Climbing Panama Rocks

Panama Rocks Scenic Park

Panama Rocks was established as a privately operated park in 1885, the same year as Niagara Falls State Park. The rock formations themselves date back about 400 to 350 million years ago (Ma), during the Devonian period.

The Devonian period was a time when the entire area was at the bottom of an ancient tropical sea, and we were much closer to the Equator. You can also explore evidence of this period at Penn Dixie Fossil Park & Nature Reserve just south of Buffalo, and at the Museum of the Earth near Ithaca.

office porch
entrance
enter at your own risk

Check in at the main office

The staff will give you a brief overview of the park, safety information, and a map. Sign a waiver and enter at your own risk.

That sounds worse than it is!

Watch your footing, know your limits, and use common sense when it comes to climbing on the boulders.

trail roots
trail
walking

The trail

The main trail at Panama Rocks is a one-mile loop around a half-mile ridge of rock formations.

Because of time limitations, we only walked around the first three formations and had no issues other than keeping an eye on the tree roots and boulders on the trail. I would qualify this as easy if you have full mobility.

climbing
climbers
entering the rock city
alley way

Climbing the rock city

You can choose to leave the trail and climb over, under, and through the rocks. Rappelling is allowed; just be mindful to not damage native flora – no rappelling down the moss covered cliffs.

tunnels below
pathway
Panama Rocks scenic

How the area was created

According to the website, “The caves, crevices, and passageways that run through the rocks are likely the result of freezing and thawing: rocks cracking under pressure from the elements and their own weight; slowly and steadily pulled downhill by gravity in a process known as “creep.”

“After the end of Champlain period a dense pine forest grew up in the area, which eventually gave way to the maple, beech, black ash and hemlock we see today.”

forest

More information about Panama Rocks Scenic Park

Cost: There is an entrance fee

Located in Panama near Jamestown in Chautauqua County, roughly 2.5 hours / 165 miles from Rochester (get directions)

More information can be found at panamarocks.com. Pets are not allowed. You are responsible for your own safety. Wear suitable footwear for hiking.

4 Rock Cities Near Rochester

Explore these cool, quiet, mossy rock cities near Rochester, with boulders the size of houses! You’ll love Panama Rocks, Rock City Park, Little Rock City, and Thunder Rocks in Allegany State Park.

Read more

Geologic History of the Rochester Area

These day trips into Rochester’s geologic history, filled with drumlins, fossils, house-sized boulders and a meromictic lake, will leave you awe-struck!

Read more

Transcending Places: 40 Alternate Reality Destinations Around Rochester

Rather than an escape, I prefer to think of these as transcending places that encourage us to transcend space, time, and state of mind.

Read more

Chimney Bluffs State Park

The bluffs in Chimney Bluffs State Park are fragile drumlins, like all of the truncated drumlins along this section of shoreline.

Read more

Penn Dixie Fossil Park and Nature Reserve

At Penn Dixie, you keep every fossil you find, though it takes a keen eye and persistence to find the fossils, many of which are smaller than pebbles.

Read more

Museum of the Earth

Museum of the Earth focuses primarily on life in New York State beginning in the Cambrian Period, covering roughly 635 million years of geologic record.

Read more

Have you been to Panama Rocks?

Share your thoughts with us in the comments. Your insight and experience is invaluable!

286 Shares

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *