From the beginner stage to more challenging routes, every new rock climbers should get to know the best route locations in California for their sport. 

Climbing Gear

Climbing can become both a passion and a great method of exercise for those at any skill level. For indoor climbing activities and outdoor rock climbing adventures, a climber will need certain gear to ensure a safe and enjoyable time. 

Climbing Shoes 

Climbing gyms and some outdoor climbing spots will offer gear the newcomers can rent while they try out the sport. After dedicating to growing your skill, your own climbing shoes can make all the difference when you’re getting the feel of the indoor walls or moving on to outdoor mountain routes. 


Your clothing while climbing is up to you, but there are certain aspects of an item that make it better suited for the sport. Wear something you can easily move and bend in, but covers your body well. This coverage will keep your skin, knees, and elbows from feeling every hump against the wall or rock when outdoor climbing. Tighter, stretchy clothes will work best, so you don’t have loose fabric getting in your way or tangling with your ropes.

Climbing Ropes

With rope climbing, you and your climbing partner will need a set of climbing ropes. With the basic dynamic ropes, you’ll connect together the rest of your climbing gear. After being attached to the anchor of the top of your climbing route, your rope will fall to the base. Around your body, your climbing harness will connect you to the rope. Through a network of carabiners, small metal rings, your belayer, or climbing partner, will hold control of your rope for support with a connected belay device. 

Types of Climbing 

Like any sport, there are many ways to enjoy rock climbing. From professional climbers to beginners, each climber will find the niche they love. 

Indoor Rock Climbing Gyms

Indoor rock climbing is the most common type of climbing for beginners and those who recreationally climb. These indoor walls are covered with artificial hand and foot holds that create a variety of climbing routes. 

Indoor rock climbing gyms typically have walls covered in different routes, so many in the climbing community can all come together. Some outdoor equipment stores also have small indoor routes for anyone to enjoy. 

Outdoor Rock Climbing

Outdoor climbing is similar to indoor, except these routes are on natural rock formations in outdoor locations. Out door climbing requires higher skill levels and more climbing experience since it is a less controlled environment than indoor. 

Top-Rope Climbing 

Top-rope climbing is a type of climbing where an anchor is placed at the top of a climbing route. The climber will move up the wall towards the anchor while a climbing partner at the bottom keeps the robe pulled tight. 

This method of climbing is used in both indoor and outdoor rock climbing. 


Bouldering is the only method of climbing where a robe and harness isn’t always needed. Bouldering routes are more horizontal route as opposed to vertical. Climbers to move along a wall or rock sideways, only about as high as they could comfortably jump down on their own. Climbers will still have a spotter for safety and a crash pad below for any falls. 

Bouldering is also done in indoor climbing gyms and outside on rock faces. 

Indoor Climbing Gym 

Indoor gyms offer a range of fitness classes, rock climbing guide courses, and routes of all kinds for climbers to try. Many enjoy the laid-back, community feel along with easy access to their favorite routes. 

The Pad Climbing

After its start as a small bouldering gym in San Luis Obispo, California, The Pad Climbing has grown to over 14,000 square feet of both bouldering and top-rope courses. This gym hot spot offers fitness classes for those looking to get active, free shoe rental, and additional equipment rental for those looking to try their hand outdoor routes in the area. 

The Boulder Field

As its name suggests, this indoor climbing gym has dedicated itself to those with a love of boulders. This ideal spot for beginners also offers children’s learning camp, monthly memberships, and fitness classes for its climbers. 

Blue Granite Climbing Gym

Located near Lake Tahoe, the Blue Granite Climbing Gym provides both difficult climbs and newcomer routes for climbers in the area. They offer daily fitness classes, unlimited climbing memberships, and gear rental for Lake Tahoe residents looking to try out climbing activities.

Outdoor Climbing Locations

Outdoor adventures can be had by both climbing beginners and an experienced climber alike. As newcomers progress, they may become interested in trying their new skill level at a popular outdoor rock climbing destination.

Joshua Tree National Park

Deemed the most popular climb in southern California, Joshua Tree National Park boasts over 8,000 rock climb locations, 2,000 bouldering problems to solve, and camping spots for climbers looking to spend some time trying all its popular routes. With a vast variety of rock types throughout the national park, Joshua Tree has the perfect spot for any climber. 

Yosemite National Park

With two of the most sought-after routes in any national park, Half Dome and El Capitan, Yosemite National Park has made itself a hot spot for both challenging route seekers and beginners starting out. Visitors can choose from a range of bouldering problems, traditional climbing routes, and some sport routes for more advanced climbers. 

Stoney Point Park 

Stoney Point Park offers climbers 60 routes and 130 bouldering options to choose from. The soft stone of this rock formation means routes are constantly changing, giving climbers something new to try with each visit. 


With the tallest rock formation in southern California measured at over 1,000 feet tall, Idyllwild is a major destination for outdoor climbing enthusiasts. This towering climb provides a unique challenge to advanced climbers or offers belay stations at certain heights for those only looking to try out a portion of the daunting climb. 

Vasquez Rocks Natural Area Park

This national park offers a variety of top-rope climbs along its sandstone rock faces. Gaining its notoriety by appearances in the films, The Flintstones, Wild Wild West, and Star Trek, Vasquez Rocks National Area Park has become a coveted destination for many climbers in the Los Angeles area. 

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