5 Cool Rock Climbing Spots in Illinois

5 Cool Rock Climbing Spots in Illinois

While Illinois doesn’t seem like an ideal spot for rock climbing, it offers several cool spots for rock climbers looking to experience scenic views. The best rock climbing spots in Illinois are generally found in the state parks, where unique sandstone formations are present. No matter your skill level, everyone can experience the stunning natural beauty of Illinois at these five cool rock climbing spots in the state. 

1. Giant City State Park

Giant City State Park is known for its rustic beauty and plentiful recreational opportunities. The massive sandstone cliffs are ideal for experienced rock climbers who want to see the unique landscape up close. Rock climbing is only permitted at Shelter #1 bluff (Makanda entrance) and Devil’s Standtable cliff. Ropers are allowed, but permanent anchors aren’t permitted. 

2. Shawnee National Forest

Recognized for its plentiful recreational activities and abundant vegetation, Shawnee National Forest is a top destination in Southern Illinois. Although only limited rock climbing is available in Shawnee National Forest, climbers are allowed at Jackson Falls (near Ozark). Jackson Falls is ideal for technical and sport climbing and offers gorgeous scenic views of the forest and bluffs in the area. 

3. Mississippi Palisades State Park

Mississippi Palisades State Park is known for its amazing natural landscapes and rich Native American history. The cliffs at this park are ideal for catching the best scenic views of the park, however, climbing is only allowed at Indian Head, Twin Sisters, and Sentinel Area. This park doesn’t maintain the rocks/cliffs or allow permanent anchors. So if you’re heading up there, make sure to come prepared! 

4. Ferne Clyffe State Park

Ferne Clyffe State Park offers some of the most outstanding views in the state. Featuring unique plant life and geology, this widely-recognized state park provides many recreational activities including rock climbing. Whether you’re seeking an interesting climb or advanced route for a challenge, you’ll find it along with breathtaking scenery at Ferne Clyffe State Park. Absolutely no bolts are allowed on any bluffs, and some bluffs are inaccessible to protect the native endangered flora. 

5. Cedar Bluff

Located nearby Ferne Clyffe State Park, Cedar Bluff is another ideal rock climbing area for both newbies and experienced climbers. The Little Big Wall offers a unique climbing experience from out of a cave and onto a rock face. Cedar Bluff also offers several other climbing routes, some are long and challenging, while others are smooth and consistent.