A Local's Guide to Bouldering in Central Park, New York City

Summer afternoon climbing at Worthless Boulder, one of Central Park's many crags hiding in plain sight

A Local's Guide to Bouldering in Central Park, New York City


Bella Rojas


Canon Sure Shot Ace


Fujifilm Superia 400

Bella Rojas climbing in NYC | Photo by Hiram Trejo


MAS is a media collective dedicated to the intersection of art and climbing founded by climbing coach Bella Rojas and climber/Artist Hiram Trejo

In the heart of New York City sits Central Park—843 acres of nature among America's most densely populated city. And hidden among the finely manicured fields, ball parks, and pathways sits nearly a dozen rocky outcroppings known for decades among the area's tight-knit climbing community.

After a few years of living in New York City and climbing in Central Park countless times, it’s still a surreal experience. Unlike a trip to your average bouldering crag, climbing in the middle of Manhattan isn’t at all an escape from city, instead it’s an unexpected addition to the experience.

While Rat Rock is certainly the most popular, we recently went for a session at Worthless Boulder, located farther uptown near 110th Street. The session starting same as they always do—by lugging crash pads through the subway from Brooklyn. It was a warm summer day, so our session was nice and lazy—equal parts snacking to climbing. No complaints here.

FM - Central Park - 2
FM- Central Park -3

FM - Central Park - 4

With the exception of Shit Rock, appropriately named after its popularity as NYC’s backyard toilet, Central Park boulders are all about 10 feet heigh. Although short, CP boulders can be difficult—polished footholds from high traffic, with powerful moves on sharp Manhattan schist. Worthless boulder may seem small, but has a number of quality problems and diverse wall angles.

Frederick Olmsted designed Central Park as the first landscaped public park in the United States, and fortunately, for climbers, Olmstead deliberately left many of the rock outcroppings intact. Rat Rock, Cat Rock, Shit Rock, and Worthless Boulder are some of the more popular spots. With the first of the few being the most well known. Though the actual extent of bouldering opportunities on natural rock in New York City is comparatively minuscule, the unlikely setting of Central Park provides a unique bouldering experience.

FM-Central Park - 5

FM - Central Park - 7

FM- Central Park - 8

FM - Central Park - 6

What to Bring to a Central Park Bouldering Session:

FM-Central Park-10
FM- Central Park - 12
FM- Central Park - 13
FM - Central Park - 14
FM - Central Park - 15
FM - Central Park - 16

Central Park isn’t the greatest quality crag, but it offers an accessibility matched by few cities of any worthwhile size. As tourists and native New Yorkers of all ages and backgrounds pass through one of the most visited parks in America, they may encounter rock climbing for the first time. Only recently rising to the mainstream, climbing still feels very inaccessible to those not wealthy and/or not privy to the outdoor recreation. Unexpectedly, NYC offers a solid introduction to outdoor climbing.

6 Central Park Bouldering Do’s & Don’ts:

  • Do treat the space as you would any other crag—leave no trace!
  • Do be sure to scan your landing zone for hazards such as trash, needles, and literal shit (not a joke).
  • Do anticipate some strange looks from tourists and maybe even a small, curious audience watching you send. Be nice.
  • Do be prepared to have your ass kicked on the “Polish Traverse” AKA the hardest V5 ever.
  • Don’t expect much friction! High traffic of climbers and scramblers leaves hand and foot holds well polished.
  • Don’t stay too late at Rat Rock without the expectation of being ambushed by the boulder's namesake rodent population.


FM - Central Park - 18
FM- Central Park - 5

Related articles
Photo Essay: A Season Ending Summit Attempt of the Grand Teton
18 Film Photos From a Season Ending Summit Attempt of the Wyoming's Grand Teton

With smoke and snow in the air and the climbing season closing, a last minute trip to the top of Wyoming's most iconic peak forces tough decisions

Q&A: Francois Lebeau on Becoming One of Climbing's Top Photographers
Francois Lebeau Talks Rigging Fixed Lines & Photographing Climbers Around the World

The celebrated French Canadian discusses his early days in Montreal, tricks to getting good images outdoors, documenting climbs in iconic destinations

The 10 Best Gym Bags for However & Wherever You Get Fit
The 10 Best Gym Bags for However & Wherever You Get Fit

Whether you're hitting the climbing gym, headed to the track, doing chin-ups on a tree branch or going to Gold's, these bags will get your gear there

Arc'teryx NextGen Climb Commitment Pledges $5M Towards Accessibility
Arc'teryx Commits $5M to Support the Next Generation of Diverse Climbers

The five year plan will offer grants to DEI-focused community organizations, host free climb events and gym-to-crag trips, and support elite climbers

The 7 Best Squamish, British Columbia Cabins on Airbnb (and Elsewhere)
The 7 Best Squamish, British Columbia Cabins on Airbnb (and Elsewhere)

An hour north of Vancouver, Squamish has become on adventure capital with easy access to rock climbing, mountain biking, rafting, and skiing

12 Design-Driven Adventure Travel Pants for Men & Women
The Best Pants for Whatever Adventures Your Travels Take You On

Whether you are planning a mountain excursion, hiking, adventuring around a city or just looking for sheer comfort these are our favorite travel pants

More articles
A Local's Guide to Bouldering in Central Park, New York City

Gallery Mode


Bella Rojas


Canon Sure Shot Ace


Fujifilm Superia 400

Back to article
☮️ Welcome to Field Mag

Get the best new gear, dreamy cabins, and epic adventure photography delivered to your inbox each week with Field Mag newsletters

Click Here to Subscribe
☮️  Welcome to Field Mag