to climb in the area. She enjoys rock climbing, hiking, disc golf, and backpacking and hopes to continue her PR career with an outdoor company.