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Canon City

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Canon City Rock Climbing 

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Location: 38.4471, -105.216 View Map  Incorrect?
Page Views: 491,635
Administrators: Leo Paik, John McNamee, Frances Fierst, Monty, Monomaniac, Kristine Hoffman (sitewide)
Submitted By: John McNamee on Feb 26, 2006


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Cañon City, is located at the mouth of the Royal Gorge in the foothills of the Rockies, 100 miles from Denver, 45 miles southwest of Colorado Springs, and 35 miles west of Pueblo. The Arkansas River extends the entire 60-mile length of Fremont County and flows through the City of Canon City. The Canon City metropolitan area has a total population in excess of 30,000.

Sheltered in a beautiful valley, Cañon City, elev. 5,343 feet, features a mild and hospitable climate year round. Canon City is said to be in the banana belt of Colorado, seeing very few days of extreme weather each year. The warm days are cooled by temperate evenings. Snowfall is usually light and quickly melts under the warm Colorado sunshine that prevails over 325 days a year. Humidity remains comfortably low throughout the year. "Indian Summer" reaches long into the fall, with warm, sunny days and cool, pleasant nighttime temperatures.

With all this going for it, you can understand why Shelf Road is one of the most popular Winter, Fall and Spring sport climbing destinations not only in Colorado but the country.

Also, one of the main sources of economy for the town is the penitentiary systems here. Beware of picking up hitchhikers!

The Royal Gorge has interesting potential (unclear access issues) with rock walls to 1000 feet and ice drips that drop to the river. At one point, there was a 1000 foot bolted 5.10 created for a specific competition.

Getting There 

Cañon City is located on US 50 west of Pueblo, Colorado, approximately 50 miles from Pueblo, 45 miles from Colorado Springs (1h) and 115 miles from Denver (2h).

Map of Cañon City.


If you are climbing at Shelf Road, there is plenty of camping available. However it can get pretty cold during the winter. If you want a real bed to sleep in check out these options:

Budget Host Royal Gorge Inn
217 N. Raynolds Ave.
Cañon City, CO 81212

Located on Rt. 50 by Burger King, right at the turnoff to Shelf Road. It's a nice, clean motel, with refrigerators in the rooms, HBO on TV, and an indoor pool, hot tub, and sauna. In March, rates were $65/night for a room with 2 queen beds ($60 for AAA members).

There are lots of other motels in town (Super 8, Best Western, etc.)

You can buy beer and wine at Gateway Liquors located at, 3055 E US Highway 50 #A. They are situated across from Wal-Mart, about 2 blocks from the Budget Host Motel.

Breakfast places:
Try the Waffle Wagon, a local place that's only open for breakfast and lunch. They are at 1310 Royal Gorge Blvd (US 50). Also the Bufmack Cafe, at 325 Main Street. Both places are decent, local breakfast places with good prices for egg, pancake, and waffle breakfasts. Just the sort of thing to stock up on before heading to Shelf Road and a day of pulling pockets!

Dinner places:

Try the Wild West Steak House, at 3245 E US 50. They have good beer on tap, and free salted peanuts in the shell in a metal bucket; you throw the shells on the floor. Good for steak, prime rib, ribs, shrimp dishes. Has a salad bar.

Pizza Madness has good pizza, but it is limited for beer. Domino's Pizza is always an option as well.

There are good Mexican (El Caporal) and Italian (Merlino's Belvedere) restaurants in town. See the new Shelf Road guidebook for info.

Ice Cream:

There is still a Baskin Robbins on US 50.


You can try NOAA for info.

Climbing Season

Weather station 1.9 miles from here

1,024 Total Climbing Routes

['4 Stars',55],['3 Stars',327],['2 Stars',491],['1 Star',144],['Bomb',5]

Classic Climbing Routes in Canon City

Mountain Project's determination of the classic, most popular, highest rated climbing routes for Canon City:
Ga-stoned Again   5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a     Sport, 1 pitch, 80'   Shelf Road : The Gym   5.10- 6a 18 VI+ 18 E1 5a     Sport, 1 pitch, 50'   Shelf Road : The Bank
Muscle Beach   5.11a 6c 22 VII+ 22 E3 5c     Sport, 1 pitch, 80'   Shelf Road : Cactus Cliff
Enchanted Porkfist   5.11a 6c 22 VII+ 22 E3 5c     Sport, 1 pitch   Shelf Road : The Dark Side
Illegal Smile   5.11b 6c 23 VIII- 23 E3 5c     Sport, 1 pitch, 80'   Shelf Road : Cactus Cliff
Lime Street   5.11b 6c 23 VIII- 23 E3 5c     Sport, 1 pitch   Shelf Road : The Bank
Silverado   5.11b 6c 23 VIII- 23 E3 5c     Sport, 1 pitch   Sand Gulch : Contest Wall
The Raw and the Roasted   5.11 6c+ 23 VIII- 23 E4 5c     Sport, 1 pitch   Shelf Road : The Gym
Back To The Future   5.11b/c 6c+ 23 VIII- 24 E4 6a     Sport, 1 pitch   Shelf Road : The Bank
No Passion for Fashion   5.11b/c 6c+ 23 VIII- 24 E4 6a     Sport, 1 pitch   The Gallery : Menses Prow
Unusual Weather   5.11c 6c+ 24 VIII- 24 E4 6a     Sport, 1 pitch   Shelf Road : The Bank
Gravitations   5.11d 7a 24 VIII 25 E5 6a     Sport, 1 pitch, 70'   Shelf Road : Cactus Cliff
Lats Don't Have Feelings   5.11d 7a 24 VIII 25 E5 6a     Sport, 1 pitch, 75'   Shelf Road : Cactus Cliff
Freeform   5.12a 7a+ 25 VIII+ 25 E5 6a     Sport, 1 pitch   Sand Gulch : Free Form Wall
Hot Beach   5.12a 7a+ 25 VIII+ 25 E5 6a     Sport, 1 pitch, 80'   Shelf Road : Cactus Cliff
The Gym Arete   5.12a 7a+ 25 VIII+ 25 E5 6a     Sport, 1 pitch   Shelf Road : The Gym
Heavy Weather   5.12a/b 7b 26 VIII+ 26 E5 6a     Sport, 1 pitch   Shelf Road : The Bank
The Hurricane   5.12b 7b 26 VIII+ 26 E5 6b     Sport, 1 pitch, 80'   Shelf Road : Spiney Ridge
Tits Up   5.12b 7b 26 VIII+ 26 E5 6b     Sport, 1 pitch, 80'   Shelf Road : Cactus Cliff
The Ejection Seat   5.12b/c 7b+ 27 IX- 27 E6 6b     Sport, 1 pitch   Shelf Road : The Gym
Browse More Rock Climbing Classics in Canon City

Featured Route For Canon City
Rock Climbing Photo: The Pumping Wall:  Purple: Sorority Girls. Green: ...

The Skinwalker 5.13b 8a 29 IX+ 30 E7 6c  Colorado : Shelf Road : University Wall
The crag's main attraction, The Skinwalker is easily one of the top desperates at Shelf, offering that rare combination of bullet stone and a consistently overhanging angle. While few Shelf .13s offer a legitimate pump, success on this line depends on maintaining strength and poise as you overcome consecutive boulder problems split by pumpy rests. Begin at a left-facing corner 10' below a 2'-deep roof. Climb up the corner and make powerful moves over the roof to a pumpy stance on the slab. W...[more]   Browse More Classics in Colorado

Comments on Canon City Add Comment
Show which comments
Comments displayed oldest to newestSkip Ahead to the Most Recent Dated Dec 21, 2015
By diane offineer
Aug 21, 2006
After living here five years, finally got to go climbing on the Contest Wall. Thank you Mike and Noah for letting a 48 year old grandma see she still has rock in her blood. Try Big Daddys on 50 for breakfast and Good Thyme Cafe on main and 5th, for great vegan. Visit me at Celtic Chrysalis (5th and Macon) if you're around. I gotta go out there again soon. That last climb I whiffed on is haunting me. lol
By GeoffElson Elson
Apr 12, 2007
Does anyone know of any bouldering spots near Canon City?
By Randy Carmichael
From: Boulder, CO
Nov 21, 2007
Does anyone know the name of the small crag along the Arkansas River 2.5 miles West of Cotopaxi? There are several bolted climbs on the crag.
By Adam Caimi
Oct 23, 2008
I don't know if that place west of Cotopaxi has a name. We always call it "the place near Cotopaxi". I believe these routes were put up by the rafting outfitter nearby called Rock and Row. They offer climbing/rafting trips and this little area is their climbing place.
I believe there are 4-5 routes from the 5.9 to 5.10+ range. Literally right off US Hwy 50, this is a convenient place to do some quick climbs.
By Adam Caimi
Oct 23, 2008
Bouldering near Canon...There are the boulders at Bootlegger, west up US Hwy 50. They are listed here under "Arkansas River Boulders".
Also, heading out to Shelf, before the road crosses 4-Mile Creek, you'll see a little turn out on the left. Park here and walk across the road and up a little hill, there is a nice sized boulder near the top with a few good problems on it.
By Fred Knapp
Jan 6, 2011
Shelf Road Rock: A Complete Climbing Reference is now available as a high-res printable eBook for only $12.95.
By FlyinRyan
Sep 20, 2011
Rock Climbing Photo: Maddox lost 9/19/2011 at The Bank campsites.
Maddox lost 9/19/2011 at The Bank campsites.

LOST DOG. Please help me find Maddox. He was last seen with a red and blue sweater on in the Bank campsites. Please, if you have any information, call either Taryn 478-501-7044 or Ryan 720-287-9626.
By beth bennett
From: boulder
Oct 4, 2013
The campgrounds are "officially" closed though not locked; there were quite a few campers there yesterday and full access to the cliffs.
By Jason Parks
From: Colorado Springs, CO
Oct 4, 2013
28 Sept 2013: May have dropped my wedding ring (white gold with 5 sapphires) and another ring (titanium with silver inlay) out the Trail to Menses Prow. Any booty finders, please contact me so I can get out of the doghouse.
Oct 5, 2013
FOUND: beautiful pitbull pup, just north of the Bank Campground. Pls call to identify / if you have any information. 917.312.4342.
Rock Climbing Photo: Found: pitbull pup.
Found: pitbull pup.
By Casey Thompson
Dec 21, 2015
Hello, I am very new to rock climbing and am trying to find some good beginner bouldering areas around Canon City/Florence/Penrose area. If anyone could give me some info on this I would really appreciate it! Thanks for your time.

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