Indoor Rock Climbing Outdoors
Photo by Ryan Freitas
When people mention Pocatello it often conjures thoughts of some poh-dunk, hick town where residents eat potatoes, chew tobacco, ridicule non-white people and carry shotguns in their trucks. Well, Pa, it just ain’t true; except for the gun part; but this is the West.
Within Southeastern Idaho’s largest city is a top-rated university (ISU), a booming high-tech industry, hotsprings, excellent Mongolian Barbecue (Leis Mongolian), several clean, pet-friendly hotels and the West’s largest outdoor climbing gym, er, park.
History of Ross Park
Ross Park, appropriately named after a pioneering mayor of Pocatello who later became Governor of Idaho, is the focal point of the city’s entire 34 Parks and Rec system. Ancient lava ledges of multi-faceted basalt separate the upper and lower green parks (Shady Side and Sunny Side). The walls offer what is arguably the best outdoor bouldering and top roping within 50 paces of any city street. Park right there, walk across a sidewalk-sized patch of grass and meet the Shady Side- over 60 boulder problems of every degree of difficulty. A quick walk up a grassy knoll on the East end puts you right on top of that wall. Drop a rope from any one of 30 anchors for your toprope pleasure. The Sunny Side of Ross, offers 60+ relatively-short (40’) traditional gear and bolted sport leads, but you can walk or drive up to the top of Sunny Side and throw down a rope if you prefer.
The ISU Outdoor program began bolting the Sunny Side climbs in the late 90s. They started with the more difficult routes first; working their way towards bolting the easier ones over the following seasons, so you can find lead routes for all levels.
Photo by Ryan Freitas
ISU has practically taken ownership of Ross Park. They run climbing programs, offer free downloads of the most comprehensive climbing and bouldering guides to the area written by their instructors and host one of the oldest and most entertaining climbing competitions in the Northwest, The Pocatello Pump.
When you tire of climbing there, drive less than an hour North to Massacre Rocks State Park for another 500+ climbs; or hang out with the native animals of Idaho at the Pocatello Zoo, located inside Ross Park. The park also features the Bannock County Historical Museum, the Fort Hall Replica detailing life as it was during the early pioneer days, a playground of sand, swings and jungle-gym and the usual baseball diamonds and soccerfield.
Ross Park Specifics
Pocatello is 150 miles north of Salt Lake City, Utah, at the intersection of Highways I-15 and I-86. The climate stays sunny and dry almost year-round. Ross Park is at the south end of Pocatello at I-15 & 5th Ave (Exit 67). Go N on 5th. Turn L on Fredregill. Turn L on 2nd, continuing to the rocks on L. Contact the Pocatello Convention and Visitors Bureau, 208.233.7333. The Pocatello Pump occurs in September-208.236.3912.