One of the great things about Austin’s central Texas location is that there is easy access to a number of excellent rock climbing destinations. Here are a few to consider.
Austin Rock GymIt may not be as scenic as some of the other climbing spots – after all, these two rock gyms are located indoors – but it’s a great place to learn if you want to learn about rock climbing but too intimidated to get out there and give it a try. Here, you can take an introductory course ($25 for non-members, free for members) and then take a variety of other classes, course and clinics until you feel ready to hit the rocks yourself. Want an instructor to go with you the first time you get outdoors on the actual rocks? Austin Rock Gym can hook that up, too. Specials, such as two for $20 day passes and two-week climbing passes fro $45, are also regularly offered online. 4401 Freidrich Ln. Suite 300; (512) 441-2423; 8300 N. Lamar Blvd. Suite 102B; (512) 416-9299; www.austinrockgym.com.
Milton Reimers Ranch ParkThis park is filled with leafy trees, peaking rocks and wildlife that could be featured National Geographic. But don’t be deceived by it’s natural, calm setting along the Pedernales River. The climbing routes here are steep and difficult, with many that should be left for serious climbers only. Guided lessons are available through local rock gyms. Day-use admission is less than $10. 23610 Hamilton Pool Rd. in Dripping Springs; (512) 264-1923; www.co.travis.tx.us.
Enchanted Rock State Natural Area
Enchanted Rock State Natural Area draws visitors from across Texas to its giant granite dome for many reasons. The climb to the top of the dome is strenuous yet doable; the view from the top of the dome is incredible; and it’s an easy stopping point for folks on their way to Fredericksburg or San Antonio. But there’s another great reason to visit Enchanted Rock and that’s the rock climbing it offers. Routes are available for all skill levers, and the scenery is fabulous. Day-use admission is $6 a day per person 13 and up. 16710 Ranch Rd. 965 in Fredericksburg; (830) 685-3636; www.tpwd.state.tx.us.
Lake Mineral Wells State ParkThis park, which is located along a tributary of the Brazos River, ones served a home to Comanche Indians, among others. These days, you’re likely to see eager athletic types such as mountain bikers, campers and rock climbers. All climbers much check in upon entering the park. Day-use admission is $5 a day, per person 13 and up. 100 Park Road 71 in Mineral Wells; (940) 328-1171; www.tpwd.state.tx.us.
Hueco Tanks State Park and Historic Site
OK, this one is going to require a weekend trip from Austin – it’s located about 30 minutes from El Paso -- but as it’s considered one of the best places for rock climbing in the country, I figured it would be worth a mention. The park covers 860 acres and was named for the huecos, or natural rock basins, that at one time captured rain water for the earliest settlers. What’s really cool is that when you visit, you can also schedule a guided tour to see historic rock paintings that have been there for centuries. Visitation here is limited, so you’ll want to call ahead for reservation requirements and entry restrictions. Day-use admission is $5 a day, per person 13 and up. 6900 Hueco Tanks Road No. 1; (915) 857-1135; www.tpwd.state.tx.us.