(Photo by PRAKASH MATHEMA/AFP/Getty Images)

(Photo by PRAKASH MATHEMA/AFP/Getty Images)

One can only climb up and down a colorful, air-conditioned wall so much before their sense of adventure tingles for a little something more. When that happens, it’s time to get outdoors and climb some of nature’s specially designed challenge bringers. Less than three hours from the metroplex, eye-catching views will capture your spirit while your body is put to the test.
Penitentiary Hollow
Mineral Wells State Park
100 Park Road 71
Mineral Wells, TX 76067
(940) 328-1171

Price: $5 park entrance fee

The unique formations and steep ascents make Penitentiary Hollow in Mineral Wells State Park, about an hour and a half from Dallas, one of the most popular outdoor climbing sites in Texas year round. Conglom rock here is best suited for top-rope climbing. Several paths are open for the adventurous with varying levels of difficulty including Racheal’s Way with a 5.10a level, the fantastically fun G.I.F.P. route at a 5.9 with four ascents and the Line Left with seven ascents and a 5.10 difficulty level. The scenery at Mineral Wells is astounding from any height, adding to this ultimate climb experience.

Tonkawa Falls
Highway 185 toward
Crawford, TX 76638
(254) 744-6076

Als, a lesser-known climbing haunt, and located near the town of ex-president George W. Bush’s country getaway in Crawford, Texas, Tonkawa Falls’ climbs range from a level 7 on Flesh Wound, a level 5 on the Mary Bonita and a level 1 on The Shield. Bouldering on the limestone here is exceptional and adds to the open-air scenes of blue water and wildlife. The area also features caves and a meadow.

Related: Best Extreme Sports and Rec Spots in North Texas

Lake Whitney
FM 1244 on Lake Whitney
Whitney, TX 76692
(254) 694-3793

Price: $3 for 12 years and older

Although some climbing sites are not as accessible, Lake Whitney, at about an hour and a half outside DFW, includes well-weathered formations such as the Diagonal Crack (5.7 level), Gravity Sack (5.11 level) and Nikki’s Flake (5.10 level). Some of these sites may be accessed by hiking, but it is often easier to do a little rafting to make it to these climb-worthy landmarks. Lake Whitney is a perfect site to combine water bouldering and deep-water soloing and fresh air.

Eisenhower State Park
50 Park Road 20
Denison, TX 75020
(903) 465-1956

Price: $5 adults/free children younger than 12

Eisenhower State Park is most suited for bouldering, with staggered surfaces on the lakeshore just in front of steeper ascents. With a panoramic view of Lake Texoma, the difficulty level of the tall terrain may vary. Mental preparation and willingness to vary from the norm are a must at this rock-climber’s haven.

Possum Kingdom Lake
P.O. Box 70, Park Road 33
Caddo, TX 76429
(940) 549-1803

Price: $4 adults/free 12 and younger

Only two to three hours west of Dallas, Possum Kingdom Lake offers fresh, new rock-climbing possibilities. A less-climbed site, the views are spectacular here. Rated an average of 5.9 in difficulty, climbing here would require strength and technique, or guidance. The use of wired nuts and bolts and top roping is recommended.

Related: Exposure Rock Climbing

Kena Sosa is a freelance writer in Dallas. Her work can be found at Examiner.com.