As a proud Northern California native I am a bit partial to my local
stone so I will try not to go on and on about how indescribably wonderful
I think it is – rather I will just state the facts. For starters,
we’ve got the rugged and wild Pacific Coastline that stretches
the entire length of Nor Cal. Starting just a few miles north of
the Golden Gate Bridge, you will first come to a variety of different
rock types on sandy beaches at Mickey’s
and Stinson Beaches in Marin County. Traveling further north, you
find the solid schist around Jenner. Just north of Jenner, where
the San Andreas Fault Line crosses the Pacific Coast Highway, the
variety of rock type stops and only sandstone is found all the way
up into the central Mendocino Coast. Two of the best of these sandstone
areas are the popular Fort Ross and the vast Salt Point with its
endless miles of Tafoni sandstone. The rock type changes back to
a random mix near the mysterious Lost Coast in northern Mendocino
County, not to be confused with the far north Lost Rocks, which will
both remain lost. Between the Lost Coast and the Lost Rocks are the
rocky beaches of Humboldt County, where you find a tantalizing mix
of green, grey, and black boulders at Moonstone Beach and Houda Point
near Arcata. Here is a quote from an old geology book: “The
rocks on the Pacific Coastline of Northern California are some of
the most bizarre and unique in the world.” That pretty much
says it. You can boulder on polished green and blue schist rocks
with sharp crimpers at Goat Rock State Park near Jenner, for example,
and then just a short and scenic 30-minute drive north up the Pacific
Coast Highway and you’ll get to pull down on the gritty-textured,
pocketed sandstone at Salt Point State Park. That’s just the
When to climb
You can boulder year round at most areas below 6,000' feet. Areas
above 6,000' feet are good once the snow melts: usually May-November.
Each area has its own sweet time to visit. Northern
California is full of many microclimates and the weather at each
area changes drastically throughout the year and often throughout
the day. It can be 50 degrees cold and foggy at Stinson Beach and
at the same moment 100 degrees hot and muggy at Vacaville. Short
of a massive winter storm, there is usually always some place in
the Northern California with good bouldering conditions. We have done our best to in the Nor
Cal Bouldering Guide provide an
overview of the weather for each specific area but it will still
take some time to understand the ever-changing conditions and be
able to plan your bouldering accordingly.
Please help support this site by checking out our Nor
Cal Bouldering guide There is a free sample download here
Columbia College, Columbia State Park
Gas/Food: Downtown Columbia has gas/food. Sonora is just a few
miles away to the south on CA-49 or Angels Camp is just a few miles
north on CA-49 and both have gas/food.
Gear/Gyms: Get gear at Sierra Nevada Adventure Company (209-532-5621)
and Indoor climbing is nearby at Class 5 Fitness (209-532-5556).
Camping/Lodging: Camping in Columbia can be found at the 49er RV Park (209-532-4978) for $49 a night and lodging downtown Columbia at City Hotel/Fallon Hotel (209-532-1479) or at the Columbia Gem Motel (209-532-4508). Sonora and
Jamestown to the south on CA-49 and along CA-108 have camping/lodging
and north on CA-49 Angels Camp has tent sites starting at $17 per night.
Pump Rocks, Donnell Vista, Chipmunk Flat, Sonora Pass
Boulders, Switchback Boulders
Gas/Food: The nearest gas and food are west on CA-108 at Strawberry
or the Dardanelles. Food can also be found to the east in Bridgeport on CA-395, south of the
Gear/Gyms: Sonora area climbing gear/outdoor gear: Sierra Nevada
Adventure Company (209-532-5621) and Indoor climbing is nearby
at Class 5 Fitness (209-532-5556).
Camping/Lodging: Camping at the boulders may not be legal. There
are many excellent campgrounds in the area just to the east or
west on CA-108. The nearest lodging
west on CA-108 is at the Strawberry Inn in Strawberry or along
CA-108 on the way back to Sonora. Camp or lodge on CA-108 at the
Dardanelles or on CA-395 near the CA-108 intersection.
Gas/Food: To the north Walker is only a few minutes drive on CA-395
and to the south Bridgeport on CA-395 is only about 20 minutes
away. Both have gas and food.
Gear/Gyms: The nearest climbing gym is Rocksport (775-352-7673) about an hour and a half north in Reno.
Camping/Lodging: The most popular campground in the area is just
north on CA-395 at Topaz Lake Park (775-266-3343). Lodging is on
CA-395 near Walker/Coleville at Meadowcliff Resort (530-495-2255).
Bear Valley - Hellís Kitchen
Gas/Food: Bear Valley has a general store with gas and food.
Gear/Gyms: Mountain Adventure Seminars (209-753-6556) carries the
essentials in Bear Valley. Modesto has a gear shop and indoor climbing
at Stonehenge (209-521-3644).
Camping/Lodging: From Hellís Kitchen/Spicer Reservoir Rd
the nearest camping is at Big Meadow Campground about 1.7 miles
west on CA-4 and only about 0.2 miles east of the Big Meadow Picnic
Area Boulders. To the east of Hellís Kitchen it is about
3.7 miles to Bear Valley, which has lodging and camping. Just a
few miles further east of Bear Valley on CA-4 is Lake Alpine, which
also has great camping, fishing and sight-seeing.
Tahoe - South
Kirkwood, Momma Cat Boulder, The Secrets, Lovers Leap, Flagpole Peak, Pie Shop, Bliss
- See the South
Lake Tahoe Climbing Page
Tahoe - North
Old County, Castle Boulder, Donner - Split Rock, Donner - Grouse Slab, Donner - The Saddle, Rainbow
Gas/Food: gas, food and supplies are in Truckee, all around the
north shore of Lake Tahoe or in South Lake Tahoe
Gear/Gyms: For outdoor/climbing gear and an indoor bouldering gym
go to Tahoe Sports Hub in Truckee (530-582-4510) or High Altitude
Fitness in Incline Village, NV (775-831-4212). Get gear in Tahoe
City at Alpenglow Sports (530-583-6917) and The Back Country (530-582-0909).
Camping/Lodging: Free camping at the Castle
Boulder or pay camping near Truckee at Donner
Memorial Park (Split Rock Boulders are inside the campground)
Sierras/Central Valley East
Loon Lake, The Bar
Gas/Food: gas/food are in downtown Auburn, Placerville or Rocklin
just off of I-80.
Gear/Gyms: Get gear at REI Roseville (916-724-6750). The nearest
climbing gyms are: Granite Arch in Rancho Cordova (916-852-7625)
and Pipeworks in Sacramento (916-341-0100) and Rocknasium in Davis
Camping/Lodging: Auburn KOA is just a few miles north of downtown
Auburn (530-885-0990) and Folsom Lake Recreation Area (916-988-0205)
is also nearby both areas. Black Oak Stumpy Meadows Campground is south on CA-49 from The Bar about 15 miles from Cool on CA-193
in Georgetown (881-333-4312). Auburn and Rocklin both have ample
lodging just minutes from the rocks.
East - Chico Area
Bald Rock, Feather River
Gas/Food: Quincy is found
to the east and has gas and food and on the corner of Caribou Rd
alongside the Feather River is a small seasonal store with cold drinks
and food. To the west are Oroville and Chico - both have plenty of
gas, grocery stores, and restaurants.
Gear/Gyms: Mountain Sports in Chico (530-345-5011) for climbing/outdoor
Camping/Lodging: Nice campgrounds are found along Caribou
Rd just off CA-70 a few miles east of the Feather River bouldering
areas. Free Camping is available at Bald Rock unless otherwise
posted. Lodging is available in Chico and Oroville to the west
and Quincy to the east.
East - Lassen Area
Eagle Peak, Devastated Area
Gas/Food: Just west of the South Gate entrance to the park on CA-36
is the small town of Mineral with gas and food. Just west of the
North Gate entrance to the park on CA-44 is Viola with gas and
Gear/Gyms: For climbing/outdoor gear go to Hermits Hut in Redding
(530-222-4511) or The Fifth Season (530-926-3606) in Shasta City.
Camping/Lodging: Backcountry camping is allowed in the park (wilderness permits
are required). Call Park Headquarters to get one in advance (530-595-4444)
or stop by a ranger/entrance station. Many good campgrounds are all over the
park and are usually open from June to September. Call Park Headquarters for
more info. For lodging outside of the park on the north side Viola and Shingletown
are the closest towns with lodging and on the south side Chester near Lake
Almanor on CA-36/CA-89 has lodging: Cedar Lodge Motel/RV Park (530-258-2904)
Gas/Food: About 10 miles away Shasta City has many gas stations, stores, restaurants
and fast food.
Gear/Gyms: For climbing gear go to Hermits Hut in Redding (530-222-4511).
Camping/Lodging: Forest Service campgrounds are about a half mile down the
road from Castle Lake with Portable Restrooms but NO DRINKING WATER (530-926-4511)
- Camping is also available at nearby Lake Siskiyou and lodging in Mt. Shasta
City off I-5.
Vacaville, Putah Creek
- See Bay
Bay Area - East Bay (Berkeley)
Berkeley - Indian Rock, Berkeley - Mortar Rock, Berkeley - Remilard Park, Berkeley - Grizzly Peak
See Bay Area
Bay Area - San Francisco/San Jose
Glen Canyon, Castle Rock
- See Bay
Bay Area - North
Ring Mountain, Mickeys Beach, Stinson Beach
- See Bay
Country - Sonoma Coast
Goat Rock, Fort Ross, Salt Point
See Bay Area
Country - Clear Lake
Gas/Food: A gas station mini-mart is on the corner of CA-29 and CA-281 and
another is about halfway from CA-29 to Konocti Harbor on CA-281. Soda Bay
is about 2.5 miles northwest and has a general store, dining and a harbor.
Lower Lake, Lakeport and Kelseyville also have an ample supply of food and
gas to choose from.
Gear/Gyms: The nearest climbing gear is at REI (707-540-9025) and Sonoma Outfitters (707-528-1920) in Santa Rosa and the nearest indoor climbing gym is Vertex in Santa Rosa (707-573-1608).
Camping/Lodging: Clear Lake State Park Campground (800-444-7275) is between
Kelseyville and Soda Bay about four miles northwest of The Black Forest. Open
all year. www.parks.ca.gov Konocti Harbor Resort (800-660-LAKE) is 1.5 miles
from the Black Forest and has year round concerts, shows, fine dining, a marina
and inn and spa all on the shores of the gorgeous Clear Lake.
Country - Mendocino County
Squaw Rock, Dos Rios, The Falls
Gas/Food: Willits (US-101 south) or Laytonville (US-101 north)
are the largest towns near Dos Rios and The Falls with 24-hour
gas and food. Covelo also has a small gas/food store. The nearest
gas/food to Squaw Rock is Hopland (US-101 north) or Cloverdale
Gear/Gyms: The nearest climbing gear retailers to the south are Sonoma Outfitters (707-528-1920) and REI (707-540-9025) in Santa
Rosa and the nearest indoor climbing gym is Vertex in Santa Rosa
(707-573-1608). The nearest climbing gear retailer to the north is Adventures
Edge in Arcata (707-822-4673) and the only gym to the north is
Far North Climbing Gym in Arcata (707-826-9558).
Camping/Lodging: Camping at the rocks in Dos Rios is usually okay.
The Falls has free camping but requires a mellow 15 minute downhill
hike on a good trail. Free camping can also be found off the dirt
roads in the Mendocino National Forest all around The Falls. Willits
and Laytonville (about 30 minutes north or south on US-101) are
the closest towns with lodging at several hotels and motels found
DO NOT CAMP AT SQUAW ROCK Ė IT IS ILLEGAL.
Moonstone Beach, Houda Point
Gas/Food: The Eureka/Arcata area is just a few miles south on US-101
and has plenty of gas stations, grocery stores, and restaurants.
Gear/Gyms: Adventures Edge in Arcata (707-822-4673) has climbing/outdoor
The local gym is Far North Climbing Gym in Arcata (707-826-9558).
Camping/Lodging: Camp at Patricks Point State Park (with rock climbing and bouldering) about 15 miles north on US-101. Eureka/Arcata
is just a few miles south on US-101 and offers plenty of lodging
from cheap to spendy.