Beacon Rock is a well known and popular spot in Washington State Park. Portland climbers are spoiled because no one could ask for a finer big wall crag. Beacon Rock is the second largest monolith in the world, and it is the eroded core of an old volcanic neck. The 848-foot high spire is composed of light colored vesiculed Andesite, and is steeply featured on all sides. Beacon showcases technically demanding and sustained dihedral rock climbing of only the highest degree on a huge 400′ vertical south face aspect. Beacon Rock offers experience technically demanding, multi-pitch climbing, exposure, and variety like no other.
Rock climbing routes on the south aspect of Beacon Rock range in technical difficulty from 5.7 to the upper 5.12+ grade. A concentration of 10 to 15 lead climbs exist per grade from 5.9 to 5.11B. These core mid-range routes provide an excellent opportunity to define your climbing experience. Beacon Rock also offers hikers a summit trail with amazing grand views of the entire Columbia River Gorge. Trust me, the view is worth it!
Beacon Rock is a part of the Washington State Park System, which does have a Climbing Management Plan in effect to regulate rock climbing. Rock climbing is limited to the river or south face and to the northwest face. The south face aspect is open for rock climbing from approximately July 15th until January 31st.
The south face is typically closed from February 1st until July 14th, but may open a little early or later. These dates are dependant upon the falcon departing for the season and the Park Managers approval. The seasonal south face closure helps to protect the Peregrine Falcon nesting habitat.
The east face is closed to all climbing. Although portions of the east face of Beacon Rock were considered for potential opening, a rare plant species and falcon activity necessitates a year-round closure of the east side.
The northwest section of Beacon Rock is open year-round and presently offers about twelve rock climbs. These routes are seldom climbed and are generally technically difficult to lead. This area is located entirely in the forest starting at a sign to the right of the water spigot at the parking lot, and ending where the hiking trail zigzags back to meet the wall. This area is posted with signs describing where the climbing off limits.
Rock climbers must use the east side approach trail only. Do not park at the boat ramp/camping area west of Beacon Rock to approach the cliff. The railroad company does not like climbers walking along its tracks.
Use gray colored slings or webbing for the belay anchors. Chalk use is allowed. Bolting is allowed as specified in the climbing management plan, but any climber who wants to develop a new climbing route must file an application and first attain approval from the Park Manager.
Guided group climbs of 6 or more persons must obtain a day use permit.
The Washington Administrative Code for technical rock climbing can be viewed online at WAC Title-Chapter-Section 352-32-085.
Beacon Rock can be reached from Vancouver, Washington by driving east on State Route 14 for 28.8 miles to Beacon Rock State Park. From Portland, Oregon you can drive east on I-84 to Cascade Locks crossing the Bridge of the Gods, then drive 7 miles west on State 14 past Bonneville Dam to Beacon Rock.