When people think of Alabama sports, their mind immediately springs to football, football, football and some more football. There’s a little NFL interest throughout the state, but high school programs and college football, specifically at the University of Alabama, represent the most popular levels of any sports within the state.
No one can fault the hyper-focus on the gridiron. Alabama isn’t drowning in professional sports franchises across every major league, and the absence of legal Alabama sports betting inherently caps their exposure to certain markets.
And yet, The Cotton State isn’t just all-football everything and nothing. They actually have a pretty robust recreational outdoor sports scene. From hiking to kayaking to rafting to rock climbing, they have a ton of exhilarating options for residents and visitors to explore and follow.
To answer your question: No, you didn’t just read a typo. Alabama is actually an under-the-radar hotspot for quality rock-climbing. It isn’t filled with wall-to-wall mountains boasting heavenly peaks, but they have a few hidden gems within their state lines that will resonate with everyone from serious climbers to casual enthusiasts to even those who merely appreciate a great view.
All this in mind, let’s go ahead and roll through some of the best rock-climbing sceneries throughout Alabama.
Harvest Wall is a location that falls right smack dab in the middle of the rock-climbing spectrum. It is geared toward neither experts nor absolute novices, but those with a middling amount of experience gearing up for extensive climbs.
Locals heavily recommend the Yum Yum Tree or Pumpkin Patch routes, but you’re not limited to just those two. Harvest Wall has over eight different routes from which to choose, including the headlining one that features a column leaning against the main wall.
Optionality is the best feature of Holiday Block, a gargantuan rock formation that offers a mix of both challenging and eminently doable routes.
Climbers have more than a dozen courses to test out at Holiday Block. The most popular among locals are Gravy Train, Pigs in Zen and My Dog Has Fleas.
Every route is graded with varying degrees of difficulty, so this spot has something for everyone. And don’t worry about trying to find the right fit for you. Holiday Block is loaded with instructive signage so that you’ll know which course you’re about to follow and how difficult it might be.
Horse Pens 40
Looking for more of a difficult rock-climbing challenge? Well, Horse Pens 40 is probably for your.
This location is a private outdoor park located on Chandler Mountain, which just so happens to be one of the highest mountains in Alabama. But don’t let its elevation completely fool you. Though this course will keep you moving and challenge your entire body, it can be completed by those without a ton of rock climbing experience.
Locals in the region encourage you to avoid trying to make the climb in the late fall or at any time in the spring. It gets incredibly busy as Horse Pens 40 around this time, especially around the month of November.
Rainbow Mountain lives up to its name in every sense of the phrase.
Okay, well, maybe not every sense of the phrase. This collection of climbs cannot guarantee you’ll see beaming rainbows during every visit. But it is chock full of easy climbing options that have garnered praise for not only the simplicity with which they can be completed, but the general surroundings.
Those who have been to Rainbow Mountain on multiple occasions tout the ultra-green scenery, the calming sounds from the water in creeks and streams and just the overall element of solitude. This cachet of climbs is so well-removed from the hustle and bustle of everyday life that you’ll think you’ve traveled to an entirely different planet—all without having to exert yourself too much physically.
If you want to try out Sun Wall, you’ll have to get in line…almost literally.
This is perhaps the most popular rock climbing spot all throughout Alabama. It has courses for all skill levels, a menu of options that exceeds 20 in total.
Known primarily for offering the state’s highest-rated climbing routes with both preset anchors and anchor-as-you-go courses, Sun Wall is busy throughout almost any month in which it’s not freezing cold outside. Peak season tends to land somewhere around April, and locals recommend you come in July or August if you want to beat the rush (and can stand the summer heat).
Regardless of when you go, though, you’ll be treated to a rock climbing spot that offers vertical views for miles.