Portland may not be on any climber's list of world-class destinations, but it still has some worthwhile and beautiful crags.
You have a few climbing areas to choose from for outdoor rock climbing in Portland. All offer classic Pacific Northwest basalt climbing, with some far more popular than others. Often cryptic and likely wet, the rock climbing in Portland is loved and hated by the locals who know it best.
These popular Portland climbing areas are best described in the well-loved Portland Rock Climbs guide. Which you can buy here.
1. Ozone Climbing Crag
Location: Washougal, WA
Distance from Downtown Portland: 35 mins
Ozone in Washougal, Washington, boasts routes between 5.5 and 5.12d. It is the most popular crag near Portland, only 35 minutes from downtown.
What To Expect at Ozone
Ozone is usually considered to be Portland's best sport climbing crag. That being said, a lot of the sport routes require, or suggest, one or more pieces of gear. "Carrots for Everyone" is a great example, with the first bolt 25 feet off the ground (a point of pride among the locals).
The routes are between 30ft and 100ft tall and often hard to on-sight.
On weekends during the summer, this crag will undoubtedly be busy. Get there before 9:00 a.m. to ensure you get a parking spot. Or, come after 2:00 after the morning crowd is gone.
Popular Ozone Climbing Routes
Carrots for Everyone - 10a (mixed)
Rauch Factor - 10b/c (mixed)
High Plains Drifter - 10c (sport)
Vicous - 11a (sport)
Chainmail - 11b (sport)
Masterpiece Theatre - 11c (sport)
The Crumbling - 12a (sport)
Ozone Climbing Crag Directions
After passing through Washougal on Highway 14, you'll start uphill along the scenic highway. The directions will take you to a non-descript pull-out on the right side of the road. If it's a weekend, there are likely to be other cars parked there, as well as in the second pull-out slightly farther down the road. Make sure to park perpendicular to the road or risk locals finding you down and asking you to re-park. Space is very limited.
After parking, head downhill along well-worn trails. There is one at each pull-out, allowing easy access to both sides of the crag. The west-side trail will drop you down into Shire Wall, while the east-side trail will bring you to Mordor, with the highest concentration of hard routes. Ozone is generally considered to be the best rock climbing in Portland.
What's your favorite route at Ozone? Any beta you want to share? Tell us in the comments!
2. Broughton Bluffs
Location: Gresham, Oregon
Distance from Downtown Portland: 20 mins
Broughton Bluffs is the second-most popular climbing area near Portland. On the Oregon side of the Columbia River, this basalt crag is either loved or hated by locals. It's known for its very tricky-to-read routes and sandbagged grades. "Classic Crack" is a notorious example. (The hardest 5.9 in the area? You tell us!)
What to Expect at Broughton Bluff
Broughton Bluff, or just Broughton as it's known by locals, is sure to be busy on weekends during the summer. The highest concentration of climbers is always focused around Hanging Gardens, Red Wall, and Bat Wall. If you're looking for moderate sport climbs, you may have to wait in line as Broughton only has a few, and there's almost always someone on them ("Mystic Void" 10a is a prime example).
Broughton is known for its hard grades, so you're likely to find yourself wondering how the 10c you just tried could possibly be easier than 11a. Don't worry, you're not alone! The routes get easier to climb as you get used to the smearing-without-friction style of the crag.
Popular Broughton Bluff Climbing Routes
Edges and Ledges - 5.8 (mixed)
Gandalf's Grip - 5.9 (trad) 3 pitches
Classic Crack - 5.9+ (trad)
Superstition - 10c (sport)
Lost Boys - 10d (sport)
Gorilla Love Affair - 11a (sport)
Well Digger - 11b (sport)
Kashmir - 12a (sport)
Dracula - 12a (sport)
Directions to Broughton Bluff
Broughton Bluff is located on a hill above Lewis and Clark State Park Recreation Site. Climbers use the state park parking lot and the gravel lot before the bridge to park (as do all other visitors to the Recreation Site and the river).
Walk south from the main parking lot to a trail that ascends up into the woods. The first walls you'll see are the Hanging Gardens on your left and Red Wall straight ahead. Continue south along the trail to get to the most popular area of the crag with the highest concentration of sport routes- Bat Wall.
What's your favorite route at Broughton Bluffs? Any beta you want to share? Tell us in the comments!
3. Carver Bridge Cliff and Carver Bouldering
Location: Damascus, Oregon
Distance from Downtown Portland: 25 mins
Carver is an unusual, privately-owned sport, trad, and bouldering area only 25 minutes from Portland. It hosts the best bouldering near Portland as well as some of the easiest trad climbs.
What to Expect at Carver?
To climb at Carver, you have to be a member of the Carver Climbing Club. Anyone can join at their local Portland climbing gym (including Portland Rock Gym and the three Circuit locations) with a one-time $8.00 payment. Carver Bridge Cliff, perched above Carver bouldering, is one of the closest crags to Portland. It's a popular area that is more than likely going to have more than a few climbers on its walls on summer weekends. There are routes between 5.4 and 5.13a, many of which are some of the best trad climbs near Portland.
You're also going to want to get there early on summer weekends if you're interested in bouldering, and want to spend a session on one of the classic boulders.
All 106 boulder routes, from V-easy to V11/12, are easy to access, but not all are climbable throughout the year. It's not uncommon to find the climb you're looking for and see that it's hidden underneath 6" of moss.
That's not to say that Carver bouldering has nothing to offer. Some of the best climbing boulders near Portland are in this small area. Take a look:
Classic Boulders at Carver Bouldering
Big Rail - V2
The Pie Problem - V3
Education - V4
Tim's Face - V4
Cedar Direct - V6
Triangle Face - V7
Higher Education - V7
Naughty Karate - V10
Cedar Project - V10
Popular Routes at Carver Bridge Cliff
New Generation - 5.8 (Trad)
Neptune - 5.9 (Trad)
Rites of Passage - 10.c (Sport)
Smerk - 11- (Sport)
Dreamscape - 11b (Sport)
Challenger - 11c (Sport)
Angular Motion - 12a (Sport)
Wally Street - 12a (Sport)
What's your favorite route at Carver? Any beta you want to share? Tell us in the comments!
Directions to Carver Bridge Cliff and Carver Boulders
Parking at Carver
The parking lot at Carver can be an interesting place. It's located behind (and is a part of) the Stone Cliff Inn. This area can be used to park every day except on holidays and Fridays and Saturdays after 6:00 p.m. Then, you'll be required to park at the bottom of the hill, ideally up the road. Parking too close to the small stores below the Inn will likely get you towed.
When you climb at Carver, make sure you have your Carver Climbing Card with you as there may be someone there checking!
4. Rocky Butte Quarry
Location: Portland, Oregon
Distance from Downtown Portland: 15 minutes
Rocky Butte Quarry is located off Rocky Butte Road and faces Highway 205. It features mostly trad and top rope routes, but there are a select few high-quality sport climbs.
What to Expect at Rocky Butte?
Depending on the time of year you visit, you may be greeted with more or less moss and dirt on the walls. This crag falls into somewhat of a poor state during the winter months. But, certain walls, like Toothpick Wall, stay clean throughout the season and offer high-quality, challenging trad and sport climbs.
Rocky Butte is easiest to access via rappelling into the crag from one of the many recently updated anchors. You can pull the rope and climb the trad or sport routes nearby or leave it as a top rope.
To get out of the crag, either climb up your top rope route or walk down towards the lower path and to the right. Follow the large trail, which traverses near a few homeless camps until it trends up. Following this line will take you up to Rocky Butte Road, where you've parked.
The cliff faces Highway 205, making it a less-than-peaceful destination, but it's still popular with local climbers looking for a quick afternoon session rock climbing in Portland, Oregon.
Popular Routes at Rocky Butte
Chaitanya - 5.9 (Trad, TR)
Blueberry Jam - 5.8+ (Trad, TR)
Mind Games - 10a (Trad, TR)
Emotional Rescue - 10b (Trad, TR)
Stranger than Friction - 10d (Sport, TR)
The Big Lie - 11b (Sport)
Pressure Drop - 11c (Trad)
Directions to Rocky Butte
What's your favorite route at Rocky Butte? Any beta you want to share? Tell us in the comments!
5. Madrone Wall
Location: Damascus, Oregon
Distance from Downtown Portland: 30 mins
Madrone is a 120-ft basalt wall in Damascus, Oregon, that opened to the public in 2017. It is closed yearly from February 1st to July 15th for peregrine falcon nesting.
What to Expect at Madrone Wall?
Madrone is an often-overlooked crag close to Portland with a ton to offer. Clackamas County bought the land Madrone is on in the 1900s and used it as a quarry.
In 2017, with a grant from the Clackamas County Tourism Development Council, as well as private and public partners, the county opened Madrone Wall Park. Since climbing has flourished on the 120-foot basalt wall above the parking lot. The Madrone Wall Preservation Committee deserves much of the credit for winning this 20-year battle!
Madrone Wall is closed for half of the year due to peregrine falcon nesting. The parking area also has a strict opening and closing time (they will lock your car inside the gate).
Madrone Wall Hours
July 16 - Aug. 31: 7 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Sept. 1 – Oct. 31: 7 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Nov. 1 – Jan. 31: 7 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Feb. 1 – July 15: Closed
Madrone Wall requires an $8 fee to park every time you visit (it has been increased from $5 to $6, and now to $8).
You can buy a $50 Country Park Pass for one year or $80 for two years.
Directions to Madrone Wall
What's your favorite route at Madrone Wall? Any beta you want to share? Tell us in the comments!
Is Portland good for climbing?
Yes, Portland is good for climbing. There are six popular climbing areas within 45 minutes of Portland and several others if you're willing to drive more than an hour.
Is there good rock climbing in Oregon?
Yes, there is good rock climbing in Oregon! Oregon is home to the area commonly considered the birthplace of sport climbing in North America-Smith Rock. Around the state, you'll also find numerous high-quality crags, mostly of basalt, that offer routes from 5.0 to 5.14.
Where can I climb in Portland?
Close to Portland, you can climb at Ozone, Broughton Bluffs, Rocky Butte Quarry, Madrone Wall, Carver Bridge Cliff, Beacon Rock State Park, and more!
What cam size is best for Portland climbing?
Likely, a .75 is the best cam size for Portland climbing. It's probably going to be the one you use the most. But, most routes are going to require you have a full rack, from .3 to 2" or 3". Some areas, like Beacon Rock, also need gear as large as 4" or 5".
When can you climb Smith Rock?
You can climb at Smith Rock year-round. But the most popular seasons are spring and fall. Summer temperatures can get up to 100 degrees, and winters can be below 30. But, that doesn't stop climbers from around the world from spending the day cragging at Smith.