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Shelf Road

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Bank, The 
Cactus Cliff 
Cactus Rose Cliff 
Cash Wall 
Dark Side, The 
Gallery, The 
Great Black North, The 
Gym, The 
North End, The 
North Gym, The 
Peg Leg 
Sand Gulch 
Spiney Ridge 
University Wall 
Vault, The 

Rest Day:
Nearby Mountain Bike Rides

Hotshot
Best part of the ride and well worth the climb. Near Canon City, CO
Section 13
A great little ride just outside of Canon City. Near Canon City, CO
Lamba Chops
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Oil Well Flats Trail System
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Ms. Spike
Super fun trail that's great in both directions with some challenging rock sections and tight turns. Near Canon City, CO
Rampart Reservoir Trail
Excellent singletrack circumnavigating around a scenic reservoir in the Rampart Range of Colorado. Near Woodland Park, CO
From MP's sister site: MTB Project

Shelf Road 


Photos: Recent | Best | Popular
Elevation: 6,900'
Lat, Long: 38.6296, -105.223 Map Incorrect?
Page Views: 1,497,872
Administrators: Ben Mottinger, Leo Paik, John McNamee, Frances Fierst, Monomaniac, Kristine Hoffman
Submitted By: Kreighton Bieger on Jan 1, 2001
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Lenticulars over Cactus Cliff.

Description 

Shelf Road is home to many quality sport routes on quality, vertical limestone. The area has recently been improved with the addition of a few new crags. Rock & Ice #103 [October 2000] (the one with Josune Bereziartu on the cover) has a mini-guide to the new areas, which are not yet covered in any guidebook. The other good guides are Shelf Road Rock by Fred Knapp and Rock Climbing Shelf Road by Mark Van Horn.


Getting There 

To get to Shelf, travel to Canon City. From Boulder, it is fastest to go I-25 to Colorado Springs, then take the exit for Canon City (beware this is tough to spot - it is poorly marked, if you miss it, exit in the south part of town and travel west until you intersect CO Highway 115). Travel SW on CO 115 to US Hwy 50, then west about 10 miles to Canon City. In Canon City, take a right at the first light past the Wal-Mart (Dozier St), or take a right at the next light which is Reynolds. Travel north and the road will curve to the left and intersect Field (not Fields as Knapp says) Avenue.

Turn north on Field and travel on this weird two lane road for about five miles, when it joins up with Fremont County Road 9 via a 'Y' type intersection. From here, it is 9.4 miles to the entrance to Shelf Road, which is marked with a sign indicating as much.

There are two BLM-administered camping locations at Shelf Road. The lower area, Sand Gulch has 14 campsites and 1 group camping site. The upper area at The Banks has 11 campsites and 1 group camping site.

  • Individual campsites are $7/night and accomodate 8-10 people. The group campsites are $14/night and accomodate up to 20 people.
  • All sites are first-come, first-served.
  • For more information, the Royal Gorge BLM field office can be contacted at: 719-269-8500.

Just before you arrive at Shelf Road, you will pass Sand Gulch campground on your left, behind a red BLM gate. Close the gate as you pass through. This is quality, spacious camping and access to the Sand Gulch area, home to many moderates about a 15 minute walk from the campground. There is day use parking at the northwest end of the campground, and overflow parking at the north end, where the Freeform trail begins.

To access the Bank parking area and campground, continue down Shelf Road and it is on the left. The North End is reached by continuing straight down Shelf Road. Consult Knapp, Van Horn, and the R&I mini-guide for more details. We found some disagreement in route ratings, listings and general details between Knapp and Van Horn, but both books are well done and easy to follow.


Mountain Shops 

Per courtney.vogt Higher Limits at 224 Main St. Per saracasey it is no longer open.


Facilities 

Per Doug Lintz: Vault toilets at both campgrounds and another near the old parking lot for the Gem/Cactus Cliff area. In other words...convenient.


Marijuana 

Though Colorado has passed Amendment 64 to legalize recreational marijuana use and limited quantity possession, the U.S. Justice Department issued a memo to federal prosecutors that the government would still "aggressively enforce" laws to prevent violations in eight areas of concern involving the drug including possession on federal property. To this point, Shelf Road has landowners that include the federal government. Be aware of where you are if you choose to use.


823 Total Routes


['4 Stars',59],['3 Stars',262],['2 Stars',367],['1 Star',130],['Bomb',5]
['<=5.6',3],['5.7',14],['5.8',39],['5.9',74],['5.10',267],['5.11',241],['5.12',152],['5.13',28],['>=5.14',3],['',0],['<=V1',1],['V2-3',1],['V4-5',1],['V6-7',0],['V8-9',0],['V10-11',0],['V12-13',0],['>=V14',0]

The Classics

Mountain Project's determination of some of the classic, most popular, highest rated routes for Shelf Road:
Crynoid Corner   5.7 5a 15 V+ MVS 4b     Sport, 1 pitch, 75'   Cactus Cliff
First Blood   5.8 5b 16 VI- HVS 4c     Sport, 1 pitch, 70'   The Gallery : Menses Prow
Ga-stoned Again   5.9 5c 17 VI HVS 5a     Sport, 1 pitch, 80'   The Gym
LaCholla Jackson   5.9 5c 17 VI HVS 5a     Sport, 1 pitch, 75'   Cactus Cliff
jasonbecker.com   5.10- 6a 18 VI+ E1 5a     Sport, 1 pitch, 50'   The Bank
Dihedrus   5.10a/b 6a+ 19 VI+ E2 5b     Sport, 1 pitch, 75'   Cactus Cliff
Suburbia   5.10b/c 6b 20 VII E2 5b     Sport, 1 pitch   Sand Gulch : Contest Wall
Blackman's Burden   5.10c 6b 20 VII E2 5b     Sport, 1 pitch, 75'   Cactus Cliff
Enchanted Porkfist   5.11a 6c 22 VII+ E3 5c     Sport, 1 pitch   The Dark Side
Muscle Beach   5.11a/b 6c 23 VIII- E3 5c     Sport, 1 pitch, 80'   Cactus Cliff
Funkdemental   5.11b 6c 23 VIII- E3 5c     Sport, 1 pitch, 85'   Cactus Cliff
Illegal Smile   5.11b 6c 23 VIII- E3 5c     Sport, 1 pitch, 80'   Cactus Cliff
I Claudius   5.11b 6c 23 VIII- E3 5c     Sport, 1 pitch, 75'   Cactus Cliff
Back To The Future   5.11b/c 6c+ 23 VIII- E4 6a     Sport, 1 pitch   The Bank
Lats Don't Have Feelings   5.11d 7a 24 VIII E5 6a     Sport, 1 pitch, 75'   Cactus Cliff
Freeform   5.12a 7a+ 25 VIII+ E5 6a     Sport, 1 pitch   Sand Gulch : Free Form Wall
The Gym Arete   5.12a 7a+ 25 VIII+ E5 6a     Sport, 1 pitch   The Gym
Heavy Weather   5.12a/b 7b 26 VIII+ E5 6a     Sport, 1 pitch   The Bank
Tits Up   5.12b 7b 26 VIII+ E5 6b     Sport, 1 pitch, 80'   Cactus Cliff
Flight of the Phoenix   5.14a/b 8c 33 X+ E9 7b     Sport, 1 pitch, 70'   Cactus Cliff
Browse More Classics in Shelf Road

Featured Route For Shelf Road
Cactus Cliff - Right (2).

Politically Incorrect 5.10c 6b 20 VII E2 5b  CO : Shelf Road : Cactus Cliff
IMHO this is the best 10 in all of Shelf. Possibly a little stiff for the grade. I'd almost say more 10d, but the ultimate combination of every type of move and features that I've found at Shelf. Start two routes left (west) of The Book of Dude-Aronomy, and five routes left of Chunky Monkey. Begin with a rising, right-trending traverse on easy ground to gain a straight-up dihedral-crack system. There are several increasingly difficult sequences the higher you get, but t...[more]   Browse More Classics in CO

Photos of Shelf Road Slideshow Add Photo
End of a fine fall day at Shelf.
End of a fine fall day at Shelf.
Yeah, exposure.
Yeah, exposure.
Look really closely, someone is up there climbing! (right hand corner of rock).
Look really closely, someone is up there climbing!...
Emma redpoints Love Pump, 5.10b/c, The Gallery.
Emma redpoints Love Pump, 5.10b/c, The Gallery.
Summer storm at Shelf.
Summer storm at Shelf.
Shelf Road native.
Shelf Road native.
Sun sets another day at Shelf.
Sun sets another day at Shelf.
Historical signage where Shelf Road begins at Cripple Creek.
Historical signage where Shelf Road begins at Crip...
Chollas and Clouds. September 2013.
Chollas and Clouds. September 2013.
Shelf.
Shelf.
Sunset from the Bank campground.
Sunset from the Bank campground.
Shelf.
Shelf.
At the anchors on Conglomerated Weirdness.
At the anchors on Conglomerated Weirdness.
Moonrise from Sand Gulch.
Moonrise from Sand Gulch.
Heads up for this guy (left) at Shelf.  He says he is from Colorado Springs and that it is standard to steal fixed draws where he is from.  Tried stealing 30 something draws at Smith and got caught.
BETA PHOTO: Heads up for this guy (left) at Shelf. He says he...
Hugo.
Hugo.
VW at Shelf.  Gas leak that led to a fireball. This is the end result.
VW at Shelf. Gas leak that led to a fireball. Thi...
If you look on the bigger rock, on the corner, there is someone climbing with a red hat.  Welcome to Shelf Rd!
If you look on the bigger rock, on the corner, the...
I sure am glad I'm legal here... <br />I like this tree...  <br />Marley chillin' at the bank.
I sure am glad I'm legal here...
I like this tree....
Rappeling off of Flesh Tuxedo.
Rappeling off of Flesh Tuxedo.
Relaxing on Funkdemental.
Relaxing on Funkdemental.
BETA PHOTO
A great day at Shelf.
A great day at Shelf.
BETA PHOTO
At the Bank Campground with Cactus Cliff across the valley.
At the Bank Campground with Cactus Cliff across th...
Samson @ Shelf.
Samson @ Shelf.
View from the top of Primal Fear.
View from the top of Primal Fear.
Shelf Rd north toward Cripple Creek -- look Dean ~(:
Shelf Rd north toward Cripple Creek -- look Dean ~...
Yeah, this will shorten the day's climbing....
Yeah, this will shorten the day's climbing....
Warming up.
Warming up.
Ya' see that Jed...? Thay called us "experts".
Ya' see that Jed...? Thay called us "experts".
Campground at Shelf Road.
Campground at Shelf Road.
March 15, 2009 - Perfect weather!!
March 15, 2009 - Perfect weather!!
Dogs seem to like it here.
Dogs seem to like it here.
Cactus Cliff.
Cactus Cliff.
Great bouldering areas at Shelf Road, photo: Bob Horan Collection.
Great bouldering areas at Shelf Road, photo: Bob H...
Taken from Spiney Ridge.
Taken from Spiney Ridge.
Josh Vonloh hoping for splitter weather.
Josh Vonloh hoping for splitter weather.
Sunrise at the Bank CG.
Sunrise at the Bank CG.
December and Bank Rob Wall.
December and Bank Rob Wall.
Sunset at the Bank CG.
Sunset at the Bank CG.
Driving out the north-end along Shelf Rd is a nice Scenic by-way. Hard to believe folks went climbing in horse-drawn carriages.
Driving out the north-end along Shelf Rd is a nice...
Walking into the Bank; The Piggy Bank and Bank Rob in the sun.
Walking into the Bank; The Piggy Bank an...
Quality sport climbing at the Shelf, photo: Bob Horan.
Quality sport climbing at the Shelf, photo: Bob Ho...
New sign @ entrance to SandGulch, Beware of Bears..!!!
BETA PHOTO: New sign @ entrance to SandGulch, Beware of Bears....
Pick your sport lead or top-rope at Shelf Road, photo: Bob Horan.
Pick your sport lead or top-rope at Shelf Road, ph...
Watch out for the dogs!
Watch out for the dogs!
Map of Shelf Road and the surrounding lands.
BETA PHOTO: Map of Shelf Road and the surrounding lands.
The Sangre de Cristo Range from Cactus Cliff.
The Sangre de Cristo Range from Cactus Cliff.
The road less travelled.
The road less travelled.
Crossing the stream bed on the way back to the Bank parking lot on a beautiful February day.
Crossing the stream bed on the way back to the Ban...
Winter camping at Shelf.
Winter camping at Shelf.
Big flames after a day of getting flamed.
Big flames after a day of getting flamed.
From the camping area.
From the camping area.
Guardian of the trail.  Sorry, don't know my rattlesnakes, but this one was green.
Guardian of the trail. Sorry, don't know my rattl...
Cold Spring, bundled up pre-climb.
Cold Spring, bundled up pre-climb.
Comments on Shelf Road Add Comment
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Comments displayed oldest to newestSkip Ahead to the Most Recent Dated Mar 30, 2014
By William Armstrong
Feb 12, 2014
CONDITION REPORT 

Hi all,

Can anyone report on current snow/wetness conditions at Shelf? I am hoping to head down next weekend (Feb. 21) but not sure how dry it will be out there with all the snow we've been getting in the Front Range this winter.

Thanks a bunch,

Billy

By SteveZ
From: Arvada, CO
Feb 12, 2014
CONDITION REPORT 

Snow conditions:

I went yesterday and it was great. No problem driving up to The Bank parking in my 2WD wagon. We went to the bank at it was no problem walking. Snow was packed down in some places, but where it wasn't, it was only ankle deep at most and usually avoidable or brief. When we were walking in, another party dropped off to go to Cactus, etc. all and seemed to have no problem. None of the walls at The Bank were seeping or wet that we saw and even the bases were totally clear of snow.

Hope that helps.

By Old Fart aka Dave Bohn
Apr 11, 2002

If taking 115 from Co. Springs to Canon City; Watch Out for 'mounties and 'troopers in the never ending construction zones!!. They're thicker then bolted cracks on Cactus Cliff and they do ticket at the "Fines Doubled" rate!

By Luc Gruenther
Nov 1, 2002

If you're going to camp at Shelf Road, please pay the $4/night fee. The campgrounds, roads, and trails are maintained by the Bureau of Land Management, which has been extremely cooperative with climbers. Shelf is one of the few climbing areas with trail signs that point your way to specific climbing areas. Furthermore, the trails are well maintained solely for climbers use; it's not like a state or national park, which maintains trails for tourists and which climbers benefit from as a result. Please pay the cheap fee if you camp...it comes back to the climbing community.

By Hill
Nov 13, 2002

Be sure to bring and wear your helmet down here! Last weekend I witnessed at least 5 separate incidents of rock being pulled off or falling off with the slightest touch. Very few people were wearing helmets and there were some close calls. Don't be a chump and think sport climbing is without serious risk, especially while belaying at Shelf Road. Wear a helmet at all times near the base of the crags and keep your brains in your head!

By Anonymous Coward
Jan 26, 2003

Some basic etiquette would be nice as users and abusers of shelf road continue to grow in number. First, let's start by saying that Cactus and Spiney are not the only place to go at Shelf... spread yourselves out folks! There are plenty of great routes that get sun/shade year round, are well protected, and not as crowded (read: impacted) as Cactus. Try avoiding the 'popular' crag on the weekend, and go exploring. New routes abound and plenty of potential is out there on walls neglected by the new popularity of Cactus.

Be courteous to others, pick up your trash, and leave the boom boxes at home. This is still public land and as climbers we need to resect the fact the others have equal right to visit an area like Shelf and not be appaled at our actions. Peace

By slim
Administrator
May 3, 2006

My partner and I have noticed at several "newer" climbs, people have painted or scratched the name and grade of the route onto the bottom of the wall. [EDIT] this is completely unacceptable. [EDIT]

By Dan Brockway
From: Boulder
Nov 10, 2007

Yes, please leave the dogs at home.

By pringle
Dec 28, 2007

Joe q fed up, it's attitudes like yours that ruin the Shelf experience. Like it or not, Shelf is a dog friendly climbing area... one of the few places in the country where our best friends get to join us at the crag. Take your elitism elsewhere.

By Randy Carmichael
From: Boulder, CO
Dec 30, 2007

Bring on the dogs, but please keep 'em on leash. The last time I was at Shelf, two happy rambling hounds decided to have a wrestling match on my rope right when my partner was run-out at a difficult crux. It was a very disconcerting experience trying to keep my partner safe with a good belay in the middle of the doggy mayhem. Then on the hike out, I had to walk by another large dog that was not on leash and was growling at me. The owner said, “don't worry he doesn't bite”, but he still scared the *&?#$@! out of me.

By LDM
Jan 4, 2008

Bringing my dog to Shelf this weekend. If you don't like it, I really don't give a #$%^!!!!!!!!!!

By pringle
Jan 22, 2008

I know leading soft .11s at Cactus Cliff and complaing about other people's use of public land is the "cool" fad these days, but you'll rue the day you ever touch my dog. Long story short, stay in the gym, Phil.

Randy, cheers to you. Your concern is valid and your leash suggestion is right on point. Hope to meet you out climbing one of these days.

By richard magill
Jan 22, 2008

Gentlemen, you can't fight in here! This is the War Room!

No need to argue, just keep in mind the reality at Shelf:

If you go to Cactus Cliff on a weekend, you should fully expect a high density, semi-urban, fully nitwit sort of experience. I've been there with rampant dogs, kids playing boomboxes, overweight tattooed couples in relationship-ending arguments, guys drinking beer while actually on route... you name it.

Go to the Quarry Wall and you won't see another soul. Your dog will be free to roam at will. Or the far end of the Bank, or even the Gallery or Sand Gulch will offer some seclusion. Save Cactus for a weekday, or buck up and accept that this is public land and it is going to be crowded with people that have every right to do whatever low IQ stuff they may be doing.

The routes are just as good or better at the older crags anyway, and usually harder for the grade.

By Stucker
From: Centennial, CO
Jan 23, 2008

From Pringle: "Like it or not, Shelf is a dog friendly climbing area"

Dog friendly? Often very hot, rattlesnakes, humans involved in dangerous activities that require their full attention. Sounds like a great place for loose dogs. Great idea. Here's a better idea. Let's get the county commissioners to pass an ordinance or law to prohibit dogs from the area. Anybody know how to start something like this? I'll help. Let's shoot for no dogs by 2009. I have a logo for our campaign: No K-9 by 2009!

By Stucker
From: Centennial, CO
Jan 23, 2008

Even catchier and therefore more effective: No K-9 by 2K9

By pringle
Jan 25, 2008

First off, I'm all for dog owners controlling their pets...

Brett, as I alluded to in my last comment, I think most, if not all pups should be on a leash whenever the area gets crowded. It's not at all ok for someone to have their rope (or personal space) violated on any account. I, for one, take full responsibility for any people and/or animals I bring out climbing. You needn't worry about my shepard-husky getting all free spirited on your cord, and you're definitely justified for getting upset when people try to shift their irresponsibility in your direction.

And Jeff, Shelf is dog friendly, get over it. Half rope-length cragging, open access, and a long tradition of climber/canine coexistence. If you'd like a more exclusive day, try any national park, wilderness area, roadside cliff, or multi-pitch destination. And, for the record, I'd love to see you propose anti-dog legislation in the Canon City / garden park area (trust me, I know the commissioners, you'd have more luck building a rocket fueled by your smug self-satisfaction).

And lastly, Phil, I'm sorry for the personal jab. Truly. It was rooted more in my disdain of Cactus Cliff and its singular popularity than anything else. And to echo Richard's sentiment, try one of the countless alternatives to the yahoo-mecca that is Cactus on a weekend, it might change your perspective (the routes elsewhere are both harder and better). Anyway, I'm all for trying to kick the whole dog, non-dog divisiveness. If you guys have any suggestions, I'd be happy to listen. And please Phil, one suggestion for you, don't kick my dog.

By Chris Cavallaro
Jan 25, 2008

Pringle,

You may be really really good at keeping your dog tied to a tree with a five foot leash, but I know for a fact that you are the rarity.

I have a dog that I will bring to a crag ONLY if i know that they are both safe from rattlesnakes and cliffs, and will not pester others. Places like castlewood where there is no one around. Is it fun for the dog to have them drive in a car for 2.5 hours, be shackled to a tree for a full day while you climb, and then leashed back at camp as not to interfere with other campsites? I would rather leave them at home, but I have a wife who can watch our dog when I climb at Pact-us cliff.

By pringle
Jan 26, 2008

Chris C,

Right on. I respect both your concern for your animal's safety and how considerately you factor other climbers into your decision making. We need more of that in Colorado. And to answer your question, I'd never drive for hours only to shackle my pup to a tree. But then again, we're talking about Shelf, and since I live about ten minutes from Sand Gulch, that issue never really comes up. But anyway, couldn't agree with you more about preferring the more secluded spots... if you ever decide to bring your dog down south, PM me and I'd be happy to show you some unknown goods where we're all free to roam.

By Tevis Blom
May 2, 2008

Shelf Road is dog friendly for the same reason it is bolt friendly. Yay for public lands! Dogs are not welcome at National Parks, and Boulder's open space is full of weird restrictions (for dogs and bolts). I think the last thing we need is a heavily regulated Shelf Road.

Unruly dog owners and their unruly dogs should definitely be checked, but should all dog owners be banned from bringing their dogs because of a few bad dogs(or owners)?

Personally I don't trust anyone that doesn't like dogs. There's just something amiss about a person who hates them! Also, dogs are not a fad, that is why they are domesticated animals(took hundreds even thousands of years of breeding to get where they are now). If anything, people are less used to dogs than ever before, and are AFFRAID!!! Perhaps people who are afraid of dogs shouldn't blame dog owners for their state of fear, but should go to therapy. Also, a barking dog is not necessarily mad or evil. It is most likely saying hello; if you were nice and said hello back, they'd probably shut up.

We'll be at shelf this weekend with at least 3 dogs...
If you have a problem, ask the owner to rope up their dogs... most would rather do that than piss someone off (but you have to ask).
P.S. If you kick my dog, I will most likely kick you.

P.P.S. Cactus Cliff has always been ridiculous(grid bolted to hell), regardless of the dogs. The damage that is there is caused by us, climbers, not dogs.

By Lauren D. Hollingsworth
From: Colorado Springs, CO
May 23, 2008

I will add my thoughts on the dog discussion that has been going on since my opinion of dogs at Shelf has recently taken a drastic turn.

On April, 26 2008 my husband and I climbed at Menses Prow. Several parties were already there with 5+ dogs belonging to multiple parties. Just before we reached the cliff 2 dogs approached and one promptly pissed right in the middle of the trail. Later while approacing the ledge for "Jumbo Pumping Love" I was overwhelmed by the smell of fresh dog poo which I had to step over in order to reach several climbs. The icing on the cake happened while belaying my husband on a climb near the main approach trail. Someone's stuff was sitting next to the climb (not in our way and not strewn about) and a dog rummaged through the gear, pulled out a sandwich and took off down the hill with it.

Irresponsible dog owners- you know who you are. Leave your pets at home unless you can keep them with you at all times and are willing to clean up their crap!

By bobert
Dec 8, 2008

You don't appreciate the animals of our planet F...!!! Anyone ever touch my dog you'll regret it, TRUST ME!

By Monomaniac
Administrator
From: Morrison, CO
Dec 9, 2008

What a compelling argument bobert. You really have a way with words.

By Adam Stackhouse
Administrator
Dec 9, 2008

bobert,

As Ron Olson once profoundly said, "Foaming at the mouth does little to advance your argument"

How appropriate that it now serves this "discussion." Hilarious...

By Tom Hanson
Dec 10, 2008

I want everyone to understand that I absolutely love other people's dogs, medium-well. The meat falls right off the bone!

By Lyndsy
From: Laramie, WY
Jan 14, 2009

My partner and I are thinking about heading to Shelf from Laramie this weekend. It's supposed to be in the upper 50s, but I am just wondering if the rock is still pretty cold? I would love to hear what the current conditions have been?

By Kaelen Williams
Mar 24, 2009

Does anybody have info about the Damage Wall?

By adam brink
From: Boulder, CO
Oct 21, 2009

Does anyone have beta on the University Wall? Thanks!

By USBRIT
From: Cumbria.UK
Nov 10, 2009

Never been to this place as it sounds like a bit of a crowded zoo. Just received this email from a friend who was there this 09 November weekend :-"I ended up doing some sport climbing at a place called Shelf Road. There are A LOT of bolts out there. Bolts 4' apart, bolts in cracks, bolts on bolts, bolts everywhere. Its truly is no fear climbing. I was able to get up stuff I would never try in the real world!"....Is this an accurate description of the area? I am wondering why so many people and animals go to these crowded outdoor climbing gyms (and then complain about it) when they have at their disposal such vast unlimited tranquil wilderness climbing areas both in Colorado and Utah.

By Doug Lintz
From: Kearney, NE
Nov 10, 2009

Paul,
Shelf is climbable year-round, has convenient camping, easy approaches, and hundreds of routes from easy to really hard (the bulk of which fall into the moderate range 5.8 to 5.11)....and yes many of them are "well" equipped...even a few cracks. Did I mention that many of the routes are really really good?

Given all that it's no surprise that Shelf is popular. It can be crowded, but often that's because people congregate on the classic moderates. It's not hard to find solitude if you want.

By adrenalated
From: Thornton, CO
Nov 10, 2009

The bolts are only 4' apart if you can't count.

Never seen bolts on bolts, except at anchors (and I do appreciate more than one bolt at those locations).

There are a few bolted cracks, but only because only a nutter would want to place gear in that limestone.

Shelf has hundreds of routes spread across many different cliffs... but certain ones tend to attract more people than others. You can always find solitude, and the somewhat remote location with no major roads makes Shelf feel more tranquil than most sport destinations in CO. Going to Shelf on a November weekend focusing on 5.8-5.10 at Cactus Cliff then complaining about crowds is like going bouldering at the Gunks or Yosemite then complaining there are no trad routes.

Of course, if you don't like sport climbing, you probably won't like Shelf, which should go without saying.

By JasonT
Nov 11, 2009

Agreed. Shelf kicks ass.

By USBRIT
From: Cumbria.UK
Nov 13, 2009

To Astclmbr: Thanks for your advice...it does sound a bit boring and noisy. I'm sure you agree, as with my own experience when you climb one line of bolts you have climbed them all, but it is a very safe way to have a bit of fun. To Jason: I assume you really mean kick dogs not donkey's? Overall, the major problem with the remote trad climbing areas is that no one can see when you remove your shirt, and sadly many climbers have to drop their standard from 5.11 to 5.7, so I do understand.

By richard magill
Nov 13, 2009

"if you climbed one line of bolts you climbed them all"

Don't think this is true, Paul Ross. Instead of guessing that this area is lame without visiting, you should give it a try, dude! Some suggested classic Shelf lines with really great variation between routes:

1. The French are Here (12c)- old school classic with a cruxy rounded bulge.
2. Head Cheese (12d) - steep and powerful, relentless
3. Ejection Seat (12b/c) - powerful roof pulling on pinches
4. This is Your Brain (12d) - thin and technical
5. M&M (12a) - fantastic movement, never too hard but just in your face all the way
6. The Example (13a/b) - sick hard and thin
7. No Rest for the Wicked (12a/b) - thoughtful moves up an incipient crack/seam

Go do all these and then post back and tell us they were all the same!

By Tzilla Rapdrilla
Nov 13, 2009

Rich,

The routes you listed are all harder than 5.7 and probably not runout, so how could they be even remotely interesting?

By USBRIT
From: Cumbria.UK
Nov 23, 2009

LOL, I am just winding you up, lads. You know just high grades do not make a memorable climb, and I wonder how many of the routes mentioned by Richard were climbed without lots of practice, lots of hang dogging, and lots and lots of shouts of take, illustrating the climb is above the true ability of the climber.... I think you realize that this is not possible on runout climbs ground up on sight. I have done quite a few sport routes (e.g. boring Rifle) granted not 5.12s, even a few FAs. I think you would find it quite a different experience and lots of fun just doing let's say some lowly 5.7/9Rs, with perhaps a bit of manky rock throw in for good measure. A slight difference from the possibility of an eight foot fall to a two hundred foot fall. Mind over muscle?

By richard magill
Nov 23, 2009

I thought they were all memorable and fun.

Anyway, I love Shelf and can't wait to get back there! Great climbing!

By Monomaniac
Administrator
From: Morrison, CO
Feb 16, 2010

For those interested in the Dog question, this might be of interest:

Noticed this sign at the Kiosk below Cactus Cliff.
Noticed this sign at the Kiosk below Cactus Cliff.

By Curt Nelson
From: Fort Collins, CO
Mar 15, 2010

I'm pretty sure that Paul (USBRIT)could be violation of rule #1... if you don't like Shelf, stay off the Shelf page and mind your own... I'm saving all wimpy trad for when I get old, ha! Everyone's idea of risk, excitement and recreation all vary. Even people with great tolerances for risk like to just have some fun climbing sometimes. I like alpine, trad, and ice and I still think Shelf is awesome! It's beautiful, has good weather, and great routes. There is also a bit o risk out there if you look for it! I have also been there dozens of times during the week and haven't seen a soul - not even a damned loose dog!

By loc
From: colorado springs co
Mar 20, 2010

Go there on a weekday and you have the whole place to yourself.

By Chris Weber
From: Boulder, CO
May 10, 2010

Hi--looking to go to Shelf for first time this weekend, a few questions:
1) what are the chances the campgrounds will be fully booked on Friday eve around 8pm?
2) is there water available?
3) is it still $4 a night?
4) picnic tables at the sites?

Any other tips I should know for camping there?

Thanks
Chris

By Derek Lawrence
From: Bailey
May 10, 2010

1) what are the chances the campgrounds will be fully booked on Friday eve around 8pm?
2) is there water available?
3) is it still 4$ a night?
4) picnic tables at the sites?

1 - if it was like last weekend there were only a couple of sites still available by 9pm (granted last weekend was the busiest i've seen in years) you should have a decent chance...
2 - No, bring your own
3 - Yes, for now...
4 - Yes

Other tips... bring your own wood unless you don't mind walking a ways to gather dead wood (it's still possible, but it keeps getting further and further from the sites).

Have fun!

By Brian Scoggins
From: Eugene, OR
May 11, 2010

Considering that there are 10-15 campsites a piece at the Bank and Sand Gulch campgrounds, I really wonder where everyone expects to climb, assuming that each of those sites can hold up to 8 people. Maybe carpool in the future? Or take a couple days off work? Climb elsewhere? It blew me away that anyone would feel it necessary to camp along the dirt road. Incidentally, that dirt road is getting torn to hell by people driving too fast on it. Washboard gets worse when heavy vehicles drive too fast on it. I'd give it a few more years, assuming a constant wear pattern and no additional maintenance, before it's impassable by low slung vehicles. Think like the road into Eldo.

By Rob Culbertson
May 18, 2010

Any Bear activity in Sand Gulch area this year?

By tim
From: Boulder, CO
Jul 12, 2010

good shade can be found even now, but the biting nats/flies are terrible.

By T.Dailey
From: Avon
Sep 3, 2010

What's the pooping like?

By Doug Lintz
From: Kearney, NE
Sep 3, 2010

Vault toilets at both campgrounds and another near the old parking lot for the Gem/Cactus Cliff area. In other words...convenient.

By nick martino
Dec 29, 2010

Keep an eye out for this guy stealing draws at Shelf.

www.mountainproject.com/v/general_climbing/colorado_thief_ca>>>

Draw thief (on the left).
Draw thief (on the left).

By Fred Knapp
Jan 6, 2011

SHELF ROAD ROCK: A Complete Climbing Reference can now be purchased as a high-res printable eBook for a very affordable $12.95 at www.sharpendbooks.com/prod.php?t=0&q=85

By Unassigned User
Feb 13, 2011

If you don't like dogs, go back to fn Boulder!

By Tzilla Rapdrilla
Mar 21, 2011

Unattended campfire on 3/20/11:

Upon arrival at the Sand Gulch day parking area yesterday around 10:30 AM I noticed an active campfire in Site #6, right by a red Saab with Colorado plates, that was burning with flames visible. During the time that we were getting ready to head up to the crag, I checked and there was no one in or around the campsite, so I used some of the water that they had left on the table and put the fire out. It was obvious that no effort had been made to extinguish the fire.

Leaving an active fire in a campsite is inexcusable, and even more so during red flag fire conditions. We all need to be especially careful to take care of this area.

By Curt Nelson
From: Fort Collins, CO
Mar 26, 2011

It was probably the same people that s#!t in the bushes by the trail, just about 150 ft from the bathrooms. I am constantly amazed at the ever evolving stupidity here at Shelf Road!

By Unassigned User
Apr 5, 2011

Not the same as it used to be. Only four years ago you could be by yourself at Shelf on a weekend, not anymore. Shit show. Go back to Boulder!

By Monomaniac
Administrator
From: Morrison, CO
Apr 6, 2011

True, Cactus, The Bank, The Gallery & Sand Gulch tend to be crowded, but there are many other crags that go (literally) years without any climber traffic. In my last 20 climbing days at Shelf, I have seen exactly 2 other climbers that were not in my party, and they weren't even at the cliff; we passed them on the approach.

By Mike Anderson
From: Dayton, OH
Apr 8, 2011

Andrew, I've ben climbing at Shelf since you were in grade school, and you're mistaken. Shelf has always had crowds and always had GREAT cliffs that are deserted. Go to the Gym, and you'll have the best of Shelf all to yourself.

By Unassigned User
Apr 10, 2011

Not the same. You're right about The Gym.

By Doug Lintz
From: Kearney, NE
Apr 24, 2011

Braden, Shelf Road cliffs are generally dead vertical. The only place to escape rain is your tent. However, I've been chased off Cactus Cliff back to my campsite by rain only to be climbing a couple hours later, it dries out pretty quickly.

Unless the forecast is calling for an all-week rain event, you should be fine.

By Ivan Rezucha
From: Fort Collins, CO
May 30, 2011

Helmet found at Shelf Road on Sunday 5/29.

Not actually found, but it stowed away in our pack and came home with us. It looks very similar to one of our helmets.

Contact me via Mountain Project, tell me where you lost it and what kind of helmet it is, and we'll figure out how I can get it back to you.

Sorry for the inconvenience.

Ivan Rezucha

By Joshua1979
From: Colorado Springs, CO
Jun 7, 2011

Climbing shoes found at Cactus Cliff yesterday (Monday, June 6th). Contact me with a description, and I'll try and get them back to you.

By rome
Jun 13, 2011

Is early November too cold to climb at the Shelf Rd?

By Cameron Melvin
From: Colorado Springs
Jun 19, 2011

Thinking about taking a trip w/ my kids. Any good places to top rope on Shelf Road? Looking for easier stuff, say 5.8 and lower. The kids have climbed in the gym a bunch but not so much outside, so they have a hard time picking a line and seeing the holds that are available to them. I've requested a couple of guides from the local library, but they haven't gotten here yet. Just looking for some info to see if this will be a possibility. Thanks.

By Joshua1979
From: Colorado Springs, CO
Jun 23, 2011

Rome - Winter is the best time to climb at Shelf IMO as summer can be HOT. A sunny day in Nov. or Dec. is a beautiful thing at Shelf.

Cameron - You can get a TR on most lines at Shelf assuming you can lead up to the anchors first. There are quite a few 8s and some lower out there, just search the database here. If you are looking to scramble up to setup a TR, then Shelf is not going to be the best location for that as walking on the cliff tops is discouraged due to loose rocks that can be knocked off on climbers. Most anchors would be hard to reach from the cliff top anyway as they are generally located on the face. Have fun with the kiddos.

By abc
Sep 18, 2011

Seems like taking draws off of projects is becoming the norm here. I had my draws taken off of Carnage this weekend.

By Monomaniac
Administrator
From: Morrison, CO
Sep 19, 2011

Glad to hear you're back on the rock!

It seems that the GBN, North Gym, & Damage Wall are safe for "fixed" draws. I wouldn't leave draws anywhere else. Good luck and let me know how it goes.

By liz morgan
Nov 29, 2011

LOST WEDDING RING, ENGAGEMENT RING AND WATCH AT SHELF -

Sunny crags and lots to be thankful for this Thanksgiving weekend. We even had chestnuts roasted on an open fire at the group campsite at Shelf Road. And then I lost my wedding ring, engagement ring, and a watch. They are all hooked together. Oh my goodness. I am freaking out!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Has anyone found these? If you did, please let me know and I will give a full description, cash reward, and eternal gratitude. Call Liz at 303-642-7646 or email me at LizBrownMorgan@gmail.com.

By SteveBSU
From: Muncie, IN
Jan 16, 2012

Does anyone know how the weather would be like for climbing during the first week of March? Is there risk of any big snowfall?

By JoeValley
Jan 16, 2012

Yes, you could get snowed on in March. It's probably not a huge risk, but it is spring time and weather patterns are shifting. Some of our largest storms on the Front Range happen in March and April. I wouldn't say not to go, but I also might not drive all the way from Indiana with a small window of days to climb. If you came out for a week, it would be worth it. If you came out for five days, it could be worth it. If you came out for three days, you might get shut down with a freak storm, but chances are you're not that unlucky.

By richard magill
Jan 17, 2012

www.crh.noaa.gov/bou/?n=denver_snowfall

March is the Front Range's snowiest month. Most likely, you would get 60 degrees and sunny at Shelf in early March. But a couple feet of snow and temps near zero wouldn't be a surprise either.

By Doug Lintz
From: Kearney, NE
Jan 17, 2012

We got out just in time to miss 10 inches of snow about 5 years ago. This was in early April. You just never know.

By Christy-Dale
From: Harrisonburg, VA
Mar 1, 2012

Update on camping:
Today I spoke to the Royal Gorge BLM office who runs the area, and camp fees have gone up. Individual sites as now $7 a night and group sites are $14 a night.

By captchaos
From: Gumbyville, CO
Apr 21, 2012

SPRING 2012 NEWS AT THE BANK

This last week, two campsites live trees (site 2) were hacked to death by some big city climbers waiting out a typical cold rainy day.

A general plea to those of you that use this campground and love climbing here: we are overparking and obviously overloving these sites to death. The small recent fee increase won't replant 100 year old juniper and pinyon trees that won't grow back in your lifetime. Follow the simple rules in this campground: don't overpark the sites, don't let your dogs run wild and shit on others sites, don't hack at live trees in the campground, be respectful and appreciate the privilege that comes with being a guest here at this amazing venue.

If you see anyone vandalizing the camp or it native vegetation, don't hesitate to contact the BLM Royal Gorge Office : contact Kalem Lenard at 719-269-8538 or at jlenard@blm.gov , or better yet, call the police (911 dispatch will get you to non-emergency operator).

Please, keep Shelf Road classic !!

By Doug Lintz
From: Kearney, NE
Apr 21, 2012

Pretty lame. The BLM should be able to track down these asshats.
For $10 you can buy as much scrap wood as you can stuff in your vehicle at the lumber mill north of Canon City. Just get there before they close at 6.

By Dave Bohn aka "Old Fart"
Apr 24, 2012

Are you sure they were "Big City Climbers"?

It's prom season, and I've encountered many LARGE parties of local HS aged kids trashing the place.

It's not just a climbers only campground.

By Harald Harb
From: Dumont
Jun 18, 2012

Camped and climbed at Sand Gulch Tuesday and Wednesday. Not one party in the whole area. Midweek climbing is the answer. I won't climb on weekends with untrained dogs and loud spraying right and left. That's not why I climb, there are so many places in Colorado to climb without this mess.

By saracasey
Jul 12, 2012

The Higher Limits outdoor store is no longer open.

By bryant
Sep 13, 2012

I made a video that give a quick overview of what Shelf is like. Not a lot of climbing footage but hopefully some helpful info. This Crag :: Shelf Road

.

By Hiro
From: Boulder, CO
Oct 23, 2012

Where to eat - try Alfanso's which is in town, just up the road from WalMart.
www.yelp.com/biz/alfonsos-mexican-food-canon-city#hrid:Lp4WT>>>

By Tzilla Rapdrilla
Mar 8, 2013

You know I was looking through the two most recent Shelf guidebooks and found that almost all of the bolt counts for each route were different between the two books. Although it doesn't matter to me at all, it seems unfathomable that some pathetic moron hasn't called out a safety concern on that.

By Leo Paik
Administrator
From: Westminster, Colorado
Mar 9, 2013

Tod, we don't have any pathetic morons around here, just normal ones. ;)

By Tzilla Rapdrilla
Mar 9, 2013

It's good to know that the pathetic morons haven't made it that far south yet, but an infestation could occur at any time.

By M Mojo
Mar 14, 2013

Just a heads up:

Today (13 March 2013), while climbing at the Piggy Bank, a member of our group came across a massive, loose rock at the top of the route between 2010A and Pig City Nights. He placed his hand on it, and it started to move quite easily and looked like it could tumble down to the base of those three climbs. We marked the base of the route with some chalk. When looking up from the base: the rock is located slightly behind a wall to the left side. Be careful out there.

By They call me Sam
From: Fort Collins, Colorado
Sep 18, 2013

Anyone know of any flood damage to areas or roads at Shelf?

By Kirk Miller
From: Golden, CO
Sep 18, 2013

I posted a few pics under the thread "Shelf Road Hut". There was extensive road damage from a storm in August, prior to recent events. BLM completed repairs before the last round of storms. Hopefully the road is still good to go. Cactus Cliff Yurt is available.

By Jason Parks
From: Colorado Springs, CO
Oct 4, 2013

28 Sept 2013: May have dropped my wedding ring (white gold with 5 sapphires) and another ring (titanium with silver inlay) out the Trail to Menses Prow. Any booty finders, please contact me so I can get out of the doghouse.

By Ellen.tradgirl
Mar 30, 2014

It was a great, yet busy weekend at Shelf. Wanted to post a reminder to park on the gravel. Driving your red jeep around the rocks and parking on the vegetation doesn't help the access.