Tucson's sunny, dry climate - combined with its easy access to thousands of both traditional and sport climbs - makes this Southern Arizona city a paradise for rock climbers. The five mountain ranges surrounding Tucson offer endless opportunities for climbers of every skill level, from beginners to seasoned, wall-crawling veterans.
One of Arizona's top rock-climbing destinations is Mt. Lemmon, a short drive from Tucson in the Santa Catalina Mountains. Rising 9,157 feet above the Sonoran Desert floor, Mt. Lemmon has more than 1,200 climbing routes, ranging from single pitch clip-ups to multi-pitch traditional routes. The mountain's steep, craggy walls are ideal for practicing gravity-defying thrills at the end of a rope. Considerably higher in elevation (3,000-9,000 feet) than Tucson, Mt. Lemmon is much cooler and receives winter snow. In fact, the country's southern most ski area, Mt. Lemmon Ski Valley, is located here.
Climbers looking for an un-roped adventure can have fun traversing short, steep boulders in the foothills surrounding town. Clusters of boulders make good practice sites for beginners who want to hone their skills. Bouldering areas also are popular with more advanced climbers who want to work on technique.
Rocks and Ropes, Tucson's only indoor climbing gym, now has two locations where experts teach climbing and safety skills to adventurers of all levels of expertise. Certified instructors also lead outdoor climbing trips to Mt. Lemmon and other climbing areas in Coronado National Forest, offering experiences such as bouldering, top roping, lead climbing, and multi-pitch routes. Southwest Trekking is a Tucson guide service with experience taking individuals into remote areas of Southern Arizona on custom outings featuring rock climbing and other outdoor pursuits.
Rock climbers of all skill levels are advised to climb with a partner and check weather reports before venturing into the mountains, as local weather can change quickly any time of year.