We love rock climbing! It’s a great family activity that we can all do together, it puts you in some of the most beautiful scenery, and we love how friendly and helpful the community of fellow rock climbers is. While we still love surfing, we can’t all paddle out together (and if we did, we aren’t going to get the same warm welcome that we get on the crag).
On our trip through Colorado in 2015, we found some great rock climbing areas that had easy and fun routes, they had great camping nearby them, and easy approaches.
We are still novices when it comes to the sport. Our top priority is rock climbing for fun. Therefore, we are always looking for places to climb that have easier routes (5.9 and lower) and have a good area for the younger kids to play while we climb.
If you want more adventure in your life, try finding rock walls. The approach (that’s what climbers call the trail you have to hike to go from the parking area to the start of the climbs) is often hysterical when it comes to climbing. I can’t count the number of times we’ve been on an approach and my husband has looked at me and questioned, “Are you sure this is the way?”
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But that’s a lot of the fun and beauty of this sport. It takes you off-the-beaten-path and leads you into gorges, across meadows, over mountains, and past streams. Climbing heightens the senses both on and off the crag.
Don’t let the intimidation of climbing hold you back. There are plenty of great guides who can teach you or start off at an indoor gym to get your skills up first.
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Guide books are an invaluable asset to the sport. They are very detailed about where to park, what the approach is like, and give a grade (difficulty level) and rating (how good it is) for each route on the wall. Websites such as mountain project and rockfax.com have tons of useful information. Here are three destinations we discovered on our road trip through Colorado in June 2015 that were great sport climbing locations for family fun.
Rock Climbing For Fun Destination #1: Shelf Road
Shelf Road is south of Colorado Springs, near Cannon City. There are two BLM campgrounds, Sand Gulch and The Banks, at the base of the climbing area. It is a very rural location and the only service it has is a pit toilet so pack accordingly. This is one of the most well-marked approaches I have ever seen (other than Arco, Italy). I loved how the trails here are marked with wooden signs to direct you to the different crags. A guidebook is helpful here because there are almost one thousand climbs in this area. The hike in can be a little long, but not too steep. Once you are at the crag, there is plenty of room for kids to play.
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Rock Climbing For Fun Destination #2: Ouray
If you’ve read my blog 8 Reasons To Visit Ouray, you’ll know how much I love this town. There are two great climbing areas here. The first is in town directly across from the swimming pool. The second is on the north side of town by the outdoor skating rink. The nice thing about climbing here is that you have access to restaurants, climbing stores, and shopping. There are great campgrounds in town and other outdoor activities such as hiking, biking, and 4×4 tours. I loved that you could camp in the center of town and walk to everything, including the climbing.
Rock Climbing For Fun Destination #3: Puoux
Oh, how I love this spot. The first time I climbed here I got lost and couldn’t find it, so I called a climbing shop nearby and asked for directions. “You want to get back on the freeway heading west and right before the tunnel park on the side of the freeway.” You can imagine my husband’s response when I told him, but we followed the directions and sure enough, there is a huge pull off on the side of the freeway with an approach trail that takes you right to the base of the climbs in less than five minutes.
Besides the easy approach, I love the views from the crag here. When you are on the wall you can look down on the green forest. The sun’s rays reflecting off the blue water of the Colorado River is incredible. There are some nice low-level climbs here as well as some harder routes.
Hope you enjoy climbing at these destinations as much as we did. We are always on a mission to find rock climbing locations that are family friendly with some easier routes for us novices. Let us know the places you like in the comments.