Land Manager: National Park Service

Area Rep: Luis Rodriguez, luisrod@msn.com

Established between 1890 and 1898 by Civil War Veterans, the sites that we collectively know as the Chickamauga/Chattanooga National Military Battlefield (CCNMB) became the first National Military Park in the nation, with the sole purposes of preserving our nation’s history and memorializing the catastrophic battles which took place in this region. In the planning stages, great care was taken by these Veterans to ensure the accuracy of facts on the placards, signs and monuments, battle and skirmish sights, and even cannon placement. Because these men and women took the pains that they did, the territory included within the CCNMB offers a surprisingly accurate look into our country’s past through many venues and sources. Spread over two states and 4 counties, the Park is not only the oldest and largest National Military Park in the United States, but also home to one of the most historic climbing areas in the Southeast: Sunset Park.

It was because of Sunset Park that a more recent battle took place between the NPS and the climbing community. Climbing in general has always been considered extreme. A renegade sport pursued by only the most cavalier of personalities, those who climb at Sunset are no exception. From the early development of the 1940’s, through the 1960’s with pioneers such as Tom Martin and Tom Kimbro, into the 1970’s and 1980’s and the likes of Rob Robinson, Stan Wallace, Bill Smith, Forrest Gardner, Chris Chesnut and the Eiseman brothers (who never would take ME climbing as a kid…), and to the present, climbing at Sunset remains for most the standard to which traditional climbing in the Southeast is held.

It was at Sunset where the region’s test pieces went up. In their day, Alpha Omega, The Pearl and Jennifer’s World were the test pieces of their grades; other routes in the Park have the distinction of being the first of their grade in the region.

In June 2009 the SCC was formally recognized at an NPS event as one of 12 volunteer organizations that have contributed over 1000 hrs to the NPS. Our name is engraved on a plaque that hangs on permanent display in the Visitor Center. This 1000hr stat speaks for itsself about how serious climbers are to giving back and preserving the environment. The SCC has a 16 year heritage of trail days at Sunset.

Directions

Climbers must park at Craven’s House and hike the approximately 1-mile trail to the cliffs. Sunset’s top parking has been designated 1-hr parking only.

What to Expect

Unlike anything else in the Southeast, the climbing at Sunset, while for the most part only single pitch, is superb; the rock quality unparalleled; the grades stout; the view from the anchors indescribable (especially on a crisp fall afternoon); both the traditional routes and the bouldering (surprise!!) are incredible; and the proximity to downtown Chattanooga absolutely priceless. The aura being incomparable to anywhere else; Sunset is special.

Access notes

  • Climbers must follow all rules of the National Park Service
  • Do not park in the neighborhoods, along the streets or in the parking lot at the top of Sunset to access the climbing.
  • Dogs must be on a leash at all times
  • Do not block the trails
  • Observe the “landscape restoration” and other “keep out” posted signs.
  • Be considerate of your language and volume
  • No bolting or new route development without permission of NPS
  • Groups of 10 or more are required to obtain a permit through the ranger station (423-821-7788)

Camping

No camping at Sunset

Guidebook

Dixie Cragger’s Atlas
Chatt Steel

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