In Moab, red rocks, arches, and cliffs are the stars when it comes to backcountry thrills and adventures. The Moab Adventure Center, which has a finger on the pulse of what to do and where to go in this iconic natural playground, reports a surge of reservations for guided canyoneering and rock climbing excursions. Canyoneering is up 75 percent from the pre-COVID record set in 2019. Requests for rock climbing have tripled over 2019.
Moab is widely regarded to be one of the best rock climbing and canyoneering destinations in the world. The Moab Adventure Center offers visitors the choice of joining group excursions or private adventures for both rock climbing and canyoneering.
What is the difference between rock climbing and canyoneering? Rock climbers use the textures, bumps and cracks in the rock walls (and may wear special shoes) to go up a rock wall. Once they reach the top they descend with the rope and harness back to the horizontal ground. Canyoneers slide or rappel down into canyons and grottoes where only a rope can give them access. Often there are multiple descents through a given canyon.
“What these nail-biting exercises have in common is helping people move outside of their comfort zones. Finding toeholds while scaling a rock cliff doesn’t leave any room for fear. Getting to the top is the only thing that matters,” said Cort Wright, General Manager of the Moab Adventure Center. He outlined Five Reasons to Try Rock Climbing in Moab:
- It Builds Self Confidence – Conquering something you never thought possible will bring an exhilaration you never imagined you could feel. And just consider the bragging rights (and photos) that will impress friends and family while reminding you of how great you are!
- Rock Climbing Builds Trust – Your guides will keep the rope tight while coaching you up toward the goal. It takes two, and that’s pretty reassuring. Guided outings provide a perfect setting to start climbing.
- It’s a Total Body Workout – Your heart will beat stronger, your legs and toes will flex and tighten, your fingers and hands will grip firmly on each bump and crag. When you’re done, you can rest at the bottom while cheering on others in your group.
- It Trains Your Focus – Every climb, on every wall, presents a new way to make your way up to the top. It’s problem-solving in a fun and exciting way that is hard to re-create with other outdoor pursuits.
- It’s a Ton of Fun and a Natural High – Getting outdoors in a place like Moab, Utah, is fun; being there with a group of like-minded individuals is fun; discovering something new about yourself and sharing that experience with others is fun.
When it comes to canyoneering, this region is celebrated as “canyon country” where the sport was practically invented.
“Like rock climbing, canyoneering is a crafted experience conducted under the watchful eyes of trained instructors,” said Wright. The playing field is composed of gear and safety equipment fitted to the participants, sheer rock walls, narrow crevasses, a breathtaking natural bridge, wide-open vistas, and, always, adrenalin.
“People have been out of touch for over a year. They are clamoring to do something different, something epic,” he added. “Our trained guides help participants earn bragging rights. They don’t want the quest for ‘epic’ to get out of hand as it did in the James Franco film, 127 Hours, which was filmed outside of Moab.”
Guests learn how to rappel 90’ into a secluded grotto and then drop 120’ off a natural bridge to a spring below. The experience is finished off with a 3.5-mile hike along a stream through a hidden canyon on the way back out to the Colorado River. Included are all required gear and safety equipment, guided instruction, snacks and water, and transfers to and from the canyoneering site. For details see https://www.moabadventurecenter.com/moab-canyoneering
Participants at all skill levels learn through guided instruction how to improve face and crack climbing techniques, how to use and care for equipment, the techniques of knot and rope work, and basic belaying and descending. This can help transition climbers from a climbing gym to real rock or even offer the ideal first experience for someone who has never tried rock climbing. A variety of routes and a relaxed atmosphere allow guests to progress at their own pace. For details see https://www.moabadventurecenter.com/moab-rock-climbing