The 35 Best Climbing Spots in America

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The West: Owens River Gorge
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Corey Rich / Aurora / Getty Images25/35

The West: Owens River Gorge

Only a few miles from Bishop, Owens River Gorge has the highest concentration of sport climbing routes in California. The volcanic tuff walls are full of cracks, corners, pockets, and crimps, and the walls are usually just under vertical or overhung. Most cracks are bolted, making Owens a great crag for learning trad-climbing technique without the possibility of gear failure. “Owens is like an outdoor climbing gym; loads of quality routes on both sides of the canyon, and the approach is short,” Potter says. “You could set your backpack down and climb dozens of pitches without losing sight of it.”

Closest Town: Bishop, California
Grade Range: 5.6 – 5.13
Notable Routes: 538
Classics: Slip ‘n Slide (5.9), Hardly Wallbanger (5.10c), O.R.G.asam (5.11a), Grindrite (5.11b), Darshan (5.12b), Fight Club (5.13b)
When to Visit: February-Mary, October-November

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