The towering canyon walls of Zion National Park boast what are arguably southern Utah’s most spectacular trad and multi-pitch climbing routes, drawing experts from around the world to its red sandstone towers. You can often watch the microscopic progress of these rock climbers all the way from the valley floor, marvelling at what it would be like to see Zion from the side of a 500ft cliff.
The good news is that you don’t have to be a professional climber to experience the incredible rock around Zion— although many of the most popular climbing routes in the park are well beyond the grasp of mere mortals, there are just as many intermediate sport climbing routes in the surrounding areas offering fantastic 5.6-5.12s.
One such area is Lambs Knoll, a BLM climbing site located just outside the western boundary of Zion National Park. On Tuesday, we met up with an awesome guide from Rock Odysseys and ended up climbing some of our new favourite routes in one of the most beautiful settings imaginable!
All the details: Rock climbing with Rock Odysseys
Cost | Rock Odysseys offers amazing half-day (4-5hrs; $330 for 2 climbers) or full-day climbing tours (7-8hrs; $430 for 2 climbers) in the Zion region of southern Utah. The price includes climbing gear (if you need it) and expert supervision from one of the awesome Rock Odyssey guides.
Getting there | If your group is climbing at Lambs Knoll, this is just outside the west boundary of Zion National Park, about 45min from St George, Utah. As every tour is customised based on the interest and experience of the group, though, your Rock Odysseys guide will confirm the exact meeting spot for your tour prior to the day. Those staying in Springdale, Rockville, La Verkin, Hurricane, or Washington can even organise a pick-up directly from their hotel!
Where to stay | Clarion Inn St George offers extremely nice rooms right in town starting at $65/night. There’re also SO many amazing free campsites in and around the area; check iOverlander for up-to-date info, but we even enjoyed the Lambs Knoll carpark in a pinch!
Top tips | I’d recommend wearing an athletic shirt, pants/tights, and sandals for your tour; I personally like to change out of my climbing shoes between each route to prevent foot pain and unnecessary wear to the shoes, so I always wear comfortable sandals to the wall. Also be sure to bring a small backpack with your camera, water, and any snacks you may want!
Read more | ZION GUIDE COMING SOON
A big thank you to Rock Odysseys for hosting me on their awesome half-day rock climbing tour in exchange for an honest review of the experience. As always, all opinions in this post are entirely my own!
Driving from the North Rim of the Grand Canyon early Tuesday morning, we arrived at Lambs Knoll just after 3pm to rendezvous with Dion, our climbing guide from Rock Odysseys. We exchanged hellos, quickly grabbed our climbing gear from the back of the van, and then headed up together towards the rock.
We were immediately struck by the beauty of the area, only several feet outside the Zion National Park boundary, yet every bit as beautiful as the park itself— without the crowds, Lambs Knoll might even have the advantage!
Here, red and orange sandstone swirls above the horizon into dramatic rock cathedrals, highly reminiscent of Chesler Park in The Needles section of Canyonlands, which we both visited last year.
Unlike The Needles, though, Lambs Knoll is every bit as green as it is orange, huge fields of grass stretched out below the rock and lush plantlife growing in unlikely canyons. Just the landscape alone was enough to wow us, and that’s before we even got on the rock!
We spent the next 4 hours climbing a variety of 5.7-5.9 routes within Lambs Knoll, each more spectacular than the last.
Climbing on Navajo Sandstone was certainly a departure from the coarse monzogranite of Joshua Tree that we enjoyed a few months ago, but we soon got used to wiping sand off our climbing shoes after a few moves up the wall and identifying juggy holds worn into the rock.
We both easily agreed that our favourite route of the day, and possibly the entire trip thus far, was the creatively named Invagination, a challenging 5.8 through a narrow rock chimney.
The climb necessitates stemming against both walls of the chimney, eventually disappearing from sight into the rock slit before finally popping out high on the wall, where things become even more tricky.
We loved the opportunity to practice some new skills, and even though I did slip off a sandy hold and swing pretty spectacularly into the rock behind me (the thud was far worse than the actual damage), it was such a cool route that I would have done it again and again for the remainder of the afternoon.
Getting to explore this local-favourite climbing area was a massive treat, as was the opportunity to work on some of our climbing skills with a professional. Dion was clearly a talented climber, but also incredibly approachable, offering helpful suggestions as we battled up new routes and sharing the kind of wisdom that only comes from a very full life spent on the rock.
We left with a renewed interest Utah climbing, a new perspective on Zion, and so many cool stories— all thanks to the amazing team over at Rock Odysseys!
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