Best Toprope Crags in Colorado's Front Range
Colorado’s Front Range has tons of options for the beginning or intermediate rock climber, but when you're new it can be difficult to find the good spots -- and crags where topropes will be easy to set up. The crags listed here cater to new climbers and are relatively easy to setup topropes. They are sure to help you transition from the gym to outside, gain confidence in climbing outside, and meet other new climbers. Be prepared to queue up on the popular routes on warm weekends, regardless of season. New climbers - please read these tips on being a safe and considerate climber, and make sure you've read all the beta for the crag and routes on mountainproject.com!
1. The Secret Spot
...somewhere near Evergreen/Conifer
Believe it or not, not every crag is on Mountain Project! One of the best toprope spots near Denver/Boulder is a 'locals only' secret, conveniently excluded from the site. If you want to discover where it is, I recommend you join the Colorado Mountain Club! The CMC uses this spot for their Beginning Rock Climbing Seminar. It features maybe 15 single-pitch routes from 5.4 - 5.11 with cracks, slabs, and maybe one or two good overhangs. It's a great place for beginners to practice basic technique as well as toprope setup on natural anchors (mostly trees, some rocks) and bolts, and rappels. Only a few of the routes have bolted anchors, so bring a static rope.
Routes: 15 single-pitch, 5.4 - 5.11, average 5.7 - 5.8
Anchors: a few bolted, mostly trees
Bring: 60m rope, 100-150 ft. static rope
Join the CMC!
2. The Grocery Store Wall
Castlewood Canyon provides the most toprope options in the front range -- and since it's west of Castle Rock there's no need to get tied up in mountain traffic! It can feel a little weird getting on I-25 to go climb, but it also makes it really convenient, especially for people in the southern burbs. The best crag with the most options for new/intermediate climbers in Castlewood is the Grocery Story Wall. There's about 30 routes from 5.7 - 5.12, most are bolted. This one gets pretty crowded on weekends.
Routes: 30 single-pitch, 5.7 - 5.12, average 5.10
Anchors: mostly bolted, some trees
Bring: 60m rope, maybe a 150-200 ft. static rope
Mountainproject: 1) Grocery store Wall toprope guide. 2) Castlewood Canyon area.
3. Brown Cloud
North Table Mountain / Golden Cliffs
Another one really close to the city, Brown Cloud is the best toprope crag at Table Mountain, featuring about 25 routes from 5.6 - 5.11, centered around 5.8 - 5.9. Some are bolted but many need gear anchors or slings. Outside of Brown Cloud, Table Mountain probably has the most toprope options close to the city. If you've never been, the mesas gets unbearably hot on summer afternoons. But the good news is that means it typically stays dry and climbable throughout the year. The bad news is that since it's so popular, routes here can be so polished a popular 5.9 can feel like a 5.10.
Routes: 25 single-pitch, 5.5 - 5.11, average 5.8 - 5.9
Anchors: many bolted, some gear on rock
Bring: 60m rope, basic trad rack, slings
Mountainproject: 1) Brown Cloud toprope guide. 2) Table Mountain area.
4. Happy Hour Crag
Happy Hour is the most popular toprope area in Boulder Canyon, and because of proximity to Boulder and CU this one is busy all the time, even on a Wednesday morning. But there's about 20 good topropes here from 5.7 - 5.11, and a good number of easy moderates. Only a few are bolted, most need trad gear or slings.
Routes: 20 single-pitch, 5.7 - 5.11, average 5.7 - 5.8
Anchors: a few bolted, most gear or natural anchors
Bring: 60m rope, basic trad rack, slings, 100-150 ft static rope
Mountainproject: 1) Happy Hour toprope guide. 2) Boulder Canyon Area.
5. The Boulderado
If Happy Hour is full, give the Boulderado a shot. It's only got about 8 topropes - either easy or hard - from 5.3 - 5.12.. Only one toprope is bolted, most need gear.
Want more? I suggest the book Front Range Topropes by Fred Knapp. Click on the cover to get it from Bent Gate.