The 35 Best Climbing Spots in America

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The Southwest: Hueco Tanks State Historic Site
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Alexandra Kahn / Getty Images8/35

The Southwest: Hueco Tanks State Historic Site

Developed in the 1970s, Hueco Tanks is famous for its powerful bouldering on scalloped highballs and crimps, and the coolest problems are often overhung. Usually ranked with South Africa’s Rocklands and France’s Fontainebleau as one of the top bouldering areas in the world, bouldering was refined to an art at the Tanks. Many of Hueco’s boulders are illustrated with ancient, Native American rock art, and climbing is restricted to guided tours in three of the park’s four sectors. Access has been contentious for decades due to disrespectful behavior: stay on the paths, don’t litter, and never climb on restricted boulders. The route list changes regularly as boulders are closed and reopened. “There’s a reason it’s probably the most famous bouldering spot in the country,” Hunter says. “Hueco has some of the best overhung, powerful problems in the world, and it’s where that style was really pushed. If you only visit one bouldering area in America, I’d say visit the Tanks.”

Closest Town: El Paso, Texas
Grade Range: V0 – V14
Notable Routes: 483 +/-
Classics: The Maiden (V0), Nobody Here Gets Out Alive (V2), Lobster Claw (V5), Daily Dick Dose (V7), Mushroom Roof (V8), Full Service (V10)
When to Visit: January-March, November-December

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