Asheville, North Carolina has built up quite the reputation as an outdoorsy-town. For good reason. This town’s location in the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains and just a short hop east from the Great Smoky Mountains affords its residents and guests plenty of hiking, biking, skiing, and, of course, rock climbing adventures. If you are looking for outstanding, amazing rock climbing adventures, then Asheville, NC, and its surrounding areas are going to provide. Let’s take a look at just a few of the best rock clinging opportunities in and around Asheville:
Your Ultimate Guide to Rock Climbing in Asheville
Looking Glass Wall
Looking Glass Wall is a fantastic spot for trad and aid climbing. Located within the Nantahala National Forest, this is a massive granite wall that seems to rise from nowhere, like a giant peeking its head out of the surrounding forest. The shape of the Looking Glass Wall makes for some unique and formidable obstacles that will challenge more experienced climbers as well as the enthusiastic novice. Most of the routes here are 5.10 to 5.12 and all are located within a short distance of campsites for those who want to make a longer adventure out of their trip.
Curtis Creek Bouldering
In 2014, a group of Asheville-based climbers looked to enhance their trips out to the Pisgah National Forest area by developing some large boulders into fantastic bouldering opportunities. Located just beyond the Curtis Creek Campground north of Old Fort, NC (you will find the parking area for these boulders on your right after you pass over two bridges from the Curtis Creek Campground), there are seven main boulders or walls climbers can enjoy. This is a great place to go in the morning for warm-ups or when things get snowy and frozen, and you want to enjoy a lower elevation climb.
Corner Rock Boulder
This is one big boulder that offers a whole host of challenges for the ardent rock climber. You will find the Corner Rock Boulder about twenty miles north of downtown Asheville along Dillingham Road on the outskirts of Bernardsville. You will see two parking areas neighboring Corner Rock Creek and signs pointing down a 200-yard trail that leads up to the star rock. The best part about Corner Rock Boulder is that it has something for everyone. You can find several nice warm-up routes that will engage beginners and act as a nice jumping-off platform for more experienced climbers. Once you’re ready to challenge yourself, check out the V8 to V12 routes that will really test stronger, more nimble climbers.
Wolf Branch & Rich Knob
Wolf Branch & Rich Knob are the 2020 version of the aforementioned Curtis Rock Bouldering site. During the lockdowns associated with the coronavirus pandemic, another group of Asheville climbers explored new locations along the Blue Ridge Parkway and stumbled about this fantastic set of boulders. Now, getting here will require a bit of a respectful off-trail climb up a rocky creek bed (you will want to park at the Lane Pinnacle Overlook), but once you reach the location you will find plenty of exciting rocks to climb and explore.
East Slate Rock
East Slate Rock is a massive craig with five main trad rock climbing routes that have been laid out, although you can find just under 20 full routes in the whole area. These routes range from 5.7 to 5.11+ and bouldering enthusiasts will find plenty of their own opportunities across the massive area that is East Slate Rock. With so many different climbs and its location just a short drive southwest of Asheville, it’s no surprise that East Slate Rock is often pretty busy. Especially on days in which Looking Glass Wall is packed with climbers. An important thing to note, however, is that there is a bit of a hike to get to this spot. There is parking at the Pilot Cove lookout along Yellow Gap Road and a clearly marked trail heading north that climbers can take. Expect about a 45-minute hike to get to East Slate Rock.
Not all the best rock climbing happens outdoors. If you are looking to stay in town or want to escape the inclement weather with some indoor climbing, then consider a visit to Riveter. Riveter is an incredible adventure-minded business that doesn’t just have rock climbing (though it certainly has a lot of that), but also has a world-class outdoor mountain bike park (you can rent bikes if you can’t bring your own), yoga, and fitness studios, and on-site cafe entitled the Libation Station that serves beer, wine, cider, tea, coffee, and more. But back to that rock climbing! The Riveter’s climbing gym features 16,000 square feet of all-out climbing terrain. This includes opportunities for auto-belay climbing, lead-only climbing, top rope clinging, and bouldering.
Pisgah Climbing and Outdoor Guides
If you are just learning how to rock climbing or you don’t have much experience outside of the gym, then one of the best ways to experience the outdoor climbing opportunities around Asheville is by a climbing guide and instructor. Pisgah Climbing and Outdoor Guides is a fantastic outfit to do this with. All of their guides and instructors maintain the latest certifications via the American Mountain Guides’ Association and have extensive experience not just in rock climbing, but at rock climbing the Asheville and surrounding areas. These guides can get you to those top spots and ensure you have the best, most engaging time possible.
The Pisgah Climbing and Outdoor Guides outfit is a subsidiary of the Climbmax indoor climbing gym, another fantastic indoor Asheville gym that is also deserving of a visit for its varied routes. There are actually two of them now, with the Climbmax Climbing at the River located across from the Amboy Road River Park offering great climbs as well as picturesque views.
Now Go Out & Enjoy
Whether you choose to go solo, with friends, or under the tutelage of an experienced guide, we hope this list of ultimate rock climbing in and around Asheville, NC helps with your future plans. Don’t forget to check out our other best-of lists to find top places to eat, sleep, and shop during your upcoming Asheville vacation.