The St. Louis area has needed a good, free, nearby, outdoor climbing area for a long time. There is certainly no lack of limestone bluffs in the area, but until now, it just hasn't happened. But finally, the Beta Fund was able to work with the Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) to make a great one available. The new Rockwoods Reserve Climbing Bluff opened to the public in Fall of 2021.
- Brand-new, wonderfully-implemented, intermediate sport climbing area close to St. Louis supported by the Missouri Department of Conservation and the Beta Fund.
- 15 separate challenging and long 5.7- 5.11d routes on a limestone bluff
- Easy to get to from St. Louis
- The first open climbing area supported by Missouri Department of Conservation. Hopefully if this is well-received and properly respected, there will be more in the future.
- Not for beginners. You’ll need someone that can lead climb at a 5.8 level to get the rope up before less experienced climbers would be able to climb
- You need to bring you own gear and all climbing is at your own risk
- While several of the routes are rated as 5.7, about 15 feet up on the ones we tried, felt more like a 5.8 section to me that my boys weren’t able to get past without cheating a bit. Once you get about 20 feet up, they got quite a bit easier.
Getting ThereOff highway 109 in Wildwood, Missouri. Google will get you to the 12-space parking lot if you search for Rockwoods Reserve Climbing Bluff. From there it is an easy 1/4 mile hike to the bluff.
- Beta Fund Page on Rockwoods Reserve Climbing Bluff – Includes route description and history
- Terrain Magazine story about the climbing area
- MDC story on the opening
- Mountain Project page on the area – Includes route information with pics and ratings
While are the routes are nicely bolted, you’ll need quite a bit of your own gear and know-how to climb here. At minimum you should have:
- 2 climbing harnesses (one for the climber, one for the belayer)
- a 100-foot climbing rope
- Belay device
- 6 quick-draws (for hooking into the bolts and anchors)
- 2 helmets
- and someone who has been well-trained in sport climbing and can climb at a 5.8 level
Optional but nice to have:
- Climbing shoes
- Chalk bag
- Harness for each person
This area was an old quarry dating back to the 1800s. Missouri Department of Conservation bought the land in 1938 and developed it as Rockwoods Reservation. This bluff has served as heavily restricted climbing area before but was closed for climbing a decade ago before reopening to climbing in the fall of 2021.
It took a lot of meetings and discussions for the Beta Fund folks to educate and convince the MDC to open the area to the public for climbing. And then it took a lot more effort to get the area properly cleaned and bolted so it would be as safe as possible for climbers.