We already know that Colorado is known for the splendor of its outdoors and the 300 days of sunshine that grace it. One of the most quintessential activities you can do is get outside and show every nearby rock, tree, and mountain peak who’s boss.

Preferably by scrambling to the top of any nearby object you can see. As long as you’re staying safe and not getting yourself too much in between a rock and a hard place, so to speak.

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Whether you’re a beginner or a climb like a spider monkey, here are some of the five best places to go rock climbing in Colorado.

The Flatirons

The Flatirons watched over my childhood when I was growing up in Boulder, and while I was never brave enough to try and scale one, they’re easily one of the best places to climb. According to 5280, the East Face of the Third Flatiron is one of the best climbs for beginners, and you certainly can’t beat the view at the top, either. But even if you’re looking for a hardier climb, the Flatirons are great for that, too, as well as bouldering. Just keep in mind that seasonal closure does happen on occasion due to bat and raptor nests.

Garden of the Gods

While I’ve never climbed the Flatirons, I HAVE gone climbing at the Garden of the Gods, and it’s been one of my favorite non-climbing-gym experiences to date. Located right next to Colorado Springs, Garden of the Gods has delectable hiking as well as climbing, and you definitely can’t beat this site for striking scenery. Just be sure to check at the visitor center before you start climbing everything and anything in sight, as not every rock has been cleared for climbing.

Estes Park

Of course, we’d be remiss if we didn’t include Estes Park on this list. Nestled in the Rocky Mountains, it’s no surprise that Estes Park houses some of the biggest climbing giants, from competitive climbing to bouldering. However, it is worth noting when we mention Estes Park is in the mountains, it’s really in the mountains, bringing all the hazards of alpine environments with it.  This includes sudden afternoon storms, loose rock, and difficult-to-access areas, so just keep those in mind when you’re heading out to climb. 5280 even recommends first climbing a guide.

Rocky Mountain National Park

Although Estes Park is basically on the eastern doorstep of Rocky Mountain National Park (RMNP), we thought it was worth mentioning twice because RMNP offers such a wide scope of climbing and outdoor spaces beyond that which is closest to Estes. You can even get a bivouac (which is mountaineering talk for the terrifying experience of camping on the LITERAL SIDE of A MOUNTAIN) while taking a couple of days to make the tallest climbs, just keep in mind that you’ll need a parking permit.

Eldorado Canyon

Finally, there’s the ever-delightful Eldorado Canyon State Park. This park’s especially good as “Eldo” doesn’t only provide you with challenging routes (oftentimes more so than their ratings might suggest) and delightful scenery, but also has a swimming pool for you to cool off in once you’re back to more manageable elevations. Do keep in mind that the pool is currently closed for renovations, but the climbing is still more than worth it.

So, as the weather warms and vaccines start going around, get ready to head out and hit the slopes in an entirely new way.

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