Estes Park Valley Rock Climbing
Beware of Frank, when visiting the area!
Estes Park Valley has a good variety of granitic, gneiss, and schist crags scattered along the hillsides and in the forests surrounding this small town of approximately 7,500 people located at 7,550 feet above sea level. The crags in this area lies primarily in the 7,000-11,000 foot altitudes. While much of the climbing here is done during the warmer months, it is possible to climb year round with good weather and warm clothing.
Rock climbing here includes boulder problems in the forest, scattered sport climbs to 14a, traditional lines up to 900 feet long, and the occasional aid route. In general, traditional climbing has predominated in this area; however, more recently, some areas like the Monastery
with principally bolted lines have been developed. Plenty of history in climbing has taken place in the area, so check before drilling. Of course, chipping is never tolerated. The greatest wealth of climbing here lies in the moderate-range, traditional lines of Lumpy Ridge
. While competition for parking is frequent on weekends (we'll see if it changes with the new parking lot) at Lumpy, there are plenty of crags for solitude like The Crags on Twin Sisters
. Access to some rock formations is unavailable at this time, so, if you are exploring, check first.
Note, this is Colorado's number two destination (3 million visitors a year) for tourism, and much of that is concentrated during the Memorial Day to Labor Day period. So, if you visit then, expect to share.
is the gateway community to the eastern side of Rocky Mountain National Park.
This small town can be reached from Denver via US 36 through Boulder & Lyons with an hour plus drive. You can access it from further N of Denver (like Ft. Collins) via US 34. You can access it from the S via the winding CO 7 (Peak to Peak Hwy) from communities like Nederland & Allenspark. Finally, you can access it from the W on US 34 (aka Trail Ridge Rd) during summer months. Once in town, the hillside N of town is the classic Lumpy Ridge. Other various crags can be accessed via smaller roads described in the specific areas. Map of Estes Park
Eating options are quite varied in this popular town. Summer months may make it challenging to eat expediently. New as of late 2009, Tulum's at the corner of US 36 & 34 may present the best option for inexpensive, satisfying, expedient, $5.75 burritos or fish tacos.
Probably at the top of the list is, on the main drag (Elkhorn aka US 36), Ed's Cantina (climber-owned), decorated with climbing photos, serving Tex-Mex food, burgers, and good margaritas. For great pizza, consider House Special or Pesto (?take out) at Sweet Basilico's now near the big slide (it moved). For the economically-minded, consider Safeway's deli or the Mountaineer's (540 S Hwy 7) or The Wapiti Bar & Grill (for smaller appetites). Nepal's Cafe (near the Subway on the River Walk off Elkhorn) is great especially if they have the buffet for the Subcontinent palate. Notchtop (in the Safeway shopping center 457 E Wonderview) has good sandwiches & bakery goods with wireless access for the breakfast & lunch. Smoking Dave's BBQ and Taphouse has tasty BBQ sandwiches & even tasty Kona Pipeline Porter. Estes Park Brewery (off US 36 W of town) has big, cheap burritos M-F for lunch (try to get some salsa). The Bald Pate Inn provides an English style meal along CO Hwy 7 near Lily Lake during summer months. Chicago's Best offers sandwiches, calzones, and pizza. Dunraven's (original on Spur 66 or downtown on Elkhorn) has classic Italian. Mary's Lake Lodge & the Stanley Hotel may appeal to the well-financed palate.
For drinks, Ed's Cantina for margaritas on the rocks.... Estes Park Brewery has free samples of beer. There is wine tasting (small fee) of Colorado vineyards at the Snowy Peaks Winery
970.586.2099 on US 36 across from the Colorado Mountain School for apres climbing or early rainouts.
Sleeping accomodations are varied in this area. In the heavily visited summer months, options can be tight, so plan ahead. For the campers, there are campgrounds such as the KOA (E of town, near Lake Estes) on US 34; a crowded campground along US 36 (W of town, just E of the Beaver Meadows entrance into RMNP); popular camgrounds in RMNP like Aspen Glen (30+ sites, Fall River Rd entrance), Moraine Park (largest with 250+ sites), Glacier Gorge (110+ sites, summer only), Long's Area (tents only) off Hwy 7 S of town; campgrounds in the National Forests to the E & S of town; Mary's Lake Campground (SW of town on Mary's Lake Rd). Other commercial campgrounds include Yogi Bear's Jellystone (E on US 36), Manor RV Park (815 Riverside Dr), National Park Resort (3501 Fall River Rd, Paradise RV & Travel Park (1836 Hwy 66), Elk Meadow Lodge & RV (1665 Hwy 66), Discovery Lodge (estesdiscoverylodge.com). Free camping is challenging to find and not recommended. Colorado Mountain School on US 36 W of town can provide economical accomodations of the hostel-like variety. Many motels, hotels, and cabins lie scattered in town, but prices are generally more than you might expect. The Stanley Hotel can provide historically-rich lodging for the well-heeled.
Estes Park Mountain Shop
(US 34 near the dam on Lake Estes) has discount prices and decent selection and a small, indoor gym. Trail Ridge Outfitter's
is another climbing shop located downtown on Elkhorn near Ed's Cantina with a small gym as well.
You can try checking NOAA
Weather station 1.0 miles from here
1,263 Total Climbing Routes
['4 Stars',89],['3 Stars',331],['2 Stars',514],['1 Star',290],['Bomb',14]
Classic Climbing Routes in Estes Park Valley
Browse More Rock Climbing Classics in Estes Park Valley
Mountain Project's determination of the classic, most popular, highest rated climbing routes for Estes Park Valley:
Featured Route For Estes Park Valley
Pear Buttress 5.8 5b 16 VI- 15 HVS 4c CO
: Lumpy Ridge
: ... : J-Crack Slab Area
One of my favorite 5.8s in the world. It begins roughly where the approach trail ends (take the right-hand branch just before the rock). The climb starts at a clean flake just right of a broken area. P1. The flake can be climbed directly from the bottom (5.9 R), but the standard start is to climb up the slab right of the flake and step into it where it offers a perfect hand crack (5.7 w/ no pro for the first 20 feet). One can avoid all these scary starts (but also some great climbing) by scrambl...[more] Browse More Classics in CO
And beware of Nollie, too...she's a killer!
Estes Park lawnmower. Photo by Blitzo.
Bouldering at Mary's Lake.
BH on the southeast arete of the Trojan Horse Boul...
Sundance and the Pear. Lumpy Ridge. Photo by Blitz...
Hallett Peak from town. Photo by Blitzo.
Bouldering on Churchill Rock. Actually falling. Lo...
By Leo Paik
From: Westminster, Colorado
Mar 8, 2010
Amazingly, it was 62F on Sunday! Melted away desires to whack ice.
By Reece Henson
From: Knoxville, TN
Jun 6, 2010
Does anyone know of a good place to camp around the area that's either free or cheap?
From: Idaho Springs
Sep 9, 2012
Box Prairie, Dragon Scales, and White Pines West....
ALL closed to public access, including all climbing routes.
Call 970-295-6700 for more info on this crag and other local areas impacted.
Jun 6, 2013
I saw this video of a boulder problem called Gold Diggaz AKA The Crack, it was a V10. They said it was in Estes Park, but I could not find the problem on Mountainproject or anywhere else? Anyone know where I could find this problem? It looks amazing.
Jun 1, 2016
Will be in Loveland in July visiting family. Looking for a solid place to take family climbing for a few hours. Ideally 5.6-5.10 range, one pitch, and within 30 minutes of Loveland or so. Any suggestions are appreciated.