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Solid rock: World-class climbing abounds in West, new BLM initiative will get you to it


The Bureau of Land Management oversees about 247.3 million acres, spread primarily across 12 western states.

In New Mexico alone, the BLM manages some 13.3 million acres, which the public has access to for recreation and exploring.

Hidden among this vast area of public land are many hidden gems just waiting to be discovered.

Unfortunately, finding out about many of these wonders is too often a hit-or-miss proposition.

The BLM is trying to change that and, to that end, recently released a mobile app designed to showcase some of the top climbing sites on land under its oversight.

“We have some of the best rock climbing sites in the world,” U.S. Secretary of the Interior David Bernhardt said in a statement. “And I hope that this new map can help to further highlight these locations and encourage more outdoor enthusiasts to explore our great outdoors.”

It is the second step in the ongoing outreach campaign, said Heather Feeney, BLM spokesperson.

“We had good success with a web page highlighting mountain biking,” she said. “And we wanted to cover some of our other opportunities, starting with rock climbing.”

The app, which can be found at, features 19 climbing sites in eight states from California to New Mexico. Each of the climbing sites on the app includes a link to the specific recreation area, driving directions and a site description, as well as pertinent information about the site, such as whether water and toilets are available, fees, weather tips and links to nearby points of interest.

New Mexico’s contribution features the Box south of Socorro.

“The Box Recreation Area, also known as ‘the Box,’ offers challenging named climbing opportunities, including the Waterfall Wall, Corner Block and the Fillet a Papillon Wall,” the site says in its description. “The five cliffs on either side of this box canyon provide popular rock climbing for novice to highly skilled technical climbers, with a mix of bouldering and bolted sport climbing routes ranging from 5.10-5.11. The climbing season is October-May, summers can be hot.”

There are also two sites in southern Colorado: Penitente Canyon north of Del Norte and Shelf Road outside of Cañon City.

“The sites were chosen jointly in cooperation with our partners at the Access Fund, and BLM staff both in (Washington) D.C. and our field offices,” Feeney said.

The app has been in the works for more than a year, she said, and was created in cooperation with Access Fund – a U.S.-based, nonprofit rock climbing advocacy group – and Mountain Project – a website serving as a guidebook to more than 170,000 climbing routes across the world.

“We started gathering the info for the web page about 18 months ago,” Feeney said. “And continued working on it as other workload allowed until we felt it was ready to launch.”

The app should make these climbing sites more accessible, said Katie Goodwin, Policy Analyst at Access Fund

“The BLM manages some of the most iconic climbing destinations in the United States,” she said. “This project has been part of an exciting collaborative effort between Access Fund, Mountain Project and the BLM, and we look forward to our continued work to manage and promote America’s cherished climbing destinations.”

The BLM also is working on an app about off-highway vehicle trail systems that should be available in the coming months, Feeney said, while the climbing app will be updated and additional recreational opportunities highlighted in the future.

“We will update and add information to a larger database of recreation opportunities that other websites and our partners can draw from to highlight our recreation opportunities moving forward,” she said. “Our strategy is to continue working with our 164 field offices across the West to add and update information about our recreation sites and opportunities, and make that information as widely available as possible.”