Rock climbing is a great way to get in touch with your inner thrill-seeker, outdoorsman (or woman) and fitness buff all at the same time, but it can be an intimidating sport for beginners. Fortunately, rock climbers are an exceedingly chill group of people, and if you show up at a climbing location, they are sure to offer guidance and support. So, If you’re the type of person that associates the word “smear” with a bagel instead of a natural rock face, where do you go around Atlanta to get started?
If you’re just starting out, try an indoor facility where you’ll be able to learn the basics. Here are a few of the best known, most accessible climbing gyms in the metro area.
1. Georgia Tech Campus Recreation Center (CRC)
The catch with this venue is that you need to know a member of the Georgia Tech CRC. After that, it’s incredibly cheap and easy to climb here. A guest pass at the CRC will cost you $7, and equipment rental for your first five visits is on the house. The textured, rock-like climbing wall here is 65 feet tall and the grade goes from flat and beginner-friendly to pretty gnarly overhang. Students work the wall, and they’re extremely knowledgeable and non-judgmental of novice climbers. A shorter wall curls along the corner of the building where you can boulder to your heart’s content, trying new things and learning without the harness, rope and belaying rigmarole.
Location: 750 Ferst Drive, Atlanta, GA 30332
2. Stone Summit
This gorgeous climbing gym has two locations – one inside the perimeter near the intersection of I-85 and I-285, and one in Kennesaw up I-75. An experienced climber explained to me that, while it may sound counter-intuitive, the flatter walls found at Stone Summit actually allow for more creative setups and routes. An adult day pass costs $18, including climbing equipment, and they have a massive amount of wall space and a dedicated bouldering room. Be careful not to wear yourself out too quickly, Stone Summit has way too much to explore.
Atlanta location: 3701 Presidential Parkway, Atlanta, GA 30340
Kennesaw location: 2801 George Busbee Parkway, Kennesaw, GA 30144
3. Atlanta Rocks!
This in-town climbing gym is an institution, and it’s all about programming. Summer camps, classes for home-schooled kids, educational technique sessions – this place caters to all climbers. A day pass for bouldering (which only requires shoes, no other equipment) only runs $10, while wall climbing costs $15 and equipment rental comes individually priced. This is a great place to get belay-certified, which is a quick and easy process, and climb with friends, especially if you have your own equipment. Located just off Collier Road and I-75, this is the most convenient climbing gym for folks in Buckhead.
Location: 1019 Collier Rd NW, Ste A, Atlanta, GA 30318
We literally live next to the world’s largest granite outcropping: Stone Mountain. The rocky foothills of the Appalachians surround us. Now that you’ve learned a little in the climbing gym, go for a scramble out in Georgia’s beautiful natural landscape! Here are some locations close to the city where you can hop on a rock:
4. Stone Mountain
I already mentioned our fair landmark and one of the most visited tourist destinations in the region. Go hiking at Stone Mountain, but slow it down a little this time. Most people just hike to the top, but they miss out on all the fun you can have along the way. Take the meandering path up the mountain find somewhere to scramble around – then enjoy the view at the top! Daily parking at Stone Mountain costs $15, but if you plan to go multiple times, you may want to opt for the $40 annual parking pass.
1000 Robert E Lee Blvd, Stone Mountain, GA 30087
5. Panola Mountain State Park
Atlanta is a wonderful city because it’s not all city – you can drive about 20 minutes outside the Perimeter and find yourself in relatively pure, natural surroundings. Panola Mountain is a granite outcropping southeast of the city similar to Stone Mountain, but it’s smaller and much more naturally pristine. There’s also an established climbing culture here, with commonly used bouldering areas, specifically the South River Boulders. Parking costs $5 at the park, and you want to park the Alexander Lake area. Detailed directions to find the bouldering site can be found on the Southeastern Climbers Coalition website here. Remember, this is a much less controlled environment than the climbing gym, so be sure to be safe and take as many precautions as possible.
2600 Georgia 155 SW, Stockbridge, GA 30281
6. Boat Rock Bouldering
This is a really popular bouldering area among local climbers, and the site has been preserved by the Southeastern Climbers Coalition after development threatened the climbing location. Boat Rock has quite a few defined bouldering routes and what climbers call “problems,” or specific, smaller bouldering challenges. On a nice day, you’re sure to have plenty of company on the rocks, as this is one of the most popular climbing day-trip destinations around Atlanta. Parking is free and can be found at 1220 Boat Rock Road, but be sure to observe the rules, be safe and leave no trace behind when you make your visit.
Boat Rock Road Southwest, Atlanta, GA 30331
Get out there and try something new, enjoy the great Georgia outdoors and push your limits a little bit – it’s good for you!
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