Southeastern Climbers Coalition (SCC) and Access Fund are thrilled to announce the purchase and protection of the iconic Citadel Boulders in Alabama. The acquisition includes 58 acres of undeveloped land surrounding an incredible boulder field. It is more than two decades in the making, and another landmark victory for climbing and conservation in the Southeast. SCC will manage the Citadel Boulders alongside its eight other land holdings for climbing and conservation. 

“The acquisition of the Citadel Boulders is a testament to the patience and discipline needed to protect iconic climbing areas,” says SCC executive director, Meagan Evans. “SCC has been working for decades to secure permanent access to Citadel Boulders.”

Centrally located between Chattanooga, Birmingham, and north Georgia, this additional resource will help solidify Fort Payne as a regional destination for climbing—offering something for climbers of all experience levels. This acquisition will also be a significant asset to Fort Payne residents who would love to hike, explore, and visit for an afternoon walk at the preserve.

The Citadel Boulders contain more than 150 unique problems over dozens of distinct sandstone boulders. Its proximity to existing climbing areas like Little River Canyon and Jamestown is a testament to northern Alabama’s rise as a climbing hotspot. Alabama is home to some of the most unique sandstone features in the world, and is seeing more and more climbing access open up across the state thanks to the collaboration of land managers with the SCC and Access Fund. Increasing public access to diverse natural outdoor adventure experiences helps our communities thrive economically and physically.

After engaging the landowner in a preliminary discussion about purchasing the land, SCC and Access Fund teamed up with several regional land trusts and foundations to support the acquisition. 

“SCC and Access Fund have a long record of successful land acquisitions in the Southeast, and the Citadel Boulders is the latest triumph,” says Access Fund Southeast Regional Manager Daniel Dunn. “When a landowner decides to sell a climbing area, climbers must act quickly. And thanks to our Climbing Conservation Loan Program, that’s exactly what we were able to do.”

In addition to protecting a major climbing area, this purchase also provides a critical conservation foothold in the Thrive Regional Partnership Natural Treasures zone. Citadel Boulders preserves scenic views, water quality, and critical plant and wildlife habitat. The property is part of an area identified in 2011 to provide connectivity and protected land near Desoto State Park on Lookout Mountain. The mountain is home to a variety of species, including neotropical migrant songbirds, and several rare plants such as the federally listed large flowered skullcap and Virginia spirea. It is part of the Coosa River Basin, recognized as one of the most biologically diverse river systems in the United States.

Chattanooga’s Riverview Foundation and Lyndhurst Foundation also provided major grant funding to SCC in support of the acquisition. These foundations have emerged as  leading supporters of climbing conservation projects in the region, including SCC and Access Fund’s acquisition of Hell’s Kitchen and Dogwood West in Rhea County, as well as Woodcock Cove in Sequatchie Valley more recently. The Georgia Alabama Land Trust also offered a generous grant to support the project.

“Citadel Boulders is a magical constellation of rock formations,” remarked Bruz Clark, director of the Lyndhurst and Riverview Foundations. “It has been such a pleasure to work with Meg at SCC and Daniel at Access Fund to conserve this iconic natural and recreational landmark.”

While initial funding has secured the Citadel Boulders, SCC needs the help of local climbers and conservationists to raise $140,000 over the next three years to pay off the conservation loans to complete the purchase.

rainbow mountain

Access Details
While the SCC currently owns the Citadel Boulders, we ask that climbers patiently wait until we are able to install critical infrastructure like the parking area, to withstand the traffic going to the property.  SCC prides itself on being a good neighbor, so we ask that climbers wait a little longer to visit the property – after decades – what’s a little longer? The rock will be there and SCC will provide public free access- permanently. 

SCC will host a number of trail days to help scrub graffiti, remove trash, and install trail and signage infrastructure. You can find more details here: TRAIL DAY CALENDAR

About SCC

The Southeastern Climbers Coalition is a local 501(c)3 nonprofit whose mission is to preserve climbing areas in the Southeast. SCC currently owns and manages seven climbing areas and works with 30+ public and private landowners to protect access to climbing and steward climbing area resources throughout Tennessee, Georgia, and Alabama. SCC mobilizes its member base of 1,500+ climbers to recreate responsibly on public lands and works with 600+ volunteers annually on stewardship projects at climbing areas across the region. SCC works with local, state, and federal agencies to consult on climbing access concerns and support natural resource protection projects. For more information, visit

About Access Fund

Access Fund is the national advocacy organization that leads and inspires the climbing community toward sustainable access and conservation of the climbing environment. Access Fund represents more than 8 million climbers nationwide in its work to protect and conserve the land, fight for sustainable access, and build a community of inspired advocates. As an accredited land trust, Access Fund has helped purchase more than 90 climbing areas, protecting more than 13,000 routes and preventing 19,000 acres of climbing rich lands from being sold, developed, and closed to climbing. For more information, visit