“Oh I know Arkansas. That’s the place with Horseshoe Canyon Ranch, right?” Over the past eight years of my climbing career I’ve heard the phrase time and time again. Whether in Ouray, CO at the annual Ice Climbing Festival or Potrero Chico in northwestern Mexico, the stigma follows us everywhere. Our very own Horseshoe Canyon ranks as one of the top rock climbing hubs of North America. It is in a class with Red Rocks, Boulder and The Red River Gorge. Climbers know about it; climbers have been here. However, the conversation ends there, with knowledge only of that one place.
As an avid climber who has been to many climbing hubs, it baffles me that Arkansas as a whole isn't really on the radar. First, let me get this out of the way... I know Arkansas doesn’t have “real mountains," at least not the ones with thousand foot cliffs, and we only have ice climbing once every five years. However, that doesn't mean we don't have great climbing. We do, and lots of it. Arkansas is home to short, stout, in-your-face climbing.
It’s primarily made up of sport climbing and bouldering but those aren’t the only reason we are nicknamed “The Natural State." To compliment beautiful climbs, we have the first national river, endless miles of hiking trails, more national forest than you can shake a stick at, and the third longest distance of mountain biking mileage of any state in the country. But, alas, forgive me I’m getting of track... climbing. If you like clipping bolts, you’re interested in bouldering, or you’re a weekend warrior who wants to experience something entirely its own, Arkansas should be on your list.
Want proof? Well you could get in your car right now and come crush during climbing season while it’s in full swing or you could watch this teaser and get psyched for the full length film below.
Over the past year Danny Henkel has been following me and a group of Fayetteville locals around the backwoods of Arkansas. Why? Because he saw something here. He saw the Ozarks, he saw the climbing, he saw the culture. Most of all I think he found an interesting story that had never been told. Although the film is still in the making it will feature many parts of the state, many styles of climbing and immerse you in the climbing culture here in Arkansas.
The short teaser above highlights Lincoln Lake, AR. With its close proximity to Fayetteville, high density of boulder problems and moderate sport climbs, Lincoln Lake is the perfect after class jaunt or half day adventure. Interested in checking it out for yourself? You can find a beta on climbing grades and how to get there below.
Area: Lincoln Lake, AR
Location: Google Maps | Coordinates, 35.998213, -94.427223
Grade Range: 5.7-5.11 & V1-V9
Guidebook: Cole Fennel’s Rock Climbing Arkansas (2nd Edition)
Drive time from Fayetteville: 25 - 30 minutes
Activities: Climbing, Biking, Hiking, Trail Running, Fishing, and Cliff Jumping