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7 Best Rock Climbing Gyms in New York City

Looking for the best rock climbing gyms in New York City?

We’ve been to over 25 climbing gyms all over the US, and some cities have better gyms. NY is one of them.

Climbing in NYC has changed so much since we lived here pre-pandemic. When we moved to NYC, Brooklyn Boulders was where the cool kids go, and we picked our apartment based on it being within walking distance from BKB Queensbridge and Cliffs LIC.

On our most recent visit, we got the help of our friends, Jay and Vi, who still live in the area but left BKB for other gyms to help put together this list. Here’s what we learned.

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Last Updated: January 8, 2023

Most climbers at gyms fall in the beginner or intermediate category. If you’re climbing in the advanced to the pro range, we assume you don’t need to google gyms, and already have a network of climbing friends telling you where to climb (but let us know if we’re wrong, and you happen to be reading this!).

Things to Keep in Mind when Visiting Climbing Gyms in NYC

  • The climbing scene will continue to change. We’ll revisit and continually update this post, but I have yet to see the gym scene change as drastically as it has in NY.
  • Corporate vs. Independent Gyms – If they hire a new setter, the setting can vary and is usually more drastic at smaller, independent gyms vs. corporate ones.
  • Setting – The setting includes how fun the climbs are and the variety of holds. Typically, when they invest more in the variety of holds, they’re also investing in better setters. Each gym has a different philosophy, and it all depends on what you are personally looking for. I’ve noticed my outdoor friends like gyms with lots of ‘tensiony’ moves that train them for the outdoors, but many of our indoor-only climbing friends are looking for something entirely different (i.e., comp-style). Gym climbing has evolved and has become its own sport.
  • Grading – We’re primarily looking at interesting movement and fun setting over how they grade their problems. Some climbers prefer a grade range, while others prefer them broken up. Some gyms are stiffer than others, and some grades are all over the place, which we make a note of. What’s most important is that you have fun.
  • Community – This is always hard to compare on one-off visits. We got some insight from friends, but instead of doing a rating on community, we included any notes on whether a gym was beginner friendly or more catered towards advanced climbers.

The Best Rock Climbing Gyms in New York City

These are the average of our ratings.

1. Brooklyn Boulders Queensbridge – Our Old Home Gym

23-10 41st Ave, Queens, NY 11101, map

Setting: 3/5
Facility: 3/5 (25,000 sq ft)
Rates: $25 Day Pass | Memberships Starting at $90.83/month
Types of Climbing: Bouldering, Lead, Top Rope (TR)
Busiest Times: Weekdays after work
Training Boards: Training Board, Campus Board

We had to start our list with our former home gym in NYC. Unfortunately, all our friends tell us it’s not the gym it used to be.

When Brooklyn Boulders first opened in 2009, it was the largest climbing gym in NYC and the only one in Brooklyn. They used to be a fun gym and nice workspace with a lot of comp-style setting mixed in. We’d often see Ashima sweeping at the comps.

Since then, they’ve sold three gyms, and Gowanus was one of them. The only location left is Queensbridge, which the climbers from Gowanus called the yuppy gym. All our friends who used to climb at the BKB gyms have left and told us the setting has gone downhill because the other gyms poached the better setters.

Even before we left, the AC and heat were constantly breaking, and the downstairs area was often stuffy. It was also very crowded during peak hours. Our friend who visited both the BKBs said if you’re looking for harder climbs, he couldn’t find anything V9 or above at the gym.

More: 15 Clever Rock Climbing Hacks, Tips, Tricks, and Proper Etiquette

2. Vital Climbing Gym Brooklyn – Best Facilities and 24 Hr Access

221 N 14th St, Brooklyn, NY 11249, map

Setting: 4/5
Facility: 5/5
Rates: $35 Day Pass | Memberships Starting at $120.83/month
Setting Routine: Sets Monday through Thursday. A team of 7 setters with two core setters.
Types of Climbing: Bouldering
Busiest Times: Weekdays after 4:30 PM, Weekends after 10:30 AM
Training Boards: Tension Board, Spray Wall, Adjustable Kilter Board, Campus Board, Tread Wall
Other Locations: Upper Eastside + West Harlem

We were most excited to check out Vital on our recent visit because of the rooftop city views, and they have everything you could ask for in a gym. It’s one of the best climbing gyms in New York, if not the best. The rooftop isn’t always open, but we lucked out with the weather. The rest of the gym is massive, with the most variety of holds and many different wall features and angles.

In addition, they have a huge yoga studio, cycling, aerial silks classes, tons of workout equipment, and more. It’s hard to beat.

It’s the most beginner-friendly gym, whereas MetroRock and GP81 might feel more intimidating if you’re starting out.

Note: The rooftop doesn’t get reset as often as the rest of the gym, it’s also open based on the weather.

More: 15 Games and Exercises to Improve Rock Climbing

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3. Central Rock – In the City + Petite-Friendly

21 West End Ave, New York, NY 10069, map

Setting: 4/5
Facility: 3/5 (10,000 sq ft, watch the gym tour)
Rates: $33 Day Pass | Memberships Starting at $129/month
Setting Routine: 3-4 days out of the week on one set
Types of Climbing: Mostly bouldering, there are ten anchors for Top Rope
Busiest Times: Weekdays after work, Weekends before 4 PM
Training Boards: Tension Board, Campus Board

Overall a solid gym. There are some straightforward climbs and some trickier ones. The gym is on the smaller side, but still packs in a good range of setting. I may be partial because Ady is a petite setter and instructor here, and it’s hard to find gyms that employ a diverse setting staff in a world of mostly tall, white male setters (and maybe that’s great if you’re a tall, white man).

Cons – It’s pricier for a smaller facility, and it gets very crowded during peak hours. It also takes a 10-15 min walk from the nearest subway station.

Central Rock has multiple locations in CT, NY, MA, RI, but currently, only one in the city. A Chelsea location is in the works though!

Note: They have community chalk stations around the gym which is something we rarely see.

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4. The Cliffs at LIC – Best Sport Climbing

11-11 44th Dr, Queens, NY 11101, map

Setting: 3.5/5
Facility: 3/5
Rates: $32 Day Pass | Memberships Starting at $95/month
Types of Climbing: Bouldering, Lead, TR
Busiest Times: Weekdays after work
Training Boards: Spray Wall, Campus Board
Other Locations: Harlem + Gowanus + DUMBO

We haven’t visited since we moved away, but this is still one of the best gyms in NYC if you want to lead or top rope. They have a massive lead-climbing cave! From what we remember, the bouldering wasn’t all that special, but the ropes were a lot of fun. Our friend who climbs here says the ropes get a 4/5, but the bouldering gets a 2/5.

5. GP81 – For the Climbing Community

81 Quay St, Brooklyn, NY 11222, map

Setting: 4/5
Facility: 3/5
Rates: $27 Day Pass | Memberships Starting at $108/month
Setting Routine: 6 week turn around
Types of Climbing: Bouldering
Square Footage of the Facilities: 6,500 sq ft
Square Footage of Climbing Walls: 2,000+ sq ft
Number of Problems Up: +/- 130
Busiest Times: Weekdays after work
Training Boards: Moon Board, Decoy Board, Campus Board, + 15, 30, 45, and 60-degree walls

GP81 has the reputation of being where the strong climbers go to train and climb hard. Even the main bouldering walls are just flat at various angles, and it’s one of few gyms that have double-digit climbs. Our friend, Alex, was saying he couldn’t find anything over a V8 at any of the other gyms. If you’re serious about climbing and want to find other climbers who are just as obsessed as you are, this is where you go. Now that we climb outside, we see the appeal of training gyms like this.

It used to be very crowded, but many people moved over to the new Cliffs Gowanus and MetroRock.

Cons: If you’re a beginner, I wouldn’t recommend this gym. It’s stiffer and may be intimidating. Also, it’s a smaller space.

More: 17 Practical Gifts for Rock Climbers They’ll Love and Use

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6. MetroRock Bushwick – To Practice Your Top Outs

321 Starr St, Brooklyn, NY 11237, map

Setting: 3/5
Facility: 4/5
Rates: $30 Day Pass | Memberships Starting at $95/month
Setting Routine: Set 4 days a week (Typically 2 days bouldering and 2 days ropes)
Types of Climbing: Bouldering, Lead, Top Rope
Square Footage of Climbing Walls: 23,000+ sq ft
Number of Problems Up: ~90 Boulder Programs, ~80 Rope Climbs
Busiest Times: Weekdays after work

We’ve only visited MetroRock once while living in New York. The unique feature of this gym is that there are top-out problems. Otherwise, our impression of the setting wasn’t too memorable other than it being stiffer (along with GP81) than any other gyms in the area. No major complaints with the setting, but nothing stood out either. If you’ve been lately, let us know how it is now!

They have other locations in MA and VT.

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7. Method Climbing Gym – For Comp Style Setting

1423 Clinton St, Hoboken, NJ 07030, map

Setting: 5/5
Facility: 5/5
Rates: $23 Day Pass | Memberships Starting at $84.17/month
Setting Routine: Set 3 times a week (M/W/T). Boulders are Set on a 4 Week Turnaround. As needed on ropes (10-12 Week Turnaround)
Types of Climbing: Mostly Bouldering, Some Top Rope
Square Footage of the Facilities: 20,000 sq ft (not including cafe)
Square Footage of Climbing Walls: 8,000+ sq ft bouldering, 4,000 sq ft rope climbing
Number of Problems Up: ~130-150 Boulder Problems (unless there is a comp/clinic/camp), 45 Routes
Busiest Times: Weekdays after work
Training Boards: Tension Board, Moon Board, Spray Wall, Campus Board

When talking to our friends and setters in the area, their favorite gym is Method. Though it’s not in the city, it’s worth making the trek to climb here. Everyone says the setting here is as good as it gets and by far the most creative and fun if you like comp-style problems. All the problems are quality, even down to the V0s and V1s, often an afterthought for setters. The facilities are clean, modern, and it’s well-ventilated.

The gym was started by the Chi’s, a family of kids who compete at the national level. We used to see them crush at the NYC comps. We didn’t make it to Jersey on our last visit, but this will be a top priority next time!

More: 10 Rock Climbing Tips for Beginners

Map of the Best Climbing Gyms in New York City

Other Rock Climbing Gyms in New York City and Nearby

Here are some honorable mentions.

Other Things People Look for

There is no perfect gym. There are many things people look for in a climbing gym. When I asked the petite climbing crew, people mentioned cost, large/clean facilities, fun setting, variety of holds, specific training wall, friendly community, not being too crowded, workout equipment, 24/7 access, classes like yoga or aerial silks, good parking, safety, sauna, and being easy to get to name some.

What to Pack – Climber’s Packing List

What to Bring For First Timer’s

You can rent shoes, chalk, and a harness if it’s your first time. All you need to bring is the following:

Established CLimbers Packing List

For those who already climb, don’t forget these items too! Check this post for our favorite of each.

Extras

Finally, here are some miscellaneous items you can bring for warming up, training, and more.

More About Our CLimbing Journey

  • Jacob, Esther, and Vi climb in the intermediate V4-6 range indoors and outdoors. Jay climbs in the V5-V7 range. Alex climbs in the V7-V9 range.
  • We’ve climbed at over 25 gyms all over the US and have a good idea of comparison. Most of these have been in major cities (ABQ, Atlanta, Austin, Bishop, Chattanooga, NY, Portland, San Diego, SF, Seattle, and Vegas). Our friends who van life and travel to climb outdoors year-round have told us that generally, climbing gyms have been worse at better outdoor climbing destinations, but that could also be because many are found in smaller communities.
  • Between visiting a lot of gyms and Esther being a setter at our previous gym in Vegas, we have a decent understanding of what the setting should be.
  • Since we’re not pro climbers, double-digit climbers, or TikTok famous, people don’t give us special treatment. As an Asian male, Jacob can get a good feel of whether the gym community is friendly.

Where to Stay in NYC

Planning Checklist

Any other rock climbing gyms in New York City that we missed? What are the things you look for in a gym?

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Esther + Jacob

Esther and Jacob are the founders of Local Adventurer, one of the top 5 travel blogs in the US. They believe that adventure can be found near and far and hope to inspire others to explore locally. They explore a new city in depth every year and currently base themselves in Las Vegas.

Follow along on Instagram (E + J), YouTube, TikTok, and Pinterest.

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