Rockin’ the Rockies

The word is out — summers in Taos rival its renowned winter ski season for outdoor adventure.

By jay foley

Taos County has miles of scenic river runs, cool hiking and biking trails, and stunning rock-climbing cliffs of all shapes and sizes. There is enough varied terrain surrounding Taos to keep beginners or expert outdoor enthusiasts satisfied for a lifetime.

Mountain Skills rock climbing guide Jay Foley in the Río Grande. Courtesy Kevin Rebholtz

Rock climbing has been gaining national traction with major motion pictures like Alex Honnold and Jimi Chin’s “Free Solo” documentary winning an Oscar and several others like “The Dawn Wall” and “Valley Uprising” hitting the silver screen and Netflix recently.

Rock climbing is nothing new, it’s been recognized as a recreational sport in Europe since the 1800s and some of the major formations in Yosemite, California, were climbed by John Muir as early as 1869!

By the late ‘70s, Yosemite and the Shawangunk Mountains in New York state these areas became climbing meccas with international appeal.

Enjoyable, safe for all

It’s a lesser known fact that technical rock climbing is an enjoyable and safe outdoor adventure for people of all ages and fitness levels.

Guided beginner day with Mountain Skills Rock Guides. Courtesy Jay Foley

Beginners can be led safely up a cliff their first time out! Here’s how:

  • There is always a rope attached to you and an anchor above you.
  • This anchor and rope can hold almost 4,000 pounds!
  • Once you reach the top or decide to stop, you simply sit back into your harness, which is connected to the rope, and slowly lower back to the ground.
  • There are dozens of unique locations to enjoy technical climbing in Taos, including the spectacular Río Grande del Norte National Monument with its miles of vertical cliffs.

The Sangre de Cristo Mountains host classic granite monoliths, as well as cozy little cliffs nestled in the forest, surrounded by streams, with cool temperatures.

For maps, directions, routes and climbing locations check out and pick up a copy of “Taos Rock” locally at Mud ’N’ Flood or Taos Mountain Outfitter outdoor stores in Taos.

There is no better place than Taos to try one of America’s fastest-growing sports, while enjoying the dramatic scenery and beauty of this unique area, and fully experiencing the spirit of Taos.

Jay Foley climbing in the Río Grande Gorge. Courtesy Kevin Rebholtz

Jay Foley is the author of “Taos Rock” and lead guide with Mountain Skills Rock Guides. He has been living and climbing in the Taos area for over 25 years and continues to be an avid pioneer in the Taos climbing scene.