Rock climbing and bouldering are an increasingly popular sport for millions of people across the country. If you’re not quite ready to take the plunge and scale El Capitan, there are ways you can get into the sport by bouldering.

Bouldering differs from rock climbing in that you don’t need to have the ropes and harnesses. Instead, all you need are your hands and feet, and rarely actually go more than 10-15 feet off the ground. But, don’t be fooled! Just because you don’t need equipment doesn’t mean it’s not quite a challenge (and a workout) in it’s own right.

Fall HikeBefore you get started, remember that the best time of year to head out bouldering is during the fall in most parts of the country. The winter also works in the desert areas of Utah, Nevada and Colorado. One of the keys to a successful bouldering trip is having a cool and dry day. Keep that in mind before your next adventure!

Because of the special¬†aspects associated with bouldering, you can often find great spots in some unique places. From Alabama to Utah, you’ll really enjoy some of these areas to enjoy bouldering.

Let’s take a look at some of them.

Joshua Tree National Park

Joshua Tree Boulders

While the natural beauty of the park is enough to get any visitor to want to visit, the awesome bouldering is what makes a lot of people stay. Joshua Tree National Park is known for it’s great bouldering opportunities on quartz monzonite rock.

Red River Gorge

Red River Gorge in KentuckyThis Slade, Kentucky hot spot has been called “world class” by some of the best climbers out there, so you know it has to have something special about it. Head there on a cool and dry fall day and you will see what makes Red River Gorge¬†so special.

Moab, Utah

Delicate Arch

Climbers of all levels have been flocking to the outdoor sports wonderland known simply as “Moab” for decades. The amazing red rocks you can find near Arches National Park will offer some of the best climbing in all of North America, and the variety of boulders will keep you coming back for more.

Yosemite Valley

Yosemite valley, Yosemite national park, California, usaNow, most people know Yosemite for some of the most extreme climbing in the country. But if you aren’t quite ready for that yet, there are still plenty of bouldering opportunities tucked away all along the Yosemite Valley that are still world class.

Horse Pens 40


Rivers Langley, own work, via Wikimedia Commons

Don’t be fooled by the name, Horse Pens 40 attracts bouldering and climbing enthusiasts from all over the world to the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains. There are tons of sandstone boulders to give a try, and heading out in the fall during the leaves changing is the prettiest time to go.

Have you given bouldering a try in any of these places? Or have you visited for some other reason? Let us know in the comments!