Looking to visit the Mile High city this summer? Between driving to the trailhead, hiking to the crag, and getting back, a whole day can be spent on the process of just getting to and from a climbing spot. And although a nice hike is a great way to spend a day off, it makes a trip to the crag off-limits for climbers with anything less than a day to spare.
Luckily for Denver visitors, there are a surplus of great climbs within 45 minutes of downtown with quick and easy approaches. In under an hour, you could be roped up and sending routes at any one of these 5 locations.
1.North Table Mountain
An easy 30 minute drive from downtown, North Table is the perfect spot for a half-day of climbing. The crag is easy to find, sitting just up the hill from the Coors Factory in Golden. A quick, steep hike from a dirt lot brings you to the base of the climbing area within minutes. There are hundreds of sport and trad routes and plenty of top-rope access. The climbs are somewhat short and range widely in difficulty, there is a climb there for anyone. An excellent place for beginners to get a feel for outdoor climbing North Table is also a fun spot for advanced climbers to get a great workout on a wide variety of routes. Just watch out for crowds on the weekends.
This classic bouldering spot has seen its share of climbers. A popular climbing destination since the mid 1900s, Flagstaff Mountain has hundreds of timeless boulder problems. Access is more than easy. Follow the 25 freeway into Boulder and exit West onto Baseline Rd. Follow Baseline until it turns into a steep, winding 2-lane street and you’ll run straight into the climbing area. Park on a shoulder, walk 10 ft. and you’ll have already arrived at some of the best climbing the Front Range has to offer. The boulders are mostly moderate in difficulty, but there are still plenty V0 – V3 climbs for the less seasoned climber. This is definitely a location that warrants some exploration, with well over 200 established problems. Just be sure to pick up after yourself and respect the local wildlife and vegetation, as this spot does see a lot of visitors. We should all do our part to make sure this beautiful climbing area remains that way.
3.Clear Creek Canyon
With over 800 established climbs, Clear Creek Canyon is a dream come true for sport and trad climbers. Following the 6 highway west from Denver, the road practically leads straight into the canyon. You can follow the road through the entirety of the 12 mile canyon and, on a warm day, you can see climbers working their way up the walls around every bend. Most of the approaches are very easy, rarely forcing you to walk more than a quarter mile from the road. There isn’t much top rope access here, but if you like sport climbing, Clear Creek Canyon might be your new favorite spot. A variety of rock types and difficulty ratings give this area, just outside of Golden, an excess of fun and diverse routes.
Boulder Canyon waits just under an hour away from Denver and minutes from downtown Boulder. Its climbs are easily accessible from the road and there are plenty of them. With over 1500 climbs throughout the canyon, you won’t need to look very hard to find one. Just follow the road through 13 miles of crags and pick one out. Mainly a sport climbing destination, there is also a decent selection of trad routes to check out. The textured granite in this area renders a wide range of difficulty. Whether you want to play it safe or you don’t mind taking a couple whippers, you’ll find what you’re looking for in Boulder Canyon.
Only 45 minutes out of downtown Denver, Castlewood Canyon provides over 300 climbs. All of them are short and sweet, with great top rope access. Make sure to bring some slings, webbing, or extra rope, as you’ll most likely have to use a tree as your anchor. There are bolts, but only on a fraction of the many, great climbs this spot has to offer. The crags are wooded, so there’s plenty of shade on the hotter days for the belayer. Plus, this area tends to bring in fewer crowds than Boulder and Golden, making it a good weekend escape. It is a state park so make sure to “leave no trace” so that future climbers can enjoy this spot too. Also be extra careful with your anchors so as to not hurt the trees and use good judgment on which ones will be strong enough to support a climber’s weight!