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Rock Garden

Routes Sorted
L to R R to L Alpha
Big Brett the Baker's Buddy S 
Bottom Line, The S 
Buffalo Chips S 
Bust A Move S 
California Crack T 
Come A Time S 
Copacetic S 
Court Jester S 
Darla Does Buckwheat S 
Delusions of Grandeur S 
Fine Young Cannibals S 
Gun Control S 
Hanging Garden S 
I+CN'? S 
Jeremy S 
Jugalicious S 
Just Do It S 
Just Say No to Nancy S 
Ligneous Embracer S 
Ninos y Viejos S 
No Honor Amongst Theives 
Otto S 
Pumping Pockets S 
Reckoning, The S 
Rocky Mountain Oysters S 
Rude Mood S 
Shield of Achilles, The S 
Slinky + Escalator 
Super Crack 
Team Geritol S 
Terror, The S 
Wallrus S 
You're Busted S 
Unsorted Routes:

Rock Garden Rock Climbing 

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Page Views: 12,296
Administrators: Leo Paik, John McNamee, Frances Fierst, Monty, Monomaniac, Kristine Hoffman (sitewide)
Submitted By: Rog on Nov 7, 2001


70° | 42°

64° | 41°

61° | 36°

61° | 31°

59° | 31°
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Basically the same story as Penitente proper, but more remote and perhaps more beautiful. The hike over is fairly short (10 minutes?) and has great views. A perfect spot to escape any crowds that might be forming in the more well known areas.

Addendum: Eds. this area has been moved out from under Penitente Canyon to San Luis Valley, since it can be considered distinct.

Getting There 

Enter into Penitente Canyon & follow the main trail. Towards the end of the canyon, keep your eyes peeled for a trail on the right (on a small slab) marked by a wooden sign 'Rock Garden'. For the most part the trail is obvious. At the areas where it fades out keep your eyes peeled for cairns. The trail is a bit twisty, but a bit of patience will drop you into the middle of the Rock Garden area. Personally, I was drawn straight to 'Ligneous Embracer'.

Climbing Season

Weather station 1.5 miles from here

36 Total Climbing Routes

['4 Stars',4],['3 Stars',16],['2 Stars',11],['1 Star',5],['Bomb',0]

Classic Climbing Routes in Rock Garden

Mountain Project's determination of the classic, most popular, highest rated climbing routes for Rock Garden:
Otto   5.9+ 5c 17 VI 17 E1 5a     Sport, 1 pitch   
Ligneous Embracer   5.9+ 5c 17 VI 17 E1 5a     Sport, 1 pitch   
California Crack   5.10a 6a 18 VI+ 18 E1 5a     Trad, 1 pitch, 70'   
Jugalicious   5.10a/b 6a+ 19 VI+ 19 E2 5b     Sport, 1 pitch, 50'   
The Bottom Line   5.10b 6a+ 19 VII- 19 E2 5b     Sport, 1 pitch   
Hanging Garden   5.10c 6b 20 VII 20 E2 5b     Sport, 1 pitch, 50'   
Copacetic   5.11a/b 6c 23 VIII- 23 E3 5c     Sport, 1 pitch, 50'   
The Terror   5.11 6c+ 23 VIII- 23 E4 5c     Sport, 1 pitch, 45'   
The Reckoning   5.12a 7a+ 25 VIII+ 25 E5 6a     Sport, 1 pitch, 45'   
Rude Mood   5.12a 7a+ 25 VIII+ 25 E5 6a     Sport, 1 pitch   
Browse More Rock Climbing Classics in Rock Garden

Featured Route For Rock Garden
Rock Climbing Photo: High up on "Copacetic".

Copacetic 5.11a/b 6c 23 VIII- 23 E3 5c  Colorado : San Luis Valley : Rock Garden
Copacetic heads up a left-facing corner with huecos and fun stems. It is located on a piece of rock that is fairly far up-canyon in the Rock Garden - beginning on a ledge 25 feet above the trail....[more]   Browse More Classics in Colorado

Comments on Rock Garden Add Comment
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By Edward Jenner
Jan 11, 2002
The nearest and only climping shop in the San Luis Valley 12 miles from PENITENTE CANYON area is CASA DE MADERA SPORTS 660 Grande Ave. Del Norte, Co 81132. 719 657 2723 We provide many other services including locations of other top quallity areas that are little known both rock and ice. We also have updates on some new rotes.

Alex Colville
By Mike Anderson
From: Colorado Springs, CO
May 16, 2005
Does anyone know if it is OK to park in the pullout at the entrance to Rock Garden? It seems like one of the guidebook warns against it, but is that still the situation? There is a very well worn trail that indicates people have been parking there.

It's surprising more people don't climb here.
By Chris Cavallaro
May 16, 2005
I always park in the pullout. Just don't make a lot of noise etc.
By Jesse Morehouse
From: CO
Sep 21, 2008
Casa De Madera isn't really a climbing shop anymore. Parking at the entrance is not a problem but is fairly limited.
By M. Moore
From: Albuqeurque, NM
Oct 6, 2008
I highly recommend the bouldering in the area. The highest concentration of problems I found are straight west of the entrance pulloff. If you walk up the hill towards the rock to the right and follow the road (don't go into the canyon itself), you will start to find north-facing boulders. There is everything from V0 to V10+, great area...check it out!
By sean31
Oct 24, 2008
I was wondering if anyone has any information about the rock garden being closed between October 15 and November 15. In the guidebook it says that the ranch entrance is closed during this time, but given that the canyon seems to be privately owned I would hate to get run off after making the trip from Salida.

By sean31
Oct 25, 2008
The closure is mentioned in the "environmental and ethical issues" section of the guide. It seems that the closure is not for the canyon per se, but for the parking area by the Spearman Ranch. However, I just wanted to get a little clarification before venturing that way.

Thanks for the input.
By William Mondragon
Nov 1, 2012
Not all the routes here are fantastic, and definitely don't assume every route has an anchor (Pumping Pockets)... but there are a some amazing routes in The Garden, a few of my favorites actually.
By Lee Jenkins
From: Tucson, Arizona
Jun 10, 2014
The following routes were upgraded or updated during the 3rd annual Achor Replacement Initiative (ARI) held Memorial Day weekend 2014.

- Rocky Mountain Oysters: re-bolted 1st two bolts (spinner, corrosion) and replaced 5 angle-iron hangers with plated steel (PS - Fixe w/ 3/8”x3” Powers) (existing bolts 3/8”x 4” Rawls in excellent condition).
- Buffalo Chips - replaced cold shut anchors to quick-link - rap rings (ASCA?). Existing bolts unchanged, 3/8”x 4” PS Rawls in excellent condition). This is a shared anchor with Rocky Mtn Oysters.
- Jugalicious: re-bolted and replaced anchors. They are now PS (1) double ring and (1) quick-link w/ rap ring (oddball combo due to hardware shortage) on 3/8”x4 Powers. Removed 1/2” SS open shut anchor in good condition because of rusting of existing bolts and material mismatch. Also upgraded 2nd bolt (closed shut is now ASCA hanger).
- Copacetic - replaced anchor (cold shuts now ASCA hangers w/ rap-rings. (Existing anchor bolts not changed, “red-head” style (i.e. threaded stud w/ nuts) in good condition.)
- Ninos y Viejos - re-bolted and anchors replaced. The old studs still need to be pulled and patched.
- Just do it, 5.12d: the tat on the top anchor was replaced with ASCA ½” anchors.
- Do the right thing" 5.11c. Replaced the anchor ASCA ½”.
- Pumping Pockets 11c/d: new ASCA anchor (none before), replaced 2 protection bolts (ASCA 1/2") and replaced a plated hanger.
- It's a Shu In, 12a: new anchor installed, still needs bolts replaced.
- The Bottom Line, 5.10b, replaced anchor and all bolts (prior to ARI weekend).
- Bust a Move 12a/b: replaced the anchor using all ASCA 1/2 inch
- Painted new hardware on Otto, 9; the Reckoning (new route), 11c; and Court Jester, 11d.

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