Minutes from downtown Boulder, a wide variety of climbing types and beautiful scenery make Boulder Canyon a favorite for many locals to climb. The rock type is granite, smooth in places but for the most part highly textured. Easy to challenging sport climbs litter the canyon, and new development is still going on. Also, there are a number of moderate and classic trad lines, from the Elephant Buttresses up to Castle Rock and beyond.
Note, for organizational purposes, Upper Dream Canyon is listed separate from Boulder Canyon, despite being a side branch of Boulder Canyon.
The crags on the south side of the canyon receive little sun in the winter months, and often are quite chilly then. They are great for shady climbing in hotter weather, however. Most crags on the northern side of the canyon are climbable in the winter months, and quite hot to climb in the summer sun. Approach time for most climbs is in the 5-15 minute range, if not less.
There are a couple of areas in BC that form ice during the winter thanks to a leaky aqueduct. These flows forms just West of Castle Rock on the South side of the creek. Mainly shorter, easier lines, but up WI6 (in thin conditions) can be found.
Mileages / Crags
Here is a update-able list of approximate mileages (from the bottom) with associated crags:
From the low lands, go to Boulder. Canyon Street (aka CO Hwy 119) runs east to west. Get on Canyon, drive west. Mileage distances for the crags are measured from the bridge that you cross on the right turn as you just get into the canyon. You can also walk/ride on a footpath that follows Boulder Creek to get to some of the rocks.
From the high lands, go to Nederland. Drive downhill on CO Hwy 119.
Note, the lands along this canyon are a patchwork belonging to multiple owners. Some allow bolting, some do not. Be aware of the owner of the land and their regulations before altering the landscape here.
These closures protect a long-established golden eagle territory, including valuable alternate nest sites. Undisturbed access to alternate nest sites is important for birds of prey early in the nesting season, to give them a chance to use different nests during courtship and to select a site for the season free of human influence. Signs have been posted at key access points into the closed areas and closures will be in effect until July 31. See AccessFund for further details.
Also, please see news item regarding Security Risk crag access.
Mountain Project's determination of some of the classic, most popular, highest rated routes for Boulder Canyon:
Bald Eagle is the right variant start to Barely Eagle, linking into that climb at the fourth bolt. It climbs past three half-inch bolts in the bulge/roof right off the ledge, above a left-facing dihedral.Clip a low bolt, power to a sidepull, clip again, then engage a "V-Eagle" boulder problem through the pegmatite band to reach the jug rail below the third clip. Hint: think opposition and heel-powered jessery.Stand up past the rail to mellower terrain, then follow the last four bolt...[more]Browse More Classics in CO
Does anyone know whats going on with raptor closures in Boulder Canyon this year? There are new yellow signs saying many crags like Blob, Happy Hour, Security etc are closed. Today there were lots of cars parked in normal parking, and a ranger truck. Just curious if anyone knows the details of the closures.......
Have the Boulder Canyon closures for 2008 been announced, yet? I have done some online searches, but I have not found any information.
By Leo Paik Administrator From: Westminster, Colorado Feb 5, 2008
From a user feedback firstname.lastname@example.org: "I wanted to share a press release from the Boulder Ranger District regarding implementing of seasonal raptor closures in Boulder Canyon, Boulder Colorado. Please read on, and pass the information on to your members and visitors. We hope you can help spread the word to protect golden eagle habitat during courtship, mating and fledging of young.
Forest Service Closes Areas in Boulder Canyon to Protect Wildlife
Boulder, February 1, 2008 – To protect nesting birds of prey, certain climbing areas on National Forest System lands in Boulder Canyon will be closed to all users beginning today, February 1. These closures protect a long-established golden eagle territory, including valuable alternate nest sites. Undisturbed access to alternate nest sites is important for birds of prey, especially early in the nesting season, to give them a chance to visit multiple nests during courtship and to select a site for the season, free of human influence.
The areas commonly known as “Eagle Rock,” “Blob Rock,” “Bitty Buttress,” and “Security Risk” will be closed to climbing and other access. The “Security Risk Area” closure for 2008 includes Upper and Lower Security Risk. Happy Hour, Bihedral, and Riviera remain open. These areas are located along State Highway 119 and approximately one and one-half miles east of Boulder Falls.
Signs will be posted at key access points into the closed areas. Closures are effective from February 1 through July 31. Volunteers and Forest Service personnel will monitor the areas, and some areas may be reopened prior to July 31. For the most current closure information, check signs in the vicinity, or visit the Boulder Ranger District web site at www.fs.fed.us/r2/arnf/recreation/rock-climbing/brd/index.sht>>>.
Colorado Division of Wildlife (CDOW) biologists recommend protection of a quarter mile buffer zone around active and alternate nest sites for birds of prey. The Boulder Ranger District’s closures actually cover smaller areas around some nest sites, due to the topography and fragmented land ownership in the area. “We begin the Boulder Canyon closures on February 1 to protect these golden eagles during the important early nesting season and to be consistent with other local climbing area closures,” said Boulder District Ranger Christine Walsh. Ranger Walsh continues, “For three consecutive years, we have left Happy Hour, Bihedral, and Riviera open to allow access for winter and spring climbing. As long as compliance with the closed areas is not compromised, we anticipate continuing this in future seasons.”
The Forest Service continues to cooperate with the CDOW and Boulder County Nature Association (BCNA) to protect important nesting areas for birds of prey. CDOW and BCNA volunteers have monitored nesting birds of prey on National Forest lands in Boulder Canyon for many years, providing valuable data about nesting activity.
It is against federal and state law to disturb any nesting bird of prey. Please help protect wildlife by respecting all closures, immediately leaving if you should accidentally enter one, and urging other visitors to do the same. Please also be aware that the City of Boulder Open Space and Mountain Parks (303-441-3440) and Boulder County Parks and Open Space (303- 678-6200) also enforce closures to protect nesting birds of prey."
A chonological list of guidebooks covering Boulder Canyon:
1961 - Rock Climbing Guide to the Boulder Colorado Area by Dave Dornan (1st ed?) 1964 - Rock Climbing Guide to the Boulder Colorado Area by Dave Dornan (2nd ed?) 1967 - High over Boulder: A Climber's and Hiker's Guide to Boulder, Colorado by Pat Ament 1970 - High over Boulder (2nd Ed) by Pat Ament 1972 - 5.10 by Pat Ament and Jim Erickson 1976 - High over Boulder (3rd Ed) by Pat Ament 1980 - Rocky Heights: A Guide to Boulder Free Climbs by Jim Erickson 1981 - Boulder Topographics - A Pictoral Guide to Boulder Climbs by Richard Rossiter 1983 - Pictoral Guide to Boulder Climbs (2nd Ed) by Richard Rossiter 1984 - High over Boulder (4th Ed) by Pat Ament 1985 - Pictoral Guide to Boulder Climbs (3rd Ed) by Richard Rossiter 1986 - Pictoral Guide to Boulder Climbs (4th Ed) by Richard Rossiter 1988 - Boulder Climbs North by Richard Rossiter 1992 - Best of Boulder Climbs (2nd Ed) by Richard Rossiter 1993 - Boulder Sport Climber's Guide by Mark Rolofson 1995 - High over Boulder (5th Ed) by Pat Ament and Cleve McCarty 1995 - Rock Climbing Colorado by Stewart Green 1996 - Boulder Sport Climber's Supplement Guide by Mark Rolofson 1996 - Best of Boulder Climbs (3rd Ed) by Richard Rossiter 1997 - Classic Climbs 02: Upper Dream Canyon by Richard Rossiter 1998 - Classic Boulder Climbs by Fred Knapp and Mike Stevens 1998 - Rock Climbing Boulder Canyon by Richard Rossiter 2000 - Boulder Canyon Sport & Adventure Climber's Guide by Mark Rolofson 2000 - Best of Boulder Climbs (4th Ed) by Richard Rossiter 2002 - Serious Play: A Guide to Traditional Front Range Classics 5.2-5.9 by Steve Dieckhoff 2005 - Boulder Canyon Sport & Adventure Climber's Guide Volume 2: The Upper Canyon by Mark Rolofson 2006 - Boulder Canyon Sport & Adventure Climber's Guide Volume 1: Lower Narrows to Dream Canyon by Mark Rolofson 2009 - Boulder Canyon Rock Climbs by Bob D'Antonio
Mark Rolofson's 1993 Boulder Sport Climber's Guide includes, among many others, a section on Boulder Canyon: "Featuring a new selection of sport climbs from 5.11 to 5.13, not previously documented". Cover is a b&w picture of Mark climbing on the Fang in SSV.
Mark Rologson's 1995 Boulder Sport Climber's Guide is an update that greatly expands the Boulder Canyon section: "Introducing a new and growing selection of sport climbs from 5.9 to 5.13c on featured granite." Cover is a color picture of Dianne Barrow climbing at Security Risk.
Fred Knapp's Front Range Topropes also includes Boulder Canyon. I have his first ed, but he doesn't list a year on the copyright page.
Great job on the list, James. A few other guides that also covered Boulder Canyon are Dave Dornan's guide: Rock Climbing Guide to the Boulder Colorado Area, 1961 and 1964 and 5.10 by Pat Ament and Jim Erickson 1972?.
Tonnere Tower is a good summer crag. Sport Land, on the east face, is in full shade after 2pm this time of year. Treasure Wall, The Garden, and Creekside, on the north face, are in shade for much of the day. The routes at Creekside are right next to Boulder Creek, and get cool breezes off the creek as well.
The steepest section of Boulder Canyon that gets a lot of sun is Bitty Buttress (The Lorax). Your best bet is to go up to the final crux on the Lorax and jump off -- massive air...probably the steepest route in Bo-Can.
I lost a BD ATC-Guide two weeks ago or so up in Boulder Canyon. I think I lost it around the Dome/Elephant Butresses area (but could be somewhere else). I'm just a poor college kid with no money and now no belay device. If you found it and returned it, I would be extremely grateful and would be more than happy to reward you with some beer.
Greg, I didn't see it around and know how that feels, brother! I'm out of Loveland and have an extra BD Guide I'm not using if you'd like to have it? Let's get out on a climb soon and I'll hook it up for you, man!
We too want to congratulate Bob D'Antonio and Wolverine Press on their fantastic full-color photo guidebook, Boulder Canyon Rock Climbs (released just this summer). We found it to be one of the two best climbing guidebooks in the region--and the best if you are a sport climber only. If you are looking to climb Boulder Canyon, we highly recommend getting that book! Our review of it can be found here: www.thegoodlifedenver.com/2009/11/11/good-guidebooks-rock-cl>>>
Found a fairly new Bo Can Guide Book at the base of a crag on 9-14-10. Let me know what crag if it is yours. Nick Martino
By Leo Paik Administrator From: Westminster, Colorado Apr 29, 2011
From Bev Baker, NF wildlife biologist:
No nesting for the Boulder Canyon eagles this year, that we've been able to find. They have been seen in the territory and added green branches to one nest in March, but didn't settle anywhere as far as we know. All of the National Forest seasonal Boulder Canyon closures are being reopened, and signs will be removed today.
From John Bustos, Public Affairs Officer, Arapaho and Roosevelt National Forests and Pawnee National Grassland:
Boulder, Colo. (April 29) – On April 29, the Forest Service will reopen Eagle Rock, Blob Rock, Bitty Buttress and Security Risk climbing areas in Boulder Canyon.
These areas have been closed since Feb. 1 to protect golden eagles during their nesting season. The areas, approximately 1.5 miles east of Boulder Falls, are located along State Highway 119.
The Forest Service anticipates reinstating closures in Boulder Canyon next Feb. 1 to allow the birds to choose nest sites without being disturbed.
It is against federal and state law to disturb any nesting bird of prey. Visitors can help protect wildlife by respecting all closures and leaving immediately if you should accidentally enter one.
For the most current closure information, check signs in the areas or call the Boulder Ranger District office at 303-541-2500.
By Leo Paik Administrator From: Westminster, Colorado Jan 26, 2012
From Bev Baker, Wildlife Biologist, Boulder Ranger District:
Boulder, Colo. (January 25, 2012) – The Boulder Ranger District of the Arapaho & Roosevelt National Forests will implement its annual area closures at Security Risk, Eagle Rock, Blob Rock, and Bitty Buttress in Boulder Canyon beginning February 1. These areas are located along State Highway 119 approximately 1.5 miles east of Boulder Falls. Happy Hour, Bihedral, and Riviera will remain open, as long as visitors stay out of the closed areas.
The closures help protect a long-established golden eagle nesting territory, including vital alternate nest sites. Undisturbed access to multiple nest sites is important for birds of prey, especially early in the nesting season, to give them a chance to visit multiple nests during courtship and to select a site for the season, free of human influence.
Signs will be posted at key access points into the closed areas. Closure information will be available online at local climbing websites and at www.fs.usda.gov/recmain/arp/recreation (click on Boulder Canyon for more info). Closures are effective from February 1 through July 31. Volunteers and Forest Service personnel will monitor the areas, and some areas may be reopened prior to July 31.
This post is in regard to a rock named "Valor" on page 129 of D'Antonio's "Boulder Canyon Rock Climbs." Today we climbed two routes that are incorrectly drawn on the photo at the bottom of the page. We did one route (4 bolts to bolted anchors) on the pictured rock. We did another route (2 bolts plus gear) on a small wall a short distance up and right from the pictured rock. The namesake route, "Valor," doesn't seem to exist, or it may just be a loose pile.
From an editor interested in accuracy, here are few more thoughts about Valor:
The photo on p. 129 is of a rock that resembles a pinnacle, which does happen to be just off of the approach "trail" (the location described for route #5), on the way up and left to a short wall that is not pictured in the book. Both rocks lie above and behind the top of Mind Shift Cliff.
On the "pinnacle," we did a 45-foot route that underclings a short, diagonal roof on the right side of the rock to gain an arete, has four bolts, and could be 11c/d. The author called the 11c/d "Schizophrenia," but he called the route on the pInnacle "The Pinnacle of Success."
On the small wall, we did a 80-foot route that climbs a short face to gain a finger crack and other intermittent cracks, has two bolts, takes gear up to 1.5 inches, could be 11b/c, and has NO bolted anchor. The author called the 11b/c "The Pinnacle of Success," but he called the route on the short wall "Schizophrenia." Confused? I think the author is. Both routes are NOT on the same rock, as indicated in the photo on p. 129.
By Leo Paik Administrator From: Westminster, Colorado Mar 15, 2012
From Bev Baker, USFS wildlife biologist:
U.S. Forest Service to reopen most climbing areas in Boulder Canyon
www.fs.usda.gov/arp Contact: Boulder Ranger Station Visitor Information Services,
Boulder, Colo. March 15 – This Mon., March 19, the U.S. Forest Service will reopen Blob Rock, Bitty Buttress and Security Risk climbing areas in Boulder Canyon. The Eagle Rock area remains closed to climbing and other activities and is expected to remain closed through July 31, 2012.
Hi! I am new to Boulder, I have a question about top roping in the area. I am a new climber, and I don't know how to set up anchors using trees, or rocks, I only know how to set up TR anchors using bolts. Are there any routes between 5.7 and 5.10 where I can hike up to the bolts to set up TR anchors?
I left a watch at The Riviera area (in the Bihedral) of Boulder Canyon on Friday, April 5th. If found, please respond to this post. The watch is a cheap, Target, Casio, Quartz, black watch with an analog, white face.