REI Community
Buena Vista

Select Area...
Almost A Tunnel 
American Wall 
Below The Arch Crag 
Billy's Buttress 
Bob's Rock 
Brown's Canyon National Monument  
Bullet Review Rock 
Cascade Boulders 
Castle Rock Gulch 
Cat's Claw Crag (C3) 
Chalk Creek Boulder aka Boulder of Sorrow 
Chief's Head 
Chocolate Tower 
Christmas Crag 
Davis Face 
Downtown Boulders 
Elephant Rock 
Granite Block, The 
Holy Water Wall 
Leaning Wall, The 
Loaf of Bread & Bun (in the Land of Crank) 
Milt Wall, The 
Nathrop Blocks 
Pleasure Dome 
Poncho's Vista 
Pump Station 
River Chamber, The 
Rock Pile, The 
Roost, The 
S Curve Boulders 
Sleeping Indian 
South Split Rock 
Split Rock 
There is Spice to Life Tower. 
Tool Wall / Tool Tower 
Transmitter Tower 
Turbo Big Tower 
Turtle Rocks 
Turtle Rocks Bouldering Area 
Rest Day:
Nearby Mountain Bike Rides

Lincoln Creek Road to Ruby Ghost Town
A classic ride with big mountain views, the turn around is near a ghost town just above tree line. Near Aspen, Colorado
Doctor Park #424
A rowdy and ever-changing trail. Near Crested Butte, Colorado
FS 839 Alpine Tunnel 4x4 Road
A historic rail road grade dirt road that's an easy climb. Near Gunnison, Colorado
Sugarloaf Lollipop
A lung-busting climb to a stellar descent. Near Leadville North, Colorado
Canyon Creek Loop
A grueling road climb up to tree line then a big hike-a-bike followed by tasteful descending. Near Whitepine, Colorado
Monarch Crest to Agate Creek Loop
A long dirt road climb to access the classic Monarch Crest Trail and a great technical descent. Near Salida, Colorado
From MP's sister site:

Buena Vista Rock Climbing 

Photos:  Recent | Best | Popular
Location: 38.8388, -106.1329 View Map  Incorrect?
Page Views: 198,198
Administrators: Leo Paik, John McNamee, Frances Fierst, Monty, Monomaniac, Kristine Hoffman (sitewide)
Submitted By: crossad on Jul 3, 2002  with updates from Eric Simons 1
Sorry, weather is currently unavailable.
You & This Area
Best climbs for YOU in this area
Your opinion of this PAGE:    [6 people like this page.]
Buena Vista visible in the valley below.


The Buena Vista (locally pronounced, 'Bew-na Vista') area contains a number of different crags ranging from 40 to 500 feet. With the exception of Holy Water, most of the climbs are in the low, semi-arid mountains on the East side of the Arkansas River Valley. The views of the 14,000' Sawatch Range are phenomenal on just about every route in the valley. The valley has typical Colorado mountain weather in the summer. You will experience the typical afternoon thunderstorms that roll off the high peaks and across the valley. You can often look up and down the valley and spot isolated thunderstorms and climb around them. If a storm is moving across the northern valley, head for Rainbow Rock, if you get a southern or central valley storm, head up north to the Bob's Rock area. Don't make this storm dodging a standard practice, but it is often be pouring at Bob's Rock and dry at Rainbow Rock.

There is fairly solid rock throughout the valley, especially at the developed crags. Holy Water sports some fine alpine granite up Cottonwood Pass road west of town. The area contains 8-10 developed cliffs, including Bob's Rock, The tunnels area, Pumpstation, Split Rock, Elephant Rock, Davis Face, Holy Water, Turtle Rock, and Rainbow Rock. With the exception of Davis Face, all of these crags top out at about 50-100 feet. Davis Face, a large, west-facing cliff about 10 miles from town, stands at about 400-500 feet. Also, some great bouldering is found on the west side of Rainbow Rock. Routes range from 5.5 to 5.12. The majority of the routes in the valley are bolted face routes, while some good traditional routes do exist. Although many of the routes in the valley are bolted, one would be wise to carry some traditional gear to supplement. A few topropes are available at Bob's Rock and Rainbow Rock.

Camping abounds to the northeast of town near Turtle Rock and Split Rock and is free. There is also camping in the National Forest west of town in the Collegiate Peaks Wilderness. The guidebook is available at The Trailhead outdoor shop on the north end of town, and contains local beta for many of the climbs in the valley. You can get just about anything you need in Buena Vista, and if not there's a Walmart in Salida, about 20 miles south of Buena Vista. Kay's and Bongo Billy's coffee are great places to grab a bite and relax after a day on the rocks. Another treat is the Mt. Princeton Hot Springs off of Mt. Princeton Rd. a few miles south of town. Showers can be had near the public river put-in immediately east of downtown BV. In the summer, the valley becomes a whitewater mecca. There are many fine outfitters in town if you want to spend some time in the river.

Ice climbing can be found here.

Getting There 

Buena Vista is located in the Arkansas River Valley about 3 hours from Denver and about 2 hours from Colorado Springs.

From Denver: Take US Hwy. 285 for 3 hours west from C-470 past Fairplay to Antero Junction where US Hwy. 285 and US Hwy 24 will join. Continue on what is now US Hwy 285/24 until your reach Johnson Village. Proceed to the T-Stop and turn right onto US Hwy 24. Take US 24 about 2 miles into BV.

From Colorado Springs: Take US Hwy 24 (Cimmarron) west out of downtown. Stay on US 24 until you reach Antero Junction, where US Hwy 285 and US Hwy 24 join. Turn left on what is now US 285/24 and take it over Trout Creek Pass to Johnson Village. Just after Johnson Village turn right and follow 2 miles to Buena Vista.


Eds. There is a newer guidebook Arkansas Valley Climbs by Tom Perkins for $16.95.!/groups/1458799...

Climbing Stores 

Eds. The Trailhead, 707 Hwy 24 N, Buena Vista, 719.395.8001.


If you are coming from the Leadville side & need coffee, bakery goods, or wireless internet, the Provin' Grounds Coffee Shop (508 Main St.) may have what you need.


Buena Vista Climbers - Yahoo Group.

The Arkansas Valley Climber's Coalition (AVCC) is the local climbing advocacy group and is an affiliate of The Access Fund”. For those on Facebook:

Climbing Season

Weather station 0.4 miles from here

244 Total Climbing Routes

['4 Stars',15],['3 Stars',84],['2 Stars',101],['1 Star',35],['Bomb',0]

Classic Climbing Routes in Buena Vista

Mountain Project's determination of the classic, most popular, highest rated climbing routes for Buena Vista:
Chained Heat   V6 7A     Boulder, 20'   Nathrop Blocks : The Buena Boulder
Top Rope Slab   5.6 4c 14 V 12 S 4b     TR, 1 pitch   Bob's Rock
The Orange Corner   5.7 5a 15 V+ 13 MVS 4b     Trad, 1 pitch, 75'   The Leaning Wall
Chicken Runner   5.7 5a 15 V+ 13 MVS 4b     Sport, TR, 1 pitch, 70'   Chocolate Tower
Slingin' the Chicken   5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a     Sport, 1 pitch, 70'   Chocolate Tower
I Can Hear You Now!   5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a     Sport, 1 pitch, 60'   Transmitter Tower
D3    5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a     Trad, 12 pitches, 700'   Davis Face
Carter Classic   5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a     Trad, 5 pitches, 500'   Davis Face
Flakes   5.10a 6a 18 VI+ 18 E1 5a     Trad, 1 pitch, 70'   Bob's Rock
D4   5.10a 6a 18 VI+ 18 E1 5a     Sport, 6 pitches, 500'   Davis Face
You Call Yourself a Thief?   5.10a 6a 18 VI+ 18 E1 5a     Trad, Sport, 1 pitch   Turtle Rocks
Bob's Crack   5.10a 6a 18 VI+ 18 E1 5a     Trad, 1 pitch, 70'   Bob's Rock
Depends   5.10a 6a 18 VI+ 18 E1 5a     Sport, 1 pitch, 90'   Bob's Rock
That 5.10a   5.10a 6a 18 VI+ 18 E1 5a     Sport, 1 pitch   Almost A Tunnel
Hot Foot and High Step   5.10a/b 6a+ 19 VI+ 19 E2 5b     Sport, 1 pitch   Bob's Rock
Analog or Digital   5.10b/c 6b 20 VII 20 E2 5b     Sport, 1 pitch, 65'   Transmitter Tower
Coax Trax   5.10c 6b 20 VII 20 E2 5b     Sport, 1 pitch, 75'   Transmitter Tower
True Grit   5.10c 6b 20 VII 20 E2 5b     Sport, 1 pitch, 80'   The Roost
Ego Buster   5.11a 6c 22 VII+ 22 E3 5c     Trad, Sport, 1 pitch, 70'   Bob's Rock
Top Dawg   5.12b/c 7b+ 27 IX- 27 E6 6b     Sport, 1 pitch, 70'   Bob's Rock
Browse More Rock Climbing Classics in Buena Vista

Featured Route For Buena Vista
Rock Climbing Photo: Crack climbing at Split Rock. The .12a bolted blac...

Unknown 5.10a 6a 18 VI+ 18 E1 5a  Colorado : Buena Vista : Split Rock
This is probably the best trad line on Split Rock. It ascends the obvious, left-leaning crack/ramp facing the road. The crux is moving up and right from the end of the crack to the 2 bolt anchor. If anyone knows the name or FA info, please let me know....[more]   Browse More Classics in Colorado

Photos of Buena Vista Slideshow Add Photo
Rock Climbing Photo: BH on FA of Bob's Ramp circa 1999, Kiley's Boulder...
BH on FA of Bob's Ramp circa 1999, Kiley's Boulder...
Rock Climbing Photo: The view from my dad's deck in BV.
The view from my dad's deck in BV.
Rock Climbing Photo: Small bouldering area near BV.
Small bouldering area near BV.
Rock Climbing Photo: "Southpaw", 5.11.
"Southpaw", 5.11.
Rock Climbing Photo: Big granite boulders.
Big granite boulders.
Rock Climbing Photo: Arkansas River bouldering.
Arkansas River bouldering.
Rock Climbing Photo: Rarely formed 2 pitch WI-5 near Agnes Vaille Falls...
BETA PHOTO: Rarely formed 2 pitch WI-5 near Agnes Vaille Falls...
Rock Climbing Photo: Holy Water adopt-a-crag, September 12, 2015
Holy Water adopt-a-crag, September 12, 2015
Rock Climbing Photo: Browns Creek Falls - WI2.
Browns Creek Falls - WI2.
Rock Climbing Photo: Bouldering north of BV.
Bouldering north of BV.
Rock Climbing Photo: The campus problem.
The campus problem.
Rock Climbing Photo: V2, right next to the barbwire fence.
V2, right next to the barbwire fence.
Rock Climbing Photo: Agnes Vaille Falls (WI-3) 1-1-08
BETA PHOTO: Agnes Vaille Falls (WI-3) 1-1-08
Rock Climbing Photo: Two Crags in the Land of Crank.
BETA PHOTO: Two Crags in the Land of Crank.
Rock Climbing Photo: The late Tim Loften leading the obvious 5.8 dihedr...
The late Tim Loften leading the obvious 5.8 dihedr...
Rock Climbing Photo: Sweet view while bouldering.
Sweet view while bouldering.
Rock Climbing Photo: Holy Water Crag Adopt-a-crag, September 12, 2015.
Holy Water Crag Adopt-a-crag, September 12, 2015.
Rock Climbing Photo: Discovering Kiley's Boulder, on the way to the ref...
Discovering Kiley's Boulder, on the way to the ref...
Rock Climbing Photo: The valley!
The valley!
Rock Climbing Photo: Arkansas River.
Arkansas River.

Comments on Buena Vista Add Comment
Show which comments
Comments displayed oldest to newestSkip Ahead to the Most Recent Dated Apr 23, 2017
By Anonymous Coward
Jul 22, 2002
Hey, to whoever's "developing" these 30 ft sport routes. Thanks, asshole!!! Thanks for being so egotistical and short sighted. I just "bouldered" 5 of your so called "sport routes" last week. You're well on your way to grid bolting the amazing highball potential of the entire Arkansas River Valley.
By Anonymous Coward
Jul 29, 2002
You don't have to clip the freaking bolts, boulder to your heart's content, but let some others have fun without the risk.:-)
By Anonymous Coward
Sep 5, 2002
Well, I didn't see the grid of bolts, but there are a fair amount of bolts where I climbed. However, the routes would be hard if not impossible to protect otherwise. I climbed Bob's Rock and had a good time. There were other climbers there who were all very helpful with routes. Jethro and the gang were across the valley pushing boulders off of a cliff to watch them explode when they hit the ground. Also, there were a fair number of people doing target practice. Keep your head low! But not a bad little area if your in the neighborhood. Jamison.
By Keith Baker
Apr 13, 2005
Shameless plug re: an earlier post:

Give The Trailhead another chance. My wife and I bought the store mid-May of '04, and we've worked hard to beef up our climbing category. We added stock and books; re-introduced shoes; opened up communications with local climbers; hired climbers; and got out and reconned and climbed local routes ourselves (we moved in from the Springs when we bought the shop).

It takes a long time to turn a ship around. If you haven't been to The Trailhead lately, you haven't been. Give us another shot.

Climb on, Keith Baker
By Jeff Bevan
Feb 3, 2006
So many options exist that the above comments don't reflect on what really goes on here. Everything from semi-alpine Yo like granite buttresses to riverside crags that get "GRID" bolted, OMFG. You be the judge and come and have a good time. Even a little ice in the "off season" :).
By chad beckelhymer
From: Buena Vista
Apr 15, 2009
Someone needs to tell The Trailhead to sell better shoes and more chalk.
By slim
Apr 23, 2009
Quick question for the BV locals.... As you drive towards Trout Creek Pass on US 285 (I think that is the name of the pass, can't remember for sure), there is a road that drops down into a valley on the right. I think the road is called Castle Creek Road or something like that. There are a handful of granite formations, some of which have seens some development. The development is pretty random looking, varying from old looking pins, to new looking anchors, to new looking bolt ladders that abrubtly end....

Does anybody have any info/history on this area? There were a couple cool looking lines.
By Casey Bernal
From: Arvada, CO
Apr 23, 2009
Slim - Here is a question I dropped on Buena Vista Climbing's website
Re: Castle Rock Gulch climbing?
Does anyone know of the climbs here?

I have done a couple of them, but I am rather confused on what they are and the rules enforced here.

For example, we started up a nice face filled with golf balls, no nearby cracks, and bolting on lead. We ran into several chopped bolt holes. The climb was fantastic, but it was rather disappointing to see all the holes. I can't find any info on the crags anywhere (like The Trailhead for instance). If anyone knows anything about this area, please contact me. There are several routes in the area that are pretty fun, and the place has a lot of potential.
... and the response from "Brushman":
I have been climbing up there since 1987. The Castle Rock area has had limited and contentious attention in the past 20+ years. Most of the climbs on the South tower above the county road were put up in the mid '80s, during the Matt Beckelhymer/Jim Page era of 1/4 inch bolts and cold shuts. The others are probably Andy Brown projects from that same time. Many of these disappeared after they loosened or just got too old to trust. In recent years, the RMOC and several Front Range groups have been using the top rope anchors there, as well as some of the rocks and towers further north on the ridge for their commercial trips. This area, known as the "Wild Granites" used to have a page in The Trailhead guidebook, but it was taken out or lost in the late '80s. As I remember it, the page described several trad climbs and contained a plea for no bolting in the area. For years, this was honored, and it became a nice quiet place to go and get away from the crowds until the late '90s. At that time, several commercial ventures began using the area and developed several slabs with routes, anchors, and a guidebook that was kept to their company's stash. Over the next several years, bolts were put in and often chopped just as quickly, while traffic increased. Conflicts of interest between large groups and nesting raptors (notably falcons across the ravine from one of the slabs) continued, until 2004, when I went in with Alan Robinson of Friends of 4 Mile and Mike Sugaski from the Forest Service. It was determined at that time that the birds deserved a break (a la Boulder's Flatirons & Eldo), and the commercial venue that had been developed in the riparian area was questionable but would be allowed to remain. With a few exceptions, the bolting halted in the nesting area, and the climbers have stayed on the Southern and Western areas during nesting season (May-late July). While little has been done to firm up a policy so far, the commercial use continues in some areas, anchors keep coming and going, and the place could really use some of us to champion its protection and thoughtful development.
By Dustin Urban
May 6, 2009
Is the Castle Gulch climbing referred to here on the actual castles which you hit in the for mile or 2 of driving off US 285 or past them in the area E/SE of the double finned castle littered with granite crags and domes? There's some interesting rock back in there. Has that been explored much?
By Casey Bernal
From: Arvada, CO
May 7, 2009
The first castles you come to are really rotten. I think they are possibly part of a very old, volcanic fissure. There is also a band of obsidian near them - quite unique and interesting if you are a rock-licking geologist.

The domes and the castle further to the SSE are a very coarse crystalline granite, which is much more solid, and have some great features - golf balls, pimples, horns, and solid dinner plates. The area has been quite explored but not developed - and I get the impression that some want to keep it that way.

I don't think it will ever be a "destination area", but it definitely has some good climbing. Quiet, great views, solitude, adventurous and fun climbing.
By Doug Ranck
May 4, 2010
New climbing guide about climbs in the Buena Vista area called Buena Vista Climbs Recommended by the Locals. It is for sale at The Trailhead in Buena Vista for $8.00/$9.00. Don't be shy, give it a try. Climb hard and have fun.
By k2mantra seeling
From: Boulder,CO
May 20, 2010
Rainbow Rock bouldering area has been closed to the public:( such a shame....
By Alan Robertson
From: Denver, CO
Jun 1, 2010
Doug, on Saturday I asked at The Trailhead for a local climbing guide (I didn't have the exact title you mention), but the woman I asked didn't know of any. If you are a local, maybe you can make sure they re-stock the one you mention? I'll look again next time I'm in BV.
By Doug Ranck
Jun 3, 2010
Hi Alan, sorry you did not get a climbing guide. It is on a CD, so the sales lady might have thought that you wanted a book. They call me when they get low, so I then give them more, 4 at a time since they went so slow for a long while. If you get one here in awhile, it is up to date. I make changes and updates as they happen and burn new stock.
Later and don't forget to climb hard and have fun.
By Doug Ranck
Jun 5, 2010
Chris, yes there may be some climbs way up there. I know a few people who have hiked up to look at the rock and they said it wasn't worth the effort, but that may depend on what section of rock you plan to explore. There are a few climbs on the wall to the west of the road where Highway 285/24 goes through the notch. Happy exploring.
By Logan Myers
Sep 27, 2010
Hey Dustin, if you haven't been back there yet, there is significant climbing in the East Castle Rock Gulch/Cogan Spring area. I have been working on developing some incredible mountain bike trails in the area, and spoke with several climbers who were spending lots of time in there...I would be happy to show you around.
By Lee Jenkins
From: Tucson, Arizona
Oct 6, 2012
Whoever is stealing hangers! This is such a low act of climbers that are usually in a fellowship, fighting for our rights to bolt when we need to, and leave the rock alone when we don't. This is our freedom. Please don't steal from your friends.
By Leo Paik
From: Westminster, Colorado
Aug 4, 2013
I was curious if anyone has ventured out on the white granite along CR 344 to Cottonwood Lake? On a short hike and touch, it seemed more solid than it looked.

Rock Climbing Photo: White granite.
White granite.
By Cliff Mosser
From: Telluride, CO
Nov 2, 2013
This place is a hidden gem of some beautiful traditional adventure climbing. Doubles of #0.4-#4 should do it, but there are wide cracks for the bold. Most everything you can walk off, be prepared to rap if trees though.
By Lee Jenkins
From: Tucson, Arizona
Apr 19, 2014
More bolts chopped and hangers stolen! Please report any suspicious activities here and on my FB page
By George Bracksieck
Nov 10, 2014
On Apr. 24, 1977, Tim Loften and I did a climb on the lower Castles, closer to the highway, in the center of the valley. We climbed the most appealing line and called it Shake Shingles (5.6?), which hints at the rock quality. The rock is composed of the Early Oligocene Wall Mountain Tuff. We also did three routes on the limestone cliff just above the west side of the highway, about a mile up Trout Creek from the Castles. See the photo posted on this page.
By Amanda Ravensbergen
From: Gunnison, CO
Mar 3, 2017
What is the climb called to the right of Cartoon Watcher? The two ring anchor is more exposed.
Rock Climbing Photo: To the right of the "thin flake crux" me...
To the right of the "thin flake crux" mentioned in the photos of Cartoon Watcher.
By Lee Jenkins
From: Tucson, Arizona
Apr 23, 2017
The route to the right of Cartoon Watcher on Bobs is "Hot Foot and High Step."

Mountain Project

The Definitive Climbing Resource

MTB Project

Next Generation MTB Trail Maps

Powder Project

Backcountry Ski Maps & Secret Stashes
FREE Stickers · Gyms · RSS · School of Rock · Contact · About