Raspberry Rocks is a highly secluded ridge of high quality rock. Most routes are around two pitches long. This is a great place to go for a high concentration of cracks. A lot of crack climbing in the Needles is little more than crack protected face climbing. But here, many true jam cracks are available for fingers to offwidths, chimneys and even vertical caving on Carl's Bad Caverns. Another plus for this area is the lack of crowds. There is little to no bolted routes here, so bring a standard rack.
From Keystone, head out of town towards Mt. Rushmore. At the highway 244 and 16a junction, take a left on 16a and measure the distance from this point. The road is hard to find, so make sure to keep an accurate odometer reading. After 4.5 miles, you will pass the high point of Iron Mountain highway. Continue an additional 4.1 miles to the Raspberry Rocks road. To find it, watch out for a overgrown dirt road heading right as the highway veers left. If you see a small paved parking area on the left side of the road, then you just missed the turn. The turn is a very hard right from the highway.
From here, either park or drive (probably need at least a Subaru Outback or something similar) for 1 mile to the end of the road. This is at the top of the hill, and Raspberry Rocks is to the right. Find a faint trail, and then traverse around the rocks on talus, losing 100 or more feet of elevation. The main area is several minutes of hiking away. Keep walking around the base until the rock gets steeper and less fractured.
Locate the large free standing flake just left of Weather or Not. There is a deep left facing dihedral behind this flake. Climb the hand and finger crack up the corner thru the bulge. Move into the finger crack on the right wall and follow to the summit. Rappel from the Weather or Not anchors (one 60m rope)....[more]Browse More Classics in SD
The two pull offs from Iron Mountain Road have boulders stacked around them to prevent people from driving up the road. One of the pull offs has a trail marker that says no motorized vehicles. This considerably adds to the approach, as the road in is a mile long and steep.
Yes Andy, the approach to Raspberry Rocks is a bit longer than it used too be. When compared to Colorado standards this is still a short approach. Those willing to do the 1/2 hour hike will be rewarded. I have always viewed the approach to Raspberry as a nice warmup.
Thanks for the clarification Brent, we had a hard time spotting the correct entrance, as we must not have driven far enough past the telephone poles. So with that said to someone looking for the area, go just a ways past the telephone poles, park at the designated pull off, and follow the 2 track road all the way uphill. You'll know you're there when the uphill hike stops (about a mile). Then follow the climbers trail (to your right) and the cairns, you'll come to the West Wall first.
One item to consider in your choice of parking areas is the entrance to the old road a short distance east of the poweline is actually designated by the US Forest Service to be the parking area for Raspberry Rocks. We used be able to drive in on this road about half mile and park or drive all the way to the top until about a decade ago.
In the past the Forest Service has indicated there could be an issue if someone blocks the powerline road at a time when crews need to access that area. I believe users of the area need to respect this and park in the dedicated lot described in Burr & Busse's guidebook.