Sprocket Rocks, 5.6-5.12c, West Cedar Crags, Sport/Trad Routes
Lat/Lon:  37.64306°N / 113.28361°W; Click for Google Map
Sprocket Rocks is a great escape from the desert heat that can grip southwestern
Utah and is considered part of the
West Cedar Crags area located at 6000’+/- over
10 miles west of Cedar City on Highway 56. While some shun the
crystalline
welded tuff
(type of rock consisting of consolidated volcanic ash), I personally find it
a joy compared to the frail sandstone of
Snow Canyon and other like climbing crags
closer to Saint George. This entire area sits on the Hurricane fault which separates
the Colorado Plateau and Great Basin desert. Welded tuff is basically a product of
lava (pyroclastic) flows hot enough to fuse or "weld" still-hot ash into a single uniform
layer called a “cooling unit”. To me this rock has the look and feel of airy lightweight
limestone and more particularly reminds me of the
Ten Pins climbing area in
Needles, South Dakota.

As before mentioned, some like welded tuff, some don’t. Todd Goss put it best in his
excellent guide book for the area, “caviar to some and Ramen noodles to others”.
The crystals obviously are not to be relied on, but the edges seem bomber to
someone who does not experience granite much anyway.
Bring your trad gear, as
two of the better routes involve nice 5.10 cracks running the length of the route.

Route Description(s)
The Routes are Left to Right, West to East
The first five routes are on a rock they individually named Embryology
Rock. It is the first large rock on the left side of this string of features.


Essential Gear
Short rope will do you as there is nothing over 50’ at Sprocket Rocks. Some of the
better lines are trad though, so bring your rack, the approach is not much, not even
the 30 minutes Todd says in his guidebook. Carry a
long runner to get your rope off
of some of these rough edges. Several anchors are placed quite far back as you top
out. They must not trust this “ash” so much. Six draws will be all you need.
Remember, you are over 3000’ higher than St. George, so if you are visiting West
Cedar Crags in the early spring, late fall or winter, bring a decent jacket.

Getting There
Sprocket Rocks can be accessed one of two ways. Either right off of I-15 in Cedar
City, by taking Highway 56 twelve miles west of Main Street or via Highway 18 north of
Saint George to Highway 56 and then travel east past Pinto Road. What you are
looking for is a BLM sign on the north side of Highway 56. Just west of this sign is an
unmarked sandy road heading into junipers. You can see the crags up high to the
west. Meander through the trees (perfect for a jeep, tight squeeze for anything else)
until you come across the power lines. Turn left and park across from a well built
cairn (2007) on the right side. The trail up to Sprocket Rocks is quite pleasant
passing several unique features along the way, the first of which is in the shape of
an oversized sofa chair. The 2nd is actually bolted with chains on top. Seems to be
overdoing it a little for no taller than it is. Continue past this large rock to the base of
the upper crags. The first climbs you should come to are a great crack trad climb
called Ticks on Parade and a bolted chimney climb to the right of it called Missy’s
Playhouse.

Red Tape
The BLM manages nearly 22.9 million acres of public lands in Utah, representing
about 42 percent of the state. The regulations regarding most BLM land are fairly
wide open compared to State and Federal parks. It appears you can camp and climb
in this area at will. Pit fires are highly discouraged if not illegal but you see them. Like
most of the rock back in the St. George area, you should not climb at West Cedar
Crags within 24 hours of any rain. Remember, this is simply hardened volcanic ash.

This welded tuff is for sure a different rock than sandstone, but still would absorb a
significant amount of moisture from rain I would assume.
Don’t climb on it for at
least 24 hours after a rain
. At 6000’, climbing in the winter can definitely be too cold
in this region. But of course that means the West Cedar Crags serve as a great
escape from the searing heat in the spring and summer if you are camping out in
southwestern Utah.

Camping/Lodging
Cedar City has several private campgrounds and quite a few newer hotels. Country
Aire RV Park Campground is located at 1700 North Main. They are open all year and
have 18 tent sites, a ton of trailer sites, flush toilets, showers, etc. Cedar City KOA
claims to be the #1 KOA rated campground in Utah and is located at 1121 North
Main. The National Forest Service operates several campgrounds in the Markagunt
Plateau area, but they are only open during the summer.

Notes:  Cooler environs for sure. We are really enjoying exploring the higher
elevations north of Saint George. We never see another soul during the week either.
This day, we took our brand new jeep and tested it well going up a cliff just to the
east of Sprockets (Stacy jumped ship). Got turned around a tad. Todd Goss said it
took him 4 times to find it himself. We took the Pinto Road on the way up through the
Dixie National Forest, incredible country. I personally like climbing on this welded tuff,
reminds me of the Ten Pins in the Needles, SD. Definitely recommend this spot.
CLICK TO ENLARGE PHOTOS
1.  Missy's Playhouse, 5.8
2.  Cookie Monster?
3.  Cedar Variation, 5.10a
4.  Septic Death, 5.6
5.  Sprocket's East End
6.  Missy's Playhouse
7.  Am I on Belay?   Worth it.....
8,  League Night, 5.11a
9.  Cacti at Sprocket
10. View towards Cedar City