A Beginners Guide to Climbing Staunton State Park

Nestled in Colorado’s Rocky Mountains 30 minutes West of Denver, this climber-friendly state park boasts over 400 rock climbs and makes a great escape close to home. After opening to the public in 2013, Staunton State Park has seen significant climbing development and new routes are put up all the time. With single and multi-pitch sport and trad climbing, ratings from 5.0 to 5.13d, and even ice climbing – Staunton offers something for every climber.

– Where is Staunton State Park?

– Park History

– What makes Staunton so great?

– Climbing in Staunton is for Everyone

– Where to Climb

– What to Bring

– Getting to Staunton State Park

– Let us show you around!

Staunton State Park in Winter

Staunton is emerging as a Colorado climbing destination with some of the best climbing in the area. Its higher elevation makes the park a great escape from the summer heat, and many sunny crags are a good option for climbing during the colder months. Staunton’s Elk Creek Falls offer the chance to ice climb on a frozen waterfall!

Whether looking to get in a couple of sport pitches after work or knock out a full day of trad climbing, the granite cliffs and domes in Staunton are a great choice. This guide will give you the info you need to plan a successful climbing trip to Staunton.

Where is Staunton State Park?

Staunton State Park is located about 40 miles Southwest of downtown Denver Just east of the mountain town of Pine, Colorado, and is an easy day trip from Denver, Boulder, or Colorado Springs. Conveniently located between Denver, and Colorado’s mountain towns, Staunton also makes a great stop while heading further west.

Typical featured rock of Staunton

Staunton’s granitic cliffs make a striking impression as you drive into the park from Highway 285. Staunton lies within the greater South Platte area and is composed primarily of Pikes Peak Granite, although older granitic and metamorphic rocks can be found within the park.

Park History

Staunton is Colorado’s 42nd state park, and prior to the creation of Sweetwater Lake State Park in 2022, was its newest. Staunton encompasses 3,828 acres and is comprised of several historic ranches, including its namesake the 1,720-acre Staunton Ranch, which was donated to the state in 1986 by Frances Hornbrook Staunton. Since then, the state has been gifted or acquired additional properties including Elk Falls Ranch, Davis Ranch, the Chase Property, and finally the Dines Property. Look for these historic names on crags, trails, and climbs around the park.

A new climber completes their first 5.4 trad lead on “White Walker”

The park opened to the public on May 18th, 2013, and quickly emerged as a destination for rock climbing, hiking, mountain biking, and sightseeing. Climbing development started prior to the park’s opening, and as of January 2023 offers over 400 documented climbs. In 2022, the park opened a new road and parking area which offers easy access and short approaches to some of the best climbing in the region.

What Makes Staunton so great

Staunton has become a climbing destination due to its scenic beauty, remote feel, and wide variety of routes that offer something for every climber. Climbing has developed in close collaboration between climbers and park management, allowing for sustainable, thoughtful development. All crags have well-marked and convenient approach trails, modern safe bolts, and lower-off hardware on most single-pitch climbs. With 12 main areas, over 20 individual crags, and more than 400 routes, there are endless climbing opportunities.

Only 30 minutes from the Denver metro area, Staunton still has a remote feel, and provides an opportunity to escape the crowds, while enjoying its natural beauty. Covering 3,828 acres, and dotted with dozens of unique crags, miles of trail, creeks, and forested hillsides, the climbing in Staunton has a rugged mountain feel, while reasonable approaches to a range of climbing grades and styles offer endless climbing options.

Staunton has over 400 climbs including hard sport, easy trad, all bolted multipitch routes, adventure climbs, places to top rope or practice gym to crag skills, and everything in between. It’s a great destination for beginner and advanced climbers alike. Staunton is best known for its safely bolted single-pitch sport climbs, but it also offers many traditional climbs, and multipitch sport climbs up to 5-pitches.

While hiking to the crag, it is not uncommon to see dear grazing in the open meadows, or marmots chirping at you from the rocky hillsides. Staunton hosts a wide array of flora and fauna, enhancing the wild feel of hiking and climbing in the park.

Overall, the rock quality in Staunton is very good. Almost all climbing is on Pikes Peak Granite, but with texture and grain size differing from other well-known climbing destinations like Devil’s Head Climbing areas, and many other South Platte climbing areas. Climbing in Staunton has a unique feel with plenty of chicken heads, crack climbs, and steep juggy walls. Staunton’s larger domes including Parkview Dome have eroded to reveal ample chicken heads and can have the feel of climbing in the Flatirons but with options to clip bolts and avoid the long runouts. Other areas of the park, such as The Raven will test your slab climbing skills, and you can get your pump on climbing the hard overhanging sport routes in the Tan Corridor and The Dungeon.

Climbing in Staunton is for Everyone

First Ascent of “Chase the Sky” 5.7 on Parkview Dome

Climbing in Staunton is accessible to everyone and offers a unique appeal

whether you are a long-time crusher, or a newer climber just getting into outdoor climbing. With approaches from a couple of minutes to an hour, single and multi-pitch climbs, trad and sport climbing, top rope access, a tower, and even an ice climb, there really is something for everyone. Staunton is also a great area for climbing with kids. Easy approaches, stable base areas, and kid-friendly climbing options make it a perfect place to climb with the whole family.

In addition to being approachable to climbers with varied skill levels, close collaboration between the park, climbers, and many affinity groups and communities there has led to the intentional development of equitably accessible crags for diversely identifying groups and individuals.

Staunton has worked with adaptive climbing groups to ensure some crags are accessible to climbers with disabilities including a couple that are accessible by track chair (a motorized wheelchair on tracks) which are available at the park. Regardless of who you are, or your climbing experience, there is something for you at Staunton.

Where to climb in Staunton

With so many options, it can be difficult to know where to start when visiting Staunton. Here are a couple of places to get you going. The park has two main parking areas, The Meadow Lot which offers access to crags on the east side of the park, and the Lazy V lot which accesses the north and west portion of the park.

The greatest concentration of climbing is accessed from the Lazy V Lot, including Staunton Rocks, a complex of several crags with a variety of grades, lengths, and climbing styles. This guide will focus on Staunton rocks as an introduction to Staunton. From the park entrance and ranger station, proceed up the entrance road for a half mile, to a signed left turn toward Lazy V (straight brings you up to the meadow lot). Follow this road for a few minutes till it ends at the Lazy V Parking lot. For all crags, find the trail near the restrooms on the north side of the lot. Take this for 100 yards where it intersects a dirt old road (now closed to public vehicles). Turn left (west) and go a short distance before you pick up the Old Mill trail on the right. Follow this a short distance to where it intersects the Staunton Ranch Trail. From here, approach info is included in each crag.

Best Beginner Climbing Area: The Pooka Kings Landing

Climber at the Base of “Winter is Coming” 5.6, Pooka

If you are out with friends for some casual climbing, climbing with kids, or just transitioning from gym to crag, The Pooka is a great place to start. With a close concentration of moderate sport climbs from 5.4-5.10 including several in the 5.6-5.8 range, a quick approach, and lower-off hooks on every climb, this is a highly accessible crag. For those wanting a bit more challenge, this cliff offers a couple of trad climbs, as well as a few harder sport climbs to 5.11 and two fully bolted multipitch climbs. From the junction of Old Mill and Staunton Ranch Trails, continue north on Old Mill for 5-10 minutes until you see a signed climber’s access (CA) trail on the left. Follow this for a couple of minutes to where you will reach the cliff near the canyon amphitheater. Follow the trail that breaks left. You will reach the cliff again near the base of the rightmost route at Kings Landing.

Routes here are closely bolted with hooks to lower off at the anchors. Climbing White Walker (5.4) provides access to a ledge from which you can easily set top ropes on the other routes.

Best Multiple Pitch Climbs: Park View Dome

Climbers on “Heads High” 5.7, Parkview Dome

With a 15-minute approach and a variety of quality, all-bolted multipitch climbs, Parkview dome is bound to become a destination for those learning multipitch skills or wanting to cover a lot of ground in a short time. Most of the belay stances are at comfortable ledges, making transitions and rope management easier. The climbing can feel like Boulders Flatirons, with long routes on highly featured slabs, but without the runouts. All sport routes can be climbed and rappelled with a single 60-meter rope. From the junction of Staunton Ranch and Old Mill Trails, head left (West) on Staunton ranch. You will pass a kiosk with information about Staunton Rocks, and 10 minutes further the Whistle Pigs. At this point, you will see two larger domes to the right, and a couple of minutes further on the trail, you will see a signed Climbers access trail cutting up to them on the right, take this, and then an immediate left on another CA trail up to the cliff. You will reach the base of Parkview dome near the base of Heads High, a 4-pitch all bolted 5.7. This is a great intro to the multi-pitch climbing on Parkview and is currently the furthest left-bolted route on the dome. Moving right you will pass a couple of trad climbs, and the next multi-pitch sport route Chase the Sky a 3 pitch 5.7. There are several other single and multi-pitch routes all in the 5.7 range as you continue up and right around the dome.

Best Hard Sport Climbing: The Dungeon

If you are looking to project some hard lines, or get your pump on, check out The Dungeon. With 28 routes from 5.10-13d, this is a great place to try hard clipping bolts (it also offers a few hard trad climbs!). From the junction of Staunton Ranch and Old Mill trails, head left (west) on Staunton Ranch for a few minutes to an obvious information kiosk. Take the Climbers Access trail on the right just past the kiosk and follow well-signed trails another few minutes trending left to the Dungeon.

Ice climbing: Elk Creek Falls

Elk Creek Falls

This moderate, WI2 flow requires around an 8-mile hike round trip. Start at the Lazy V lot and head North-West along the Scout Line foot trail. In 1.5 miles you will hit a junction, and veer left on the Marmot Passage trail. Once you reach Elk Falls Pond, you’ve almost made it. Continue a mile South-East to find the falls. Whether it’s worth the hike is up to you to discover!

What to bring

With almost 300 sport climbs, many climbers will be happy exploring Staunton with just a rack of draws and a rope. While there are some longer routes, most climbs can be done with a single 60-meter rope. Most routes feature hooks for easy cleaning at anchors, but please top rope off your own gear, and just lower off at the end of your session. The rock quality is quite good, and most routes have been cleaned, but wearing helmets is always a good idea. For those wanting to get on some of the 100+ trad climbs in the park, a standard rack will get you up most climbs. With its higher elevation and mountain weather, it’s a good idea to bring a rain jacket, especially in summer when afternoon thunderstorms are common.

Getting to Staunton State Park

Staunton is located just north of Hwy 285 between the towns of Conifer and Pine about 40 miles Southwest of Downtown Denver. The park address is

12102 S. Elk Creek Road

Pine, CO, 80470

From the Junction of 285 and 470, head west on 285 South toward Fairplay. After 19 miles take the signed exit for Elk Creek Road and Shaffers Crossing. Turn Right headed North on Elk Creek rd. and continue for 1.3 miles to the signed entrance for Staunton on the right.

The Geology of Staunton State Park

Official Park Map

Let us show you around!

Wanting to get more information on Staunton, or an expert guide to show you more of the classic climbs in Staunton? Golden Mountain Guides is a permitted guide service in Staunton, and our professional guides can show you where to climb, and help you build the skills to get on anything in the park.

Many routes are listed on Mountain Project, and a digital guidebook is available on the Rakupp app.

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