Best 15 Bouldering locations in Northern California (updated)

Bouldering is the best hobby for travelers because it’s easy to pick up, you can do it anywhere, and there are many different bouldering locations all over Northern California. The Northern California area is the perfect place for those who love to boulder. The weather is always sunny and dry, so you can climb outside all year long. Whether you’re looking for a good spot nearby or something more out-of-the-way, this list has something for everyone. 

Northern California’s granite domes are some of the best in the world and provide an unparalleled setting with beautiful views and interesting climbing terrain. The following list of 15 bouldering spots has something for everyone: whether you’re looking for a quick jaunt or an all-day adventure with friends. Whether you’re new to climbing or have been on the mats since birth, these boulder problems will keep your hands calloused and your heart happy!

1. Castle Rock

Castle Rock

Distance from San Francisco: 45 minutes

Type of Boulder: Sandstone with a few granites holds.

Be wary of grizzly bears and don’t forget your crash pad! Castle Rock State Park is located near Santa Cruz and has some amazing sandstone bouldering problems that range from V0-V10+ (or letter grades of 5.6-5.10c). The cliffs are located off in the back of the park and are only accessible via hiking. Make sure to bring plenty of water and snacks, because there are no shade or convenience stores nearby! To get there: From Los Gatos, take Highway 9 to Felton, then turn left on Highway 58 toward Santa Cruz. Follow Highway 9 for another 4.8 miles to the sign for Castle Rock State Park on your right. Turn right onto Summit Rd, then take the first left into Castle Rock parking lot!

2. The Jungle

The Jungle

Distance from San Francisco: 45 minutes    

Type of Boulder: Granite

This hidden gem in Santa Cruz is one of the most well-known bouldering spots in Northern California. The Jungle hosts some fun, tough problems that range from V0-V10 (5.6-5.11a). The best time to climb here is when it’s cooler outside because it can get very hot and humid in the summer. However, there is a big downside to this popular bouldering spot: the crowds! If you’re looking for a more peaceful climbing experience, try going somewhere else! To get there: From San Francisco, take Highway 280 towards Santa Cruz. Take Exit 35-A from Highway 280 and turn right onto 7th Ave. In about a mile, you will see a sign for Empire Grade Road and another sign that says “Flood gate – Do not enter.” Turn right onto Empire Grade Road and follow it to the end.

3. Sugarloaf Ridge State Park

Distance from San Francisco: 45 minutes    

Type of Boulder: Granite with a bit of sandstone in some places.

Sugarloaf Ridge State Park in Kenwood has great bouldering for beginners and experts alike! The rock is solid granite that ranges from V0-V11 (5.6-5.12a) depending on where you climb, but most problems are relatively challenging (5.9 or 5.10c). There are a few roofs and cracks, so make sure to bring a variety of gear. Sugarloaf Ridge State Park is a great place to go with friends because there are usually enough boulder problems for everyone! To get there: From San Francisco, take Highway 101 North toward Santa Rosa/Sonoma until you pass Santa Rosa on your left. Immediately after that traffic light, turn right at the next stoplight onto Farmers Lane. In about 1 mile, the road will split – stay left on Madrone Ave., which becomes Spring Lake Road. Follow Spring Lake Road for 10 miles and turn right onto Rockpile Drive.

4. Castle Rocks

Distance from San Francisco: 1-2 hours    

Type of Boulder:  Granite

Castle Rocks is located in Patterson, CA, and has some of the most well-established bouldering problems in Northern California. This area’s granite rocks are fun to climb on but can be very sharp, so make sure to wear your gloves! It takes about an hour or two to hike into this popular climbing destination, so pack along plenty of water. There are seven different boulder formations at Castle Rocks with a wide variety of problems for beginners and experts alike. To get there: From San Francisco, take Highway 101 North toward Santa Rosa until you reach the Patterson exit (about 40 minutes). Take that exit and turn right onto Avenue 7 E/East Monte Vista Ave., which will turn into Main St. Follow Main St. through town, and you will see a Castle Rocks sign on your right. There is a large parking lot close to this sign.

5. Indian Rock

Distance from San Francisco: 1 hour      

Type of Boulder: Sandstone with granite boulders in certain areas.

Indian Rock offers many different climbing problems for beginners and experts alike! The sandstone rocks offer fun, juggy handholds, while the few steep climbs can challenge climbers looking for something more challenging. To get there: From San Francisco, head north on Highway 101 toward Sonoma/Santa Rosa until you reach the Guerneville exit (about 45 minutes). Take that exit and turn left onto River Road, which turns into Santa Rosa Avenue. Follow Santa Rosa Avenue until you reach Guerneville Road and turn right onto Guerneville Road. Continue on this road for about 1 mile, where it will dead-end at Indian Rock Park. Make a left onto Adobe Canyon Road to get to the parking lot.

6. Boulders Beach

Distance from San Francisco: 45 minutes    

Type of Boulder: Sandstone with granite boulders in certain areas.

Boulders Beach is located just across the Golden Gate Bridge in Sausalito! Many different climbing problems range from beginner-friendly jugs to more challenging steeper climbs that will challenge climbers looking for something more complicated than what Indian Rock offers. The sandstone rocks offer fun, juggy handholds, while the granite boulders have slopers and sharp crimps. To get there: From San Francisco, take Highway 101 North towards Sausalito for about 20 minutes. Pass through the town of Mill Valley and follow this road as it curves right and becomes a one-way bridge traveling over the bay. Take a left onto Bridgeway once you pass Governor’s Camp, then take another left into Boulders Beach parking lot just after that (about 5 minutes from the turn).

7. Silver Strand Beach

Distance from San Francisco: 45 minutes    

Type of Boulder: Sandstone with granite boulders in certain areas.

The sandstone rocks at Silver Strand Beach offer fun, juggy handholds, while the few steep climbs can challenge climbers looking for something more challenging. To get there: From San Francisco, take Highway 101 North towards Sausalito for about 20 minutes. Pass through the town of Mill Valley and follow this road as it curves right and becomes a one-way bridge traveling over the bay. As you drive across the bridge, take a left onto Bridgeway once you pass Governor’s Camp. Continue on Bridgeway until you reach a T intersection where you will make a left to stay on Bridgeway (if you pass Rodeo Lagoon Park, then you’ve gone too far). Then, follow Bridgeway to the College Cove Beach parking lot.

 8. The Little Beach 

Distance from San Francisco: 1 hour    

Type of Boulder: Sandstone with granite boulders in certain areas.

The Little Beach offers many different climbing problems for beginners and experts alike! The sandstone rocks offer fun, juggy handholds, while the few steep climbs can challenge climbers looking for something more challenging. To get there: From San Francisco, take Highway 101 North towards Santa Rosa until you reach the Bodega Dunes exit (about 45 minutes). Take that exit and head right onto Adobe Canyon Road/Bodega Highway. Cross over two bridges and follow this road as it turns into Soda Bay Road. Continue on this road until you see a dirt path to your left with a brown sign marking it as Little Beach Road. Take that dirt path and park in the gravel lot at the end of this road (about 5 minutes from Adobe Canyon Rd).

9. Bodega Head

Distance from San Francisco: 1 hour    

Type of Boulder: Sandstone with granite boulders in certain areas.

Bodega Head offers many different climbing problems for beginners and experts alike! The sandstone rocks offer fun, juggy handholds, while the few steep climbs can challenge climbers looking for something more challenging. To get there: From San Francisco, take Highway 101 North towards Santa Rosa until you reach the Bodega Dunes exit (about 45 minutes). Take that exit and head right onto Adobe Canyon Road/Bodega Highway. Cross over two bridges and follow this road as it turns into Soda Bay Road. Continue on this road until you see a dirt path to your left with a brown sign marking it as Little Beach Road. Take that dirt path and park in the gravel lot at the end of this road (about 5 minutes from Adobe Canyon Rd).

10. Tennessee Cove

Distance from San Francisco: 1 hour    

Type of Boulder: Sandstone with granite boulders in certain areas.

Tennessee Cove offers many different climbing problems for beginners and experts alike! The sandstone rocks offer fun, juggy handholds, while some steep climbs can challenge climbers looking for something more challenging. To get there: From San Francisco, take Highway 101 North towards Santa Rosa until you reach the Bodega Dunes exit (about 45 minutes). Take that exit and head right onto Adobe Canyon Road/Bodega Highway. Cross over two bridges and follow this road as it turns into Soda Bay Road. 

11. Coastal Trail

Distance from San Francisco: 1 hour    

Type of Boulder: Granite with sandstone boulders

The Coastal Trail offers some fun, easy problems for beginners and challenging climbs for those looking for something more complex. To get there: From San Francisco, take Highway 101 North towards Santa Rosa until you reach the Bodega Dunes exit (about 45 minutes). Take that exit and head right onto Adobe Canyon Road/Bodega Highway. Cross over two bridges and follow this road as it turns into Soda Bay Road. Continue on this road until you see a dirt path to your left with a brown sign marking it as Little Beach Road. 

12. Cozy Cove

Distance from San Francisco: 2 hours    

Type of Boulder: Granite with sandstone boulders

Cozy Cove offers a variety of climbs that will appeal to every climber! However, there are problems for beginners, and advanced climbers alike, as well as a few fun, climbs if you’re looking to work on your projects. To get there: From San Francisco, take Highway 101 North towards Santa Rosa until you reach the Bodega Dunes exit (about 45 minutes). Then, take that exit and head right onto Adobe Canyon Road/Bodega Highway. 

13. Winehaven Open Space

Distance from San Francisco: 2 hours    

Type of Boulder:   Granite with sandstone boulders

Winehaven Open Space offers some fun, easy problems for beginners and challenging climbs for those looking for something more complex. To get there: From San Francisco, take Highway 101 North towards Santa Rosa until you reach the Bodega Dunes exit (about 45 minutes). Take that exit and head right onto Adobe Canyon Road/Bodega Highway. Cross over two bridges and follow this road as it turns into Soda Bay Road. Continue on this road until you see a dirt path to your left with a brown sign marking it as Little Beach Road.

14. The Mineshaft Boulder

Distance from San Francisco: 2 hours    

Type of Boulder:   Granite sandstone boulders

The Mineshaft Boulder offers problems for everyone, from beginner to advanced. However, it’s a fun place to climb if you’re near the coast! To get there: From San Francisco, take Highway 101 North towards Santa Rosa until you reach the Bodega Dunes exit (about 45 minutes). Take that exit and head right onto Adobe Canyon Road/Bodega Highway. Cross over two bridges and follow this road as it turns into Soda Bay Road.

15. Sonoma Coast State Beach

Distance from San Francisco: 2 hours 30 minutes

Type of Boulder:  

Granite sandstone boulders Sonoma Coast State Beach offers some incredible climbing with breathtaking views. It’s a beautiful place to climb, and though the approaches are long, it’s more than worth it! Be mindful that you’re on state park property – bring your trash back out with you! To get there: From San Francisco, take Highway 101 North towards Santa Rosa until you reach the Bodega Dunes exit (about 45 minutes). Take that exit and head right onto Adobe Canyon Road/Bodega Highway. Cross over two bridges and follow this road as it turns into Soda Bay Road. Continue on this road for about-30 minutes, taking an immediate left after you pass the Russian River on your right. Follow this road for about 15 more minutes and look for a parking lot on your right with a green gate and brown boulders next to it.

conclusion

I hope this list of the 15 best bouldering locations in Northern California has given you some ideas for where to go when it’s time to find a new rock climbing spot. Whether you’re looking for something close by or an hour away, there are plenty of great options across the state! So get out and explore your world – boulder on!

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