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Colorado > Boulder > Boulder Canyon
Access Issue: Seasonal Closure / 2020 Update Details


After climbing in Boulder for almost twenty years, it is great to be able to visit new crags just ten minutes away. Unlike some of the newly developed Boulder Canyon crags (one-visit-wonders like Bowling Alley or Cornerstone) I'm still psyched to return to Avalon after a handful of visits. Avalon is one of the many, mostly-bolted crags in the narrows of Boulder Canyon. The rock seems really nice, typical of the higher quality Boulder Canyon stuff, cleaner and more pleasant than the stuff on Vampire Rock, (maybe because of the sunnier aspect) and the crag, nestled in a steep west-facing gully, has less of the road noise/roadside-feel than many others. It is shady in the mornings, but expect some afternoon sun.

Avalon is home to many moderate (5.8 to 5.10) sport routes, and has become popular in recent years. It can get busy on summer weekends.

Most of the routes are fully bolted, but several require a few pieces of trad gear. Be sure to check the route description before you head up with just a rack of quickdraws. Bring a rack of nuts and cams to 2" if you're going to do any of the "mixed" routes; otherwise, 12 quickdraws are enough for the longest route. A few routes could use one or two longer runners to keep down rope drag. Bring a 60m rope; some of the routes require it to lower or rappel.

Richard Rossiter's website, Boulder Climbs, has descriptions of most Avalon routes, as does Mark Rolofson's new guidebook "Boulder Canyon Sport & Adventure Climber's Guide Volume II: The Upper Canyon". Rossiter's current Boulder Canyon guidebook lists very few of the Avalon routes.

The routes on Avalon lie on three tiers. The First Tier, closest to the creek, has a number of good routes: Mists of Avalon (10a), Iron Maiden (9+), Slayer (10b), and Marquis de Sade (10d) are popular.

The Second Tier is home to most of the routes on Avalon. It is a complex area, and is split into several sub-areas: Tarot Wall has Lust (10c), The Tower (10a), and Wheel of Fortune (10a). The Three Dihedrals area has the ever-popular Dominator (10b). The Clipboard Area has The Clipboard (11b) and Stigmata (10a). The Middle Wall has Strange Science (11c), Free Fall (12a), and Incline Club (8). The Wall of the Dead has the fun Dead Can Dance (9).

The Third Tier is the most remote and is visited by few climbers. Many routes up here have some moss and lichen, since the rock faces more to the north than down below, and the routes have seen little traffic. Come here to get away from the crowds. Visit the Wall of the Goddess for some trad crack-climbing practice. Climb on the remote Crack Land or Wall of the Dragon to experience "adventure sport climbing". Climb Ancient Light (10a) to Ancient Fright (10c) to Resurrection (9) to visit the true summit of Avalon, a magical place! The Art Of War (10c) is an excellent new sport route in Crack Land.

In 2006, Richard Rossiter and Pebby Johns aded a number of new crack climbs in Crack Land; bring your trad rack and have some fun!

Getting There

There are two places to park:

* In a small paved pullout on the right side of the road, 8.2 miles up the canyon, just across from the crag. This is 0.1 miles past Practice Rock, just past a right-hand bend in the road. Cross the road and spot the talus field below Avalon.

Warning: As of 6/20/07, this area has been posted as a no-parking zone. Evidently people are being ticketed for parking here. It's possible to park a bit downstream, just before the start of the no-parking zone. The no-parking sign is NOT visible at the usual parking pullout.

* In a pullout on the left side of the road, 8.4 miles up the canyon, across from The Boulderado and Animal World. This is just past a concrete guard rail on the left. From here, walk 0.2 miles downstream, past Black Widow, Vampire Rock, and the Watermark, to the talus field below Avalon.

Crossing the creek:

* There is a tyrolean traverse (currently 2 ropes, one rope is frayed) below the talus field; use this if the water level is too high to wade.

* If the water level is low enough, you can wade downstream of the talus field.

* If the water level is really low, you can hop rocks to get across.

Specific access directions for each tier will be listed in those sections.


Please stay on trails when wandering about at this crag. The popularity of this crag has led to erosion of unforseen magnitude. Hard work on the part of concerned climbers has helped mitigate this. Thanks!

Photos [Hide ALL Photos]

Youngest crossing?
[Hide Photo] Youngest crossing?
Avalon, showing most of the major features.<br>
Note: The depicted Northeast Face is also known as Crack Land.
[Hide Photo] Avalon, showing most of the major features. Note: The depicted Northeast Face is also known as Crack Land.
The First Tier and Tarot Wall areas of Avalon.
[Hide Photo] The First Tier and Tarot Wall areas of Avalon.
The tyrolean traverse across Boulder Creek.  Gaelyn Crowder, age 7, putting a brave face on it.
[Hide Photo] The tyrolean traverse across Boulder Creek. Gaelyn Crowder, age 7, putting a brave face on it.
Avalon Upper Wall Routes.  Photo taken from Upper Animal World.
[Hide Photo] Avalon Upper Wall Routes. Photo taken from Upper Animal World.
Crack Land as viewed from the trail that runs along beneath the Northeast Face, Third Tier of Avalon.
[Hide Photo] Crack Land as viewed from the trail that runs along beneath the Northeast Face, Third Tier of Avalon.
Area as seen by the road.
[Hide Photo] Area as seen by the road.
Tyrolean crossing.
[Hide Photo] Tyrolean crossing.
Where did all those routes come from? As everyone knows, the park rangers put them up after dark.
[Hide Photo] Where did all those routes come from? As everyone knows, the park rangers put them up after dark.
Adam Miller, first approach in Colorado soon followed by his first lead in Colorado.
[Hide Photo] Adam Miller, first approach in Colorado soon followed by his first lead in Colorado.
Crossing the Avalon Tyrolean on July 23rd, 2006.
[Hide Photo] Crossing the Avalon Tyrolean on July 23rd, 2006.
Peter Spindloe crosses the Tyrolean traverse to reach Avalon, in the Summer of 2003. Photo by Tony Bubb.
[Hide Photo] Peter Spindloe crosses the Tyrolean traverse to reach Avalon, in the Summer of 2003. Photo by Tony Bubb.

Comments [Hide ALL Comments]

[Hide Comment] Some alternate directions for those in need...

From Boulder access Avalon just past Boulder Falls. Guardrail at Boulder Falls ends, then another starts in about _ mile. There is a parking area at the end of that guardrail on the left. Park there and hike back down on the creek side of the guardrail. If you look toward the creek, you'll see several ropes crossing a significant rapid about 20 feet over the creek. That's not it. Keep going till you see a green rope close to the creek in a bushy slow moving section a little way farther. Wade across the creek there. Head straight up through the trees veering left as you go up. You should be able to make out a trail. You'll come to some rocks with some bolted routes. That's Watermark. Turn left (downhill) and wind around the underside of Watermark veering right. Pass a big tree and enter a boulder field. Head straight up that. This is Avalon. The First Tier is directly to your left as you head up. The Second Tier is just beyond the top of the boulder field. Jul 9, 2004
Bruce Pech
Boulder, CO
[Hide Comment] There's a new Tyrolean directly below the talus gully on the upstream edge of Avalon (the most direct approach to the Lower Tier, Tarot Wall, Clipboard, Middle Wall, etc.) Today, thanks to TB's rigging skills, the old, trashed ropes in the Tyrolean below Solaris were replaced for safer access to Solaris, Avalon (via the trail from Solaris to the Tarot Wall), and the south side of Bell Buttress. Jul 16, 2004
[Hide Comment] Bruce Pech and I replaced the rotting tyrolean traverse at Avalon last week. The new version is very simple, two strands cross the creek, both strands are tied with figure eight knots at both ends to two separate bolts on each side (four total). The two lines are kept together by an overhand knot on the road side, this side has very little extra rope involved. The other side of the creek (cliff side)has more rope involved,in a series of fisherman's knots. As this line is used and abused, left out in the sun and rain and snow... The line will eventually sag. If you must tighten the line or jury-rig something to make things work, it should be easiest from the cliff side. We used two ascenders, rigged a z-pulley setup, tensioned the #@%& out of both lines and tied them off directly to the links on the bolts. Good Luck.

P.S. The water is low enough that it is pretty easy to cross. Take your chances. Jul 22, 2004
[Hide Comment] SAFETY NOTE. As of 15 September 2005 myself and Joan Johns have been clearing some very large loose blocks from the Northeast Face of the Third Tier of Avalon. This was essential and has gone quite well. However, if you plan to climb routes such as, Ancient Fright or Ancient Light bring a small broom to clean off the holds. A great deal of dirt and rock fragments were deposited on the holds and ledges of these routes. Routes farther to the west such as Mystery Ship, Charon's Boat and Dragon Slayer should not have been affected. Sep 16, 2005
Mike Stein
Denver, CO
[Hide Comment] How good is the tyrolean here? And does anyone know if it is a rope or steel cable? Or is it possible right now to just wade it? Thanks! Jul 28, 2006
Ron Olsen
Boulder, CO
[Hide Comment] The Avalon tyrolean is three ropes attached to two huge boulders. Getting off at the far end is easy; coming back is a little harder, but still far easier than the Cob Rock tyrolean.

I haven't been up there in a while, so I don't know if the water is low enough to wade. The usual wading spot is about 100' downstream from the tyrolean, just left of a steep rock wall on the far side. Jul 28, 2006
Ron Olsen
Boulder, CO
[Hide Comment] On Wednesday 6/20/07, Bruno Haché, Matt Gates and I upgraded the Avalon tyrolean. The following work was done:

  • Installed a second bolt, hanger, 1/2" quick-link, and chain to anchor the tyrolean on the road side.
  • Replaced the old carabiners with 1/2" quick-links on the road side.
  • Replaced all the ropes. Two of the three strands are brand-new 11mm rope.

Thanks to Kevin Currigan for donating the new rope, and to Bruno Haché for donating the hardware, and for his technical skill in setting up the tyrolean. Jun 21, 2007
Pebby Johns
Boulder, Colorado
[Hide Comment] Many thanks for the beautiful work done on the tyrolean at Avalon. Thank you Ron, Bruno and Matt. The job was well planned out and the "ride" feels very safe. The addition of the new rope is awesome. Thank you again for a job well done.
Pebby Johns Jul 3, 2007
Travis Provin
Boulder CO
[Hide Comment] Fun area, avoid the weekends unless you like lines, hammocks, music, dogs, and shirtless sport climbers. Jul 16, 2016
Mark E Dixon
Sprezzatura, Someday
[Hide Comment] If you park at the pullout on the south side of the road across from the Boulderado, walk downstream past the first tyrolean.

I've been at Vampire twice in the last month, and 3 parties have arrived thinking they were at Avalon. Jun 9, 2017
Rich Farnham
Nederland, CO
[Hide Comment] Replaced the core-shot tyrol with new static lines this evening. Really appreciate Jon Cheifitz helping me out!

Huge thanks to Rock and Resole for donating a 600' spool of static line to the effort. Please tell them thanks next time you stop in, and thanks to everyone that donated last year to help with other costs (webbing, hardware, etc)! May 10, 2018
Danielle Lendriet
Boulder, CO
[Hide Comment] FYI we found a few ticks on our party today while at the Tarot Wall. Check yourselves! Jun 3, 2018
Christopher Roberts
Boulder, CO
[Hide Comment] Went up to that area for the first time since the new road wall was put in. Wow! They blew up the Tyrolean Boulder. I found a big chunk of the boulder with only one bolt left in it. Putting in a new crossing should be interesting, since there is nothing big enough to bolt anymore. I'm sure one of the Tyrolean angles will figure something out. Nov 11, 2019
Nicki Manzanares
[Hide Comment] Based on a comment in November 2019, it sounds like the tyrolean boulder was seriously affected by the BoCan road construction. Okay, it stated the boulder was blown up.... Is this the case? Was the tyrolean repositioned/replaced? Jun 15, 2020
Tyler Fisher
New York
[Hide Comment] Worth noting that there are currently TWO different Tyroleans and an additional stray single rope (handrail?) halfway between them, that you'll see when walking back downstream from the main parking area 8.4 miles up the canyon near Boulderado. You’re looking for the SECOND Tyrolean, aka the third rope feature overall if you count the handrail thing (assuming you're walking down from the aforementioned parking area). The first Tyrolean you come across, which is attached to the base of a cliff on the other side of the river, is NOT the one for Avalon — that one goes to Vampire Rock. For Avalon (and Watermark), keep going downstream, past the first Tyrolean, past the single-strand handrail rope, for another tenth of a mile or so, and keep an eye out for the next Tyrolean. It should be tied to large loose boulders on both sides of the river, not to an actual cliff.

When you cross the correct Tyrolean, you’ll almost immediately be at the First Tier. You hardly have to go up the talus at all to get to it. If you’ve walked far enough from the creek that you couldn’t easily underhand toss a rock into it, you’ve gone up too far (or are at the wrong crag). A couple older regulars there yesterday told us that >50% of the people they see at Vampire Rock are confused newcomers trying to get to Avalon. Sep 24, 2020