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Gilman Canyon

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Gilman Canyon Crags 
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Gilman Canyon Rock Climbing 

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Elevation: 8,584'
Location: 39.5077, -106.3782 View Map  Incorrect?
Page Views: 12,432
Administrators: Leo Paik, John McNamee, Frances Fierst, Monty, Monomaniac, Kristine Hoffman (sitewide)
Submitted By: Richard M. Wright on Mar 15, 2002
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Gilman Canyon has always left me a bit under-whelmed as a climbing destination, however, set at the foot of the Holy Cross Wilderness as it is, Gilman is worth an exploratory trip now and then. The crags are just off the RR tracks, on the right, with most of the approach entailing a hike along the tracks. The stone is a highly featured black colored granite that produces edge and pocket climbing on largely vertical walls. Most routes are between 40 and 80 ft in length, West facing, but low in the canyon. The individual crags hold only a few routes each but they are scattered along-side the tracks for half a mile. Most approaches from the tracks are under one minute in duration, although some crags higher up the canyon have been developed. Route development has followed a more or less reluctant acceptance of bolting and as a result many of the lines will use trad gear, pins, and bolts as needed. Many of the lines are pure trad, so don't forget to bring a rack with wires and a full set of camming units. This is an alpine setting and climbing won't really take off until the middle of April, and even then it can be chancy or cold. Mid-summer of course is a good time. For simplicity, numbering begins close to the parking and follows the right fork in the tracks. An additional crag sitting left of the second set of tracks has been climbed.

Getting There 

Gilman Canyon is about 20 minutes West and South of Vail and is most commonly approached from I-70, making it a 2 hour drive from Denver. West of Vail, take exit number 171 for Minturn and pick up US 24 running South to Leadville. About five miles South of Minturn you will come to the spectacular Redcliff bridge. Immeditely South of the bridge is a turn off that will take you down to the railroad tracks, Gilman Canyon, and the Eagle River.

Park along the road that goes into Red Cliff. Do not park at the water treatment center.

Climbing Season

For the Eagle/Vail/Minturn/Red Cliff area.

Weather station 8.7 miles from here

16 Total Climbing Routes

['4 Stars',1],['3 Stars',5],['2 Stars',4],['1 Star',6],['Bomb',0]

Classic Climbing Routes in Gilman Canyon

Mountain Project's determination of the classic, most popular, highest rated climbing routes for Gilman Canyon:
Ooo-la-la   5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a     Sport, 1 pitch, 75'   Napoleon Wall
I'm Just A Lump Of Coal But...   5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a     Sport, 1 pitch, 60'   Napoleon Wall
Don't Forget Your Friends   5.10b 6a+ 19 VII- 19 E2 5b     Sport, 1 pitch, 75'   Napoleon Wall
Crack of ONO   5.10c 6b 20 VII 20 E2 5b     Trad, 1 pitch, 80'   Gilman Canyon Crags
Browse More Rock Climbing Classics in Gilman Canyon

Featured Route For Gilman Canyon
Rock Climbing Photo: Crack of Ono.

Crack of ONO 5.10c 6b 20 VII 20 E2 5b  Colorado : Eagle/Vail/Minturn/Red Clif... : ... : Gilman Canyon Crags
This is a beautiful, 80 foot dihedral/corner crack. It is great, clean hands to fingers in the corner. The name is from locals who told us about it. It is a great climb with great protection....[more]   Browse More Classics in Colorado

Photos of Gilman Canyon Slideshow Add Photo
Rock Climbing Photo: Liz on top!
Liz on top!
Rock Climbing Photo: Sean pulling a roof.
Sean pulling a roof.

Comments on Gilman Canyon Add Comment
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Comments displayed oldest to newestSkip Ahead to the Most Recent Dated Dec 29, 2016
By Hill
May 8, 2002
There use to be a photo copied guide available at the one and only decent climbing shop in Vail (the name of which escapes me). They charged two bucks for it but it's worth it. There are really a lot of routes in this canyon and some of them are pretty good. The Checkerboard wall is my favorite. It's located about 10 minutes of walking down the tracks and is the second west facing crag as the tracks turn north. There are about 6 bolted sport routes, all of which are fairly long, and a few of which are pretty moderate in difficuty. Further down the tracks, as they turn west again, there are some good topropes with bolted anchors, but no bolts on route. If you are in the area and jonzing for some climbing it's worth checking out. It beats playing golf with the snobs in Vail
By Anonymous Coward
Jul 25, 2002
I think the name is The Bag and Pack Shop, and the copy of the map is free now.
By Tony
Sep 2, 2003
Mountain Quest Sports in Edwards can help you out with info about Gilman and other local climbing.
By Legs Magillicutty
From: Durango
May 30, 2006
It's been a while since the last posts regarding the map and/or guide. Is it still available? We decided to end our day climbing in Gilman yesterday. As underwhelming as it may appear, I thought the quality of the rock was very interesting. It's not like anything I've climbed in the Front Range. Some of the crags resembled Clear Creek while other formations seemed like frictiony volcanic rock. Is it all granite down there? The rock above the canyon on the road appeared to be limestone but the rock in the canyon did not strike me as such.
By Rob Dillon
Jun 29, 2006
The rock down in the canyon is ancient Precambrian schist and gneiss, a swirly mess of stuff that climbers often refer to generically as 'granite'.

The cliffs above the road in the vicinity of the bridge are made of quartzite; above these are limestone, shale, and a whole menagerie of sedimentary choss.

Gilman was the subject of one of those hyperbolic 'check out my rad new crag' articles from Rock & Ice in 1993: "A trip to Gilman is akin to stumbling on a mini Gunks in the Wiessner era....With its unlimited climbing potential and secluded beauty, Vail rock just might be the high-country gem for you!"

Well, it's 13 years later and comparisons to the Gunks have tapered off. The consensus seems to have settled at something like 'worth a visit...if you don't have to drive too far.'

None of this will matter if and when the giant trophy-home project planned for the Gilman townsite comes off. If the Vail Valley has unlimited potential for anything, it's empty 6,000 sf 'homes' for sale. Perhaps, if we grin and shuffle nicely enough, us downvalley trash will still be permitted to climb beneath the elk-antler bedsteads and Navajo blanket couches of Gilman's absentee owners and their Western fantasy mansions. We can only hope.
By Princess Mia
From: Vail
Jul 17, 2006
All climbs in Gilman are on private property, including the access road. Tread gently and practice LNT! Area could close to climbers in the future.
On a side note, The Town of Red Cliff has the best little mountain restaurant in Colorado. Mango's is well worth a visit.
By Legs Magillicutty
From: Durango
Sep 22, 2006
Just out of curiosity, who owns it?

I think the Minturn Country Club is the best place for food, especially when they do their cheap date night. . .holy moly. . .mouth is watering.
By meghan c.
From: el paso, tx
Jun 24, 2007
No written guide is currently available for this area at either Bag and Pack shop. The approach crosses private property, such a publication would encourage trespassing and jeopardize access for us all.
By Kirk Miller
From: Golden, CO
Jun 24, 2007
I first stumbled onto the crags and climbed in this canyon when I was living in Minturn and teaching school in Red Cliff and Vail in 1986 and 1987. Along with anyone I could recruit from the few local climbers at the time, I was able to get Noel Childs to help me clean and develop a handful of trad climbs that ranged from 5.9 to 5.11 and quite a few cool, harder top rope lines. I don't know if every route we did was an FA, but based on the necessity to clean loose rock and flakes on the obvious natural lines we guessed we might have got there first.
By Dan Bogardus
Aug 27, 2009
The Bag & Pack does not have the photocopied guide anymore, but the employees can help steer you in the right direction- just stop in or call and ask.
By victoria mata-malmgren
Oct 15, 2009
2 days ago I attempted to hike into Gilman Canyon via the usual approach (noted @ this site) and found it to be off limits. The city of Redcliff is upgrading their sewer system and has signs prohibiting the usual parking and hiking for Gilman. Also parking above, Frontage Road shoulder, is off limits. A person could find their way into the canyon and climb, but it would require a longer approach (maybe from the Kluttergarden parking area). Also hiking in on the right side of the tracks might be difficult to access because of the construction, etc.
City of Redcliff stated that the usual approach and parking will be available next summer.
Good luck!
By coop Best
From: Glenwood Springs, CO
Sep 23, 2010
The new wastewater treatment plant is proposed to start up soon and construction to end in the next few months. If you have one of the paper guides or the old R&I issue, please contact me as I would like a copy. Thanks.
By Princess Mia
From: Vail
Jun 1, 2012
The wastewater treatment plant is finished, but it is illegal to park at the pullout, and the sheriff does do a drive by every day. One can park along the road in a few places, but be aware of rockfall from above. The best parking is at the Klettergarden.

Also, the railroad tracks and the crags close to the tracks are owned by the railroad (go figure), and the crags further uphill from the tracks are owned by Ginn. It is all private property, but access has not been a problem, yet!!!!!
By Chris Perkins
From: Buena Vista, Colorado
Aug 16, 2014
Bag and Pack has been closed a few years now. I was trying to figure out if the railroad was abandoned or not through the rails to trails conservancy but was unable to find out for sure.
If anyone would like to help....
I sent an email to Eagle Valley Land Trust to see if they would be willing to look into this project. Who would like to see a path from Minturn to Leadville?
By Alex Palombitch
From: Bozeman, MT
Jul 20, 2015
Hey, does anyone happen to have a copy of the guide avaliable at the Bag and Pack shop? I've been exploring the climbing of Avon area for the last few months and would love to see what I've missed.
If anyone could be so kind to send me a copy, I will make it worth your while. Thanks, guys.
By Chris Buchholz
Mar 17, 2016
Alex, I have a copy of that photocopied guidebook. I live in the area if you want a copy of it. I check here fairly frequently. Otherwise email
By Tom Willard
From: Avon, CO
Jun 1, 2016
I'd love a copy of the hand drawn guide to Gilman if anyone has one to share? Thanks. Also have the Wolcott guide if a copy of that is still needed!
By Rob Dillon
Dec 29, 2016
Solid background piece on Gilman:

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