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Nestled in the beautiful Rocky Mountains, Colorado is home to some of the best outdoor rock climbing spots in the world. But that’s no surprise. Whether you’re an amateur, a pro, or somewhere in between, there’s a peak for everyone. And, if you have absolutely no idea what you’re doing, don’t fret. There are plenty of organized guides available.
So round up your adventure-minded crew, bring plenty of healthy snacks, and hit up any one of these outstanding outdoor climbing spots that are just a stone’s throw from Denver.
If you know Boulder, you know the Flatirons. And in our humble opinion, there’s nothing like them. You’d be hardpressed to find another idyllic location where such an extensive variety of climbs exists within minutes of a major metro area. The Flatirons form the backdrop to Boulder, and they’re truly a sight to behold. When it comes to climbing, there are three main areas — Flatirons North, Central, and South. The North has both long and short routes, Central is incredibly scenic, and the South holds some of the best climbing in the area.
Just west of Golden, Clear Creek Canyon is aptly situated along winding Clear Creek. For climbers of all levels, this canyon has a wealth of sport climbs. So, prepare to be challenged. If you know your rocks, the canyon varies from gneiss and schist to sandy granite. Fitt tip: many routes here are can’t be descended with a single rope, so be careful. That said, for an advanced climb, check out the Primo Wall, the Anarchy Wall, and the River Wall.
A popular and well-known bouldering spot, Flagstaff has quite the history. Climbers have been exploring its exposed sandstone boulders since the 1940s. And there’s no shortage of climbs to be found — a few of the central areas boast powerful and bold rocks, like Monkey Traverse, Beer Barrel, and Capstan. Plus, there are plenty of opportunities to work through circuits on Flagstaff. Fitt Tip: wear gloves. These rocks are known to quickly tear up your fingers because of their sandpaper consistency.
Overlooking the city of Golden, this popular cliff band is known for its summer and winter rock climbing. Yes, that’s right. North Table faces south and west, making it a much more tolerable spot when the colder months arrive. Most routes here are tightly bolted and are generally short. The route to actually get there is easy though — there is only a single trail leaving from each of the two parking lots, and it takes an obvious course up the hill to the cliffs above. After your day’s climbs, head into Golden for a cold brew at Miners Saloon.
With immaculate granite slabs and beautiful cracks, Cathedral Spires is truly a climber’s paradise. For decades, it has enticed climbers up to its 1,200-foot approach. But beginners are equally welcomed — because it holds some of the longer routes in the Black Hills, this is a great place for amateur climbers to learn how to lead multi-pitch trad routes. And, for our experts out there, there are plenty of challenging areas with belay ledges. Fitt Tip: bring your camera. Cathedral Spires is as holy as her name suggests.
Home to quality bouldering in a quintessential Colorado setting, Three Sisters Park is truly epic. The area is home to a variety of wildlife, a well-covered pine forest, and granite quartz blocks for rock climbers. It also has beautiful hiking, mountain biking, and other sightseeing opportunities. That said, because it’s easy to get to, it draws busy crowds on the weekends. Either get there early on a Saturday or take a personal day — we won’t judge you (nor will we call your bluff).
Situated in the heart of Colorado Springs, Garden of the Gods is a remarkable Colorado landmark. This modest park boasts remarkable sandstone formations, as well as several massive rocks with jagged profiles. One of our favorite aspects of Garden of the Gods is the color of the rocks — they range from white to mild orange to deep reds. While climbing is almost exclusively trad, there are many routes with drilled angles. Plus, many don’t require gear other than draws. The rock quality varies from formation to formation, but for climbers who want to get their hands on soft desert sandstone, this is the place.
Just south of Estes Park lies Jurassic Park. No, you won’t find any live dinosaurs here, just some quality climbing. Its climbs are short, steep, and slabby. And its views are spectacular — think wildflowers, Longs Peak, and Lily Lake below. A varied selection of single-pitch, bolted sport routes ascend the compact area’s half-dozen cliffs. And although dogs and camping aren’t permitted, Jurassic Park makes for a full-day outing for new and old rock climbers alike.
Devil’s Head in the South Platte is a relatively new climbing area. And because of its size, you can find plenty of high-quality routes. This spot features roofs, cracks, edges, and flakes on solid granite fine-grain textured rock. But, that’s not even the best part — because of its location deep within forested land this place makes for excellent views of Pikes Peak and the Rampart Range Hills. If it were possible, we’d suggest bringing your yoga mat. This is as serene of a climbing experience as it gets. Namaste.