Castlewood Canyon is somewhat of an anomaly on the plains SE of Denver. The Cherry Creek River cut out the shallow canyon. The rock varies from crumbly shale to conglomerate sandstone and quartz. All the cliffs are short and steep (under 25 meters), so they're perfect for toproping. Thomas Hanson's guidebook, "A Rock Climber's Guide to Castlewood Canyon State Park, Colorado," describes over 300 routes including 100 sport routes, but he also mentions that documentation exists for over 600 routes in the Canyon, not to mention the hoardes of bouldering development possibilities. Ice flows develop during certain times of the year also!
The canyon is an anomaly because so many different forms of wildlife exist in this small area. Deer, rattlesnakes, vultures, scrub oak, ponderosa pine, Douglas fir, bats, bees and plenty of bee hives on the walls, wildflowers, etc. all live in this little area. Remember, that climbing access in the future depends on respect for the wildlife of the area and good judgement.
For top roping, very long slings or an extra rope are useful since not every climb is equipped with bolts on top, and the scrub oak isn't as solid as a fir or pine. Also, many 1/4" bolts still exist as the only fixed pro for some top ropes--always back up a single bolt. CWC is great for toproping and sport, but don't leave your trad rack at home. Their are MANY underclimbed trad lines here also, albeit a little more spicy on some because of crumbly or sandy cracks.
What?!! Ice climbing on the eastern plains of Colorado? YES! Believe it--there's ice that forms every year in the Wood--you just have to be patient and observant to find it.
Regardless, ice will form at a small waterfall along the Cherry Creek and along the north bank of the creek just downstream from this fall. Also, you'll find very intermittent ice formations on the north side of the canyon just below the visitor center and along that South Rim.
Wait for enought moisture and snow melt, then some cold temps at night and voila! Ice climbing SE of Denver!
See the description in the rock database for more about The Wood....
Driving Directions: There are two entrances to the park--a West and East entrance. Depending on what areas you plan on climbing, one entrance may be a shorter hike. See the area topo to decide.
From Denver: Take I-25 South to Castle Rock and exit 184 to Founder's Parkway. Then take HW 86 East to Franktown (about 5 miles), but look for the park entrance (Castlewood Rd) to the South before the Franktown stoplight (yes, there's only one in the whole town). This is the West entrance.
If you want to enter from the Southeast, continue to the stoplight and turn South (R) on CO Hwy 83. Stay on this road until you see the sign for the E. entrance, which will be on top of the canyon rim. Look for the signs for the E. entrance. You can also take CO 83 all the way from Co. Springs if you want--it's a much more scenic drive.
New Fixed Hardware
There is currently a ban on new, fixed hardware. The current situation is difficult at best in regard to replacing fixed hardware.
Please do not place new, fixed hardware at this time.
L->R for the subareas / walls
This section is for your benefit and is arranged in a clockwise fashion starting from the southeast going to the south, etc.
Tom Hanson placed The Sub at the left end of the Wendell Spire area, in 1997. Subsequent to publishing his guide, close to a dozen new routes were established to the left, so the limit to this site is a little vague. From the top of the boulder pile at the left side of the area, you can see a neat little formation that looks like the Beatles Yellow Submarine.Climbing on The Sub begins on the sub's left tail fin, a crack. Swim up through some interesting and intricate climbing with a couple of lo...[more]Browse More Classics in CO
I've been climbing in Castlewood since I was 12 years old. I've had a fair number of encounters with the local snake population. So far, none of them have chosen to send me to the hospital. For the most part, these rattlers don't seem to be too aggressive. Most of the popular routes should be completely clear of any wildlife (with the exception of wasps and bees). If you are doing a less popular route, be careful near the top if there is a small cave or ledge that you can't see into very well. More than likely it will only be filled with bird poo and bat guano, not snakes. Never the less, I've been surprised on more than one occasion.
As I do not believe climbers are responsible for the majority of the garbage being flung all over Castlewood, I have taken it into my own hands to remind some ignorant folks on a few occasions that the canyon is not a landfill. Five years ago, I began a volunteer biannual cleanup project comprised of friends with grocery bags who cleared many of the walls and trails of rubish. To my dismay, the trash seems to continue to accumulate in some of the less conspicuous areas. As a favor to the Wood and to ourselves, please remove any trash you find while enjoying this beautiful place.
"Castlewood Canyon" very nice area to climb. It is good for beginner and expert skills. The Canyon is great for an all day climb. You can easily go from route to route with many topropes available. The only thing that isnt to cool about the canyon is it's not a deep canyon, therefore not many pitches. BUT! There is also some good bouldering. If you go into the park from the main entrance and then follow the trail into the canyon..., you cross a bridge right after the bridge there is a HUGE boulder calling you name. "Hey (put name here) over here come climb me". That is what the rock looks like. Overall, Castlewood Canyon is a must for a all day trip with your buddies. Don't forget what you pack in, come out with more. Please help in the process of cleaning the canyon. There are too many ignorant people out there trashing Mother Nature. Treat the earth like you would treat your own Mother. 1 - 10 WORST - BEST 8.5. Dino
Tried the area out a few weeks ago. It reminded me of a place that I had beed to before where a bunch of rednecks bought a bag of bolts and a drill and a had party. No anchors for some of the coolest looking routes. Definitely NOT a sport climbing area. A pile for sure.
To the dude who tried out Castlewood once and thinks it's "a pile for sure...."
I'd encourage you to check out some of the classics at Castlewood. While some of the routes are a bit loose or suffer from bad bolting, there are some really sweet routes in the Canyon. Give Castlewood another chance and when you do, try some of my favorites. I think all are listed on this website.
Beta Slave (10c), Patrick Hedgeclipper (11c), Korbite Maneuver (12a), Professor Plum (12a/b), Entry Level (8), Pay Homage (12a/b)...I still need the redpoint on this one Subterfuge (11d), Cobble Wobble (11a).
Open letter to the serial tree rapist in Castlewood - I see you SAWED OFF yet another small tree, this time a little tree @ the base of a 5.7 climb on Vulture Wall. Was the little tree inconvenient, is that what the deal was, or did you sketch out 4 feet up then ping off your heinous cling and get your weenee tangled in the tree? I'll bet your girl(?)friend was really impressed. Then, after cursing & smoking a dog urine-soaked doobie washed down with a trendy microbrew, you decided the tree had to die, right? Well, guess what? The tree wasn't yours to kill.
Next time you're @ some nature-loving slide show wistfully nodding your head in agreement about how we all need to be stewards of the environment, it's the only earth we have, etc. etc., I hope the image of you feverishly sawing on that little tree flits through your brain. Can you spell hypocracy? Arrogance? Lameness? Poaching?
By the way, in addition to the carpenter's saw clipped to your harness, do you also carry a hammer and chisel to make the holds more convenient? Or a drill? I've noticed someone has been modifying holds and adding new bolts in CWood as well. Either seek the help you so desperately need or stick to climbing in your basement 2' above that pee-stained mattress.
That boulder DINO mentioned above is called the Phallic Voulder, I think, (though whose-ever phallus it resembles must have been the butt of more than a few jokes in his life...). Continue down the same trail another few minutes and you will see more. Explore the side trails and you stumble on great problems. Bouldering here does require a bit of bushwhacking at times, but it's a real playground. And, to the dude that was dissing the area: whatever. The area definitely does have some great sport routes, and it's a nice change of speed from Clear Creek and Table Mountain. And without all the damn traffic and brewery noise. Remember that, if you come back, and help preserve the quiet of the area. (I agree there is a certain redneck factor, reminiscent of my days in Oklahoma: "HEY JOHNNY--WHERE THE HELL'D YOU GO BOY?!!! YOU GOTTA LOOK OUT FOR STRANGE CRITTERS AND ALL THAT DANG-NAB POISON IVY!")
It's nice to see some people so passionate about Castlewood! I have been climbing there for fifteen years and am a local redneck that grew up in Castlerock. For all the people out there that love climbing Castlewood offers a large selection of climbing, with numerous routes. Good info on a great handful of the climbs in this forum. For all of you that are pruning, chipping, and bolting go elsewere like Kansas maybe, and for everyone who thinks The Wood is a pile, great! One less bozo for the rest of us climbers to deal with at one of our favorite crags.
The Wood is awesome. If it weren't for this place and a move to CO, I never would have started climbing in the first place. And thank God for all this rain, the canyon is looking as good as ever. Go climb there and see what this awesome area is all about. I love it!
I have been bouldering here for about two years now, and today I went to a new area I had never been to and had a blast. There are so many quality lines buried in the scrub oak, you always wonder if you are the first person to find the stony treasure. Boulders in the creek bottom are especially high quality, with many featured overhangs. Just keep an exploritory mindset and you might come accros a classic problem.
Tom Hanson and I have made several references to how snaky C-wood can get at times in our guides. I was at the C-section wall last Sunday with Tom and another buddy, and we had a real snake epic. Heading south towards Sea Breeze, Tom skipped past a bush loaded with them, at least 4 different buzzes, we could see two of them. We carefully backed out of there, and while retracing our steps almost literally had to step over a 4' Western Diamondback. If you are heading there during October, you must be aware that not only are they out in numbers, but you will get right up on them. Big momma didn't even buzz, she just watched us nervously walk by. Be safe out there.
I'll second the snake warning. In addition to the C-section, I've seen quite a few in the Wendell Spire area, on the hike up to the Falls Wall, near the Dungeon, and on the south end of the Grocery Store Walls. It shouldn't prevent anyone from going to Castlewood (none I've seen have been particularly aggressive), but a heads up is well advised.
Whether you choose to fight, flee, or throw out a pocketful of gerbils like radar chaff, please, please don't shake the rattlesnake eggs.
Is is way too cold to climb at C-wood canyon in January? I always visit my folks in the Springs around Christmas, but we always go skiing. It seems like there might be a few good days to climb that time of year. Any comments?
Hey Tom: Just finished moving and I was offline for 2 months. Do you still have my number? (it's the same.) Now that you're down there, maybe we can work on the project. With October coming up, we can also organize the "Castlewood Fall Rattlesnake Festival". TTYL
From the intersection of CO Hwy 86 and Enderud Blvd in Castle Rock: Enderud S to Mikelson Blvd. Mikelson E to Mitchell St. Mitchell E then N to where it dead ends. Park here. Follow the dirt road north. The road dissipates to a trail as it approaches the rim, near the corner of the rim above the confluence of Mitchell Gulch and Willow Creek Canyon. Tom's Trove is located at some boulders at the east end of the north rim above the mouth of Mitchell Gulch. The rocks will be found just west of where a faint trail descends into Mitchell Gulch. Please note: There is no rock climbing allowed down in the west end of Mitchell Gulch. This is posted at the trailheads off of Enderud Blvd and Mikelson Blvd, to the east. However, up top, above the rim at the east end of the canyon, where this area lies, climbing has not been an issue.
Please use discretion when climbing here.
Caravan your party into one car to avoid any issues with parking at the end of Mitchell St. Norwegian Wood is located on the flats above the rim to the west of Tom's Trove.
These routes have not been rated because they have only seen ascents by one person, so far and he is waiting for a general consensus prior to publishing them. A rough guess would estimate the difficulties of Toms Trove to be from V0 to V9. Norwegian Wood is a better warm up spot with lines from V0 to V5.
B-25 is named after the B25-Mitchell bomber from WWII, as it resides in a secluded section of Mitchell Gulch. There are two cool traverses and some really sick straight-ups. The best problem there is called Ball Turret. It starts with an undercling of a smooth cobble. From this cobble, you have to work your feet up and then do a long throw for another cobble. The start of this problem overhangs about 45 degrees V7 Left of Ball Turret are two easier problems called Bombadier V3, and Doolittle's Raid on Tokyo V4. The two traverses are called Tail Gunner, and Waist Gunner, both about V3. There are several other straight-ups in the V0 to V6 range. This new area is about 150 yards west of Norwegian Wood, and it is at the base of the south rim of Mitchell Gulch, in a very secluded area with easy access to the bottom. Please use discretion when climbing at the B-25 area. Lower down, and farther west, at the Mitchell Gulch Trailhead, there is a sign posted that states: no rock climbing. The B-25 area is off the beaten path and removed from the park section of Mitchell Gulch, to which the sign applies, but nonetheless, keep a low profile to avoid any future access issues.
I am interested in early Castlewood Canyon climbing history. I am trying contact the following people: Alan Mosiman Steve Holonich Fred Crowley Alan and Steve co-authored the original climbers guide to Castlewood Canyon. Fred is the guy they credit for many of the early first ascents. Please point any of these gentlemen towards this forum so that I may get a dialog going.
Also, if you have info yourself, please respond. FA credits and approximate dates, stories, legends, etc. are all welcome. I'd greatly appreciate any response that will shed some light on the history of early climbing at The Wood
Way back when the Colorado Mountain Club was active in Castlewood. All of these guys were part of the CMC climbing scene back in the early '70s. Have you gone through the CMC to find them? Larry Griffin was another active climber from back then. A lot of us didn't take the area particularly seriously - many routes were toproped without recording who or when the ascents were done. Have you looked into the old CMC records for the trip leaders that were making trips to Castewood?
John & Tom -- I already saw that Tom got hooked up with Diane. These guys are hard to get a hold of, but are still around; any trip to J Tree or Ouray with the Wingers and you can learn a tremendous amount. Charlie's hard to pick out in a crowd -- he's got a big-ass American Flag on the back of his brain bucket. Most the other leaders are scattered, they usually come around Turkey in October & then a trip to J Tree sometime after.
There is a ton of unpublished bouldering in and around Castlewood Canyon. Too much to mention. Colorado Bouldering I & II only include a miniscule fraction of what is available. What, in particular, are you interesed in?
Castlewood Canyon has acquired property east of Hwy 83 which will be designated a natural preservation area. This new section of the park which extends east and south of the bridge on Hwy 83 will NOT be open for rock climbing. This natural preservation area is home to several rare and unique plant species and archeological sites. Please respect this area and climb only on the west side of Hwy 83.
Hello fellow Castlewood crag rats, I am keeping a log that lists all of the fixed anchors at Castlewood that may require replacement. I am seeking help in the monitoring of the bolts and I would appreciate anyones input if they encounter any of the following:
OVERLY RUSTED BOLTS (make sure that it is not the washer that is producing the rust) LOOSE BOLTS (not loose hangers, which can be easily tightened) MISSING BOLTS MISSING HANGERS MISSING NUTS
The following have not been encountered, but be on the lookout: BOLTS SHOWING DEFORMATION DUE TO VANDALISM INADEQUATE HANGERS (homemade crap) INADEQUATE BOLTS (diameter less than 3/8"
We did about 3 routes there and a bunch of exploring around The Dungeon. What an awesome canyon, West Rim cave trail was incredible hike/ scrambles and so many waterfalls! Even saw a bald eagle, 'cause I'm proud to be an American....
Ryami, Immediately north of The Dungeon is High Boltage and Helm Hammerhand. These reside on the walls outside of The Dungeon, and if you are on the slope outside The Dungeon, they would be to your left. If you are referring to the lines that are about 1/4 mi. North on The Dungeon, then the routes are Earthbound Misfit and Ranger Chicks. The diagonal line between these two areas is called Diagadoigt. Was this your first visit to The Wood? There are about 160 sport routes at The Wood.
Thanks for the response, Tom! It was first time at The Wood and one hell of a day! Full of beautiful scenery and adventures, crazy that it is so close to suburbia. I think you're right on about those routes but for clarification (and future safety), the route I think was High Boltage is missing anchors and the highest bolt has red tape on it, probably to indicate "end of the line". Helm Hammerhand has a weathered purple sling on the top right anchor, we left biners in the hangers instead of using this and later retrieved the biners by leaning over the top of the wall. Also, to arrive at this area, we rapped down right next to a waterfall, presumably off Diagadoight's hangers, awesome!
My buddies and I set up a highline out here this last weekend. It was 70 feet long and about 50 feet high. Does anyone know if there has been any previous highlining heritage here at Castlewood, or are we the first? I appreciate the info. And just in case you're wondering, we're straight with the anti-bolting thing and didn't place any permanent pro.
I saw your pictures from your highlining adventure at The Dungeon. It looks like you guys had some fun. Does anyone in your crew do the highline without being clipped in? I am pretty familiar with the history of climbing and climbing related activities at Castlewood. To my knowledge, you guys may be the first, but who knows? Have you set up your line at The Vulture Walls yet? The Vulture Walls are the highest crags in the canyon and there is a great spot to set up your highline. You could span your rope from the big overhang to the top of Pay Homage. I'm betting you'd like that one.
Hey Tom, hopefuly you read this. I have a question about a part of the canyon and figured you being the person who's pretty much the commander and chief in the canyon, I'd ask you. There's a part around the Gargoyal Wall that has a fairly massive roof, you can see it from the road on the Hwy 86 entrance as soon as you enter the park, just wondering if that's off limits or good to go. For climbing. If you know what I'm talking about, please let me know. It seems to have some difficult lines involving some of the crack systems in it probably around the 5.13 ballpark. I don't know, I might be a retard for thinking this, but I just thought I throw that out there.
By Monomaniac Administrator From: Morrison, CO Apr 4, 2008
Dillon Calkin wrote:
i might be a retard
Your grammar, spelling & punctuation certainly have me wondering. I guess we can't blame Piz, he's not your English teacher!
(sorry to be mean; couldn't resist, please forgive me, etc)
The "Falls Trail", which is not indicated on the State Park map but is shown in Tom's excellent book, is pretty much gone from the east side of the waterfalls area. Looks like a big washout removed a couple of hundred feet of it. What is left can still be found and used.
Also, evidently people still think that all the holes and crevices are where their empty cheap beer, burnt out cigarettes, empty water bottles, and doobie ends go. I carried out a backpack full of trash (all recycleable) last night from the Dungeon area. PLEASE PACK OUT YOUR (and other's) TRASH. Feel free to remind people to not use the 'Wood as a dump.
Jeremy makes two good points. The old traditional Falls Wall Trail, while still somewhat navigable, has eroded into such a state of disrepair that the newer trail to the south has become the standard method of approach for east rim routes. The erosion was natural, since the gully up the mud embankment was/is a natural watercourse. Trash is an ongoing problem at The Wood, though from my experience, I can say that there is actually less trash in the canyon today than there was twenty years ago, even though the numbers of visitors has increased tenfold.
What's the score with missing TR bolt hangers? I seem to find 25% of them missing off of the bolts on Grocery Store Walls. Was this a park thing or just some jackass? If it's just some jerk I, assume it's ok for me to replace the hangers.
The issue you describe is very common at The Wood. About four years ago I donated dozens of hangers to a local Eagle Scout, who worked with the park to replace many of the missing bolts and hangers at Grocery Store Wall as part of his Eagle Scout project. Fixed protection (i.e. bolts) has historically fallen victim to vandals and thieves, most notably at, but not limited to, Grocery Store Walls. This particular crag attracts more climbers than any cliff in the area. The short approach, easy access to the top and myriad fixed tr anchors seems to attract more than its share of inexperienced gumbies, pseudo-climbers, sport rappelers and gym rats. All of this makes Grocery Store Wall a "high maintenance" crag. To date, the park staff has never removed, added or replaced any fixed anchors within the park. A special use permit is required to add new bolts, but merely replacing stolen hangers is a public service that is always appreciated. Perhaps a bit of epoxy on the nut may discourage the vandals? Personally, I would be thankful for anyone taking it upon themselves to donate their time and resources to replace those missing hangers. Many of the original bolts throughout the canyon are aging beyond their usefulness and undoubtedly require replacement. Most of the sport climbs within the canyon have bolts that are twenty years old or older. Some of the older tr bolts on Grocery Store Walls are over thirty years old. Castlewood is in dire need of anchor replacement. It is my hope that Colorado State Parks will finally see that this is an important issue and grease up the gears of bureaucracy, which move at a geologic pace, and work with climbers to replace the antiquated fixed gear.
I am climbing in this canyon on a weekly basis year round. I am willing to help replace aging anchors and have spoke with the ASCA about this. Problem is I have experience replacing 1/4" bolts but no experience replacing real bolts. I pretty much expect that I'm going to go through a large learning curve figuring out how to chop and replace real bolts (3/8"). I have a friend who is experienced at this, and we have talked through the process. I just want to do as little damage in replacement as possible. If anyone out there has the time and experience to help, I have the equipment and would be willing to do this one day in the evenings and full days on the weekend particularly when the alpine season is over. PM me on this site if interested. I was on Bozo No No yesterday, and I'm not sure the first bolt would hold a lead fall.
A proposal for replacement of existing fixed protection has already been submitted to Jen Marten, the park manager for Castlewood and she is working with the State Parks bureaurocracy to consider the proposal. I currently have some ARI hardware set aside for the job ready to go. I think that any support that can be given to accelerating things with the State Parks authorities would be great. Jen is very friendly and will listen to your input. The rock at Castlewood is especially soft in places and with top anchors from trees hard to come by in places, replacement of the old hardware should be a high priority. It is unfortunate that the parks bureaurocracy works so slow though.
A few weeks back I spent an hour-plus working on yanking the spinner anchors off of the Entry Level. It was a breezy, chilly day and once the sun was just about gone it was time to admit defeat for the day and bail. However, I later realized I left a 1/2" x 4" SS 5 piece bolt, hanger, quicklink and Fixe ring on top of the route behind a flake. It is no longer there. Tom told me some folks were climbing there a couple of days later. We have been given several anchor sets donated to us by the Anchor Replacement Initiative and if I were to get that unit back would simply install it where it belongs in one of the many CWC routes that need new anchors. BTW, we have limited approval from the park to perform this work; with VERY specific limitations on who, what and where retrobolting can be done. Please don't take it upon yourselves to bring a drill out there. Likewise, if anyone cares to donate to the cause we'd be happy to hear from you.
Castlewood crag closures for 2010 Spring and Fall season.
Shakespearean Theatre closed March, April and May. Mind Meld closed March, April and May. Porky's Wall closed March, April and May. Vulture Walls closed March, April and May. Morning Sun Wall closed March, April, May, June and July.