Living in the region near the Yellowstone super-volcano provides for some great recreational climbing. Several areas feature basalt, granite, and limestone cliffs that suddenly jut above the valley floor. And many of these locations have both established, bolted routes and free climbing routes.
The season for outdoor climbing in the area runs from late spring to early fall. And shaded routes, especially early or late in the day can be chilly. Bringing some some warmer clothes along, just in case, is never a bad idea.
YMCA Climbing Gym – 751 S. Capital. In an old machine-shop overlooking the Snake River, the gym includes 14 roped walls with the tallest reaching 40 feet. The YMCA provides regular clinics and on-site instruction, if needed. The industrial-retro vibe makes for a cool atmosphere for groups.
Edge Climbing Gym – 2844 E 14th N. Scheduled to open in June of 2016, this should be the largest climbing gym in the state. They plan on over 15,000 square feet of space including a bouldering area, a caving room, a chimney, and several technical routes. The highest climb will go up 55 feet.
Heise Hot Springs
On US 26 travel 16 miles east of Idaho Falls. Turn left at the signs for Heise and Kelly Canyon. Follow the road to the Snake River and turn right after the crossing. About five miles down the gravel road lies a developed area with a swimming pool, golf course, restaurant, and campground.
The Rock – Just past the golf course stands a huge basalt column that, long ago, used to be a part of the canyon wall standing hundreds of feet above the river. This location features over a dozen routes all of which can be done with a 50 foot rope. This popular area can be a bit crowded in the summer, so plan on getting there early in the morning.
Paramount – To get away from the crowds, head up the river further and turn left at the intersection of the Kelly Canyon Road. About 200 yards after the turn is a parking area below the cliffs on the left. A second pull out can be found just a short distance further up just before the cattle guard. This cliff has fourteen established routes with a range of abilities. All but three can be done with a 50 foot rope. For the others you’ll need at least a length of 60 feet.
After driving 14 miles east from Idaho Falls on US26, turn right at the sign indicating the reservoir. A short three miles brings you to the boat ramp and parking lot. The cliffs are accessed with a brief trail starting at the south end of the parking area.
These thirteen established routes tend to be on the easier end of the skill range. Its a sweet spot for a family or group outing that combines climbing, boating, fishing, swimming, and just generally having fun.
There are several more excellent locations in the region further out from Idaho Falls. We’ll cover them in another post. More info on specific routes and difficulties can be found at SEIClimbing .com.