Shawnee National Forest Wilderness, adjacent to the House of Boulders in Jackson County, IL; (photo/Tonya Kay, Shutterstock)
Shawnee National Forest Wilderness, adjacent to the House Boulders climbing area in Jackson County, IL; (photo/Tonya Kay, Shutterstock)

Climbers Purchase ‘House Boulders’ to Boost IL Climbing Access

‘House Boulders’ could offer 70-plus problems and a boost to the local economy.

Today, the Access Fund and Illinois Climbers Association (ICA) announced the acquisition of House Boulders, a 20-acre “tightly stacked boulder field” in scenic southern Illinois.

Thanks to its newly minted, permanent access, climbers now have the opportunity to establish, send, and flail on an estimated 70 boulder problems spanning all levels of difficulty.

House Boulders: Climbing Access, Economic Opportunities

House Boulders climbing area in southern illinois
(Image/Access Fund and ICA)

The House Boulders area neighbors the nationally renowned Holy Boulders area, which the Access Fund acquired in 2012 and later turned over to the ICA. The addition expands a conservation corridor in the region, which comprises 10,700 acres of federal and state land and water reserves at the time of writing.

And there’s the hope that the increased recreational opportunity will draw more visitors to local businesses.

House Boulders is located within Illinois’ Jackson County, which, at 25%, has the state’s highest poverty rate according to information provided by the Access Fund. The region’s surrounding brewers, vintners, and hospitality businesses hope to feel some of the impact from the area’s heightened access to high-quality sandstone climbing.

The Climbing Conservation Loan Program

The acquisition is only the second in the ICA’s history and was made possible through the Access Fund’s Climbing Conservation Loan Program (CCLP). The Fund established its CCLP specifically to help state and local climbing associations work with private land authorities to build sustainable crag access.

Over time, the ICA and local Illinois volunteers will fundraise to repay the $80,000 CCLP loan. And the ICA has a pretty solid head start — on Nov. 6, the association hosted its annual Holy Boulders: The Pilgrimage competition, which reportedly raised more than $15,000.

The Access Fund will use all loan repayments to continue its mission of conserving wild climbing areas around the U.S. through acquisition. To date, the CCLP has disbursed nearly $3.3 million to conserve 4,000-plus acres of climbing in the U.S.

Access Fund & ICA Information

You can learn more and donate to the House Boulders project at For additional ICA information, including its collaboration with the U.S. Forest Service and local bolt maintenance programs, head to

Keep up with the latest and get involved with the Access Fund at

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Jilli Cluff

Jilli grew up in the rural southern Colorado mountains, later moving to Texas for college. After seven years in corporate consulting, she was introduced to sport climbing — and life would never be the same. She now works as a contributor, gear tester, and editor for GearJunkie and other outlets within the AllGear family. She is based out of Atlanta, Georgia where she takes up residence with her climbing gear and one-eared blue heeler, George Michael.