Rock On! Your Guide to Indoor and Outdoor Rock Climbing in NYC

Image of the rock climbing wall and ropes for people to use at the Cliffs in Long Island City

One of the hottest sports/workouts in town right now isn't an activity you normally associate with urban living: rock climbing. Especially indoor rock climbing on carefully constructed courses, has come a long way in the past decade or so, with massive, elaborate facilities opening up in locations right here in NYC, in addition to the increasingly common single-wall spaces. There are also several outdoor spots nearby for climbing or bouldering (which you can do, for example, right in Central Park). Here's a quick look at just a few of the best options for us city folk.

Image people enjoying the indoor rock climbing facility in Long Island City called the Cliffs

Indoor Rock Climbing in NYC

If you've never been to one of these enormous, cutting-edge indoor climbing facilities, get ready for your jaw to drop. Take The Cliffs in Long Island City, for instance, which just (re)opened in March after some bureaucratic delays, and features more than 30,000 square feet of climbing terrain, for all levels of experience, with over 125 different top rope courses. It's just a few stops into Queens on the 7 train. This place is amazing. (As you can see from the images top and above, via Yelp). Also pretty incredible, though not as big as The Cliffs, is:

  • Brooklyn Boulders, which has been around since 2009 and offers top roping, bouldering, and lead climbing.
  • Closer to home, perhaps, is the venerable Climbing Gym at Chelsea Piers, which boasts about having "one of the most challenging rock walls in the country."

After you sweat it out on the wall, you can counteract those burned calories with some ice cream, or hop over to one of the many public pools in NYC or the Rockaway Beach!

An image from the Gunks' website of a man rock climbing among beautiful mountain views.

Outdoor Rock Climbing in NYC and Beyond!

For climbing adventures of the more genuinely outdoorsy sort, bouldering Central Park is a handy option. Some of the popular locations are:

  • Rat Rock near the Heckscher Ballfields,
  • Cat Rock near Wollman,
  • Worthless Boulder on 110th.

For all things involving bouldering in the city, check out the excellent NYC Bouldering. Farther afield, but involving real live cliffs, there's Mountain Skills and HighXposure in The Gunks, up in New Paltz; and Alpine Endeavors, which also offers lessons and classes throughout the Shawangunk and Catskills Mountains. 

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