Temporary Trail and Raptor Closures
The Flatirons are synonymous with Boulder and the history of rock climbing in North America. It would be hard to find another location in the country where such an extensive variety, from scrambling to hard "Head Point" routes exist so close to a major metro area. They form the backdrop to Boulder and are the centerpiece of Boulder's Open Space
There are three main areas: Flatirons North
This area includes classic rocks such as the First and Third Flatirons, and the Amphitheatre in Gregory Canyon. Climbs here range from short newer-age sport climbs to long trad routes, including some of the longer trad routes in the area, the whole face of the 3rd Flatiron, which is about 1300 feet and the Direct East Face of the 1st which is about 1400 feet. Hard conglomerate Fountain Formation sandstone is the medium for your rock craft. Flatirons Central
There are many rocks to explore in this area. The "Central" zone spans Bear Canyon to the Ironing Boards (just South of the 3rd Flatiron). Slabmongers can have many field days exploring the numerous smaller Flatirons, and there's a good amount of trad and even sport among these rocks. Have fun in this scenic setting. Flatirons South
This section of the Flatirons holds some of the best climbing in the Flatirons, but it seems to be less crowded. Great rocks such as the Maiden, Matron, Devil's Thumb, East Ridge, Nebel Horn, Seal Rock, and The Goose offer slabs for beginner trad leaders and also more challenging trad lines. Excellent sport routes also can be found, some several pitches in length. The longest climb in the area is here. There is plenty to explore here. Access:
Various of the Flatirons are closed for falcon nesting from Feb. 1 up to July 31 and for bat nesting Apr. 1 to Aug. 31. Historically, some of these have included The Matron, Towers of the Moon, Jam Crack Spire, Devil's Thumb, Nebel Horn, Jaws, The Fin, Sphinx, Medusa, Fern Canyon, The Goose, The Goose Eggs, Bear Creek Spire, Harmon Cave (bats), East Face of The Hand (bats), East Face of The Finger Flatiron (bats), East Face of Der Zerkle (bats), Dreadnaught, Achean Pronoucement, Skunk Canyon Ridge 2 & west, Sacred Cliffs, East & West Ironing Boards, The Third Flatiron, Queen Anne's Head, occasionally Gregory Amphitheatre, and possibly others.
Please check with city of Boulder Open Space & Mountain Parks at 303-441-3440 before heading up there. Also, 303.441.4060 ext 420 & x 416 can provide information.
Look west of Boulder, if you can't see them you shouldn't go climbing...although, it can be amazingly beautiful with liquid or solid precipitation falling. Seriously, there are numerous trails and parking lots depending on which crag you are visiting, so please refer to these descriptions.
A word of warning though; the first time climbing in the Flatirons can be a confusing experience, with lots of trails, crags and rocks that look very similar so allow plenty of time for exploring and pick a major feature to climb. Map of Boulder
most of the green stuff down & left of the arrow is Flatirons.
If it is your first time climbing in the Flatirons try to remember to take a guidebook and a map, or better yet, go with a local. Also, a headlamp can come in handy as well on the journey home, but that's a story for another day!Rock Climbing the Flatirons
by Richard Rossiter is probably the best source of information. Gerry Roach's Flatirons
guide, Richard Rossiter's older Boulder Climbs North
, and even Stewart Green's Colorado
guidebooks can provide alternative sources for information. A new guide by Jason Haas, Climbing Boulder's Flatirons,
is now in the second edition (2017). Flatirons Climbing Council
is a non-profit, climber organization dedicated to the limited expansion of new fixed hardware and replacement of decaying fixed hardware in addition to other climbing related issues for the Flatirons. It is a partnership between the Access Fund, American Alpine Club, Colorado Mountain Club and the Action Committee for Eldorado created to preserve climbing access in the Flatirons, conserve climbing resources and the environment, and to work cooperatively with the land manager, City of Boulder Open Space and Mountain Parks (OSMP), to resolve climbing issues.
Note, from the 1980s to the early 2000s, there was moratorium on new fixed hardware in the Flatirons. With great efforts, there is a new, application-based, limited new fixed hardware process in place. Please check with the Flatirons Climbing Council.
So, many, many route descriptions include "standard rack" verbiage. What is a standard rack? Good question. Here's my thoughts: Probably a set of wires, a set of cams from smallest Alien/TCU to a #4 Friend or #4 Camalot, a couple larger hexes, and probably a dozen 24" slings with biners to match. Certainly, there are those who will travel lighter or heavier, but this gets you up most routes...with a bit of skill, courage, and coolheadedness. LP
Flora & Fauna
Note, there are a few things that live in the area that may warrant some attention. On the smaller side, there is plenty of poison ivy in places for the sensitive. Also, there are mountain lions & black bear that are known to wander these parts. Watch your kids, if you're climbing with little ones.
According to Boulder Mountain Parks website, 90% of the trails are okay for dogs. In general, dogs in the Flatirons should be on leashes. There is a special program where on dogs may be in voice and sight control, which requires a fee ($15 for residents, $18.75 for non-residents, $5 for additional tags) and watching a video. There are fines associated with violations of the rules.
Please check out their website
for more details.
Memorial Day Eve 2013. Sun setting behind the Flatirons. © 2013 Ken Cangi, All Rights Reserved.
My cool father in law Jack Carey (though for some reason is Frank Carey in the guide books) took this of his partner in 1949.
Sunset over the Flatirons.
Flowers are a bloomin' on the way to Bear Canyon. Taken May 13, 2007.
The secret Princess Bivy.
Springtime flowers and Green Mountain. From right to left you can see The Amphitheater, The First, Second, and Third Flatirons.
The Flatirons above Boulder offer some spectacular views of the city and the plains below at sunset. Photo by Tony Bubb, 2002.
Clouds at sunset above the Flatirons. Devil's Thumb visible in the skyline.
Pretty neat frozen spiderweb, in the Flatirons, October '09.
The Flatirons of Boulder, Colorado, photo: Bob Horan Collection.
Rappelling Royal Arch.
Jay and Steve on the hike up to the Third. Foggy and cold morning, snow in the hills, ice and snow on the route. Oct. '09.