Off-Balance Rock is a >100-foot sandstone tower (though references suggest it’s shorter than that) located within the Garden of Eden area of the Arches National Park outside of Moab, Utah. It is one of many “mini towers” in that area of the Park. It is probably also one of the easiest desert towers out there with the Northeast Chimney offering a two-pitch 5.7 passage to its summit. The approach is short (~3 minutes), the climbing casual (though fun I thought!), and the summit spectacular – it’s a nice small tower to bag if you have an hour or two to spare.
DON’T SPOIL THE SOIL!
Much of the SE Utah desert including the Arches National Park is home to Cryptobiotic Soil Crust. Watch where you step as this stuff is extremely sensitive and this “stuff” is also what’s keeping erosion at bay on hillsides. The NPS recommends using established trails, sandstone slabs, and/or sandy washes for your foot travel throughout the park.
From US 191 just north of Moab (3 minutes driving time to downtown), Utah turn into Arches National Park (on NE side of US 191) via the main park entrance (Visitors’ Center complex is right here as well). Drive the main Arches Park road for about 9 miles from US 191 until you encounter the turn off (on right) for the Windows Area. Turn right and park in one of the small dirt pullouts on either side of the road. Hike up to the northeast face of the tower (facing the parking spot) staying in the small washes and on slabs as much as you can.
Off-Balance Rock is located within Arches National Park. In addition to the entrance fees (see below) the usual backcountry behavior rules of the national parks apply here (no dogs in backcountry, no power drills, tread lightly, leave no trace etc….). Backcountry camping is allowed in designated areas only and you’ll need an overnight permit (should you choose to do the 150-yard approach to and from Owl rock over a course of multiple days).
NO new anchors & no new routes! NO hammering allowed!
Also, get that idea of climbing Balanced Rock out of your head as it’s strictly off limits to climbers!
Tread lightly and don’t be an asshole – this is Arches and the future of climbing access here is uncertain!
7-day pass (minimum required) is $10 per passenger vehicle. Entrance fee details can be found on the official NPS website here.
Car camping within Arches National Park will cost you $10 per night. Details of fees, reservations, regulations etc. can be found here (official NPS website). Backcountry camping information can be found here.
External LinksMountainproject page for Off-Balance Rock is here.
Routes and References
There are two published routes on this tower. Eric Bjornstad's guidebook gives information on both of these (ISBN 0-934641-92-7). Cameron Burns’ guidebook (ISBN 0-89886-657-X) lists only the 5.7 line (and his beta is much more accurate than Supertopos in this case). The two routes are:
Camino Route 2 pitches, 5.10+
Northeast Chimney Route 2 pitches, 5.7 (FA party and date are unknown)