Palisades State Park in southeastern South Dakota boasts some of the finest rock climbing in the area. In the park you'll enjoy quality pink quartzite climbing with little traffic in a unique valley. The park has virtually no anchors or bolting, making it a quality top roping or trad climbing location. The stunning gorge drops out of nowhere with prairie hundreds of miles going in every direction. For locals from Sioux Falls, the Palisades are a great way to spend an afternoon just a few minutes from the city.
Climbing difficulty ranges from easy class 4 scrambling to 5.12 overhanging and roofs. It's also rarely crowded - almost any weekend you'll find a few other climbers on the variety of walls.
If you're looking for some great bouldering and climbing in eastern South Dakota, the Palisades won't disappoint.
Getting There View Larger Map
Take I-90 east out of Sioux Falls. Take the Brandon Exit north (484th Ave) for about 9.5 miles. It will turn east (now 254th St), stay on the road. Turn Right (south) on 485th Ave. Stay on this road for about 1.5 miles and you'll see a Palisades sign. Turn right on this road, and it will take you into the park.
Photo courtesy MattZ at MountainProject.com
Good route info for the Palisades at the following sites:
Mountain Project page
The authoritative guide on routes is "Rock Climber's Guide to Palisades State Park" by Gregg Fossum, Vern Olson, Steve Nesheim. You can pick this guide up on REI for a couple bucks or from the Great Outdoor Store in Sioux Falls.
A few highlights (all on the Harkor Tower):
Glimmer: (5.10) Climb directly up the face to the right of the chimney. "Classic Palisades's face climb".
Hot Coals: (5.9) Do the face just to the right of Glimmer. Bring your chalk when its HOT, HOT, HOT.
Gai's Folly: (5.6) Large crack with a large loose stone.
Spiritual Investments: (5.11) Climb face just to the right of Gai's Folly.
Or, you can just cruise out and look at walls. Virtually all routes have good anchor points for top roping and decent protection placement. Placing pro in pink quartzite is significantly different than in other types of rock, so you'll have to take some time to get used to the slippery red stuff. Once you get used to it placing pro isn't bad, but it takes a different feel.
There aren't a lot of climbers in the Sioux Falls area, so drop me a line if you'd like to go out.
You'll need to get a state park day pass or sticker to get into the climbing area. A year pass is $28, or a day pass is $6 per vehicle.
Palisades has a ton of campsites, but it's also extremely busy in the summer. You'll definitely want to reserve well ahead of your trip if you plan to stay.
External LinksSioux Falls Climbing Club
Mountain Project Palisades page
Palisades State Park Site
Sylvan Rocks Guide - A local guide service that operates in the park
Rock Climber's Guide to Palisades State Park - A couple bucks on REI, very good resource on routes