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Six Stunning Rock Climbing Destinations Near Northwest Arkansas

Arkansas Rock Climbing Guides' Favorite Spots To Climb In Northwest Arkansas

Olivia Vitaterna

With countless sandstone cliffs hidden within its dense forests, Arkansas is home to wild and exquisite rock climbing and offers a hands-down gorgeous outdoor experience.

Want to learn how to rock climb outside? Check out local, experienced guides at Arkansas Rock Climbing Guides, who helped us compile this list of Six Stunning Rock Climbing Destinations around Northwest Arkansas.

🧗 Let’s rock…

Beginner / Intermediate


Brennan VanDyke

Know Before You Go: This is on private property, so you must sign a waiver prior to climbing. Dogs are allowed on-leash, and you share the approach with mountain bikers. Bathrooms at the parking lot.

Why We Love It: For most of NWA this is the closest climbing area to town, and makes for an ideal in-town crag. Filled with line after line of strong sport climbing routes, tons of permadraws and mussy hooks, and a short walk from the parking lot make this area easy to train at after work or straightforward for a weekend of fun. While there are quality, easy-to-moderate climbs, Fitzgerald Mtn is renowned for its steep and punchy clip-ups, perfect for getting you in shape. The ample hardware in Fitzgerald makes these otherwise intimidating climbs friendlier and less committing.

Beginner / Intermediate

Lincoln Lake

Joe Kopek

Know Before You Go: Port-a-potties at the parking lot, no water, dog-friendly.

Why We Love It: The city of Lincoln has put recent effort into transforming this beautiful area into an excellent getaway for rock climbers and all outdoor enthusiasts. Lincoln is a classic area where many local climbers cut their teeth in the sport and continue to revisit. With access to sport, trad, and bouldering, this area has it all. New route development in 2024 expanded the volume of quality climbing in the southern area of Lincoln, putting an updated motivation for local climbers to go check it out.


Horseshoe Canyon Ranch

Olivia Vitaterna

Know Before You Go: This is on private property, so there will be a per-person day fee, and you must sign a waiver before climbing. No dogs allowed, there are water spigots and bathrooms, and camping and restaurant on site available for additional fees.

Why We Love It: Arkansas’s flagship climbing area. Horseshoe Canyon Ranch is loaded with hundreds of climbs, specializing in friendly, easy terrain. It's easy to find something for everyone, and all on the same wall, too! The renowned 24 Hours of Horseshoe Hell takes place annually, and for good reason. There's more than enough rock to go around. Outside of rock climbing, the longest zipline in the state is also found in the canyon, and it’s across the street from the Buffalo River for summer heat relief.



Jerry Barnett

Know Before You Go: Primitive camping, no water, no bathrooms, dog-friendly.

Why We Love It: The atmosphere when you enter this beautiful, narrow gorge is going to captivate you just as much as the high quantity of sport climbs. Although most routes average 30-40 feet tall, what was once thought of as a local spot for Fort Smith locals has now grown to house hundreds of moderate routes attractive to folks from NWA, Oklahoma, and further reaching areas than before. Easy access to the top of the bluff line makes it a great place to learn to set up top ropes.

Intermediate / Advanced

Shepherd Springs

📍 17171-16557 Shepherd Spring Rd, Mountainburg (close but not exact)

Joe Kopek

Know Before You Go: Facilities available at Shepherd Springs State park, dog-friendly.

Why We Love It: Wintertime at this east-facing crag soaks up all the morning sunlight, and once it gets warm, you can find it heavily shaded by hardwoods and a couple hundred yards to the shore of Lake Fort Smith to take a swim in at the end of a day. This area is home to a good mixture of technical, vertical sport climbing, as well as cracks. First-time visitors should expect a learning curve of the movement and strength required for the same grades they might expect to cruise in other areas.


Sam’s Throne

Cole Fennel

Know Before You Go: Pit toilets are at the parking lot, no water, dog-friendly.

Why We Love It: No climbing guide to AR is complete without the one and only Sam’s Throne. Home to exquisite trad, radical sport, and adventurous, gorgeous climbing to test your skills. Situated along the stunning, curvy HWY 123, this is the largest climbing area in the state. Sam’s Throne is the name of the primary climbing area, but hopping back onto 123 for a couple of minutes brings you to other world-class areas that make up Sam’s Throne, including Cave Creek, Candy Mountain, Valley Of The Blind, Deliverance, and more.

That’s a wrap! If you’re ready to get out there and start rocking, give our friends at Arkansas Rock Climbing Guides a call and experience thrilling adventures amidst the rugged beauty of Arkansas’s natural landscapes. Whether you’re a seasoned climber or just getting started, the expert team at Arkansas Rock Climbing Guides is here to guide you through all the steps of your unforgettable experiences on the cliffs.