Have you hit a wall with your current workout routine? Can’t hang with the monotonous motions? Have a rocky experience with exercise?
We’re just going to stop trying to climb ourselves out of this pun wormhole and get right to the point. So, without further ado, here are seven amazing rock climbing gyms that will rock your socks whether you’re harnessing up for the first time or preparing to scale Everest.
Perhaps the most recognizable name in the Minnesota climbing game, Vertical Endeavors has five locations in the state. While gym layout and wall height vary from gym to gym (ranging from 39 feet in St. Paul to 60 in Bloomington), each one offers at least a dozen auto-belays and upwards of 25 roped routes (with 230—count ’em, 230!—routes at the Bloomington location). Vertical Endeavors also offers lessons and camps, as well as climbing excursions to destinations including the North Shore and Devil’s Lake. Those who aren’t quite ready to take their climbing outdoors can experiment at Vertical Endeavors indoor bouldering areas or pay a visit to Vertical Endeavors Twin Cities Bouldering in Prospect Park which has 18,000 square feet dedicated entirely to rock climbing’s rope-free sister sport.
Midwest Climbing Academy
This former youth-focused climbing gym now offers Twin Cities climbing enthusiasts of all ages a chance to get in on the action. A membership grants climbers access to the gym’s 7,500 square feet of walls (both bouldering and roped) during all open hours, as well as to the Academy’s training room which includes two adjustable climbing walls that can be angled up to 70 degrees.
Despite selling the latest and greatest gear for pretty much everything outdoor-, camping-, and recreation-related, perhaps the best thing in Midwest Mountaineering is completely free. That’s right: Midwest Mountaineering has a climbing cave! During store hours, visitors are invited to try their hands (and feet!) and test out equipment purchases on the bouldering arrangements that line the downstairs cave’s walls and ceiling. Looking for more hands-on instruction? Midwest Mountaineering also offers climbing clinics and a monthly “Bouldering Divas” ladies night.
Minneapolis Bouldering Project
This Near North favorite is 44,000 square feet of awesome. What’s unique about MBP is that it is entirely dedicated to bouldering, allowing climbers to test their skills without the confines of, well… anything — including ropes or harnesses! Other sweet membership perks include sauna access, a yoga studio, and the all-too-convenient fact that Pryes Brewing Company is right next door. Yep, we’re already planning our post-climb drinks.
University of Minnesota Recreation and Wellness Center
Don’t be scared off by the name — you needn’t have a University of Minnesota Rec Center membership (or even be a student) to use either of the University’s two climbing walls. At the Minneapolis campus’ bustling main Rec Center, a day pass gets you access to climbing and bouldering spaces spanning over 4,000 square feet, while a day pass to the quieter St. Paul gym allows you to use its 900 square foot wall. Looking to get credit for your climbing? The U also offers a one-credit Rock Climbing course for wannabe rockstars.
Minnesota Climbing Co-op
Co-op members can rock around the clock with 24/7 access to this Northeast bouldering gym’s 3,000-square-foot climbing area. While there are membership-free open hours and ladies nights throughout the week, once you’ve chalked up here, you’ll definitely want to keep coming back to use Co-op’s amenities, including angled climbing walls, a climbing cave, and training tools (including a slackline!). Another bonus: walls here are topped out, meaning that instead of making it to the ceiling only to immediately descend, climbers can experience the sweet success of standing on top of the 16-foot wall they just conquered.
Rock climbing at Base Camp is truly a Minnesota experience: rising up at local landmark (and everyone’s elementary school field trip destination) Fort Snelling, the climbing wall here is a re-creation of the rock face of St. Croix River bluffs. No bluffing! Visitors can choose their own adventure from 16 climbing routes ranging from 24 to 32 feet high. Bonus: the harnesses here can handle up to 5,000 pounds, so even if you go a little too crazy at taco night, Base Camp has got you covered.
**Updated by Gina Van Thomme, November 2018