Access Fund and Illinois Climbers Association (ICA) are thrilled to announce the purchase and protection of the House Boulders, a new bouldering area and conservation corridor in southern Illinois.
Located in the heartland of the country, the House Boulders sit on the western edge of the Shawnee National Forest in the Mississippi Bluffs region, named for its stunning views over the Mississippi River valley. This acquisition conserves 20 acres of land—which has the potential for approximately 70 boulder problems at all levels—for recreation and wildlife habitat.
The property sits adjacent to the Holy Boulders, a climbing area that Access Fund purchased in 2012 and then transferred to ICA for long term ownership and management. It also shares the same high-quality, fine-grained grey sandstone. However, House Boulders stands alone in its unique setting—a tightly stacked boulder field on a steep, west-facing hillside nestled among hardwoods.
While a handful of people have climbed on the property with landowner permission in the past, this purchase secures permanent climbing access for all. In the fall of 2020, ICA heard that the property was up for sale, and after connecting with the landowner they reached out to Access Fund for financial backing through the Climbing Conservation Loan Program. With Access Fund’s support, ICA was able to buy the property for recreation and conservation.
It will be some time before the area can officially open for regular public use. ICA will build a new parking area and trailhead off Hutchins Creek Road, as well as a half mile of new trail to provide sustainable access to the boulders.