In the city limits, we’ve got everything from spinning to yoga to keep us fit. But when we want to be one with the outdoors and try a new form of exercise, where do we turn? Rockclimbing, of course.
We caught up with two experienced climbing veterans–Christopher Gibson, owner of The North Texas Outdoor Pursuit Center and Manuel Escobar, a manager at Summit Dallas Climbing Gym who gave us the inside scoop on the best outdoor destinations in Texas. Whether you prefer bouldering, traditional climbing, top roping, or sport climbing, these guys have the know-how to get you started.
Try an outdoor guided trip if you’re new to the sport. “Utilize a guide that is certified by the American Mountain Guide Association,” suggests Gibson, “you want to know that the person you’re with knows what they’re doing.” Or, says Escobar, “start inside, in a gym around Dallas.” This way you’ll grow your skillset, and meet the Dallas climbing community. Outdoor Pursuit takes climbers on outdoor guided climbing trips, while some Summit instructors lead private outdoor climbing trips, even though the gym itself does not offer any.
Here, the top rock-climbing trips just outside the city.
Mineral Wells State Park
100 Park Road 71
Mineral Wells, TX 76067
If you’re new to outdoor rock climbing, Penitentiary Hollow in Mineral Wells State Park is a great place to start. This destination offers top climbing, a technique in which climbers are strapped into harnesses and connected to a rope that runs from a belayer at the base of the route up through an anchor at the top of the rock and then back down to the climber. Gibson says this technique is relatively easy and inexpensive and therefore a popular choice among beginners. Climbers at Penitentiary Hollow should check in at the State Park headquarters upon arrival and cannot climb when rocks are wet.
Distance from Dallas: 1.5 hours
23610 Hamilton Rd.
Dripping Springs, TX 78620
For those intermediate climbers seeking to perfect their form, look no further than Reimer’s Ranch. This gorgeous park near Austin is renowned for its sport climbing; a method in which climbers clip into preplaced anchors permanently bolted to the face of the rock. These fixed routes allow climbers to focus on fine-tuning their moves and growing their skillset.
Distance from Dallas: 3 hr., 40 min.
20539 State Hwy 115, Hwy 115 & 49 Junction
Lawton, OK 73505
Expert climbers looking for a thrill should explore the rocks of the Wichita Mountains. Well known for its quality granite, this destination is popular for those climbers who favor traditional style climbing; a style of climbing in which climbers place their own anchors as they climb. The Wichita Mountains also serve as a wildlife refuge, so climbers can expect to see an array of animals as they ascend the rocks!
Distance from Dallas: 3.5 hours
Eisenhower State Park
50 Park Road 20
Denison, TX 75020-4878
Climbers seeking the ultimate challenge should head to Eisenhower State Park. Here, climbers scale boulders without any ropes or harnesses in a technique called bouldering. With over 100 problems (routes), this location is prime, and has great views of Lake Texoma!
Distance from Dallas: 1 hr., 40 min.