Gunnison Valley is home to some of the most diverse rock climbing in Colorado. Desert granite, alpine limestone and one of most spectacular and foreboding canyons in the country are all within an easy drive from Gunnison and Crested Butte. Climbers can find bouldering and trad, sport and top rope climbing in Gunnison Valley. Experts to beginners will be able to explore a unique corner of Colorado climbing.
One of the best ways to appreciate the Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park’s immense and staggering power is to be in it. The steep and narrow granite walls feature traditional routes for the expert climber. Routes here stretch up to 2,000 feet and beyond, creating spectacular granite multi-pitches.
The Black Canyon is full of potential climbs, but some of the classic areas are North Chasm View Wall, The Painted Wall and Checkerboard Wall. These areas can be accessed along the North Rim of the Black Canyon.
The shoulder seasons are often the best times to rock climb in the Black Canyon. April and May are great because the poison ivy hasn’t sprouted yet and it’s not too hot. September and November offer bluebird fall days where the sun is on your shoulders and its not too cold yet.
This canyon deserves respect and is not suitable for beginner or intermediate climbers. Climbers should have a guidebook, versatile rack, enough gear to spend the night outside if necessary and the proper skills and knowledge to climb expert routes.
Please be sure to check with the National Parks Service for permit requirements, safety measures and route closures before you start Colorado rock climbing in the Black Canyon.
The sculpted granite alpine desert Hartman Rocks lies just outside Gunnison’s city limits. It’s not unlikely for residents to ride their bikes to the crag. That’s right, Hartman Rocks is also a world-class mountain biking destination.
Hartmans has top-rope, sport and trad routes for beginners to experts. Spectacular bouldering clustered around the main walls are a great way to spend a sunny afternoon with a few friends, crash pads and a dog or two. Beginners should check out the aptly named “Beginner Slabs” or “Pinnacle Gully.” If you only have a little bit of time to climb at Hartman Rocks then try out the “Quintessential Pinnacle” for a tried and true Gunnison classic.
Taylor Canyon lies at the multi-sport heart of Gunnison Valley. The most popular crags are located within a quarter mile of the paddling takeout for the Upper Taylor, the exit of Doctor’s Park mountain bike trail and superb trout fishing.
First and Second Buttress are two of several areas to climb in Taylor Canyon. It’s hard to miss this towering set of cliffs from the road, which are located before you reach the South Bank takeout. If you’re looking to meet fellow climbers chances are high that several groups will be staying in the Forest Service campgrounds within walking distance of the routes.
Lost Canyon Road is a classic Gunnison bouldering area. The routes range from 10-20 feet and feature numerous types of holds. It’s a great area for climbers just getting into the sport. To get there turn onto County Road 10 as you drive north out of Gunnison on Highway 135. Turn onto Lost Canyon Road and follow it until you reach the obvious sandstone outcropping.
Spring Creek in Almont has a mix of over 40 trad and sport climbs on developed walls, towers and crags. Some are within easy reach of your parking spot, while others require more of an approach.
Look for Spring Creek Road (FSR 744) off CR-742. There are many possibilities to explore in this long granite canyon. Though there is some sport, this area is mostly trad. The Spring Creek Tower is the most prominent rock feature in the canyon.
The main crag at Cement Creek in Crested Butte South can be seen as you drive Highway 135 from Gunnison to Crested Butte. The Caves is an outcropping of pockmarked limestone with top-rope and sport routes. Other crags further up Cement Creek include Disco Inferno and Anarchy Wall. There are over 10 climbs in the area with a mix of trad and sport, though more are sport.
The Skyland Boulders are located along the base of Mt. Crested Butte above the Skyland neighborhood. You can access them from Crested Butte by following Tony’s Trail to Upper Loop. Much of this area is private property so it’s important to stay on the trail. This area has about 50 boulder problems to work.
The Adaptive Sports Center in Crested Butte is a full-fledged therapeutic recreation program for differently-abled people. ASC offers climbing instruction in one-on-one or group settings.
Mountain Project is a good supplement to climbing guidebooks.
Always follow Leave No Trace and practice “clean climbing” techniques to avoid damaging the rock while rock climbing. Leave No Trace and Access Fund have other resources for climbing ethics.
Be sure to check out the other summer and fall activities Crested Butte and Gunnison have to offer. We have stellar mountain biking trails and an abundance of hiking trails, rivers to raft and fish, rocks to climb, good food to eat, and cool towns to see. Check out our activities page to learn more!
Whether you’re looking for a cabin or a condo, a hostel or a traditional hotel, we’ve got you covered for a vacation rental. Visit our Lodging page to learn more!