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A different kind of rock-climbing coming to Grand Rapids' Highland Park

The park was selected for the placement of the two boulder structure, primarily because of its potential to impact the Grand Rapids community in a positive way.
Credit: Grand Rapids Boulder Project

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — Fans of rock-climbing should start celebrating, as a new kind of structure is now open in Grand Rapids.

Two bouldering structures, located at Highland Park, were announced by The City of Grand Rapids Parks and Recreation Department on Thursday. 

Bouldering is a form of rock climbing that doesn't require ropes because the walls are shorter than the typical rock-climbing walls.

“We strive to bring innovative and unique projects to parks across Grand Rapids, and the bouldering walls accomplish that,” said David Marquardt, the City’s Parks and Recreation Director. “This is one of the many ways we’re bringing new and accessible experiences to residents.”

Highland Park was selected because of its central location in the city, natural beauty, ample space and potential to impact the neighborhood community in a positive way. 

The Grand Rapids Boulder Project (GRBP) decided to work with local artist Nick Nortier for a mural to be painted on all of the rocks walls as part of ArtPrize 2022. It will be completed in September.

Volunteers began working on the bouldering structures in April. With the opening in September, it is expected to remain in the park for three to five years. 

“Climbing is something that can be enjoyed by people of all ages and abilities,” said Kyle Heys of the Grand Rapids Boulder Project. “I’m so excited to share my passion for the sport with newcomers and long-time climbers alike.”

The PRD and GRBP are hosting a grand opening to celebrate on July 9 from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. with the following festivities:

  • 9 a.m. - Free 'learn and climb' clinic, shoes provided
  • 10 a.m. - Family climb with refreshments
  • 11 a.m. - Formal ribbon cutting
  • 11:15 a.m. - Climbing competition
  • 1:30 p.m. - Open climb

Following that, the GRBP team have decided to host free instructional drop-in climbing clinics on the first Saturday of each month at 9:30 a.m. All details can be found on the GRBP Facebook page.

The project was funded by $20,000 from Parks Millage passed by Grand Rapids voters in 2019 and $10,000 in private donations through the GRBP. 

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