Friday, June 10, 2016

Shelf Road Climbing Area

About 11 miles north of Cañon City is an area of cliffs known as Shelf Road Recreation Area after the adjacent, old stagecoach road that connects Cañon City with Cripple Creek. This area has developed a cult-like following of thrill seekers. A couple of guide books have been written detailing the intricacies of the numerous routes to the top. Considered the best rock climbing destination in Colorado, it attracts 30,000 climbers annually from the US and around the world. Though the BLM website says there are 800 routes available, everything I read suggested going midweek to avoid the crowds at the most popular climbs. I'm no rock climber. I prefer my feet be on solid ground. So my experience in this area is going for hike and appreciating the giant slabs of limestone from a safe distance.

There are two campgrounds located here Sand Gulch and The Banks.

For more on the rock climbing opportunities Shelf Road offers, click here.
To learn about the history of the area, visit the BLM website.
Lots of discussion of the Shelf experience, both good and bad, on this website.

For the latest Instagram photos tagged #shelfroad: click here.

Directions: From Cañon City, turn right on Dozier Avenue (next to Walmart) and drive 1.6 miles (this will bend left and become Central Ave). Turn right onto Field Avenue and drive 2.2 miles. When you reach the end of Field Ave, merge right onto Red Canyon Road (which will eventually become Garden Park Road) and drive north for 10 miles. You'll first come to the entrance (on your left) to the Sand Gulch Campground. Immediately after that you'll come to another road on your left, turn here and proceed for 1.4 miles (This dirt road was in decent shape when I visited. Still, a high clearance vehicle would probably be best). Immediately after passing The Banks Campground (on your right) you'll come to a parking area. Park here. Roads continue past this point but they are in very rough shape.  See map here.

A fun video from some Shelf Road climbers:

this Crag : Shelf Road from Take Slack on Vimeo.

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