Colorado's Front Range is home to outstanding outdoor climbing, most of which is easily accessible. Just a short drive - 1 hour or less - from Denver's city center, and you can sample some of Colorado's best outdoor climbing. Whether you're a local who bought in early, or a van-lifer visiting for the weekend, Denver's closest crags won't disappoint. Read more below to get the beta on some of our favorite places to climb close to home.
Eldorado Canyon State Park
Eldorado Canyon is well known as one of America's greatest climbing venues, featuring towering canyon walls of slick sandstone. Rich in the history of western exploration, routes were established as early as 1950. Summit the Wind Tower, and you will find evidence of the Steel Cables once used to tour the canyon at the turn of the 20th century. As you meander through the canyon, the raging sound of the South Boulder Creek accompanies you. Eldorado Canyon, or "Eldo", is a truly magical place.
Eldorado Canyon climbing takes some getting used to, and is renowned for its steep grading. So give it some respect. Route finding can be tricky at times, so go with an experienced friend or guide who can help you get used to the terrain. For the best experience, we recommend getting an early start to the day. During the Summer of 2022, the park will be piloting a timed-entry system for access on the weekend, so make sure you have a permit in place before traveling to the canyon.
The Wind Tower is likely the park's most traveled area, due to the incredibly easy access and fun, moderate climbing. Some sweet trade routes to check out here are The Wind Ridge (5.7), Calypso (5.6), and Reggae (5.8). With convenient rappel stations, it's easy to knock out a bunch of quick climbing here early in the morning or after a day in the office. Of course, we can't talk about Eldo without mentioning some of our favorite Classic Climbs.
Swanson's Arete (5.5)
The Bastille Crack (5.7)
The Yellow Spur (5.9)
Outer Space (5.10b)
Clear Creek Canyon: Tunnel 5 Area
If you’ve read why we are the best guides in Denver, then you know we love Clear Creek Canyon. But, it’s a big place with a ton of climbing! So we want to highlight one of our favorite areas, Tunnel 5. Clear Creek's crags are organized by their parking locations and relativity to the 6 distinct tunnels you will travel through as you drive West on US Route 6.
The Tunnel 5 area holds a high concentration of quality, entry-level routes that make it a perfect place to learn how to climb. Some crags of note in this area are Other Critters, Catslab, and Creek Side. Climbs here are moderate, well bolted, and fun. This area gets plenty of sunlight, making it accessible almost all year round.
Due to construction along the road, access has gotten a little tricky - listen to the posted signage to avoid a ticket! If you don't mind a relaxing river-side hike, park just past Tunnel 6 and walk downstream until you rejoin route US route 6.
The path is well-worn and straightforward. There is great climbing here in the tunnel 6 corridor as well, Little Eiger is impossible to miss as you walk along the riverside path.
This might add 10-15 minutes to your approach, but the parking is more straightforward. Bring your fly fishing rod and you might find a trout or two in this section as well. Be wary, this area is quite popular. So if you're looking for more solitude, try to go during the weekday. There's a reason the area's most popular climb is called Playin' Hooky!
The Maiden, Boulder Flatirons
If you've been to Boulder, you know about the Flatirons. Gifted to Boulderites approximately 300 million years ago, striking Sandstone walls tower above the town. A nearly endless amount of climbing can be done here, and convenient access enables full-on adventure right in Boulder's backyard. The forest here is full of life, and the Boulder community treasures time spent in these open space parks.
The Flatirons hold approximately 171 named formations, the most obvious being labeled 1-5. Sorting the rest is a little more challenging, though. While some remain close to the ground, hidden between the pine trees and topography, The Maiden stands tall above the remaining landscape.
Climbing the Maiden, you'll enjoy the varied, traversing movement over brightly colored, featured terrain. Turn onto the face, and rock your way up to the top. After the summit view, enjoy the mega free-hanging rappel! While scrambling the second flatiron on the "Freeway" is pretty sweet, you just can't beat a real adventure in the Flatirons. If you want to check it out, come climb the maiden with us!
Lookout Mountain Road is good for more than road cycling and paragliding, it's got some pretty cool climbing too! Offering easy access just a short drive from Denver, Lookout Mountain Crag is a great place to work on your outdoor climbing skills, and even place some gear. Venture just a little further up the road and you will find the Tiers of Zion, a multi-tiered crag offering a variety of well-protected single and multi-pitch sport climbs for all levels. In recent years, this crag has seen an increase in visitation, likely for its quality climbs and stellar views.
Venture further down the Windy Saddle Trail to Lover's Leap on Beaver Brook. Here you will find some Three Star 5.9+ sport climbs that are well worth the hike. Check the sun angles and try to time your climbing around the warmest part of the day. Surrounded by trees, this crag can get pretty chilly during the spring and fall.
Did you know Lookout mountain has a dry-tooling crag as well? Not all rock that forms on planet earth is bomber, and some of the looser rock on Lookout has been overlooked by sport climbers. Dry-tooling helps improve your technical skills for alpine rock adventures, building strength and agility. If you're curious about dry-tooling, let's get you out with some tools to practice in our Intro to Drytooling course.
While Lookout Mountain might be easily overlooked given the temptation of nearby Clear Creek Canyon, it's a comfortable local spot worth checking out. The views equal those achieved on a full-day adventure, and who doesn't love a more reward for less work? If you're looking for a unique adventure off the beaten path, check it out. It's got a little bit of everything, and the easy access makes it a piece of cake to find a cold beer in town after the climb.
North Table Mountain
High above Golden, sit the volcanic cliffs of North Table Mountain. Offering a wide spectrum of climbing difficulties, North Table is the local, convenient training spot. With a large density of top site accessible anchors, it's super easy to set up a top rope and have some fun.
Due to its location and Southern aspect, North Table is known for getting super hot during the summer months. The best climbing is during cool weather. If you absolutely have to get your fix, there is still plenty of shade to be found here if you look hard enough. But look out for rattlesnakes on a hot day!
A great spot for beginners is Brown Cloud Rocks, the first crag you'll stumble upon when you finish the standard approach trail. If you are visiting Denver during winter and want to keep warm during a day of privately guided climbing, this is your place to explore.