Overview: Prescott, Arizona
Prescott is a beautiful little city in the mountains of Central Arizona. Less than two hours from Phoenix and Flagstaff, Prescott is home to some of the highest quality granite in the Southwest! Whether it’s world-class bouldering at Groom Creek, tricky sport climbing in the Granite Dells, or a trad climber’s dream on Granite Mountain, Prescott has something for everybody. Add to all that granite, the numerous local basalt areas, and the phenomenal sport climbing of the Promised Land, and you’ll be busy for quite a while. Prescott is home to thousands of climbing routes and bouldering problems. Approaches range in time from minutes to an hour, depending on the area. The Prescott climbing boom happened in the 70’s, but locals continue to develop the nearby areas today.
Specific description of climbing style
The vast majority of Prescott’s climbs are trad routes and boulder problems, but there’s plenty sport climbing to be found as well.
A single rack of cams micro – offwidth and a single set of stoppers will get you up any trad route in town, and sport routes rarely exceed 7 clips. Multiple crash pads come in handy at some Prescott bouldering spots, but a lot can be accomplished with only one.
Climbing in Prescott is great year-round! There are plenty of shady crags for warm mid-summer days, and even more sunny crags for climbing through the fall and winter.
Climbing grade range
There are many moderates all around, but the majority of routes are 5.10 to 5.12, with only a few routes above 5.13. Local bouldering contains countless V0 to V4 problems and plenty of classic V5 to V9’s to test yourself on.
Best local spot
Downtown Prescott is full of great bars and restaurants! For great food and beer, check out The Liquor Deli, The Raven, El Gato Azul, or Granite Mountain Brewing Co., which are all within a five minute walk from each other.
Paid camping ($10-$15/night) can be found at the Granite Dells or at the base of Granite Mountain—both just 10-15 minutes from downtown. You can also camp pretty much anywhere else as well, given that Prescott is surrounded by National Forest. There are also plenty of hotels in town; hotels less than $50/night can be found year-round.
Top climbs in area
- Debut (5.5 trad, 2 pitches) – Spectacular moderate on the left side (swamp slabs).
- Magnolia Thunderpussy (5.9 trad, 3 pitches) – Ultra classic from the 1970 locals.
- The Classic (5.7 trad, 3 to 5 pitches) – Many linkups and variations possible, including the Crack Lover’s Variation.
- Coatamundi Whiteout (5.11b trad, 5 pitches) – First 5.11 in Arizona, established by John Long and Lynn Hill in 1971. This route cruxes out from under The Great Roof of Granite Mountain.
- Heart Route (5.7 trad) – The classic moderate on the Butte. Overlooks the town of Prescott.
- Mecca (5.9+ trad) – One of the best crack climbs for miles. Overlooks the town of Prescott.
- Koran (5.10+ trad) – Thin crack to a steep face, clipping a few glued pitons. Overlooks the town of Prescott.
- Doggy Style (5.12b sport) – Runout start to a stellar bolted basalt face on the north side of the Butte.
The Granite Dells
- French Tickler (5.8+ trad), High Rappel Area – Short, yet awesome. Scramble up to and climb the right-facing corner.
- Co-op Crack (5.10b trad), High Rappel Area – A perfect crack ranging fingers – fist. Best crack climb in the Dells.
- Siege (5.10b trad, 2 pitches), High Rappel Area – First 5.10 in Prescott, established by Royal Robbins and local legends in the early 70’s.
- Monarch (5.10b) – “King of Climbs” and a favorite among locals. Granite Dells climbing at its finest.
- The Wave (V0+), The Wave Rock – Undoubtedly the most popular problem in town. Sit start, work up the flake and over the high bulge.
- Thinner Than Ice (V2), Nail-up Rock – A popular project for the grade. Move up the face and follow the roof flake out right to a high top out
- Facelift (V4), The Island – Burly moves on slopers. Considered a local right-of-passage.
- Charles in Charge (V5), Leglock Rock – Undercling flake and dyno up. Helps to have long reach.
- Eclipse (V8), Moonstone – AKA New Moon, this is one of Groom Creek’s hardest and finest problems.
- Monster (V8), near The Canyon – A serious project for many. Technical low traverse to a hard mantel top out.
Other nearby areas
- Golden Idol (5.10+ sport), Solomon (5.12 sport), Burning Bosch (5.11 sport), at Promised Land: Three classics (L to R) on the same wall.
- Twin Cracks (5.8 trad), S-Crack (5.10b), Annihilator (5.9 trad) Old Twelve (5.11b TR), at Upper Sullivan’s Canyon
- Declaration of Independence (5.9 trad), Disco Inferno (5.10b trad), Bohemian (5.11c trad), at Lower Sullivan’s Canyon
Best kept secret
Beta can be hard to come by in the Prescott Area! Mountainproject is very inconsistent around here and many local guidebooks are out of print, as locals patiently await the release of newly updated editions. Additionally, many new crags have been developed for trad and sport climbing in the Granite Dells, and beta for these areas has not yet been published.
For more detailed beta on local Prescott climbing areas, stop into one of the three gear outfitters in town: Granite Mountain Outfitters, The Hike Shack, or Manzanita Outdoors; or try to find local climbers.
How stiff is the grading?
Many of the grades on Granite Mountain, Thumb Butte, and parts of the Granite Dells are all pretty stiff. For these places, a 5.6 can feel like a 5.8. In most other local areas, grading airs on the stiffer side as well. There isn’t a soft rating to be found in Prescott.
Where to stay
Granite Mountain Wilderness, Thumb Butte, and The Promised Land are all quite secluded. While you may run into other climbers there, these places are peaceful, quiet, and feature lots of awesome rock climbing.
Local climbing guides are available for hire.
Now to you
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