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A guide to climbing Colorado’s Front Range and where to relax afterward

Nothing like a cold craft brew once you come off the crag. Photo: Courtesy of David Sandel
Nothing like a cold craft brew once you come off the crag. Photo: Courtesy of David Sandel

The only thing that outnumbers the breweries across Colorado’s Front Range is the amount of world-class climbing areas it contains. If you happen to be planning a visit to Denver, Golden or Boulder, then this guide’s for you.

Golden

Golden is only 15 minutes from downtown Denver, but you’d never know it if you could somehow magically appear there with no knowledge of where you actually are. It’s a fairly small town where the residents eat, sleep and breathe the outdoors.

Amazing mountain biking, whitewater rafting, hiking and climbing are just a few steps away.

Climb here: Clear Creek Canyon
There are more than 800 routes just in Clear Creek, ranging from beginner to expert, top rope to trad. Whether your friends are taking you out for the very first time or you’re flying in for a week of mountain-guide training, Clear Creek has it all for you.

The Cat Slab wall is great for beginners, while the elites will want to check out The New River Wall, with 25 routes at 5.13 or above. Our personal favorite is Little Eiger, with about 24 routes between 5.10 and 5.11, single-pitch and multi-pitch; 17 of them are 2.5 stars or higher.

Beer here: Mountain Toad Brewing

A photo posted by Gerritt Lang (@ge.lang) on

Sure, Golden is home to Coors Light, but climbers aren’t breaking down the doors to go have a Coors. They want craft, and they want delicious. Mountain Toad Brewing is everything a climber wants: Close to the crag, laid-back atmosphere, heated outdoor patio and, most importantly, dog friendly.

Grab your partner and go spill the day’s beta with all the other climbers, and be sure to check out the nightly food truck.

Boulder

A photo posted by Rick Barrett (@rick_barrett25) on

Boulder is such a mecca for climbing that we shouldn’t have to say anything about it. Home to iconic Eldorado Canyon, the bold Flat Irons and the ever-developing Boulder Canyon, there’s nothing you can’t find here … except big walls and Sasquatch. You will, however, find more than 4,000 routes. Let us say that again: 4,000 routes!

Climb here: Eldorado Canyon
It doesn’t get much more iconic than Eldo. Developed in the ’60s and ’70s, there are runout trad 5.7s that will make you beg for modern bolted 5.11s. With “easy” classics like Yellow Spur and The Bastille Crack to the blood-curdling Naked Edge (5.11b), bring your double rack, a 70-meter rope and your big boy/big girl pants. Climbing here is stout and utterly amazing.

Beer here: Southern Sun

A photo posted by Doug Standley (@dougstandley) on

Located in south Boulder, Southern Sun is part of a local chain of breweries and restaurants similarly named. They offer a full range of beer they brew on-location (and never distribute, which means you have to go there to have their beers) and the best hand-cut fries we’ve ever tasted. We hear they sprinkle them with pixie dust, which is the same stuff they brew their beer with. Maybe that’s why we always climb harder after drinking there.

Estes Park

A photo posted by Token Homie (@tokenhomie) on

Once again, you’ve got options here. You can look for a multi-day epic in Rocky Mountain National Park or just spend a day on equally spicy terrain on Lumpy Ridge. There’s also more than 400 well-bolted and mixed climbs in Big Thompson Canyon. How is anyone supposed to choose?

Climb here: Lumpy Ridge
Lumpy Ridge is another old-school crag. It’s not for the beginning trad leader, but it is for the bold at heart.

The approach is somewhat grueling for “just a crag,” but the climbs make it worth it. You won’t find much under 5.8, but it is available. Once you get into the 5.10-and-above range, your options are limitless.

Make sure you brush up on your footwork and technical gear placements before you come. Who loves placing opposing offset nuts on a runout vertical crack with Elvis leg? Anyone? Anyone? Bueller? It’s so awesome. And the view of RMNP in the background more than makes up for it.

Beer here: Lumpy Ridge Brewing Co.

Lumpy Ridge Brewing Co. is located in downtown Estes Park and they've got another location in Boulder. We're pretty sure they brew enough different types of beers that you’ll find something you like. (They also have one of the sickest logos for any Front Range brewery).

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