Rock Climbing in Zion National Park

The sheer number of cliffs and rock formations that make up the landscape of Zion National Park make it a perfect place to experience rock climbing. The natural formations of the sandstone cliffs soar to a jaw-dropping 2,000 feet. Some rock climbing areas in Zion National Park are for experienced rock climbers only. There are a few areas that are safe for inexperienced climbers so it is best to check which climber experience level is needed ahead of time to get the most out of Zion.

List of climbing outfitters in the Zion National Park area. They also offer guided canyoneering and climbing trips.

Rock climbing is an adrenaline pumping, highly demanding sport. Just watching someone dangle on the edge of these cliffs can send your pulse racing. There are many things to consider before setting off on a rock climbing journey in Zion National Park but once you’ve planned your trip you are in for a real treat!

Formation types for climbing

When rock climbing, the different areas to climb present different challenges. This is what makes rock climbing so exciting! You aren’t limited to just a few areas or difficulties. You can climb different formations and practice different skills depending on where you are climbing. You can even take different routes on the same formation and feel as though you are climbing a completely different rock. With so many different numbers of pitches and angles, you’ll never have to have the same climbing experience twice.


Climbing steep cliffs, or traditional climbing, is what most people think of when they picture rock climbing. This type of climbing requires a great deal of practice, skill, and nerve! As climbers ascend and descend sheer rock walls they must set their ropes, mind their rigging, and find the right foot and hand holds to safely make their way up the face.
Rock climbers can work their way from taking less difficult routes to the most challenging routes Zion National Park has to offer. However, most traditional climbs will require at least some basic experience to get started.


Rock climbing the canyons is the same idea, and often similar technique, as cliffs but offers more versatility. Climbing canyons mean you may literally be climbing on a ceiling. You can choose to climb canyon narrows and work your way out to the top or just stick to smaller areas.
Some climbers choose to use a very limited amount of gear for canyon climbs. Instead, they use techniques that require precise foot placement and strength to slowly ascend or descend in a safe way. However you choose to climb the canyons, Zion offers tons of opportunities.


A knoll is like a steep hill or small mountain. Sloping sides meet at the top to form a point or plateau. With knolls, there are multiple ways up and down so you can choose whichever route suits your plans. The fact that knolls look like softly sloping hills can be deceiving. Summiting these formations can be surprisingly challenging!
One of the best things about knoll climbing is the limited amount of gear needed to climb. Basic climbing shoes and other accessories you would take on a hike will suffice for most climbs. What climbing knolls will take a lot of is mental awareness. Being aware of foot placement and the condition of the ground is very important! Knoll rock climbing in Zion may be easier for beginners but don’t be fooled, knolls can be just as physically demanding as cliffs or canyons.

Places to climb

The diverse landscape of Zion National Park offers a jaw-dropping number of areas to climb. Each formation will offer a different experience so researching the park ahead of time to decide where you would like to climb is a great idea.
Please keep in mind that for some climbing excursions, and all overnight climbs, a permit is required. You can reserve a spot for a permit online or you can obtain a walk-in permit at a park visitor center.

The Watchman

The Watchman is a well-recognized landmark of Zion National Park. This formation offers a wide variety of climbing opportunities. From-rope aided climbs to scrambling (or climbing by foot and hand only) choosing your route will determine your experience. You will always want to be mindful of the route you are taking to avoid getting caught up in an area that is too advanced.

Tabernacle Dome

Named for its uncanny resemblance to Mormon Tabernacle in Salt Lake City, this smaller formation is a great opportunity for a relatively short climb. Though the climb is short, it is action-packed and takes a lot of experience. The least advanced route on Tabernacle Dome is class 5, so inexperienced climbers should opt for something a little easier. If the challenge doesn’t scare you away, the beautiful views from the top are well worth the strenuous climb.

Pine valley Peak

Located in Kolob Terrace, Pine Valley Peak has a lot to offer for rock climbers. The steep cliff and difficult-to-maneuver rock conditions make it a popular stop for traditional climbing. You will find holds among the jagged edges and make your ascent toward a beautiful view.
There are countless others areas to climb in Zion National Park. While the formations listed are a great starting point, you are guaranteed to find many locations and routes that sound exciting and challenging. No matter where you go, always be aware of your surroundings and make sure if you are going alone to tell someone where you will be going!

Best time to rock climb

There are certainly ideal times to visit for rock climbing in Zion National Park. While some activities can be done in a variety of weather, you will want perfect conditions for rock climbing. It is suggested that you visit Zion to rock climb between the months of March to May and September to November. By limited your visit to these time frames you give yourself the best chance to avoid the sweltering hot of the summer and the icy cold of the winter.
In addition to the seasons playing a role in where and when you can climb, you will need to check ahead for area closures. Occasionally, certain areas will close due to bird nesting and wildlife needs. Also, things like heavy rain and other weather conditions can affect some formations, especially sandstone. By planning ahead for these possibilities, you can choose a different route from Zions many areas to choose from and your trip will not be interrupted.
This is just a basic list of must-haves for the most common types of rock climbing in Zion. Since there are so many ways to climb and routes to take you will want to tailor your gear toward your planned trip. Always be sure to contact an expert for a better idea of exactly what you will need for your trip.

What you’ll need

Depending on what kind of climbing you are planning to participate in, your gear needs will change. Whether you are doing traditional rock climbing or scrambling, you will want to have the proper gear to ensure a safe and enjoyable trip.
Some things you will need are:

  • Rock climbing shoes
  • Helment
  • Climbing harness
  • Chalk
  • Carabiners
  • Belay
  • Ropes
  • Climbing Permits

This is just a basic list of must-haves for the most common types of rock climbing in Zion. Since there are so many ways to climb and routes to take you will want to tailor your gear toward your planned trip. Always be sure to contact an expert for a better idea of exactly what you will need for your trip.

Get ready to live on the edge

Gear up and get going to experience the thrill of rock climbing in Zion National Park. Once you have chosen your route and planned your trip, the next step is to get out there and see what challenges Zion has in store.
Remember, it is important to leave nothing behind and take away only memories. Do your best to avoid damaging vegetation and the rock surface. This is especially important when dealing with soft sandstone.
Take a day or just a few hours to get some great exercise and take in the marvelous scenery. If you are looking for a more involved rock climbing experience, we recommend that you say in Zion to try your hand at the many climbing experiences available. Visit our “places to stay” page and hang around the park awhile. You can’t see the best there is to offer when rock climbing Zion in just a day so take advantage of accommodations and allow yourself to have the rock climbing journey of a lifetime.