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Eldorado Canyon State Park

Colorado > Boulder
Warning Access Issue: 2023 Seasonal Closures - lifted DetailsDrop down


As one of the world's finest and most famous climbing areas, Eldorado Canyon State Park needs little introduction. It consists of steep, beautiful conglomerate sandstone walls of up to 700 feet high, in brilliant shades of gold and red. The rock quality is reminiscent of granite rather than the soft sandstone found throughout much of Utah and Arizona.

The largest cliff, Redgarden Wall , is a few thousand feet wide; it boasts several spectacular summits and an incredible collection of classic climbs. Many of the classic routes were put up in the 1960s by Layton Kor, along with climbers such as Pat Ament and Larry Dalke. The 1970s were primarily a time of first free ascents, spearheaded by climbers such as Steve Wunsch, Roger Briggs, Jim Erickson, and Duncan Ferguson. New activity tailed off a bit in the 1980s, though some very good routes were established.

Climbing in Eldorado Canyon can be odd and it requires some getting used to. It is primarily a traditional area, yet there is relatively little crack climbing. Friends of mine who are used to Lumpy Ridge think everything in Eldo is a sandbag, but once I got used to Eldo I started to feel more secure there than at Lumpy Ridge. Individual pitches will often require delicate face climbing and some kind of funky, inobvious traverse. Highly technical moves separated by decent rests are quite common. Old fixed gear is an Eldo staple, and can either add or subtract spice from your route depending on its quality and the availability of other pro. It enables routes such as the The Yellow Spur and the West Buttress of the Bastille (both 5.9) to offer pro-at-your-waist cruxes. On the other hand, you just know that those pins at the cruxes of climbs like Tagger (5.10) and the The Naked Edge (5.11) are not going to hold too many more 10 foot falls. One should really back up most pins whenever possible. Ultimately, skill in placing pro is very important; cracks tend to be discontinuous and incipient, and nearly all the "sport" routes require some gear as well.

Must-do beginner routes include Wind Ridge and Calypso (both 5.6) on Wind Tower. They are both a bit awkward in spots. In the 5.8 range, Ruper on Redgarden Wall and The Bastille Crack top the list. The Bulge (5.7+) on Redgarden is quite runout, but also excellent. Many people feel that The Yellow Spur (5.9) on Redgarden Wall is the best route in the Canyon. Other great routes at that grade include the West Buttress and Hair City (Bastille), Anthill Direct and The Green Spur (Redgarden Wall), and the The Unsaid (The West Ridge). 5.10 classics are everywhere; my personal favorites are Rosy Crucifixion (10a) and Outer Space (10c). Over the Hill (10b), Super Slab, Grandmother's Challenge, and Tagger (all 10c) are also great, as are many, many other routes at the grade. 5.11 offers some world-renowned classics like the The Naked Edge, Vertigo (11b), and the Northwest Corner of the Bastille (11a). 5.12 (which I have no experience with personally) seems to offer either very scary climbs such as Scary Canary (12b) or very safe climbs such as Your Mother. (12d). 5.13s are fairly rare, due to bolt restrictions, but some historic classics such as Desdichado and Rainbow Wall do exist. Addendum: A trad 5.14, Iron Monkey (freeding Lycra-Clad Donkeys), has been established.

The aforementioned Redgarden Wall holds the longest routes, but also offers great one-pitch climbs, [particularly] a little ways up the trail at a long slanting roof. The Bastille is a 350 foot high vertical cliff which rises right out of the road and offers very steep climbing. The The Wind Tower is the place to go for great beginner climbs as well as scary 5.10 routes, and the The West Ridge/Rincon offers the best concentration of one pitch routes of all grades -- usually very aesthetic crack and corner climbs. Obscure outlying areas such as Cadillac Crag, Shirt Tail Peak, and the Peanuts Walls have excellent climbing, but also involve longer approaches.

Eldo can be a very confusing place and it is helpful to at least look at a guidebook, such as Steve Levin's newest guidebook, Eldorado Canyon, A Climber's Guidebook, or Richard Rossiter's out of print, comprehensive Rock Climbing Eldorado Canyon. Fred Knapp's Classic Boulder Climbs is about a third the cost, and still has most of the best routes as well as other great routes around Boulder.

Ideally, a traditional climber's road trip to Boulder should include a day at Eldo followed by a day at Lumpy Ridge (45 minutes from Boulder)-- both offer fantastic climbing, but it is hard to imagine two more different styles. Of course, if experience permits, the alpine rock climbs in nearby Rocky Mountain National Park are not to be missed, either. One can climb in Eldo at any time of year, though summer is piping hot and slick while winter is inconsistent.

Getting There

Note: there has been more recently a change that involves summer reservation, a timed entry system, a park shuttle, etc. See:

From Denver, head N on I-25 to US 36, go to the CO Hwy 170 exit. Follow it as it curves around a new shopping complex, and go past CO Hwy 93 to the town of Eldorado Springs and to the state park.

From Boulder, take CO Hwy 93 (Broadway) South until you get to the first stop light after leaving Boulder. This is Eldorado Springs Dr. Take this West until you hit the town. The park entrance is at the end of the dirt road into town. Pay entry fee per vehicle to park or walk-in for less. You WILL be ticketed if you park in undesignated spots outside of the park.... The Eldorado Springs bottling company is right off the road to the park. You used to be able to get a free fill-up on your water bottle, but now it's a pay deal. What a rip, man.


Eldo is home to an impressive collection of excellent & historical boulder problems. These can be found on the new Eldorado Canyon Bouldering page. Must do classics include the John Sherman testpiece Germ Free Adolescence or the nearly featureless Never Say Never. Many of Eldo's best boulders are undocumented, so an adventurous spirit can be helpful.


For 2021, Annual State Park passes cost $80 for one vehicle and $40 each for additional vehicles. Daily fees are now $10 per vehicle. Walk-in fees are $4/person. For up to date info, click here for the 2021 chart of fees.


Steve Levin's new, Eldorado Canyon guidebook is excellent and covers the canyon exquisitely. Recommended! If you want it, it's in local shops or if you can't find it, it's available here.

Action Committee for Eldorado

The Action Committee for Eldorado (ACE) is a 501c3 non profit climber organization that is staffed by dedicated volunteers who are committed to conserving Eldorado Canyon State Park. The ACE Board of Directors is comprised of representatives from the Access Fund, the American Alpine Club, the American Mountain Guides Association, and the Colorado Mountain Club, as well as unaffiliated members drawn from the climbing community. ACE has raised over $200,000 for the Park, and has organized and promoted thousands of hours of volunteer time creating and maintaining trails, planting trees, and assisting the Park in numerous other ways.

Proceeds donated to ACE are used for the Eldorado Canyon Trails Project, fixed hardware, and supporting climbers in Eldorado Canyon.

To donate or learn more information about ACE please visit:

Fixed Hardware Replacement Program

ACE, BCC (Boulder Climbing Community), and Eldorado State Park are working together to replace old fixed hardware in Eldorado Canyon. A 'like for like' hardware replacement policy already exists, so what we need now is a way to track progress and get some much needed work done.

ACE has established a working database of hardware which is in need of
replacement. That working list is available here.…

Everyone is invited to contribute to this list so we all can be made
aware of the fixed hardware progress and priorities. Just register on
the ACE website and contribute to the list. Its fast and easy.
As a reminder, a permit for 'like for like' replacement must be
secured from the Park Headquarters prior to completing any work.

ACE will gladly supply the drill, bits, prybars and any
necessary hardware to anyone wishing to do like-for-like replacements in ECSP. Contact

Photos [Hide ALL Photos]

A selection of 171 routes on Redgarden Wall, Shirt Tail Peak, Rincon, the West Ridge, the Wind Tower, the Whale's Tail and the Bastille. Full caption in comments.
[Hide Photo] A selection of 171 routes on Redgarden Wall, Shirt Tail Peak, Rincon, the West Ridge, the Wind Tower, the Whale's Tail and the Bastille. Full caption in comments.
Eldo after a spring snow storm.  March 27, 2009.<br>
Photo: James Beissel.
[Hide Photo] Eldo after a spring snow storm. March 27, 2009. Photo: James Beissel.
Ivy on the wire 1904-08.
[Hide Photo] Ivy on the wire 1904-08.
Josh going BIG.
[Hide Photo] Josh going BIG.
High above Eldo.
[Hide Photo] High above Eldo.
Trails and rock climbs of Eldorado Canyon.

Karl Mueller's photo has the perfect combination of shade and clarity for painting.

P.S. Karl put up one of my favorite Eldo climbs with Alan Nelson and Alan Bartlett.
[Hide Photo] Trails and rock climbs of Eldorado Canyon. Karl Mueller's photo has the perfect combination of shade and clarity for painting. P.S. Karl put up one of my favorite Eldo climbs with Alan Nelson…
Photomosaic of Eldorado Canyon.  Shot at sunset from top of Upper Peanuts with a Nikon D90 and stitched in Autopano Pro.  Thanks to Mike Morley for help locating the ideal vantage point on top of Upper Peanuts Wall.
[Hide Photo] Photomosaic of Eldorado Canyon. Shot at sunset from top of Upper Peanuts with a Nikon D90 and stitched in Autopano Pro. Thanks to Mike Morley for help locating the ideal vantage point on top of U…
Redgarden Wall, showing the major features and the general location of several classic climbs.<br>
[Hide Photo] Redgarden Wall, showing the major features and the general location of several classic climbs.
Springtime in Eldo.
[Hide Photo] Springtime in Eldo.
Note found in a bottle on the way to the West Ridge.  Only in Eldo!
[Hide Photo] Note found in a bottle on the way to the West Ridge. Only in Eldo!
South Boulder Creek on a fine fall day.
[Hide Photo] South Boulder Creek on a fine fall day.
Climbing landmarks for the northwestern part of Eldorado Canyon State Park.
[Hide Photo] Climbing landmarks for the northwestern part of Eldorado Canyon State Park.

Comments [Hide ALL Comments]

Petsfed 00
Snohomish, WA
[Hide Comment] This place is the best for novices like myself in the front range. None of the routes are so inaccessible or epic as to scare away someone who's never been there before. And the east crack of the Whale's Tail should be required for every new leader. Mar 12, 2002
[Hide Comment] It is $50 for a Colorado State Park Season Pass. Good for the calendar year at ANY Colorado State Park. [$6] for a day fee per car. I believe the new visitor center, and other improvements were paid for out the State Lottery Funds allocated to Parks i.e. Apr 12, 2002
[Hide Comment] Screw that $50 bucks and to hell with pay-to-play. Why aren't we challenging the state of our park??? Think about it this way--how would you feel if "they" started charging $50 bucks for a season pass to Lumpy and built a road up to Sundance with a parking lot and porta-john at The Book?? Fuck that road through our canyon!! don't you just love it when you top out on the yellow spur and look down and see some dip-shit below in a candy-red PT Cruiser.

Take that 50 bucks and use it to destroy that bathroom and that road--restore the area and leave a small maintained trail, and build the parking lot OUTSIDE the canyon!! Sep 17, 2002
[Hide Comment] Jay, keep in mind that in the late 70s what is now Eldorado Canyon State Park almost became a gravel quarry, but the State stepped in and bought the property off the Fowler family (for something like $500K). Yes, some of the "improvements" are overblown, but the alternative would have been grim. $50 is a steal for use of this park for an entire year. Sep 24, 2002
Ken Leiden
Boulder, CO
[Hide Comment] The road was built in the canyon about a hundred years ago. Sep 26, 2002
[Hide Comment] A awesome climbing area with a great climbers atmosphere and countless number of routes at all levels. Great place for a day outing. Jan 7, 2003
[Hide Comment] I moved to the Denver area 5 years ago......I don't care if they charged $20 a day to get in there......NEVER forgot what you have at your fingertips.

Eldo is Eldo-what more can you say? Wolrd class to say the very least, world's best in some opinions.

It's on $50-and unlike many other payments that we all make, this one is most likely going to a very worthwhile service. Consider your payment as your "good deed of the day".

This state is heaven-don't forget it. If you don't agree....well, don't let the door hit you in the a$$. May 3, 2003
William McGehee
Choctaw, OK
[Hide Comment] Concern: Last week I went up to the Green Spur area to knock it off before the rain. On my hike up, I heard "falling" sounds. Lots of boulders knocking together. The occasional sickening "thump." After hiking up aways I encountered a few Europeans (by the sound of them), mostly teenagers. We chatted for a few moments and I asked them if everyone was okay in their party. Sure were, so I moved on, only to see them resume their little game of tossing boulders down the talus slope!!! I don't think I need to address how dangerous this is on this website. Taking out a whole family of hikers is a serious possibility. Instead, I would like to bring this to the community's attention. Keep your heads up, eyes and ears open, and bring a pistol for pest control when you climb... If anyone notices such activity in the future, bite the bullet and go alert the rangers of this activity. Missing two hours of climbing is a small price to pay for the safety of others in the canyon IMHO. Apr 10, 2004
William McGehee
Choctaw, OK
[Hide Comment] AC, by the time I figured out what was going on, I was just short of being on belay and they were across the talus/scree just west of the Yellow Spur start. My partner and I yelled as loudly and clearly as we could essentially to knock it off. Threw in some colorful language so they got the point. Something about killing someone. Honestly, I was so mad, I couldn't really remember. They immediately quit, so there wasn't a whole lot of point going to confront them then. Had I seen it happen on the approach I would have turned around. I don't think I made the right decision of simply yelling (practice what I preach, I know), but avoidance of confrontation is my MO. Hopefully others will learn from my bad judgement. Apr 13, 2004
George Bell
Boulder, CO
[Hide Comment] Check this web site out for a list of accidents in Eldo. These are taken verbatum from Accidents in North American Mtneering and other sources. Also has accidents in Boulder Canyon and other areas if you hunt around the site:… Jun 14, 2004
[Hide Comment] So climbing up on Wind Ridge I see this huge ass cable and I'm thinkin "what the hell is that for" so I look it up. some old dude used to tight rope between there and the Bastille. I'm not aware if the cables are still there on the Bastille but if they are why not highline it? Nov 27, 2005
[Hide Comment] I am guessing the State of CO doesn't support the highwire antics. Maybe you should ask a ranger for their position on it. Nov 28, 2005
[Hide Comment] I saw someone grate across the original Ivy Baldwin cable in the early '70s. They had to wrap a chain around it due to the large diameter. You guys who are asking about setting up a high line: the Parkies will never let it happen. That said, what kind of rope or cable would you use and how would you set it up? Nov 30, 2005
Ron Olsen
Boulder, CO
[Hide Comment]
ROC wrote:WARNING!!! The rappel tree on the top of the upper ramp (that puts you more or less at the base of Vertigo) is NOT stable.
A bolted rappel anchor was installed near this tree on 8/21/06, after approval by the Eldorado Fixed Hardware Review Committee. See
The new bolted rappel anchor at the top of the Upper Ramp. Installed 8/21/06.  Traverse in from climber's left to avoid using the tree to downclimb.  The rope pull is clean with little friction.  The rope only contacts the rock at the edge of the dropoff (where this photo was taken).  The old tree anchor is just to the right.
Closeup of the new rappel anchor at the top of the Upper Ramp.  The anchor is a Fixe Traditional Rap anchor (Stainless Steel, Tan #037-T) and two Rawl-Powers 5-piece stainless-steel bolts, 3/8
Greg Hand on the first rappel from the new anchor at the top of the Upper Ramp. The rope line will be well below the tree branch once Greg is below the edge of the dropoff.  The slings of the old tree anchor are visible just below the rope.
for details. Mar 29, 2007
[Hide Comment] Hey Eldo climbers,

A quick reminder for anyone wanting to apply for installing a new bolted route, or a new bolted rappel anchor, in Eldorado Canyon, this spring:

Please have your application finished and sent to ACE by April 1st.

Fro more details, see the Action Committee for Eldorado website:

Crusher Bartlett Mar 14, 2008
[Hide Comment] First Route in Eldorado?

2010 will be the 75th anniversary of the first rock climb in the Gunks: The Old Route at Millbrook, FA by Fritz Weissner, 1935. This got me thinking: what was the first rock climb in Eldorado? As near as I can tell from the guides, the Bastille Crack may have that designation. Jim Erickson placed the first ascent in the early 1950s by US Army climbers. After that there are several routes done in 1956, the most challenging being the Redgarden Route. Does anyone have any information on any climbing routes in Eldorado prior to this? Nov 17, 2008
Bruce Hildenbrand
Silicon Valley/Boulder
[Hide Comment] Clearly, with the ascents on the Maiden and steep/overhanging faces of the Third Flatiron, high angle rock climbing in the Boulder area was alive and well in the late '40s and early '50s. Yes, we have the Bastille and Redguard from the mid-'50s, but if there was high quality climbing going on in the Flatirons in the late '40s did anything get done in Eldorado which has been lost over time?

Bruce Nov 18, 2008
Phil Lauffen
Innsbruck, AT
[Hide Comment] I'm wondering what the route is you always pass by on your way to the Redgarden wall, before the roof routes. It's the steeply overhanging cave on your right with maybe 6 fixed draws and an anchor about 40 ft off the deck. I don't even know where to look for it on MP.... Dec 6, 2008
Rob Kepley
Westminster, CO
[Hide Comment] Phil, It's sounds like you are refering to the The Monument. It's under the "Whales Tail" section. Dec 6, 2008
[Hide Comment] We want to congratulate Steve Levin, Fred Knapp, and Sharp End Books on what we believe may be the best rock climbing guidebook ever written--Eldorado Canyon: A Climbing Guide. The book is amazingly thorough, not only (!) offering you over 1500 route descriptions, most of which are accompanied by high-definition color photo route overlays, but also offering a wealth of information on the history of climbing in the canyon, including details on the first ascents of many of the routes in the book. The book is simply phenomenal.

Our review of it can be found here:… Nov 11, 2009
[Hide Comment] Great news for all you aficionados of Eldorado history:

Dudley Chelton, the photographer who painstakingly documented the free climbing scene in Eldorado in the 1970s has posted many of his pictures from that era on his website.

You can check it out at:…

Thanks for posting these killer shots, Dudley! Jun 2, 2010
Scott Rice
Colorado Springs, CO
[Hide Comment] Hey all,

Somewhat new to the Eldo scene, yet climbed here a few times and was THOROUGHLY impressed with the professionalism and dedication that Eldo advents had exhibited. Whether it be friendliness of the locals, despite the fact that we were jumping on their classics on our first trip, or the cherry descents that can be made in the tightest of climbing shoes with ease. All I can say I guess is thank you to those who cherish and maintain this amazing canyon for all.

I do, however, have another question. I am at the Air Force Academy in CSprings and am able to go out this next weekend...which means I obviously choose Eldo. But we are short on funds (write your congressmen if you think we should get paid more than $100 a month!!) and are probably going to have to camp.

So, the question is whether we can suck it up in sleeping bags, or if we should try to crash a sorority at CU for the weekend.

Any advice or insight would be appreciated. And I apologize for the rant.


SR Oct 7, 2010
[Hide Comment] Terry,
This photo seems to have been taken March 2010, and I believe shows the area you're interested in....… Dec 21, 2011
Terry O'Donnell
Boulder, Co
[Hide Comment] Derek!
Thanks so much for your photo! I think it shows the exact area that she is concerned with! I really appreciate your coming up with it! Is there a chance you could email it to me? Terry Dec 26, 2011
Andy "RED" King
Eldorado Springs
[Hide Comment] If anyone is planning a trip to Eldorado Canyon and is traveling from far and doesn't want to pay steep hotel rates, I live in the canyon and have room in my yard for a group or maybe two to camp. Please feel free to email me at as I check that more often, or just message me here on MP for more details.

RLTW! Aug 23, 2012
Patrick Kehoe
Fort Collins
[Hide Comment] Hang your packs while you climb, damn chipmunks will eat your lunch! Sep 2, 2013
[Hide Comment]
Waterfalls during 9/12/13 flood event!
Sep 12, 2013
Nathan Ross
Lexington, KY
[Hide Comment] I also got caught in a thunderstorm on Rewritten. The full story is in the link. We were on the second to last pitch when it hit. Made for a crazy day to say the least.… Dec 24, 2016
Nick Metzger
Chattanooga, TN
[Hide Comment] Eldorado Canyon: A Climbing Guide is sold out everywhere other than a digital copy.

Do gear shops in town sell it? May 8, 2019
[Hide Comment] Hey guys and gals,
For those of you who park at the "skiers' lot" across the street from the Eldorado Corner Market at the intersection of Marshall Rd. and Foothills Parkway to carpool into the canyon. DO NOT PARK THERE ANYMORE! My car was broken into when I was in the canyon climbing on 8/9/19. There is glass from other car windows having been broken all over the lot. Parking at Neptune Mountaineering in Boulder or some other agreed upon location, and carpooling from there is the better idea. Aug 11, 2019
Nicholas Orton
Saranac lake
[Hide Comment] Hi ya! Anyone find offset cams and nuts to be of any use here? I see mentioning's of old pin scars. Thanks! Feb 9, 2022
Leo Paik
Westminster, Colorado
[Hide Comment] Update: as of 6/7/23 per Mike McHugh, ECSP: all closures have been lifted within Eldorado Canyon State Park, including Continental Crag.

Crags on Eldorado Mountain, such as Mickey Mouse wall and Cryptic Crags, are outside of park boundaries and may still be subject to Boulder County closures. Jun 8, 2023
Leo Paik
Westminster, Colorado
[Hide Comment] 2/8/24: from M. McHugh: eagles are nesting in the Rattlesnake Gulch area. Continental Crag, all routes thereupon, and all approach routes thereto: closed. At this time, all other crags (esp. Shirt Tail) and routes (esp. The Edge) in Eldorado Canyon State Park are open. For climbing areas outside of the park (esp. Mickey Mouse et al), climbers should consult the appropriate agencies.……
Feb 8, 2024