American Fork Canyon, just south and east of Salt Lake City, is a sport climber’s paradise. Besides offering camping, hiking, backpacking, mountain biking, horseback riding, snowshoeing, and cross-country and backcountry skiing, American Fork houses some of the best limestone slabs in the country.
What Makes It Great
The park’s proximity to Salt Lake makes it excellent for a full day or weekend of climbing or just an afternoon workout. We recommend stopping by IME Utah for route suggestions, good beta, and any gear needs before you head for the canyon.
American Fork has a tendency to be a little cooler than SLC, so it wouldn't hurt to bring a light jacket in the summer and layer up well in the spring and fall. The climbing in American Fork can be year round, but if you do go in the winter just remember to bring warm clothes, plenty of water, and be mindful of your crew.
Crags and routes are along both sides of the canyon and easily accessible from the car pull-offs. In the summer, your belayer will be comfortable in the shade, but in the spring, fall, and winter, American Fork is a great place to chase the sun. While there’s a little bouldering available and some top roping (as well as ice climbing in the winter), most of the sport routes fall between 5.9 and 5.13. Beginners and intermediate sport climbers will be able to find routes that they’re comfortable with, too – there’s tons to choose from. For a list of classic routes and a little beta, check out the Mountain Project’s page.
Who is Going to Love It
Climbers of every skill level will love American Fork Canyon. Of course, there’s more to do in American Fork Canyon than just climbing. The park is loaded with gorgeous hikes that pass by beautiful little lakes and waterfalls. In the winter, the park becomes a snowshoe enthusiast’s paradise.
American Fork Canyon is also a favorite for cyclists, four-wheelers, and snowmobilers.
Camping is also available in several spots in the park, and much of the area is dog friendly, as well. For the determined, adventurous history buff, there’s even a famous airplane crash site to visit in the park. A U.S. Air force B-25 bomber crashed here in 1955. Though the wreckage is scattered, it’s easy to identify the huge radial engines. You’ll have to check it out in the warmer months though, since it’s buried under snow every winter until early- to mid-August.
Directions, Parking, & Regulations
State Route 92 winds its way east through the canyon (once there it’s called the Alpine Loop Scenic Byway) and up to the peak of the loop, down the east side of Mount Timpanogos (the second highest mountain in the Wasatch Range), and out into Provo Canyon. Visitors staying on the road won’t be charged a fee, but if you’re there to climb, it’s $6 for a 3 day pass. The park accepts America the Beautiful passes, too.
Note: the scenic route into the canyon (west from Heber City) is closed in the winters due to road conditions.