Some of America’s best rock climbing adventures are found in the Pikes Peak region. A huge variety of climbing lies within an hour’s drive from Colorado Springs on sandstone towers at the Garden of the Gods, limestone walls at Shelf Road and up pristine granite cliffs on Pikes Peak.
The City of Colorado Springs parks department boasts four wonderful climbing areas on public land – the iconic Garden of the Gods Park, Red Rock Canyon Open Space, North Cheyenne Canon Park and Ute Valley Park. These popular areas offer hundreds of climbing routes, including traditional climbs, bolted sport routes and boulder problems, for climbers of every age and ability.
More great climbing is found outside the city limits at Shelf Road Climbing Area, one of Colorado’s more popular venues with a couple thousand bolted routes; granite domes and cliffs at Elevenmile Canyon and Turkey Rock near the South Platte River; high-elevation spires and buttresses on Pikes Peak, America’s most famous mountain; and remove crags along the Gold Camp Road near Cripple Creek.
The Pikes Peak region is one of the best year-round places for climbing in the Rocky Mountains. Summer brings sunny days to the Garden of the Gods and Red Rock Canyon, while wildflower-strewn meadows add color below alpine cliffs on Pikes Peak. Autumn has near-perfect weather with mild dry days and golden aspen trees. Shelf Road on the south side of the Peak lies in Colorado’s banana belt, making it the best place in the state for sending hard spot routes in December and January. Spring yields variable weather, with cool breezy afternoons interspersed with perfect 65-degree afternoons at all the local crags expect on snowbound Pikes Peak.
Before You Get Started
The four Colorado Springs city parks that offer rock climbing - Garden of the Gods, Red Rock Canyon, North Cheyenne Canon and Ute Valley - require a free climbing permit issued online by Colorado Springs Parks, Recreation & Cultural Services Department. The other climbing areas lie on both U.S. Forest Services and BLM public lands and require no resignation for climbing.
Leave No Trace Outdoor Ethics for Rock Climbing
Plan Ahead And Prepare
- Know the regulations and special concerns for the area where you plan to climb.
- Prepare for extreme weather, hazards and emergencies.
- Schedule your climbing to avoid times of high use.
- If you are climbing with a group, communicate your expectations.
- Bring the appropriate equipment for the route(s) you intend to climb.
- Acquire the necessary technical skills including first aid knowledge.
- Check local regulations and ethics regarding the installations and use of fixed protection.
Travel and Camp on Safe, Durable Surfaces
- Durable surfaces include established trails and campsites, rock gravel, dry grasses or snow.
- Always use durable roads and trails to access climbing routes.
- When unpacking gear at crags, choose a durable location for your staging and belay areas.
- Use existing anchors when available.
- Protect water sources by camping at least 200 feet from lakes and streams.
- Good camp sites are found, not made. Altering a site is not necessary.
Dispose of Waste Properly
- Pack it in, pack it out. Inspect your camping and climbing areas for trash or spilled foods. Pack out all trash, leftover food, tape and litter.
- Carry out abandoned or forgotten gear and webbing.
- Minimize the use of chalk when possible. Keep chalk bags closed when not in use to minimize spills.
- Consider packing out solid human waste using an approved method.
- If allowed, deposit solid human waste in catholes dug 6 to 8 inches deep at least 200 feet from water, camp and trails. Cover and disguise the cathole when finished.
- Pack out toilet paper and hygiene products.
Leave What You Find
- Preserve the past: observe, but do not touch, cultural or historic structures and artifacts.
- Leave rocks, plants, and other natural objects as you find them.
- Avoid developing new routes near archaeological or historical sites, or critical wildlife habitat.
- Avoid introducing or transporting non-native species.
- Do not build structures, furniture or dig trenches.
Minimize Campfire Impacts
- Campfires can cause lasting impacts to the backcountry. Consider using a lightweight stove for cooking and bring a headlamp for light.
- Where fire are permitted, use established fire rings, fire pans, or mound fires.
- Keep fires small. Only use sticks from the ground that can be broken by hand.
- Don't bring firewood with you. It may be contaminated with tree killing insects or diseases. Instead, buy local wood near your destination or gather it upon your arrival.
- Burn all wood to coals and ash, put out campfires completely, then scatter cool ashes.
- Learn about seasonal route closures and be prepared to back off a route if you disturb wildlife.
- Observe wildlife from a distance. Do not follow or approach wildlife.
- Never feed animals. Feeding wildlife damages their health, alters natural behaviors and exposes them to predators and other dangers.
- Protect wildlife and your food by storing rations and trash securely.
- If bringing dogs to crags, ensure they're under control or consider leaving them at home.
- Avoid wildlife during sensitive times. Mating, nesting, raising young or winter.
Be Considerate of Other Visitors
- Respect other visitors and protect the quality of their experience.
- Larger groups should try not to monopolize popular climbing routes, especially during times of high use.
- Maintain a cooperative spirit by being courteous to other users on the trails and at crags.
- Let nature's sounds prevail. Avoid loud voices and noises unless necessary for communicating with your climbing partner(s).
The Leave No Trace Seven Principles are reprinted with the permission of the Leave No Trace Center for Outdoor Ethics. For more information, visit www.LNT.org.
Proper climbing gear, including harnesses, ropes, helmets and protection gear like cams and nuts, is required for technical climbing at Colorado Springs city parks.
Where to Go
2120 S Cheyenne Canyon Rd, Colorado Springs, CO 80906
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