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Top 3 Places to Rock Climb in Gila County

Updated: Sep 23, 2020

Gila County, Arizona is said to have some of the best exposed rock in the State of Arizona.  The good news is that tons of it is great for pulling on! Granite, qaurtzite, dacite, basalt, limestone, sandstone, gneiss, monzonite, welded tuff, and a thousand other kinds of stone to pull down on. 

Gila County has it all! Cracks of all sizes, wide, thin, edges, pockets, jugs, sport, trad, bouldering, big walls, no approach, big hike...whatever you're psyched about! The one thing we're a little short on in most areas is crowds, but that's a good thing. 

We also have the best year 'round climbing possibilities in the country with crags at just about every elevation imaginable. Between that and the large percentage of sunny days, there isn't a whole lot more you could ask for!

#1 Workman Falls

Near Roosevelt, Arizona

Photo Credit:  Cameron Davis

Workman falls sits just west of the Sierra Ancha Wilderness and to the north of Roosevelt Lake. The rock near the falls is bullet hard quarizite of sorts that forms a westward facing horseshoe.

Most of the rock is on the south side and faces north, making it a great summer area. Photo Credit:  Cameron Davis

From the pull off at the head of the falls there is a good view point back down the road a short distance at an obvious rock outcropping which looks down into the large bowl that the falls plunges into. Be very careful when climbing on the rocks in the area though, they are smooth and slick, particularly if they get wet. You can also walk down the road a little further to a scree slope where the road makes a bend. From there it is possible to climb down the slope and walk around the base of the falls. There are likely several options for those wishing to rappel the falls. The author rigged 2 ropes (one on either side of the falls for photos). Tow clips on my vehicle were used as the anchor point. The best rappel is to bring the rope from the clips of your car, across the stream bed, wind it around the base of the juniper tree at the head of the falls 3 times and rappel from there (note: its best to walk up stream a short distance when crossing the stream since the bank is less steep). The rappel is approximately 180 feet with 120 feet being free hanging.

#2 Homstead Rock Winkelman, AZ

Known for it gargantuan size "The Homestead" is a one of a kind rock climbing experience.  It is said to have the best moderates, best 10s and the best hardlines period. The Homestead is well bolted and has the best wilderness experience possible.  The Road is a little sketchy but don't let that stop you from experiencing this gem.

The shortest distance from the Valley is via Hwy 60 from Superior to Globe, then south on Hwy 77 (44 miles east of Superior). From Superior head to Winkleman where you turn north on Hwy 77 for approx. 15 miles (47 miles). As you drive north on 77 the road goes from two lanes only to a road with a passing lane. Once this ends the road contours downhill. Slow down and make a right turn where the 2nd guardrail begins onto a rough dirt road. (Just N. of mile marker 153, and S. of Dripping Spgs Rd.) Drop down to the first gate and follow this road for 2.75 miles to it's end. This dirt road can be very rough, but I've seen 2WD vehicles make it (if you make it up the first big hill, the rest is cake). The Homestead features limestone sport climbing in a remote, serene, desert setting. There are presently over 250 single pitch routes ranging in difficulty from 5.7 to 5.13b. A 70 meter rope and 16-20 quickdraws are recommended. The canyon consists of multiple walls, each with its own style and sun aspect. Tufa City, Rough Rider Wall, and North Buttress are perhaps the most glorious walls.

Arizona's OTHER limestone sport canyon sits on the southern slopes of the Mescal Mountains north of Winkleman and the Gila River. Mostly routes for the hardman, but has some good 10s and below. Routes can get as long as 100 feet, gobbling up to 16 quickdraws! The limestone here isn't like its cousin stone at Jacks Canyon; it is 100% killer limestone, not very pocketed.

#3 Stewart Pocket

Payson, AZ

Located in the Granite Dells of Payson, AZ, the Stewart Pocket area may very well rival Sedona for it scenic beauty. Flanked by Stewart Ridge on the South and the Mogollon Rim on the north it not only contains the amazing boulder formations of Granite Dells, but numerous peaks or knolls, many topped by pink rocks, and many perfect cones and plenty steep (most noteworthy is Monument Peak). Add a year round stream (Stewart) weeping springs, an active riparian habitat and this area is a magnet for wildlife.

If you like hiking, this OFF TRAIL loop shows off the best of the area. It goes by a car-size balancing rock and a truck size boulder where the wash goes underneath. This loop uses parts of the PATS Cypress, Boulders, and Monument Peak trails and connects them all so trail length can be increased substantially if so desired. 

The area is not only known for awesome mountain biking and hiking but also it is an amazing place for rock climbing.  Stewart Pocket is a nice area with good climbing on mostly solid granite in a scenic location near Payson, AZ. It is fairly undeveloped, so there are a lot of potential FA's waiting to be done.

From the Beeline Highway & 260 intersection in Payson, take 260 east for about 1/2 mile and turn right onto Granite Dells Rd. Follow it roughly south for 1.2 miles paved, then continue on a dirt road for another 2.4 miles" until the road ends at a just before a large wash. Proceed south to the dozens of rock formations across the wash.  See trail info below. For more places to rock climb in Gila County visit:

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