Matt and Joanne’s Page

March 12, 2008

Flagstaff, AZ: National Monuments + Paradise Forks

Filed under: Climbing, Roadtrip — Matt Stamplis @ 6:37 pm

So I’ll start this post with our little epic that occurred this morning: today is our rest day so we decided to drive the RV into Flagstaff to hang out and run a few errands. Whoa, what the heck is the RV doing? Well, Matt didn’t realized the ground was so soft and got the RV stuck in it. We couldn’t get it out no matter what so we have to resort to calling AAA for help. Unfortunately since we are not on paved ground, AAA does not cover the towing. They did set us up with a local towing company and got the RV out finally. There goes $250 😦 just when we were thinking of buying another set of TCUs to climb in Zion. I blame it on Matt for his stupidness :p.Oh well, live and learn I guess.

Apparently RVs weren’t designed for offroad driving 😛 Note the front wheel is totally stuck in the mud.

Thanks Larry! Now here’s $250! *argh*

Wupatki! Wupatki! It rolls off the tongue and, to me, sounds like someone getting smacked. But no, Wupatki National Monument is the location of some beautiful ruins near Flagstaff, AZ. I’ve probably got the details and dates all wrong but this area was occupied by ancestors of the Hopi people some 700-800 years ago. These ruins were excavated by the park service and preserved for visitors to enjoy and wonder.


The best view of the entire village. A number of buildings clumped together can be seen on the left. A possible community meeting place stands just to the right, a large circle with a firering in the middle. And behind, if you look carefully, is a small oval-shaped structure which appears to be a ball court for a soccer-like game.

Joanne’s enjoying the meeting area here. If you sit at opposite sides of the circle you can talk quietly and still be heard by listeners on the other side – the acoustics are quite good.

The buildings themselves were constructed around an existing rock formation. So you’ll see the rock poking out of the buildings or forming walls and roofs in certain rooms.

Here’s some pottery from the nearby Homolovi Ruins: this area was kind of interesting for a quick stop (plus the State Park there has showers!). There were very few structures to see since it has not been excavated like Wupatki, but there is a massive amount of pottery shards strewn across the ground. Some of the patterns used in the pottery were quite complex and beautiful.

After visiting Petrified Forest and three national monuments around Flagstaff we were ready to go climbing again. Our next destination: Paradise Forks! This place is very appropriately named: two rivers come crashing down into this canyon and merge. With the shade from the Ponderosa Pines and the roar of the waterfalls and no one around for miles it truly is paradise.

Climbing Quality: Sustained crack climbing on solid pro in an amazing canyon. What else do you want?

Camping: I think there’s a pay campground but it’s pretty easy to find free camping…especially when the road is covered with snow.

Here’s one of the waterfalls at Paradise Forks. The stream here drops over the edge about 70 feet: while we were here the river was roaring and was really impressive. In the background you can see some of the basalt cliffs.

Here’s Joanne about to rappel into the canyon at The Prow. Paradise Forks is a bastion of traditional climbing ethics so you won’t find any bolts here. You rappel into the canyon and climb out. It’s a good idea to bring an extra rope to fix to a tree to save time since you’ll be rappelling after every route.

The crack climbs here are some of the most exceptional we’ve seen anywhere and the lines are inspiring. The basalt is of similar quality to Smith’s Lower Gorge, although the cracks here are even more smooth and parallel, with more straight-in cracks (less stemming). The only downside? It’s not a beginner climbing area and we had some trouble finding good warm-up routes. The climbs are physical and even the easiest routes are very stiff 5.9s. We found ourselves totally exhausted after 4 or 5 routes. Just to give you an idea of what we think about routes here, we both feel that if you placed Smith Rock’s Karate Crack here it would be a 5.8 (instead of it’s 10a rating at Smith) – Yikes! On the other hand, we didn’t feel much difference between feel the 5.9 and 5.10s here. Even The Prow (5.11-) felt like a 5.10. You can almost lump all the “moderates” together and call them 5.10 :).

The best routes that we’ve climbed here? We liked Mayflower 5.9, East of Eden 5.10, Jolly Roger 5.10, The Prow 5.11-. Although just about everything here would be a classic at any other crag.

The water was pounding the Gold Wall when we were there. This is the smaller of the two waterfalls: a very beautiful place.

Here’s a parting shot of another Flagstaff crag, the Oak Creek Overlook. The climbing is much easier than Paradise Forks and with great views of the canyon, it’s definitely worth spending a day at. The best routes here are Isiah, a steep 5.9 handcrack and the Trinity Cracks (shown above, three fantastic 5.10-/5.10 thin hand cracks right next to each other)

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1 Comment »

  1. is climbing the only way to get to the waterfall??? its beautiful!

    Comment by Breny Escalante — March 28, 2012 @ 9:53 pm


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