Ready to hang up your rope and crash pads for winter? Not so fast. The fourth season brings some of the nation’s most classic climbing destinations into their prime. Head to these seven hot spots (pun intended) for perfect temperatures, quality rock, and world-class routes all winter long.
Moab - Utah
On a summer afternoon in Moab, a major climbing epicenter about four hours south of Salt Lake City, most of the walls are too hot to touch. But come winter, daytime temperatures hover in the 40s and 50s—peak conditions for many of the best climbs. Here, there’s something for everyone: Head to Wall Street for easy access, roadside cragging (and the area’s biggest concentration of bolted lines), Indian Creek for world-class crack climbing, and the Fisher Towers area to bag enormous freestanding pillars, many of which are several pitches high. To refuel, stop at Milt’s Stop & Eat for burgers, tater tots, and classic diner fare. During the winter, all campsites on the BLM land surrounding Moab are first-come, first-served. Pro tip: No matter where you go, be sure to avoid stepping on cryptobiotic soil, a fragile black crust that helps the desert retain moisture. Also be careful to pack out all waste (even the human kind), as the climate is too arid to decompose much refuse.
Sinks Canyon - Wyoming
Classic Sinks experience: Stomp through snow to the crag, climb all day in a tank top. While Wyoming isn’t generally a snowbird’s first choice, this pocketed limestone sport-climbing wonderland—located just outside Lander at the foot of the Wind River Range—is unique. Because most of the climbable walls face dead south, they get full sun all day in the winter and hold onto heat like a cast-iron pan. Better yet? Camping at the Sinks Canyon Campground is free from mid-September to late May. Just be sure to pack a warm sleeping bag—winter nights in Wyoming are notoriously cold.
Joshua Tree National Park - California
Located just two hours east of Los Angeles, J-Tree is one of California’s most beloved national parks, especially among climbers. In fact, the land of iconic bristle-topped Joshua Trees is where many of the Stonemasters—the first generation of groundbreaking Yosemite Valley climbers—cut their teeth. The textured monzogranite makes for high-friction climbing, and boulderers and trad climbers alike will find thousands of routes to entertain. (There are sport climbs, too, albeit slightly fewer.) Word to the wise: Joshua Tree gets busy when the weather’s nice, so avoid holidays like Thanksgiving and Easter. Instead, choose chilly weekdays—you’ll find ideal conditions for climbing and maybe even get a wall to yourself. Also be sure to reserve camping early. There are over 500 reservable sites within the park, but the good ones can book up fast.