It’s hard to think about bouldering without the essay by David Roberts “Bad Day at Practice Rock” coming to mind. It is one of the chapters in his book “Moments of Doubt” a great collection of essays, best read aloud to each other around a campfire after a day of climbing. Books like this give the perspective of the long, rich history of the sport. Big Bend Bouldering area is rich with history, great pioneers of the sport have been playing here for more decades than the collective age of the young studs and studettes who challenge themselves here. Do a search on Vimeo for Big Bend Bouldering to get excited.
What Makes It Great
Big Bend has something for every age and ability. Right on the road across the street from the Colorado River in a gorgeous valley, it is hard to go wrong. Big Bend has a long tradition of stoutly rated if not sandbag rating of routes. It is also common to have beginners working a problem next to world-class climbers. The people watching is fantastic. Low energy day, bring a comfortable chair and watch the show in-between working routes. The scenery is spectacular and could never get boring for the eyes. In the summer months, it can be seriously hot, make sure to bring lots of water.
The rock is Wingate Sandstone, hard, hot in the summer months when in direct sun, it also holds heat once in the shade. Do not climb when the rock is wet, you may break off pieces of a route as Sandstone is somewhat fragile and does disintegrates when wet. Let the rock dry 24 after precipitation. Sandstone is an acquired taste to climb on as it can fall apart and the grains of sand can feel like ball bearings under your sweaty palm when trying to make a move -- just a little something to add to your head game of the sport.
Who is Going to Love It
Everyone. There is something for everyone. From munchkins whose height is your kneecap to tall gangly climbers it’s a playground of fun. It’s a beautiful to hang out as well as work routes. The landings level, there are no big drop offs for kids to wander off and landings are easy to protect with a bouldering pad. Other than hard routes, it is user friendly.
Also, if you see any crusty unbroken crust on the ground this is called Cryptobiotic Soil. It is alive and keeps this place together. Do not step on it! For more information about it and the geography of the area go to the Visitor’s Center in the middle of town. They are knowledgeable, friendly, have a great book selection. There is also a good parking lot to meet up at, clean bathrooms and potable water.
Route maps of the area available at local climbing stores and in the book High on Moab by Karl Kelley published by Sharp End Publishing.
Directions, Parking, & Regulations
Drive out of town heading north and take a right on River Road, route 128. Drive 8.1 scenic miles passing Big Bend Campground. The parking is just past Upper Big Bend Campground. There is no approach. You are there. There are no fees to use this area and relevant information is on the board at the parking lot. There is no water available, as with most activities in Moab, you will need to bring it.
Dogs are allowed but it is recommended that they stay on leash as the bouldering is right next to a road that cars move pretty quickly on. With so many critters around, it was be a terrible way to lose your dog. In the summer months,this area is hot, if you bring your dog, make sure they have shade and plenty of water to drink.