Super Guide to the Ultimate Rockies Road Trip

Stretching 3,000 miles from British Columbia to New Mexico, the Rocky Mountains are a geological wonder and a climber’s best friend. Here you’ll find every rock type imaginable, and in any size or style you may desire. Whatever your pleasure, the Rockies deliver.

What better place, then, to spend your summer? For this year’s Road Trip we ride the Rockies and sample some of the best they have to offer. Travel with us—the leg-work is already done. Just fill you chalk bag, gas the tank and hit the road.

By Harriet Ridley | January 14th, 2018

Not a bad way to start your summer. Kris Irwin takes stock of the world-class vista at Lake Louise in Banff National Park, Alberta, Canada. Route: Back in the Saddle (5.11b). Photo: John Price.


Lake Louise

Alberta, Canada

Sport and trad cragging on vertical-to-overhanging, bullet-hard quartzite buttresses, and mountainous trad adventures thrown in to boot. All this against the breathtaking backdrop o Lake Louise.

Camping

Lake Louise Campground; visit the Banff National Park website to pick a campsite and obtain your camping permit. Alternatively, pitch a tent in the backcountry at a Parks Canada campsite, for which you will need a backcountry permit.

Food & Drink

Grizzly House is a Banff institution, known for it’s fondue dinners and retro decor. Melissa’s Missteak is great for food, pool, darts and sports.

Rest Days

Hike 2.2 miles uphill to the Lake Agnes Tea House, or farther (3.4 miles) to the Plain of Six Glaciers Tea House, both of which start from Lake Louise and have outrageous views of lakes, peaks and glaciers. Visit the mineral Upper Hot Springs for a relaxing soak with panoramic views of the Rockies, or head to the Cave and Basin National Historic Site of Canada.

Info

Purchase a national park pass as you enter the park.

Number of Routes

250+

Grades

5.8 to 5.10: 130+ routes.

5.11 to 5.12: 90+ routes.

Climbing Type

Trad, sport and alpine trad.

Guidebook

Sport Climbs in the Canadian Rockies, by John Martin and Jon Jones.

Guide Service

Yamnuska Mountain Adventures, www.yamnuska.com, (403) 678-4164.


Mt. Yamnuska

Alberta, Canada

With a southern exposure allowing for a long climbing season, there’s plenty of time to enjoy the single-pitch limestone sport lines and multi-pitch trad offerings of Yamnuska.

Patrick Lindsay holds the rope for Tim Banfield on one of many traverse pitches of Forbidden Corner (5.9), Mt. Yamnuska, Alberta, Canada. Photo: John Price.
Patrick Lindsay holds the rope for Tim Banfield on one of many traverse pitches of Forbidden Corner (5.9), Mt. Yamnuska, Alberta, Canada. Photo: John Price.

Camping

No camping at the former Yamnuska campsite next to the trailhead parking lot, but camping is permitted anywhere more than half mile from the road. Developed campsites can be found in and around Canmore.

Food & Drink

Rocky Mountain Flatbread Compaany in Canmore serves all organic fare, and the best coffee in Canmore is served at Beamers, the locals’ favorite.

Rest Days

Hike the stunning Ha Ling Peak

Number of Routes

150+

Grades

5.4 to 5.13, 1 pitch to 12 pitches.

Climbing Type

Sport and multi-pitch trad.

Guidebook

Rock Climbs of Mt. Yamnuska, by Andy Genereux.

Guide Service

Yamnuska Mountain Adventures, www.yamnuska.com, (403) 678-4164.


Bugaboos

British Columbia, Canada

The granite spires of the Bugaboos, surrounded by the glaciers and peaks of the Purcell Mountains (technically not part of the Rockies, but since you’l drive by the Bugs during your tour we’d be remiss in not including this world-class area), provide one of the most spectacular alpine playgrounds you will ever see. Sharpen your glacier skills and head there from summer into early fall to enjoy mountaineering scrambles, moderate free climbs and multi-day big walls. But don’t bank on good weather, as fair conditions are not given in this part of the world

Kaare Iverson on the summit of McTech Arete (5.10-), Bugaboos, British Columbia, Canada. Photo: Dan Holz.
Kaare Iverson on the summit of McTech Arete (5.10-), Bugaboos, British Columbia, Canada. Photo: Dan Holz.

Camping

A steep three-hour approach gets you to the Conrad Kain Hut, owned and maintained by the Alpine Club of Canada ($25 per night; book ahead). Wilderness, backcountry or walk-in camping is allowed. Backcountry campgrounds are provided at Boulder Camp below the Conrad Kain Hut and on the bare rock slabs of Applebee Dome, 1 km (0.6 miles) above the hut. A per-person fee is in effect at these campgrounds, payable at a self-registration station inside the hut.

Food & Drink

Stop by Whitetooth Brewing in Golden for craft beer tasting. For steaks, burgers and veggie options accompanied by live music, visit the Wolf’s Den in Golden, or head to Bacchus Books and Cafe for a good breakfast or lunch with veggie, vegan or gluten-free options.

Rest Days

Biking (note: helmets are mandatory in B.C.!), fishing, hiking, paddle boarding, canoeing and kayaking.

Tips

There are a few easy to moderate routes, but most routes involve crossing the glaciers and negotiating difficult traverses. Crampons, ice axes and ropes are required. The East Ridge of Bugaboo Spire is listed as one of the “Fifty Classic Climbs of North America.”

Number of Routes

200+

Grades

Third class scrambles to 5.12 pitches.

Climbing Type

Alpine trad.

Guidebook

The Bugaboos by Chris Atkinson and Marc Piche or Bugaboo Rock: A Climbing Guide, 2nd Edition by Randall Green and Joe Bensen.

Guide Service

Cloud Nine Guides, www.cloudnineguides.com, (403) 707-5877.

Yamnuska Mountain Adventures, www.yamnuska.com, (403) 678-4164.


Echo Canyon

Bow Valley, Alberta, Canada

This outstanding limestone sport area, which has seen extensive development over the last decade, has become a real hot spot for the Calgary and Canmore crews. No one style characterizes this area, so you can get your fix of everything from techy crimps to steep power endurance.

Savannah Cummins all set for Graduation (5.10+) at the Shield in Echo Canyon. Photo: Seth Langbauer.
Savannah Cummins all set for Graduation (5.10+) at the Shield in Echo Canyon. Photo: Seth Langbauer.

Camping

Numerous official campsites around Canmore, such as Bow River Campground. Also camping and dorm-style accommodation at a nearby Alpine Club of Canada hut.

Food & Drink

No shortage of great options in Canmore. The Grizzly Paw Brewing Company has mountain views, local brews and Canadian pub fare. The Communitea Cafe has excellent coffee, vegan options, organic food and occasional live music events.

Rest Days

Take a few hours to hike the stunning Ha Ling Peak.

Number of Routes

125+

Grades

5.8 to 510: 15 routes;

5.11 to 5.12: 70 routes;

5.13: 23 routes.

Climbing Type

Sport cragging.

Info

Plenty of other sport crags to explore in the Bow Valley

Guidebook

Canmore Sport Climbs by Dave Dornian and Bow Valley Sport by Derek Galloway.


Gallatin Canyon

Montana

It’s not only ice that makes Bozeman an unforgettable climbing location, and for a taste of teh adventurous rock climbing available in the area, look no further than Gallatin Canyon. Limestone sport climbing, granite multi-pitch trad lines, and gneiss boulders are all open for business for much of the year

Aki Joy on Run Like Hell (5.10c), Gallatin Canyon, Montana. Photo: Seth Langbauer.
Aki Joy on Run Like Hell (5.10c), Gallatin Canyon, Montana. Photo: Seth Langbauer.

Camping

Pay campgrounds are located in the canyon a couple of miles south of the climbing. Free camping is also permitted on the surrounding National Forest land.

Food & Drink

Bozeman has a host of feasting options. Montana Ale Works serves creative pub food and over 40 regional craft brews on tap, and the Garage Soup Shack is a funky stop off for quick bites.

Rest Days

All the usual outdoor pursuits are available in the area and downtown Bozeman is well worth exploring. Combine an easy day activity with an evening soak at the Bozeman Hot Springs and you’ll be ready for another day on the rock.

Number of Routes

350+

Grades

Routes 5.6 to 5.13, with the majority in the 5.10 to 5.12 range. Bouldering up to V10.

Climbing Type

Single andhumbug multi-pitch trad, sport and mixed lines, plus some bouldering.

Guidebook

Bozeman Rock Climbs, 3rd Edition by Bill Dockins and Tom Kalakay or Rock Climbs of Southwest Montana by Kyle Vassilopoulos and Joe Josephson.


Stone Hill

Montana

Given its proximity to the Canadian tundra, and subsequent freeze-thaw cycles, Stone Hill is pretty much the only area in northwest Montana where the rock is solid enough to host climbing. Offering single-pitch sport, trad and mixed face climbing on solid quartzite rock, with easy toprope setups, this roadside area can challenge climbers of all levels.

stone-hill
Whitefish resident Molly Bruce and the roadside Night Flyer (5.10b), Hold Up Bluff’s South (the main crag), Stone Hill. Photo: Josh Gage.

Camping

Many campgrounds located along the Kootenai Reservoir. Camp 32 is four miles north of the main climbing area, and is free. Peck Gulch and Rexford Bench campgrounds are located to the south of the hill and charge a small fee.

Food & Drink

Cafe Jax, in Eureka, is the place to eat. Homestead Brewery is the one and only brew pub, and is slightly outside Eureka, but well worth the trip.

Rest Days

A Stone Hil local Rick Colville, says, “Bring your imagination.” Fishing, hiking, horseback riding, biking, water sports. On Wednesdays there’s a farmers market in Eureka, and Tobacco Valley Historical Village is an interesting collection of restored buildings and other structures from the 1880s to 1920s.

Info

The rock is quartzite and the routes are generally solid and clean. All routes feature top anchors and most are toprope ready. There are seasonal raptor closures.

Number of Routes

650+

Grades

5.5 to 5.13b. Majority are 5.10 to 5.11.

Climbing Type

Sport and trad.

Guidebook

Inquire at Rocky Mountain Outfitter in Kalispell.


Humbug Spires

Montana

The Humbug Spires are a cluster of over 50 white granite spires, the tallest of which are climbable, with the most famous and popular being The Wedge. The climbing offers multiple pitches of vertical crack systems with intermittent and diversely features faces.

The Wedge, Humbug Spires. Mutt and Jeff (5.8), the area classic, takes a left-trending system roughly up the middle of the face for five pitches. Photo: Josh Gage.
The Wedge, Humbug Spires. Mutt and Jeff (5.8), the area classic, takes a left-trending system roughly up the middle of the face for five pitches. Photo: Josh Gage.

Camping

Free pristine camping around The Wedge—stick to developed sites. Developed camping and RV sites at Divide Bridge Campground.

Food & Drink

Lots of cool places to eat and drink in Dillon, including the Taco Bus, Muffaletta’s for low-stress food and coffee, or The Old Bull Pen for American cafe culture.

Rest Days

Backpacking or day trips on foot or horseback; stunning wildlife to see, and great fishing. Bannack State Park Ghost Town outside Dillon is an interesting way to spend an afternoon.

Info

Part of the Boulder Batholith where you will also find excellent bouldering.

Number of Routes

50+

Grades

5.5 to 5.11.

Climbing Type

Multi-pitch trad.

Guidebook

Butte’s Climbing Guide by Dwight Bishop and Randall Green’s Rock Climbing Montana.


Elephant’s Perch

Sawtooth Range, Idaho

Idaho’s Sawtooth Range is an often overlooked alpine rock area, and the sweeping dome of the Elephant’s Perch is one of its finest gems. To access this majestic granite face and its dreamy multi-pitch trad lines, enjoy a scenic boat ride across Redfish Lake before a short and stout three-mile hike to the pristine camping around Saddleback Lakes at the base of the Perch.

Justin Wood, up in the alpine on a midsummer's romp on the Elephant's Perch, Mountaineer's Route (5.9). Photo: Jeremiah Watt.
Justin Wood, up in the alpine on a midsummer’s romp on the Elephant’s Perch, Mountaineer’s Route (5.9). Photo: Jeremiah Watt.

Camping

Camping at large is allowed within the Sawtooth Wilderness. Several established bivy sites can be found at Saddleback Lakes immediately southeast of Elephant’s Perch. Please observe the usual backcountry camping regulations (in particular, pack out solid waster, as the lakes are largely stagnant in late season).

Food & Drink

Sawtooth Luce’s in Stanley for good beer on tap and gastropub food. Papa Brunee’s for pizza and Stanley Baking Co. for coffee and baked delights.

Rest Days

Hiking (700 miles of trails), wildflowers, rafting, horseback riding, fly fishing, stunning mountain-biking trails and hot springs. Enjoy the nighttime sky above the Sawtooth Range and observe the unobscured Milky Way in all its glory in an absence of light pollution.

Access Tip

The Lodge operates a high-speed boat shuttle between the north and south ends of Redfish Lake. The boat ride takes four to six miles off the approach.

Number of Routes

20+

Grades

5.9 to 5.13.

Climbing Type

Alpine trad.

Guidebook

Idaho: A Climber’s Guide by Tom Lopez.


Channel Tubes

Idaho

An hour and a half northwest of Idaho’s centerpiece area, City of Rocks, and hidden beneath a barren sagebrush plateau, lies a maze of lava tubes, some collapsed and others intact, offering unique climbing and bouldering terrain on top-quality rock. The area may be underwater in the spring, due to the irrigation release at Magic Reservoir.

Mike McClure on Tomahawk Left (V6), the Channel Tubes, Idaho. Photo: Nathan Smith.
Mike McClure on Tomahawk Left (V6), the Channel Tubes, Idaho. Photo: Nathan Smith.

Camping

Basic dispersed campgrounds on the BLM land around Magic Reservoir.

Food & Drink

Go see the Burrito Lady in Shoshone.

Rest Days

Visit the Shoshone Ice Cave—a natural refrigerator in the lava desert—with its year-round ice floor, stunning ice formations and museum of Indian artifacts.

Number of Routes

20 or so roped, hundreds of boulder problems.

Grades

5.10 to 5.13: 10+ routes; V4 to V12: hundreds of boulders.

Climbing Type

Some sport, but this is mostly a bouldering area.

Guidebook

Idaho Underground by David Bingham.


Dierkes Lake

Idaho

Renowned for its super steep and pumpy jug hauling on overhanging basalt, Dierkes Lake offers some of Idaho’s best powerful sport climbing and is home to the “steepest 5.10 in the country.” Most routes are graded at 5.11 and above, but there are enough moderates to keep lower-grade climbers occupied.

dierkes-lake
Camping

No official camping but there are camping spots off Golf Course Road.

Food & Drink

Von Scheidt Brewing Company is a craft brewery in downtown Twin Falls.

Rest Days

Visit Shoshone Falls, which at 212 feet are taller than Niagra Falls.

Number of Routes

100+.

Grades

5.10: 40 routes;

5.11: 25 routes;

5.12 and up: 25 routes.

Guidebook

Basalt Climbs of South-Central Idaho, 2nd Edition, by Mark Weber.


Little Cottonwood Canyon

Utah

With routes on both the north and the south sides of the canyon, a host of climbing can be enjoyed almost year round in LCC. The area offers a huge mix of sport, single and multi-pitch trad and bouldering, almost all on beautiful white granite.

Camping

Campgrounds include Tanner’s Flat and Albion Basin, both of which are only open in the summer. No camping within one-half mile of any road in Mill Creek Canyon, Big Cottonwood or Little Cottonwood Canyon.

Food & Drink

Up at the mouth of Big Cottonwood Canyon is The Hog Wallow Pub, which has live music on certain days, and the Porcupine Pub & Grille, which has locally sourced homemade food.

Rest Days

Jump on your mountain bike or enjoy cool temperatures up canyon for hiking during the hot summer months.

Number of Routes

1000+.

Grades

5.8 to 5.10: 500+ routes;

5.11 to 5.12: 250+ routes;

V1-V5: 140+ problems;

V6+: 50+ problems.

Climbing Type

Trad, sport and bouldering.

Guidebook

Ferguson to Longe Peak: A Granite Guide by Nathan Smith, Andrew burr and Tyler Phillips.


Rock Canyon

Utah

Generally regarded as more moderate than nearby American Fork, Rock Canyon boasts bolted climbs from 5.5 to 5.13, and trad from 5.6 to 5.12, with the majority below 5.10.

Perin Blanchard in Rock Canyon, a neighboring area to American Fork. Here, he rocks on Forsaken (5.11b) at The Hidden Wall. Photo: Thomas Hoimes.
Perin Blanchard in Rock Canyon, a neighboring area to American Fork. Here, he rocks on Forsaken (5.11b) at The Hidden Wall. Photo: Thomas Hoimes.

Camping

Free camping in the canyon.

Food & Drink

For cheap food, head to J. Dawgs. For not-so-cheap food, the best restaurant in Provo is Bombay House: this place is packed from open to close. The Coffee Pod is the place for caffeine.

Rest Days

Hiking in beautiful Provo Canyon.

Info

It’s important to pack a full supply of water into this canyon.

Number of Routes

400+.

Grades

5.8 to 5.10: 200+ routes;

5.11 to 5.12: 100+ routes.

 

Climbing Type

Trad, sport and toprope.

Guidebook

Climber’s Guide to American Fork / Rock Canyon by Bret and Stuart Ruckman (this guidebook is somewhat outdated now).


American Fork

Utah

Steep sport climbing on pocketed limestone and home to some of the hardest routes in Utah. With plenty of shade in the deep canyon and climbs from 5.9 to 5.14, American Fork has enough climbing to keep you busy from February through November.

Camping

Campsites can be found throughout the canyon, but the sites near the climbing need to be reserved. There is a canyon entrance fee.

Food & Drink

This area is not know for its food! Unless you like gas station burritos the best option is to bring some sweet fare to enjoy around the campfire.

Rest Days

Try your hand at caving in Timpanogos Cave National Monument.

Number of Routes

500+.

Grades

5.8 to 5.10: 150+ routes;

5.11 to 5.12: 250+ routes.

Guidebook

Climber’s Guide to American Fork / Rock Canyon by Bret and Stuart Ruckman.


Uinta Mountains

Utah

Come summer, the Uintas provide steep, often remote and solitary trad, sport and alpine climbing horizontally fractured quartzite. Thank to spates of recent development, the area is now becoming a popular place to clip bolts, in crisp temps and a beautiful setting.

Camping

Designated sites along the Mirror Lake Scenic Byway, including butterfly Campground, Highline Trailhead Campground and Moosehorn Campground.

Food & Drink

Burgers and beer at the Notch Pub in Samak, or “The Best Pizza in Utah” at Summit Inn in Kamas.

Rest Days

Hit up Homestead Crater Hot Springs in Midway, take the short walk to Provo River Falls or get lost (figuratively speaking) in the High Uintas Wilderness Area.

Number of Routes

250+.

Grades

5.8 to 5.10: 150+ routes;

5.11 to 5.12: 50+ routes.

Climbing Type

Trad, alpine trad, sport and toprope setups.

Guidebook

Uinta Rock by Nathan Smith and Paul Tusting.

Guide Service

White Pine Touring, www.whitepinetouring.com, (435) 649-8710.


The Tetons

Wyoming

With everything from technical scrambles to multiday mixed alpine adventures, and even a spot of bouldering and bolt clipping, the home of North America’s most famous skyline has it all.

Conrad Anker near the Lower Saddle of the Grand Teton, Middle Teton Glacer in the background. Photo: Jimmy Chin.
Conrad Anker near the Lower Saddle of the Grand Teton, Middle Teton Glacer in the background. Photo: Jimmy Chin.

Camping

Numerous campsites with nightly fees. Overnight backcountry camping is permitted only in designated areas. Permits are required for all overnight trips and are available on a first-come first-served based.

Food & Drink

Melvin Brewing, in Alpine, south of Jackson and nearly on the Idaho border—www.melvinbrewing.com, (307) 654-0426. Cafe Genevieve in downtown Jackson serves home-cooked classics.

Rest Days

Take a day trip to Yellowstone National Park or go whitewater paddling on the Snake River.

Number of Routes

1000+.

Grades

Full range from Grade 3 scrambles to 5.13 pitches.

Climbing Type

Alpine trad and trad cragging, with some bouldering and sport thrown in.

Guidebook

Teton Rock Climbs  by Aaron Gams and Best Climbs Grand Teton National Park by Richard Rossiter.


Wind River Range

Wyoming

The 100-mile-long Wind River Range includes several peaks over 13,000 feet, including the highest Rocky Mountain peaks outside of Colorado and the largest system of glaciers in the American Rockies. The technical alpine routes of the Winds are rmeote, some requiring a two- or three-day walk in, and as such require prior planning and backcountry experience. Bring insect repellent, as mosquitoes are a plague in the height of the summer climbing season.

Kim Havell and Julia Heemstra take in the view from the summit of Pingora, Cirque of the Towers, in Wyoming's Wind River Range. Photo: Dan Holz.
Kim Havell and Julia Heemstra take in the view from the summit of Pingora, Cirque of the Towers, in Wyoming’s Wind River Range. Photo: Dan Holz.

Camping

Trails End Campground (outside Pinedale, for folks heading up to Titcomb Basin) and Big Sandy Campground (both have nightly fees) are suitable kick offs for the west side of the range. Numerous campsites to choose from depending on where you are planning to go climbing. Bivy sites and wilderness camping also permissible. You can hire local horsepackers to carry your gear in to help with the long approach, should you wish to pack for luxury.

Food & Drink

Heart-BAr Bar-B-Que in Dubois does exactly what it says. Wind River Brewing Co. in Pinedale boasts craft brews and American comfort food.

Rest Days

Enjoy the scenery on a hike or a run. Hire a couple of llamas from the Lander Llama Hiking Company to undertake a guided or non-guided wilderness llama trip. Visit Dubois, one of the last remaining Old West cowboy towns, and the Museum of the Mountain Man in Pinedale.

Info

The size of the range means that there are numerous access points, so plan your route and access in advance

Number of Routes

Many hundreds.

Grades

5.8 to 5.13.

Climbing Type

Alpine trad.

Guidebook

Climbing and Hiking in the Wind River Mountains by Joe Kelsey.


Ten Sleep

Wyoming

Over a thousand routes. No, that wasn’t a typo. Ten Sleep Canyon is a sport climber’s delight: with routes of every grade in a beautiful Old West setting, it’s a must on any reputable roadtrip.

Alli Rainey, Projecting, Tensleep Canyon, WY
Alli Rainey, Projecting, Tensleep Canyon, WY

Camping

Two developed campsites (book in advance) and undeveloped camping off the main road. Camping at cabins at Ten Sleep Rock Ranch.

Food & Drink

Ten Sleep Brewing Co.; Crazy Woman Cafe; Dirty Sally’s for ice-cream waffles.

Rest Days

Hiking, swimming, fishing.

Number of Routes

1000+.

Grades

Full spread from 5.8 to 5.14, with a concentration in the 5.11 to 5.13 range.

Climbing Type

Sport.

Guidebook

Holy Ten Sleep Electric Koolaide 3-D Acid Test by Aaron Huey comes with 3-D glasses and hefty price tag ($75). The electronic option is Ten Sleep Rock Climbing Guidebook by Mike Snyder on Rakkup.


Vedauwoo

Wyoming

A veritable crack-climber’s paradise. Vedauwoo also offers techy slabs, crimpy faces and even a little bouldering. At an elevation of around 8,000 feet, this granite area is filled with distinctive formations and great summits

Derrick Wigglesworth loads up the Left Torpedo Tube (5.10d), The Nautilus, Vedauwoo. Photo: Nathan Smith.
Derrick Wigglesworth loads up the Left Torpedo Tube (5.10d), The Nautilus, Vedauwoo. Photo: Nathan Smith.

Camping

Campground run by the Forest Service, otherwise find a legal spot, of which there are many.

Food & Drink

Coal Creek Tap and the Altitude Chophouse and Brewery, both in Laramie.

Rest Days

Nearby fishing, mountain biking or a visit to Laramie.

Number of Routes

900+.

Grades

5.5 to 5.13.

Climbing Type

Mostly trad.

Guidebook

Rock Climbing at Vedauwoo, Wyoming by Robert B. Kelman.


Eldorado Springs

Colorado

World-famous climbing awaits on the beautiful sandstone conglomerate of “Eldo.” This area is renowned for having a unique style that may take some getting use to, so start easy. In the summer months pick a more remote crag to avoid the crowds.

Sheyna Button belays Heidi Wirtz as she gets into the business of The Diving Board (5.11b) in Eldorado Canyon. Photo: Celin Serbo.
Sheyna Button belays Heidi Wirtz as she gets into the business of The Diving Board (5.11b) in Eldorado Canyon. Photo: Celin Serbo.

Camping

Camping is prohibited within the canyon. There are alternatives outside.

Food & Drink

No shortage of choices in Boulder; try the incredibly popular Southern Sun Pub and Brewery.

Rest Days

Walk the strip in Boulder, hike the Mt. Sanitas trail or relax in the Eldo Canyon Hot Springs pool.

Number of Routes

1,100+.

Grades

5.8 to 5.10: 500+ routes;

5.11 to 5.12: 300+ routes.

Climbing Type

Trad and bouldering.

Guidebook

Eldorado Canyon: A Climbing Guide, 2nd Edition by Steve Levin.

Guide Service

Colorado Mountain School, www.coloradomountainschool.com, (800) 836-4008.


Estes Park

Colorado

Even if you don’t think you’ve heard of “The Park,” you have. The gateway to Rocky Mountain National Park boasts a varied selection of best-in-show climbing. Estes Park and its surrounding areas have world-class bouldering, alpine rock routes, and even some quality sport climbing.

Camping

Numerous fee campsites to choose from in Estes Park.

Food & Drink

Ed’s Cantina and Estes Park Brewery in Estes Park.

Rest Days

Fish, hike or swim.

Number of Routes

1,200+.

Grades

Routes 5.8 to 5.14 and boulders up to V15.

Climbing Type

Multi-pitch trad and sport, single-pitch trad and sport, bouldering.

Guidebook

Rocky Mountain National Park: The climber’s Guide by Bernard Gillett and Bouldering Rocky Mountain National Park and Mount Evans by Jamie Emerson.

Guide Service

Colorado Wilderness Rides and Guides, www.cwrag.com, (720) 242-9828.


South Platte

Colorado

Every type of climbing imaginable is within this vast region of many crags between Denver and Colorado Springs. Standouts are Devil’s Head, Turkey Rock and Eleven-Mile Canyon.

Elliot Bates on Beyond the Fire Tower (5.12d), Digital Tower, Devil's Head, South Platte. Photo: Fred Marmsater.
Elliot Bates on Beyond the Fire Tower (5.12d), Digital Tower, Devil’s Head, South Platte. Photo: Fred Marmsater.

Camping

Many options; depends on which crag you visit. Devil’s Head Campground, Eleven Mile State Park, Lone Rock Campground. Check ahead and reserve a site during the busy summer/tourist season.

Food & Drink

Deckers Corner in Sedalia for an easy meal and Pike’s Peak Brewing Company in Monument for the cold ones. Denver and Colorado Springs have practically infinite eateries and brew pubs.

Rest Days

Miles of hiking trails. Visit Denver Art Museum and cruise LoDo.

Number of Routes

Around 2,000.

Grades

200 5.12 and harder, the rest are 5.11 and under.

Climbing Type

Single-pitch sport and trad, multi-pitch trad, bouldering.

Guidebook

South Platte Climbing by Jason Haas, Ben Schneider and Craig Weinhold.


Shelf Road

Colorado

Take advantage of Cañon City’s 325 annual days of sunshine, and enjoy year-round climbing on vertical limestone at one of Colorado’s most popular, and one of its first, sport-climbing venues.

Camping

Shelf Road has two scenic campgrounds that operate on a first-come first-served basis and have a nightly fee.

Food & Drink

Red Canyon Cycles on Main Street in Cañon City serves beer, coffee and climbing supplies, while The Bean Pedaler, also on Main Street, has a small selection of climbing gear and sells coffee and breakfast burritos. Pizza Madness is a fun and funky find and Royal Gorge Brewing Co. has local brews and food.

Rest Days

Go rafting or take a peek around the Prison Museum in Cañon City.

Number of Routes

1,000+.

Grades

5.8 to 5.10: 380+ routes;

5.11 to 5.12: 450+ routes.

Climbing Type

Sport cragging.

Guidebook

Shelf Road Climbing: A Complete Guide by Bob D’Antonio.


Taos

New Mexico

Diverse rock awaits in this southernmost region of the Rockies. From high-quality basalt in the rarely visited area of Utopian Vistas, to the pristine multi-pitch granite of Questa Dome, the Taos area provides adventurous and varied climbing almost year round.

Dan Greenwald walks proud on the 5.10R fourth pith of Question of Balance (5.11) on the quality stone of Questa Dome, near Taos, New Mexico. Photo: Stewart Green.
Dan Greenwald walks proud on the 5.10R fourth pith of Question of Balance (5.11) on the quality stone of Questa Dome, near Taos, New Mexico. Photo: Stewart Green.

Camping

Plenty of free camping on BLM and National Forest land at many of the climbing areas, or upgrade to developed campsites along the Rio Hondo.

Food & Drink

Visit the unpretentious little gem La Cueva in Taos for inexpensive Mexican fare and World Cup Coffee for your favorite caffeinated beverage. Eske’s brewpub is a climbers’ institution.

Rest Days

Explore the traditional culture here and visit the UNESCO World Heritage site of the ancient Taos Pueblo belonging to a Tiwa-speaking Native American tribe of Puebloan people. Alternatively, get creative and throw a pot or Raku fire a vessel at the Taos Clay Center.

Number of Routes

500+.

Grades

Full range of routes, with the majority in 5.10 to 5.11, and boulders up to V10.

Climbing Type

Single and multi-pitch trad and sport, plus bouldering.

Guidebook

Taos Rock: Climbs and Boulders of Northern New Mexico by Jay Foley and Rock Climbing New Mexico by Dennis Jackson.

Guide Service

Mountain Skills Rock Guides, www.climbtaos.com, (575) 776-2222.


Diablo Canyon

New Mexico

Welcome to New Mexico’s Devil’s Tower. Year-round sport and trad climbing on dark columnar basalt cliffs ranging in difficulty from 5.9 to 5.13. Helmets are highly recommended, as harsh freeze-thaw cycles can produce loose rocks.

Rick Bradshaw and the iron rock of You're Scaring the Horses (5.12b), Early Wall, Diablo Canyon near Santa Fe. Photo: Jay Foley.
Rick Bradshaw and the iron rock of You’re Scaring the Horses (5.12b), Early Wall, Diablo Canyon near Santa Fe. Photo: Jay Foley.

Camping

Free camping at the Diablo Canyon Rec Area.

Food & Drink

Mexican food galore in Santa Fe! Try Cafe Castro or Tia Maria’s. For handcrafted beers and brewpub food, head to Second Street Brewery/Rufina Taproom, www.secondstreetbrewery.com, (505) 945-1286.

Rest Days

Check out the art and culture capital of Santa Fe.

Info

Watch out for rattlesnakes and tarantulas in this part of the world!

Number of Routes

250+.

Grades

5.8 to 5.10: 90+ routes;

5.11 to 5.12: 140+ routes.

Climbing Type

Single and multi-pitch trad and sport.

Guidebook

Taos Rock: Climbs and Boulders of Northern New Mexico by Jay Foley and Rock Climbing New Mexico by Dennis Jackson.

 


This article appeared in Rock and Ice issue 244 (August 2017).


 

Also read Poudre Canyon, Colorado: A North Canyon Gem

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