Mountaintop Experience

Alabama Living Magazine

Cherokee Rock Village attracts climbers, campers, families

Story and photos by Scott Baker

Since the 1980s, rock climbers and mountaineers from all over the world have flocked to Cherokee Rock Village to practice and perfect their climbing skills. Hollywood even took notice and filmed scenes for the 2006 film “Failure to Launch,” starring Matthew McConaughey and Sarah Jessica Parker, at the park, which is located in Cherokee County near Leesburg.

“Cherokee Rock Village offers such a special experience for people—because many climbers experience outdoor climbing there for the very first time,” says Meagan Evans, executive director of the Southeastern Climbers Coalition. “Hundreds of routes offer a variety of sport and traditional climbing, and bouldering for everyone from beginners to advanced climbers,” she added. 

Climbers from across the globe come to northeast Alabama to scale the massive boulders at Cherokee Rock Village.

On a recent weekday afternoon, families were cooking out at one of several picnic tables located along the ridgeline, and a few backpackers had set up camp overlooking Weiss Lake in the valley below. The park has more than 100 primitive campsites and 15 RV hook-ups for overnight camping. 

Visitors also find more than three miles of relatively easy hiking trails meander through the 300-acre park, and a new mountain bike trail opened in Spring 2022. Rock crawling, featuring hybrid four-wheel vehicles designed to “crawl” over obstacles, is also very popular.  

Hikers will enjoy the beautiful fall foliage as they walk through the three miles of easy hiking trails.

“In addition to rock climbing on the massive boulders, CRV is a great place to relax, hike, and enjoy the outdoors,” says Theresa Hulgan, executive director of the Cherokee County Chamber of Commerce & Tourism. “We welcome groups to Cherokee Rock Village, such as Boy Scouts, youth groups, and universities, for everything from team-building outdoor fun to basic skills training. The views are awe-inspiring, whether you are gazing out from the overlook area or perched on top of the highest boulder. You can see as far as Rome, Georgia, if the weather cooperates.”

My introduction to Cherokee Rock Village came through Instagram where I saw images of imposing boulders, some 20 stories high, piercing the sky in rural Cherokee County. For a photographer, the boulders, mountaintop and beautiful vistas looked like the right spot for a photography adventure, and I coordinated my first visit on a sunny late-October day to coincide with fall foliage. From my perspective, late spring and fall are the best times to visit. 

Although I was a little late that first visit for the peak of color, I was rewarded with beautiful views of Weiss Lake and some lingering leaves along a few of the trails. I was also able to observe experienced rock climbers shimmying up the face of the mammoth rock. 

Visitors to Cherokee Rock Village are apt to see climbers shimmying up and down the face of its mammoth rocks.

The park, sitting atop the southern end of Lookout Mountain overlooking Weiss Lake, is open all day every day and requires a $7 admission per car. Camping and pavilion rentals are also available. Visit or call (256) 523-3799 for more information.


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