Climbing in Rocky Mountain National Park

Climbing and Bouldering In Rocky Mountain National Park

Nestled in the heart of Colorado, Rocky Mountain National Park (RMNP) offers climbers and boulders an unparalleled experience. With its majestic peaks, alpine lakes, and varied terrain, it’s a world-class destination for adventurers seeking to conquer its heights. Whether you’re a seasoned climber or a novice boulderer, the areas surrounding RMNP provide numerous opportunities. This guide will help you plan an unforgettable journey into the vertical world of climbing and bouldering.

Climbing Spots

1. Lumpy Ridge

  • Location: North of Estes Park
  • Difficulty: Varies
  • Notable Routes: The Book, Sundance Buttress
  • Description: Known for its granite domes and crags, Lumpy Ridge offers traditional climbing with spectacular views. Its routes range from single-pitch to multi-pitch adventures, catering to climbers of all skill levels.

2. Longs Peak

  • Location: Southern area of RMNP
  • Difficulty: Advanced
  • Notable Routes: The Diamond
  • Description: For those seeking a challenge, Longs Peak’s The Diamond offers high-altitude, big-wall climbing. It’s recommended for experienced climbers due to its exposed routes and the extreme Colorado weather conditions.

Bouldering Spots

3. Moraine Park

  • Location: Within RMNP
  • Difficulty: Varies
  • Notable Areas: The Cube, The Kind
  • Description: Moraine Park offers a variety of boulder problems amidst beautiful alpine scenery. It’s an ideal spot for boulderers of all levels, with easily accessible problems and a range of difficulties.

4. Chaos Canyon

  • Location: High in the alpine zone of RMNP
  • Difficulty: Intermediate to Advanced
  • Notable Problems: Tommy’s Arete, The Automator
  • Description: Accessible via a hike from the Bear Lake area, Chaos Canyon is renowned for its challenging problems set in a breathtaking alpine environment. This area is best suited for more experienced boulderers.

Planning Your Trip

Best Time to Visit

  • Climbing Season: Late spring through early fall. July and August offer the warmest conditions but also attract the most visitors.
  • Bouldering Season: Late summer to early fall, when the temperatures are cooler, and the snow has melted.


  • There are several camping options within and around RMNP, from backcountry sites for those seeking solitude to established campgrounds with amenities. It’s crucial to reserve these well in advance during peak season.

Gear and Preparation

  • Climbing: A standard rack for trad climbing in RMNP includes cams, nuts, quickdraws, and a 60m rope. Always wear a helmet.
  • Bouldering: Bring a bouldering pad, climbing shoes, chalk, and brush. Considering the park’s sensitive environment, practice Leave No Trace principles diligently.

Local Resources

  • Estes Park Mountain Shop: A great resource for gear rental, last-minute purchases, and local climbing information.
  • Rocky Mountain Conservancy: Offers climbing and bouldering classes for beginners and intermediates.

Safety and Park Regulations

  • Familiarize yourself with RMNP’s climbing regulations and obtain any necessary permits, particularly for overnight bivouacs.
  • The weather in the Rockies can change rapidly; always check forecasts and be prepared for all conditions.
  • Wildlife encounters, including with black bears and mountain lions, are possible. Read up on how to safely handle these encounters.


Rocky Mountain National Park and its surroundings offer some of the most exhilarating climbing and bouldering adventures. By respecting the natural beauty and preserving the pristine environment, climbers and boulderers can ensure these treasures remain for generations to come. Whether you’re pulling on granite in Lumpy Ridge or solving problems in Chaos Canyon, the experiences awaiting in Colorado’s high country are bound to elevate your passion for the vertical world.

The Adventure Collective

The Adventure Collective publishes a series of outdoor adventure sports guides to adventures in Asheville, Boone, Brevard, Chattanooga, Charleston and The Great Smoky Mountains.

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