Climbing Colorado

Garden of the Gods

Garden of the Gods

Garden of the Gods is a local favorite and for good reason — it's close to Colorado Springs, the state’s second largest city. It's also amazing to look at, with paved hiking trails that meander through a natural rock garden of sunset-colored red sandstone. While there are multiple routes to conquer, not all of the rocks in the park are designated for climbing. Be sure to check in with the visitor center before venturing into the park. The rangers there will give you a quick course on important climbing etiquette.

Rocky Mountain National Park

Rocky Mountain National Park

Choose your passion. In Rocky Mountain National Park, you can rock climb, ice climb or boulder. With more than 265,000 acres of space dedicated to the granite heights of the Rockies, this national park is a climber’s mecca between Estes Park and Grand Lake. If you’re a novice, you’ll find guided tours available to help ensure you have the right equipment and routes to match your ability. If you’re an expert, there are no limits to the heights at which you’ll find yourself. If you’re up for a challenge, set up a bivouac and take a few days to climb some of the dizzyingly high faces. Bivouacs do require a park permit, so check in with the park headquarters before setting up camp.

Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park

Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park

In one of Colorado's deepest, darkest canyons, cliff walls dramatically rise to 2,722 feet above the rushing Gunnison River near Montrose. Black Canyon of the Gunnison is not a place for beginning climbers, but if you’re looking to raise your credentials, this is the place — climbs here are adrenaline-coursing acts of self-reliance. There are more than 140 documented routes, and yet many believe there are more that still await a first ascent. Beginning your climb from the canyon floor places you in a wilderness area, so be sure to practice environmentally conscious climbing and follow all established rules. Checking in with the ranger station first is a must and only takes a few minutes.

Rifle Mountain Park

Rifle Mountain Park

For some of the best limestone sport climbing in the state, this mountain park in Rifle is a must. The secret is out about this park, and it has become another popular local favorite. Here, you can chalk-up with hardcore Coloradans as they take to their favorite routes. Overhangs are the norm, and some jut out in exaggerated fashion, daring climbers to challenge their heights. If crowds aren’t your thing, don't worry: A wealth of routes and wall options makes it easy to find a spot to call your own. For multiple-day outings, Rifle Mountain Park offers 25 drive-in camping spots.

Castlewood Canyon State Park

Castlewood Canyon State Park

The west rim of Castlewood Canyon State Park in Franktown, is the perfect place for beginners to hone their skills and gain confidence. This state park offers climbs of 20 to 60 feet, some with top rope lines or crack climbing. The paved, half-mile Climbers Trail leads visitors to the best routes in the park. Since this is a day-use only park, camping isn’t allowed. But the routes are short and quick enough that you can get a few in well before sunset. If you do want to spend a few days climbing in the area, the city of Castle Rock is only 10 miles away and offers multiple lodging options.

Shelf Road

Shelf Road

Climbing in the high desert is a draw, but the Cactus Cliff classics will keep you entertained year around with about 150 climbs ranging from 5.8 to 5.12.

Eldorado Canyon State Park

Eldorado Canyon State Park

The brilliant red and golden walls of Eldo soar 700 feet, but not all the climbs are multi-pitch. This is primarily a traditional climbing area, so you’ll find few continuous cracks. Typical routes mix fixed gear and placing pro, although there are a few standard sport climbs.

The Ironclads

The Ironclads

Located just outside of Allenspark, climbing at The Ironclads offers both short and long sport routes at a higher altitude. The climbs are set in a pretty forested setting and the rock is nice solid granite. Technical face and slab climbing make this an enjoyable outing.

Clear Creek Canyon

Clear Creek Canyon

Clear Creek canyon climbing is located along highway 6 from Golden to I -70. While there are some spots with loose rubble in the canyon, it turn out to be mostly solid and nicely featured gneiss and there are actually hundreds of routes on multiple rock formations of all grades to be found.

Boulder Canyon

Boulder canyon is an excellent place to climb and many of the routes are truly classic. There are multiple crags all along the canyon corridor facing all directions making it possible to climb year round if you follow the sun.

Jurassic Park

Jurassic Park is an exceptionally pretty area located just south of Estes Park above Lilly Lake. The climbs are short, steep, slabby and fun on west facing sunny rock. The views of Longs peak and the Diamond are spectacular as are the wildflowers and the lake below.

Lime Creek

Another beautiful semi alpine crag located at high elevation. Due to a bit longer and more involved drive, this area has fewer crowds making it quite nice, and a very good choice for a weekend destination trip. The climbing is perfect bullet proof, well bolted limestone.

Devils Head

Devils Head is located in the South Platte and is a relatively new climbing area. The area is large with a high concentration of high quality routes on solid granite fine-grain textured rock. The climbs are very featured with roofs, cracks, edges and flakes making for some excellent face climbing.

The Monastery

The monastery is located up past the small town of Drake sort of above the Big Thompson Canyon close to Estes Park. Climbing at The Monastery is on beautiful igneous schist and gneiss that shimmers golden and grey hues in the sun. It is steep and edgy on some sides and slabby on others and there is great friction.

Independence Pass

Independence pass is located east of Aspen off the super-steep CO Highway 82. The area includes many crags between Aspen & Twin Lakes and includes not only sport climbs but trad climbs and bouldering as well.

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