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Jill Sanford | 10.23.2017

On your next hike or outdoor excursion, don’t forget to look up—or down. Cliffs great and small can lead to peril, but they also offer great beauty for any onlooker. Whether you are on the hunt for coastal bluffs, dramatic red rock canyon views, or high alpine steeps, cliffs are often legendary, scenic, and located in some of the most epic outdoor destinations.

"Cliff" is a somewhat ambiguous term, since it can describe anything from your favorite cliff jump at the local swimming hole to the jaw-dropping rock faces of Yosemite. In either case, cliffs make for great locations for a variety of outdoor sports in addition to sightseeing.

These vertical and exposed faces are usually formed by water, erosion, or some combination of the two. Glacial movements, rushing rivers, and the continuous pounding of the ocean’s waves are all likely causes of cliff formation. They provide fascinating insights into the geological history of the area, exposing rock, layers of sediment, and steep angles that drive adrenaline junkies crazy.

Cliffs are a great reminder to always check in with your surroundings and be aware of your footing on any outdoor excursion. Also proceed with caution if you are scrambling in loose scree below a cliff, especially if climbers or other triggers on the cliff can cause loose rocks or debris to fall on you.

Whether you are hiking around them, climbing up them, or jumping (safely) from them, cliffs are incredible landscape features that are awe-inspiring as well as fun to play on. Here are a few of our favorites: 

East Coast

Western Mountains and Coast

Desert Southwest



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