Santa Fe is surrounded by Mountains, Cliffs and Canyons so it is a great destination for rock climbing. The weather in the Santa Fe area allows for year around climbing, even in the middle of winter you can climb on a sunny day. There are many established rock climbing areas in Northern New Mexico which are an easy drive from Santa Fe. Climbers from beginners to experts can find an area nearby that fits their skill level.
White Rock is town neighboring Los Alamos with cliffs developed for rock climbing. The 30 to 70 feet high cliffs of White Rock Canyon overlook the Rio Grande providing spectacular views while you are enjoying a day of rock climbing. The basalt rock formation has great cracks for the traditional climbers and featured faces for sport climbers. A lot of areas here are also easy to set up for top rope climbing. For more information on the areas like the Overlook, Gallows Edge, Portrillo Cliffs, the Old New Place, the Playground, and other in White Rock Canyon go to LAMountaineers.org.
Diablo Canyon just outside of Santa Fe offers great climbs for the intermediate to expert climber. The basalt cliffs offer climbs as high as 250 feet. There are established sport and traditional climbs rated from 5.8 up to 5.13. Most of the climbs are in the 5.10-5.11 range and there are some fully bolted multi pitch routes. One of these multi pitch sport routes is the amazing arête climb Sun Devil 5.11 b/c. This is a must do if you love exposure. More info on Diablo Canyon can be found at www.losalamos.com/diablo/.
Traditional climbers who love an adventure can find it in the Sandia Mountains just east of Albuquerque. The Sandias have a great climbing history, many of the granite rock faces have been climbed before, but there are still undeveloped areas. It is a beautiful area and the sun glitters off the gray and red granite rock faces. But be aware of the weather because it can change fast in these high altitude mountains. Sandia Rock is a published guide with more info on this mountain range.
The Jemez Mountains are a 30 minute drive from Santa Fe and they have a few developed climbing areas to offer. The welded tuff vertical faces of Cochiti Mesa have small pockets and crimps. This sport climbing area was developed in the late eighties and has some classic climbs like The Prowl. The same welded tuff can be found on boulders outside the town of Ponderosa. This one of the best places to boulder in this area. Las Conchas near Jemez Springs is a great summer climbing spot. The volcanic rhyolite cliffs are 30-60 feet high and have sport climbs from 5.5 to 5.13. It is easy to set up top ropes in this area and is a great climbing spot to take the whole family.
Outside of the northern New Mexico community of El Rito are two climbing areas. There is a traditional climbing area that provides two to three pitch climbs for beginners and intermediates. There is also the more popular sport area. This area has climbs for any sport climber. The conglomerate rock walls range from 30 to 95 feet high. Its has walls that are sloping to very overhanging so this is an area for beginners as well as experts. For more info on this area visit lamountaineers.org/Elrito/index.htm.
Before you pack your backpacks for a day of rock climbing make sure that you know all climbing safety precautions, otherwise we recommend calling a professional climbing guide. If you are a beginner or are looking to hone your climbing skills on a rainy day visit the Santa Fe Climbing Center. The Santa Fe Climbing Center offers indoor climbing with over 50 routes and two bouldering caves, with classes for every skill level and guide services for outdoor adventures.
The following guide books will include these and many other climbing areas in New Mexico: Taos Rock published by Sharpend Publishing, Jemez Rock soon to be published by Sharpend Publishing, and Rock Climbing New Mexico soon to be published by Falcon Guide.