Climbing at Horseshoe Canyon Ranch.

Arkansas Climbers Festival – Get Started or Get Better

Arkansas Cycling & Fitness.

Whenever I think of rock climbing I always remember a t-shirt I saw maybe 30 years ago, “Climbing is hard, but it’s easier than growing up.” It’s strange, the things that stick with you. I recently talked to David Thompson, President of the Arkansas Climbers Coalition for the past 3 years and a member since 2017. The Arkansas Climbers Coalition (ACC), is a non-profit organization dedicated to preserving and protecting climbing areas in The Natural State.

Climbing at Horseshoe Canyon Ranch.
Climbing at Horseshoe Canyon Ranch.

The ACC sponsors events throughout the year as part of its mission to preserve and protect climbing areas, this includes cleanups, replacing bolts, and filling other needs to make these areas safe, accessible, and clean. Besides creating and protecting places to climb, the ACC also works to create climbers. This is one of the goals of the Arkansas Climbers Festival.

The Arkansas Climbers Festival

2023 marks the second year for the Arkansas Climbers Festival. The festival is held at Horseshoe Canyon Ranch, near Jasper, Arkansas on March 24 – 26. An inclusive event, specific meet-ups happen on Friday for LGBTQ Climbers, BIPOC Climbers, and a Youth Climbers Meetup. Friday night will see the party kicked off with a talk about Arkansas geology because it’s nice to know what you’re climbing on. This is followed by an Arkansas trivia game, dinner, and socializing.

According to Thompson, “The climbers festival was created to help beginner climbers learn how to be safe in the outdoors. Over all we want the Climbers festival to appeal to all climbers at all levels and backgrounds to be able to come together, learn, have fun, and make new climbing fiends. The first festival was a big hit with a lot of intro classes for people who wanted to transition from the gym to the outside or for climbers that had gone outside a few times and wanted to learn more. We realized there was a need to add more advanced classes for this years festival for those who have been climbing a while and want to get stronger or have more endurance. There are classes for those who want to get better at climbing traditional routes and preparing for a big multi-pitch trips. We even have a class that helps show you a better strategy and tactics to climbing your next project. “

Climbing at Horseshoe Canyon Ranch.
Climbing at Horseshoe Canyon Ranch.

Saturday is full of clinics and workshops. The workshops are included in the festival registration price, the clinics have an extra fee and attendees must sign up for them separately. The general admission is $45.00 per person and includes access to all workshops, camping, climbing, and Saturday night dinner. The clinics are only $10.00 each and can be signed up for on the festival website.


The workshops include ($10 extra with general admission)

  • Anchor Cleaning
  • Approach to Projecting
  • Boulder Harder
  • Intro to Sport Climbing
  • Warrior Way – Falling Clinic
  • Multi Pitch
  • Rappelling
  • Single Pitch Self Rescue
  • Wilderness First Aid
  • Intro to traditional Climbing
  • Intermediate Traditional Climbing
  • Advanced Traditional Climbing
  • Belay Techniques
  • Climbing Endurance Class
  • Vertical Photography
  • Women in Climbing
  • Guided Climbing
  • How to Top Rope Solo

Get signed up for these soon as they will fill up. If you are new to climbing and need help deciding which workshops to take, contact the Arkansas Climbers Coalition at

Climbing at Horseshoe Canyon Ranch.
Climbing at Horseshoe Canyon Ranch.

The Clinics

The clinics include (free with general admission)

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  • Little Ones at the Crag – Climbing as a family
  • Strength Training for Climbing
  • How to Tape for Crack Climbing and Injuries
  • Lifting Weights for Climbing
  • Learning to Bolt: Assess and Remove Old Bolts/How to Place New Bolts

Saturday Night and Sunday

Saturday night is a huge social event with dinner a raffle and music. Hang out with your new friends.

Sunday morning will have some more clinics plus a shoe demo.

Download the entire schedule here

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