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Phantom Canyon

Colorado > Canon City


This is a sport climbing area on metamorphic granite. Phantom Canyon (CO Hwy 67) can be thought of as the sister road to Shelf Road. Like Shelf Road, Phantom Canyon runs basically North-South but is well east of Shelf Road and Canon City. The road eventually empties out in the tiny mountain town of Victor. This dirt road is commonly used by people from the Pueblo and Canon City areas that work in mining in the Victor area or in Cripple Creek casinos. It is also popular with tent campers on nice weekends.

By chasing the sun or shade climbing can be comfortable year round; however, the peak Summer months can be on the hot side. It has sunny Winter days. Late Fall and early Spring are prime seasons.

There is a large amount of rock, but unfortunately most of it is crumbly and broken up. The scattered pockets of solid rock have yielded many easily accessed, fun routes. There is also a handful of longer and multi-pitch routes available.

If 5.10 is a warm-up for you, then head to Shelf, but if you're looking for fun routes from 5.7 to 5.11, roadside access, and a much shorter drive from Colorado Springs, then you might find Phantom to your liking.

There is a nice public bathroom (pit toilet) just past the Vatican area approximately 3.0 miles from the end of the pavement.

An inexpensive mini-guide for the area can be purchased online at

As of early Spring 2016, Phantom Canyon contains approximately 60 bolted sport routes. Only the first half of those (as driving up the canyon) have been documented here in Mountain Project. The remaining routes, i.e. those past the public bathroom, will be documented at a later time. In the interim, route info on all Phantom Canyon sport routes can be found in the above mentioned mini-guide available at

There are also three 2014 vintage trad routes from another Mountain Project posting that will be investigated and incorporated into this posting as appropriate.

Getting There

From Colorado Springs, head south on CO 115 to the tiny town of Penrose. Turn right on US Hwy 50. About halfway from Penrose to Canon City, there will be a lone stop light on US Hwy 50. Turn right at this light, and you'll be on Phantom Canyon Road/CO 67.

Head north on CO 67 towards the foothills. When the pavement ends, you'll be at the mouth of Phantom Canyon and very near the beginning of the mostly roadside crags.

Per John Acker: it appears the GPS map is not correct by 2+ miles. Be cognizant of that until we can adjust the GPS site. Thanks!

Photos [Hide ALL Photos]

Johnson's Spire.
[Hide Photo] Johnson's Spire.
Tall Green Wall.
[Hide Photo] Tall Green Wall.
Great crag! Made for a great day!
[Hide Photo] Great crag! Made for a great day!

Comments [Hide ALL Comments]

Daniel H. Bryant
Colorado Springs, CO
[Hide Comment] I asked about Phantom Canyon a few years ago, this is the response I got:

forum post from 2013 Oct 3, 2016
Travis Provin
Boulder CO
[Hide Comment] Is that still the general consensus of this area? I'm looking for a Shelf Road alternative for winter sport climbing and camping but don't want to be dodging falling rock all day.... Oct 3, 2016
Daniel H. Bryant
Colorado Springs, CO
[Hide Comment] @Travis
Tanner Dome Oct 3, 2016
[Hide Comment] Tanner Dome looks cool, and I intend to go check that out as well. *However*, don't write off Phantom Canyon just based on others complaints. I've not had a ton of falling rock on the tall, green wall and virtually none on Phantom Menace. Tanner is closed from April to August (maybe not such a bad thing anyway as it gets hot).

The grades are soft, but there are some fun climbs in the canyon. Aug 13, 2017
[Hide Comment] We took a trip to the canyon today just to climb on some new rock...well worth it. Did two routes on the Vatican Wall, and both felt solid and provided much fun in the sun. Our little ones played on the "beach" below by the creek, and only a small amount of cars drove by on the road making it feel more remote. If the weather would have held, we would have done two more climbs on the same wall. The canyon is beautiful to Victor and a fun drive anyways. We did find one loose block on one route, but it was avoidable. Other than that, the rock seemed clean enough. The variety of moves/holds and the beauty of the area combined for a great climbing day. We will be back to explore some more. Mar 24, 2019