Download rakkup from the iTunes Store for mobile access to the best rock climbing guidebooks Android version of rakkup app on Google Play guidebook catalog faq contact us
Iowa Limestone cover

Iowa Limestone

by Patrick Mees

A rock climber's digital guide to Iowa Limestone, sometimes referred to as Wild Iowa. This guide includes 3 areas located in Eastern Iowa near Monticello: Pictured Rocks, Indian Bluffs and Ozark Wildlife Area. While unexpected and the butt of endless climber jokes, Iowa does have some decent rock climbing. Formed in ancient seas 2-300 million years ago, the Silurian Dolomite was revealed by erosion and contains some incredibly formed features. One might encounter pockets, crimps, combos, slopers, jugs and fossils on route. While the Iowa climbing history predates the surge of bolting in the early 1990's, that is when climbing began to really develop near corn and hog farms above the North Fork of the Maquoketa and Maquoketa Rivers. Over 100 bolted sport routes offer most styles of limestone climbing from technical slabs to steep jug hauls from 5.6 to 5.12. This is mostly a sport climbing guide. A few trad lines have been added, updates may include more.

A few things to consider when climbing here.

-Be respectful of the land and others, climbing at these areas, like most places is a privilege, which can be revoked at any time by land managers. Currently, climbers have a good relationship with the DNR/State Government, let's keep it that way!

- Please leash your dog

- Do not add or remove any bolts. Route development is managed by Jones County with assistance from the Iowa Climber's Coalition see: and for more details.

- Please use existing trails and don't create your own. A great deal of work has gone into maintaining the trails. Erosion is of great concern by land managers.

- There is no camping at Pictured Rocks. Camping can be found at Central Park or Wapsipinicon State Park , both of which are near Anamosa IA. One may also find primitive camping at Indian Bluffs, where Butterfield Road ends at the Maquoketa River.

About the grades:

Grades are subjective, one person's .12a is another person's .11c and someone else's .12c. Fun to argue about but it's an argument that really never ends. Most grades are a consensus and similar to the out of print/online guides.

About the star ratings:

0 Stars- what do you think?

1 Star- Climb may have poor bolting, too much chossy rock. Basically, something you might do once if you are bored but likely never repeat or recommend to friends, at least.

2 Stars - Good climb that is worth repeating often, bolts are good and the rock is also good for the most part.

3 Stars - The best the area has to offer. Rock has little choss with movement that is not forgettable. Something to write home about (unless you're from Spain).

Truly hope this guide helps you get to the climbs and that is assists your enjoyment of the areas. Please be safe 1st and foremost! Always, check your knot, check your partners knot, inspect gear and Hardware. Bolt counts may be off, take more than you think you need, if you're not sure.


Sectors in alphabetical order:

Guidebook Info4 climbs
Indian Bluffs39 climbs in 6 sectors
Ozark Wildlife Area17 climbs in 1 sectors
Pictured Rocks57 climbs in 12 sectors


Most Recent Ticks