Picture Rocks Park Mostly sport climbing27 routes in crag
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The park has about 50 bolted climbs on overhanging pocketed Devonian Limestone. The bulk of the climbs are in the 5.10-5.11 range, which makes the crag moderate by Iowa Standards. Also, it has been recently rebolted, so the bolts are fresh, and because it is heavily climbed there is the minimum amount of loose choss. Pictured Rocks is a good choice for people who are just getting into sport climbing, or who want to get out and catch a quick pump.
Follow the signs for Camp Courageous, off of 38s south of Monticello Iowa. Keep going past the camp and down the road into the park. The climbs are for the most part located off of the well developed trail that departs on the other side of the picnic shelter.
The land is owned by the state of Iowa as a hunting preserved, but they have handed over administration of the land to the Jones County Conservation Board. There is a bolting committee that is trusted with making sure the hardware is in good condition.
The climbs are for the most part close to the parking lot and easy to find. The two exceptions are Chicago wall that is around the other side of the bluff leading up to the boat ramp, and Windy Point which is a 20 minute walk north along the top of the bluffs.
Where to stay
You can no longer camp in the park, however, there are camp sites at other parks in Jones County.
Pictured Rocks is a very heavily used park, that is popular for trout fishing, canoeing, deer hunting, picnicking and hiking. Be nice to people you meet, and clean up after yourself. The Jones County Parks people have been accommodating to us, so be a good citizen in return.
In Iowa, we don't drape ropes off of everything that we want to climb, as the scene is not crowded, and you rarely have to wait. If you are going to top rope a route several times, and it is equipped with sport shuts, hang your own draws to minimize wear and tear on the hardware.
Finally, stay on the established trails, don't do things that will kill trees like wrapping webbing on them that will damage the bark. The rangers don't want you slacklining.
Pictured Rocks was probably the first sport crag developed in Iowa. Most of the development took place in the 1990's. The only printed guide to the area was Sean Kinzel's "Wild Iowa" guide book.
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