The 400-foot tall River Tower is like a lost cousin: though it looks and certainly feels like a Fisher Tower, it is geographically separated from the Fishers cluster by over a mile of mostly flat desert. The fin-shaped formation is composed of Cutler sandstone (like Fishers) while its top is capped by a Moenkopi layer (again like the larger towers of the Fishers). The tower was first climbed in 1973 by Ken Wyrick and Tom Merrill via what is now called The North Face route or (cleverly enough) The Wyrick-Merrill route. Since that time, three additional lines have been put up – all aid, with The Wyrick-Merrill being the easiest and Jim Beyer’s Rasta Wall being the hardest at A4.
Follow directions on Fisher Towers page to the turn-off from UT highway 128 (River Road) but do NOT turn off towards the Fishers. Instead:
-If coming from Moab, UT on highway 128 drive past Fishers turn-off for approximately 1.9 to 2.1 miles (depends on your odometer). You're looking for an indistinct dirt road on the right. If you hit Hittle Bottom turn-off (on left side), you have gone about 200-300 yards too far on 128.
-If coming from Cisco, UT (Colorado side) on highway 128 drive a few hundred (200-300) yards past the Hittle Bottom turn off (on your right) to a faint (unmarked) dirt road on your left.
After turning onto the dirt road (easily passable in a sedan as of September 2007), follow it as it heads in the direction of River Tower (comes in and out of view). We parked on the side of the road about 0.5 miles from 128 next to some boulders.
Hike level terrain (some minor washes to be crossed) beneath the rock slabs upon which River Tower stands until you're just past the prow of the tower. At this point, look for easy (class 2 with a move of class 3) way up ridges/washes toward the base of tower's prow. An overhanging cliff blocks further progress and so we traversed left significant distance away from tower (back towards car) along ledge systems until able to climb up a boulder gully up. The gully allows passage up the final rock band. Once above, cut back right toward the north face of River Tower. Approach time was about 30-45 minutes.
Alternatively, if you can find the start of the above-mentioned boulder gully, you could do a more direct scramble (class3-4) to the base.
Red TapeNone. This is BLM land. Stay on established trails and avoid trampling the crypto soil. If you can't do a route that is an established clean aid line in that style, don't get on it.
Established camp sites are available at the Fisher trailhead (BLM administered and with a fee). Additionally, consult the camping sections on these pages for some additional options (many free) in the Moab area:
Ice Cream Parlor
Local climbing information can be obtained from the friendly folks in the local climb shop, Pagan Mountaineering located in Moab, UT. Their number is 435-259-1117.
Also check: Moab Climate Summary Page.
Moab area web-cam (this is almost pointing at the River Tower!).
(1) Excellent page on River Tower is available on mountainproject.com. See here.
(2) Brad put together an entertaining TR of his solo (!) ascent of the North Face route with great photos on his page here.
Guidebooks(1) Desert Rock III: Moab To Colorado National Monument by Eric Bjornstad (ISBN 1-56044-754-0) lists all 4 routes and one variation.
(2) Select Climbs In The Desert Southwest by Cameron M. Burns (ISBN 0-89886-657-X) lists The Wyrick-Merrill and The Flow routes.