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Climbing Owl Rock at Sunset

If climbing this 100-foot tower in Arches National Park wasn’t a memorable enough experience on its own, it sure was with the sunset we had on this night in November.

Owl Rock Tower Arches National Park Climbing

Two Weeks in Southern Utah

This past fall I spent a couple weeks in Southern Utah near Moab before moving back to Salt Lake City where I would plant myself for another ski season (hard to not go back after the 900+ inches of snow from last season).

The last weekend of my dirtbag car camping trip was an absolute adventure with my cousin Jack who came down from Boulder with his fiancée Sierra.

They frequent Moab several times a year and are avid outdoors people with hiking, climbing and canyoneering as a few of their regular desert activities.

I’m starting to dip my feet into the world of outdoor rock climbing and they were great mentors to have taking me on my first canyoneering route and leading climbs at Wall Street for me to top rope.

Our weekend followed no set plan other than to wake up early and stop at Red Rock Bakery (my favorite spot I found in Moab for doing work also happened to be their favorite breakfast spot) at sunrise before going non-stop until sunset.

On our last day together, we discussed options and decided on doing a canyon plus a climbing objective and deciding between a simul-rappel off an arch, or an easy tower climb called Owl Rock… we chose the tower climb!

Garden of Eden Sunset Arches National Park

The Garden of Eden Viewing Area

This parking area in Arches NP worked out to be a perfect one stop shop adventure lot for us. It’s the start of the Elephant Butte Canyon trip as well as having Owl Rock only a matter of feet away from where you park.

Being such a popular climb, there were multiple groups on the tower as we were gathering our canyoneering gear in the lot that Sunday afternoon.

We took off past the tower and after a few hours of hiking and rappelling around the area we circled back and were fueling up for climb.

Sierra had some writing work to take care of before Monday and opted to sit this climb out but was nice enough to snap all these photos of Jack and I.

Owl Rock Tower Arches National Park Climbing

Climbing Owl Rock (contains some beta)

Jack is a proficient climber when it comes to trad routes so I was incredibly lucky for him to lead and share some knowledge of a climb that would have been out of my skill level this early on.

The route is a very obvious crack on the west facing side of the tower that can be accessed easily from below and walking up the slabby rock platform.

It has a climbing grade of 5.8 and there is a bolted set of anchors at the top of the lower bulge as well as a couple pitons to safely assist with getting to the tower’s highpoint.

Owl Rock Tower Arches National Park Climbing

The climbing is super fun, the rock is big and bulky at the base making it easy to get started and the crack is wide enough in places that it can feel a bit like a chimney.

Owl Rock Tower Arches National Park Climbing

We found the crux to be roughly two-thirds of the way up where more body movement and placement was required as fewer jugs could be found.

Owl Rock Tower Arches National Park Climbing

After we topped out, we waved down to Sierra and she shot some photos of us posing high and mighty.

Owl Rock Tower Arches National Park Climbing

Jack and I took in the surrounding views of the park in the golden hour lighting as the sky was beginning to turn a pinkish hue.

Coming down from the true summit is sketchy and we used some of the protection that was in place to assist this piece of steep smooth rock.

After we both got back on the lower bulge, we set up the rappel and without issue were back at the base.

The sunset only got better and as we got back to the lot and went through our gear and chatted about where our final Moab dinner together would be.

Owl Rock Tower Arches National Park Climbing Sunset

Can’t wait to come back here and lead this route in the future!

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Photography exclusively by Dan Oliver unless otherwise stated and cited.


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