Fitness on the Rocks: Where to Try Indoor Climbing

Updated May 6, 2019

When the temperatures start to drop, and the rain (or even snow) begins to fall, it’s easy to hunker down and stop getting outside for fun activities like rock climbing. However, thanks to several amazing indoor climbing gyms in Seattle and Portland, you can easily enjoy this fun, core-strengthening sport year-round. Plus, all of the gyms provide rental equipment, so you don’t have to make a big investment to begin.

“If you’re looking for an indoor activity to keep you sane or fit for the winter, then climbing is a strong choice. It’s a great social sport that challenges you mentally and physically,” said Mike Ryan, of the Portland Rock Gym. “Starting now gives new climbers the chance to learn the basic skills and technique needed for climbing outdoors when the weather is good.”

Here are some indoor climbing spots that seasoned climbers and newbies can check out this winter. For most places, you can pay for the day, the month, or go all in and get a membership for the year.

Portland

The Portland Rock Gym
At 15,000 square feet, the Portland Rock Gym is the largest and oldest rock-climbing gym in Oregon. It offers as many as 120 climbing routes, making it unlikely that beginners or experienced climbers will ever get bored. Plus, there are courses available for all levels. If you’re just getting started, check out their beginner-friendly events that are hosted on Friday and Saturday nights.

Stoneworks Climbing Gym
This cool Beaverton-based space has been around for about 20 years. It offers classes for climbers of all levels and ages, and tons of intricate climbing routes that change often, including a traverse around the whole gym.

Beyond Portland

Crux Rock Climbing Gym
Eugene’s Crux Rock Climbing Gym has 9,000 square feet of climbing walls, plus classes and clinics for all levels. The gym also has weights and cardio equipment for cross-training.

Bend Rock Gym
Bend’s only climbing gym, Bend Rock Gym, is working on a huge expansion scheduled to open in December that will include 20-feet taller climbing walls and space for group fitness classes. Like many gyms, this one offers an introductory climbing course that comes with a week-long trial membership.

Seattle

Seattle Bouldering Project
This giant gym in Beacon Hill has high ceilings, a super open layout, and tons of great natural light from its floor-to-ceiling windows. It offers intro to advanced classes, youth climbing courses and a full-service fitness center.

Stone Gardens
With 16,000 square feet of indoor climbing space, plus 40 feet of outdoor walls, this Ballard-based gym does not disappoint. It provides youth and adult courses, as well as weight and exercise equipment for those who want to cross-train. There’s also a Stone Gardens location in Bellevue.

Vertical World
Established in 1987, Vertical World has the distinction of being the first climbing gym in the U.S. Find locations in Seattle, Redmond and Lynnwood.

Beyond Seattle

Vital Climbing Gym
This modern gym in Bellingham is part of a small chain built just for bouldering — climbing low enough to the ground that safety gear isn’t needed.

The Source Climbing Center
For climbers in Southwest Washington, The Source in Vancouver has walls up to 36 feet tall, bouldering courses, and a kids mezzanine for youth or adults looking for a warmup. Call ahead or go online to reserve space in classes.

Wild Walls
Wild Walls in Spokane is a combination climbing gym and yoga studio that offers climbing classes, private instruction and youth programs. Yoga classes are included with monthly and annual memerships.

Alaska

Alaska Rock Gym in Anchorage offers climbing opportunities for all ages. There’s even a weight room and yoga studio.

Ascension Rock Club in Fairbanks has over 80 problems to solve and a dedicated kids’ room.

The Rock Dump in Juneau offers bouldering and rope climbing in a climate-controlled indoor space. Check out the website for information on booking a private event or taking a class.

Lindsey Emery

Lindsey Emery is a Portland-based health and fitness writer. Prior to her move to the Pacific Northwest, Lindsey was the senior fitness editor at Fitness magazine. A graduate of the School of Journalism and Mass Communication at The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Lindsey spends most of her downtime running, biking, hiking and baking. She lives in southeast PDX with her husband, Eddy, and their cat, Reggie. You can find her online at www.lindseyemery.com or on twitter @FITNESSlindsey