With the proliferation of state-of-the-art indoor climbing gyms, the sport has taken off across the state. Ready to go climbing on real rock? Here are some of our favorite crags, on public and private land, from West Texas to North Texas. If you’re new to climbing outdoors, consider hiring a professional guide for your first outing.
If you’re looking for pristine rock in a rugged wilderness setting, then the drive to this border town, about three hours west of San Antonio, and the cost of admission to this 29,000-acre private ranch on the Pecos River are worth it. Over several weekends, the ranch opens its gates to climbers for a fee. Sit around a campfire at night. By day, climb some of the best limestone in the state at breathtakingly beautiful crags along the Pecos River gorge. New routes go up every year. Its annual climbing festival, the Continental Ranch Roundup, takes place this year February 16 to 19.
Enchanted Rock State Natural Area
“E Rock” might seem intimidating to beginners, but with patience, you can tame the granite beast. Its six domes and peaks offer a mix of bouldering, heady sport climbing, and adventurous traditional climbing. Tread lightly on this environmentally sensitive patch of Texas.
Just a few miles north of Enchanted Rock State Natural Area, privately owned Inks Ranch is the most exciting new addition to the state’s portfolio of climbing crags. Across multiple weekends each year, the ranch welcomes climbers—for a fee—to explore its complex jumble of near-virgin pink granite.
Lake Mineral Wells State Park & Trailway
North Texas is not known for vertical rock features, but Mother Nature made an exception just outside the historic town of Mineral Wells. This gem of a park features a maze of sandstone walls called Penitentiary Hollow packed with beginner-friendly routes. Anchors are easily accessible from the top, and the large majority of routes are top-rope-only.
Reopened to climbers in 2020, Med Wall is San Antonio’s beloved hometown crag. Located on the Salado Creek Greenway, this outcropping of bluish limestone is a great place to transition from the gym to real rock. Safely bolted and family-friendly.
El Potrero Chico
Hidalgo, Nuevo León, Mexico
This international winter destination may not be in Texas, but it’s practically in the neighborhood for climbers from South and Central Texas. A three-and-a-half-hour drive from Laredo, the “Little Corral” offers some of the tallest sport climbing in the world on gigantic limestone peaks within short walking distance of loads of amenities. Many of the classic routes were developed by Texans. Bonus: Mexican food, micheladas, nearby hot springs, and friendly locals.
This secluded lakeside bouldering spot, halfway between Austin and Waco, is all about fun. The pocketed limestone walls tucked among the trees at Rogers Park, on Belton Lake, offer dozens and dozens of mini-adventures to beginners and experts alike. Jump in the lake to cool off on a hot day.