The natural landscape of the Natural State continues to attract rock climbers from all around the country and even around the world. In this week's Adventure Arkansas, Sean Bailey and our team challenge the hair-raising heights of Horseshoe Canyon Ranch.
Horseshoe Canyon Ranch is a hot spot for obstacles involving height, especially rock climbing. Owner Barry Johnson has seen the sport grow since opening for climbers nearly 20 years ago.
"It's the fastest growing outdoor sport there is. It's wonderful. A lot of the gyms popping up all over the country testify to that, and it gives people the opportunity to test their limits on a very personal level," Barry says.
With over 450 rock climbing routes to choose from, 5NEWS photographer Brett Roberts leads Bryan Shawver, Sean Bailey, and rock climbing guide Mike McKinnon up the face of the east side of the canyon. The route, Fireworks in February, is 75 feet to the top.
After Brett gets to the top of the first ledge, about 55 feet, Sean follows up as she supports him from above. Bryan comes quickly up after, and then Mike brings up the back of the pack. This was Bryan's first time climbing, and it's not about how fast you get there or what's waiting on the other side.
"It's exciting when someone climbs a route and gets to the top on their first try. They're not used to that exposure that they get when you're on the side of a vertical face. So when they get to the top and touch those anchors, they have a real sense of accomplishment."
And if it's your first time, the ranch helps guide you from start to finish. "So it's nice to see people get that exposure and get on the rock for the first time. Our guides are really good with first time climbers, maybe people who didn't even expect to climb until they got here. So we get them shoes, and fitted and get them used to the weight in the harness and then get them relaxed and started on some easier stuff. Then they can climb to their ability."
Barry says that feeling of accomplishment continues to fuel the climbers to continue to come back for more.
"The climbing community in Arkansas is growing and nationwide really, and I'd like to think the ranch is a sizable part of that. The exposure it gives and the sense of community when you come to the events and climb here on a busy weekend, people you meet. The attitude they have outdoors, they're like minded people that enjoy outdoor recreation."
You can keep on moving, keep climbing but it's not all just about the climb at the ranch. Their zip line across the canyon is almost half a mile long and one of the longest in North America.
For more information on climbing and all the other cool stuff going on at the Horseshoe Canyon Ranch, click here.
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