For over a century, rock climbing has captivated all kinds of fitness and outdoor enthusiasts. And now, with so many indoor options available for discovering and developing skills, there are more and more people ready to head out on an exciting climbing adventure. Whether you’re a pro or just getting started, some of the best places for rock climbing are waiting for you to visit.
Rock climbing has some serious health benefits. Researchers at Oxford University say the lowest risk of cardiovascular disease, including conditions such as a heart attack or stroke, is seen among people who are most active. Putting on your climbing gear and scaling the rock wall is a great way to stay active while also harnessing your inner “Free Solo.”
Beyond offering an outlet for physical activity, rock climbing has proven effective at reducing stress and improving mental health. A 2017 study by researchers at The University of Alabama recruited over 100 participants for an experiment in Germany examining the effects of bouldering on psychological health. Participants were divided into two groups. While one group started bouldering, the other was told to wait. Using the Beck Depression Inventory and the SCL-90-R, researchers found that the group that began bouldering demonstrated notable improvements in their scores, with an average increase of 6.27 points. By comparison, the group that waited to begin bouldering saw an improvement of only 1.4 points.
If you’re ready to travel the world and reap the physical and mental benefits of rock climbing, you’ll find that there are an abundance of potential destinations. But if you find it hard to choose between the many possible adventures, StudyFinds is here to help. We scoured the internet for expert opinions on the best of the best places for rock climbing and assembled this list. These are our top five, but if you have a favorite that we missed, be sure to let us know in the comments!
The List: Best Rock Climbing Destinations, According to Experts
1. Yosemite National Park, California, USA
Yosemite National Park is a climber’s paradise. With lots of routes, beautiful views, and great weather, it regularly tops the list for both US and worldwide climbing spots. “California is one of the best states for rock climbing, and there is hardly another climbing area in the world with as much history as Yosemite,” says 57Hours. “Climbers used to call it the ‘Centre of the Universe.’ Indeed, they were right.”
The park is famous worldwide, with iconic climbing movies like “Free Solo” and “The Dawn Wall” filmed on its grounds. “There are over 200,000 climbing problems to choose from in the U.S. alone. Yosemite National Park (California) is unanimously considered the best one out of these quarter-million climbing routes,” Elevated Adventure says. “It has been a place where climbing culture, particularly in the U.S., has risen from,” claims Hiking and Fishing.
2. Kalymnos, Greece
Located off the coast of the Aegean Sea, Kalymnos combines rock climbing with gorgeous Mediterranean views. Even still, the climbing is good enough to still command center stage. “There’s no shortage of good things going for Greece, but the amount of sport climbing it has to offer is enough to make any climber feel like a kid on Christmas,” says Teton Gravity.
Kalymnos is a destination fit for the newest and the most advanced of climbers. “With hundreds of routes to choose from, climbers will find options for every skill level, making this a fantastic choice for both experienced and beginning climbers alike,” TripSavvy says. And an advantage of its Mediterranean location is that avid adventurers can climb from January to December. “In addition to its diversity of routes, the superb weather and year round climbing make this one of the best sport climbing destinations in the world,” The Manual adds.
3. The Dolomites, Italy
The Dolomites are a striking mountain range in northern Italy with a well-established rock climbing scene. “What Yosemite is to the US climbing scene, the Dolomites is that for Europe — a proving ground for generations of climbers and one of the best places in the world for alpine climbing,” claims 57Hours.
No matter what kind of climb you prefer, the Dolomites will have nearly countless options to choose from. “Experienced alpine climbers will marvel at the towering spikes that rise 8,000 to 9,000 feet into the air, while sport climbers can enjoy shorter, but no less challenging, pitches down below,” says TripSavvy. “With incredible culture, incredible climbing, and easily accessible top tier climbing, this is an outdoor adventurer’s heaven,” adds Hiking and Fishing.
4. Fontainebleau, France
Any climber who finds themselves in France should make their way to Fontainebleau for world-class bouldering. “The Mecca for bouldering lovers, this spot found just 90km from Paris and is home to huge, mysterious rock formations,” says AWE365. “With everything from small boulders for kids to explore to big slabs, mantels and overhangs for more experienced climbers, there is plenty to do here for all levels of climber.”
For any boulderer, Fontainebleau is a must. In fact, it’s known as the birthplace of the discipline. “Even the grading scale used in bouldering is called the ‘Font scale,’” 57Hours says. “If you love nothing more than getting your forearms pumping on a tendon-pulling bouldering problem, there is no better place to head to than Fontainebleau,” claims Teton Gravity.
5. Patagonia, Chile & Argentina
Rounding out the list, the sprawling landscape of Patagonia is known to be among the best rock climbing destinations in the world. “Often described as one of the most spectacular wilderness regions on the planet, Patagonia is home to some of the most famous climbing walls and towers in the world, even rivaling those found in Yosemite,” says 57Hours. “And because Patagonia is such an expansive place, it is easy to find peace and solitude at the crag for those looking to escape the crowds that are common elsewhere.”
While beginners and intermediate climbers can still find plenty to do in Patagonia, the best the region has to offer is for the advanced. “Extreme mountaineering areas, like Torres Del Paine, Fitz Roy and Cerro Torre are world famous and provide stunning backdrops to the less extreme climbing that is also available,” AWE365 says. “The landscape of Patagonia is spectacular, the wind and weather challenging,” adds Common Climber. “But for a more extreme, story-telling adventure, Patagonia offers unique spots for climbing.”
- Elevated Adventurer
- The Manual
- Teton Gravity
- Hiking and Fishing
- Common Climber
- Mens Journal
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Note: This article was not paid for nor sponsored. StudyFinds is not connected to nor partnered with any of the brands mentioned and receives no compensation for its recommendations. This article may contain affiliate links.