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Estes Park Valley

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Estes Park Valley  

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Location: 40.39755, -105.51766 View Map  Incorrect?
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Administrators: Ben Mottinger, Leo Paik, John McNamee, Frances Fierst, Monomaniac, Kristine Hoffman (sitewide)
Submitted By: Leo Paik on Mar 2, 2006
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Beware of Frank, when visiting the area!


Estes Park Valley has a good variety of granitic, gneiss, and schist crags scattered along the hillsides and in the forests surrounding this small town of approximately 7,500 people located at 7,550 feet above sea level. The crags in this area lies primarily in the 7,000-11,000 foot altitudes. While much of the climbing here is done during the warmer months, it is possible to climb year round with good weather and warm clothing.

Rock climbing here includes boulder problems in the forest, scattered sport climbs to 14a, traditional lines up to 900 feet long, and the occasional aid route. In general, traditional climbing has predominated in this area; however, more recently, some areas like the Monastery with principally bolted lines have been developed. Plenty of history in climbing has taken place in the area, so check before drilling. Of course, chipping is never tolerated. The greatest wealth of climbing here lies in the moderate-range, traditional lines of Lumpy Ridge. While competition for parking is frequent on weekends (we'll see if it changes with the new parking lot) at Lumpy, there are plenty of crags for solitude like The Crags on Twin Sisters. Access to some rock formations is unavailable at this time, so, if you are exploring, check first.

Note, this is Colorado's number two destination (3 million visitors a year) for tourism, and much of that is concentrated during the Memorial Day to Labor Day period. So, if you visit then, expect to share.

Getting There 

Estes Park is the gateway community to the eastern side of Rocky Mountain National Park. This small town can be reached from Denver via US 36 through Boulder & Lyons with an hour plus drive. You can access it from further N of Denver (like Ft. Collins) via US 34. You can access it from the S via the winding CO 7 (Peak to Peak Hwy) from communities like Nederland & Allenspark. Finally, you can access it from the W on US 34 (aka Trail Ridge Rd) during summer months. Once in town, the hillside N of town is the classic Lumpy Ridge. Other various crags can be accessed via smaller roads described in the specific areas.

Map of Estes Park


Eating options are quite varied in this popular town. Summer months may make it challenging to eat expediently. New as of late 2009, Tulum's at the corner of US 36 & 34 may present the best option for inexpensive, satisfying, expedient, $5.75 burritos or fish tacos. Probably at the top of the list is, on the main drag (Elkhorn aka US 36), Ed's Cantina (climber-owned), decorated with climbing photos, serving Tex-Mex food, burgers, and good margaritas. For great pizza, consider House Special or Pesto (?take out) at Sweet Basilico's now near the big slide (it moved). For the economically-minded, consider Safeway's deli or the Mountaineer's (540 S Hwy 7) or The Wapiti Bar & Grill (for smaller appetites). Nepal's Cafe (near the Subway on the River Walk off Elkhorn) is great especially if they have the buffet for the Subcontinent palate. Notchtop (in the Safeway shopping center 457 E Wonderview) has good sandwiches & bakery goods with wireless access for the breakfast & lunch. Smoking Dave's BBQ and Taphouse has tasty BBQ sandwiches & even tasty Kona Pipeline Porter. Estes Park Brewery (off US 36 W of town) has big, cheap burritos M-F for lunch (try to get some salsa). The Bald Pate Inn provides an English style meal along CO Hwy 7 near Lily Lake during summer months. Chicago's Best offers sandwiches, calzones, and pizza. Dunraven's (original on Spur 66 or downtown on Elkhorn) has classic Italian. Mary's Lake Lodge & the Stanley Hotel may appeal to the well-financed palate.

For drinks, Ed's Cantina for margaritas on the rocks.... Estes Park Brewery has free samples of beer. There is wine tasting (small fee) of Colorado vineyards at the Snowy Peaks Winery 970.586.2099 on US 36 across from the Colorado Mountain School for apres climbing or early rainouts.

Sleeping accomodations are varied in this area. In the heavily visited summer months, options can be tight, so plan ahead. For the campers, there are campgrounds such as the KOA (E of town, near Lake Estes) on US 34; a crowded campground along US 36 (W of town, just E of the Beaver Meadows entrance into RMNP); popular camgrounds in RMNP like Aspen Glen (30+ sites, Fall River Rd entrance), Moraine Park (largest with 250+ sites), Glacier Gorge (110+ sites, summer only), Long's Area (tents only) off Hwy 7 S of town; campgrounds in the National Forests to the E & S of town; Mary's Lake Campground (SW of town on Mary's Lake Rd). Other commercial campgrounds include Yogi Bear's Jellystone (E on US 36), Manor RV Park (815 Riverside Dr), National Park Resort (3501 Fall River Rd, Paradise RV & Travel Park (1836 Hwy 66), Elk Meadow Lodge & RV (1665 Hwy 66), Discovery Lodge (estesdiscoverylodge.com). Free camping is challenging to find and not recommended. Colorado Mountain School on US 36 W of town can provide economical accomodations of the hostel-like variety. Many motels, hotels, and cabins lie scattered in town, but prices are generally more than you might expect. The Stanley Hotel can provide historically-rich lodging for the well-heeled.


Estes Park Mountain Shop (US 34 near the dam on Lake Estes) has discount prices and decent selection and a small, indoor gym. Trail Ridge Outfitter's is another climbing shop located downtown on Elkhorn near Ed's Cantina with a small gym as well.


You can try checking NOAA.

Climbing Season

Weather station 1.0 miles from here

1,218 Total Routes

['4 Stars',92],['3 Stars',317],['2 Stars',483],['1 Star',286],['Bomb',15]

The Classics

Mountain Project's determination of some of the classic, most popular, highest rated routes for Estes Park Valley:
Batman and Robin   5.6 4c 14 V 12 S 4b     Trad, 4 pitches   Lumpy Ridge : Batman Pinnacle
Kor's Flake   5.7 5a 15 V+ 13 MVS 4b     Trad, 6 pitches, 800'   Lumpy Ridge : Sundance Buttress
Osiris   5.7 5a 15 V+ 13 MVS 4b     Trad, 5 pitches   The Book : The Pages Wall Area
White Whale   5.7 5a 15 V+ 13 MVS 4b     Trad, 4 pitches, 600'   Lumpy Ridge : Left Book
The 37th Cog in Melvin's Wheel aka Melvin's Wheel   5.8 5b 16 VI- 15 HVS 4c     Trad, 3 pitches   Lumpy Ridge : The Bookmark
Pear Buttress   5.8 5b 16 VI- 15 HVS 4c     Trad, 5 pitches   The Book : J-Crack Slab Area
Edge of Time   5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a     Sport, TR, 1 pitch, 85'   Jurassic Park - Lily Lake : The Fin
Mainliner   5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a     Trad, 5 pitches, 700'   Lumpy Ridge : Sundance Buttress
Sidetrack   5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a     Trad, 6 pitches, 900'   Lumpy Ridge : Sundance Buttress
J-Crack   5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a     Trad, 4 pitches   The Book : J-Crack Slab Area
Loose Ends   5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a     Trad, 5 pitches   The Book : J-Crack Slab Area
Turnkorner   5.10a 6a 18 VI+ 18 E1 5a     Trad, 7 pitches   Lumpy Ridge : Sundance Buttress
Climb of the Ancient Mariner   5.10a 6a 18 VI+ 18 E1 5a     Trad, Sport, 3 pitches   Lumpy Ridge : The Bookend
Cheap Date   5.10b 6a+ 19 VII- 19 E2 5b     Trad, 1 pitch   The Book : The Pages Wall Area
Fat City Crack   5.10c 6b 20 VII 20 E2 5b     Trad, 3 pitches   The Book : The Pages Wall Area
Tabula Rasa   5.10c 6b 20 VII 20 E2 5b     Sport, 1 pitch   The Monastery : The Vestibule
Crack of Fear   5.10d 6b+ 21 VII+ 21 E3 5b     Trad, 3 pitches   Lumpy Ridge : Twin Owls
Psychatomic   5.12d 7c 28 IX 28 E6 6b     Sport, 1 pitch   The Monastery : The Vestibule
Third Millennium   5.13d 8b 31 X 32 E8 7a     Sport, 1 pitch, 80'   The Monastery : The Vestibule
Grand Ol' Opry   5.14c 8c+ 34 XI- 35 E9 7b     Sport, 1 pitch, 70'   The Monastery : The Vestibule
Browse More Classics in Estes Park Valley

Featured Route For Estes Park Valley
There are a couple more easier pitches beyond the ...

Turnkorner 5.10a 6a 18 VI+ 18 E1 5a  CO : Lumpy Ridge : Sundance Buttress
Although this route is rated (accurately, I think) 5.10a, it should not be thought of as an easy 5.10. The climbing is physical and sustained, with both 5.10 pitches involving considerable offwidth. The second 5.10 pitch has a very long strenuous, flared 5.9 chimney after the offwidth. The route was originally called the Kor-Turner; Royal Robbins renamed it after the first free ascent.Another word of caution: the rock quality on this route is some of the worst at Lumpy Ridge (althou...[more]   Browse More Classics in CO

Photos of Estes Park Valley Slideshow Add Photo
One of many.
One of many.
Cow Creek Canyon.
Cow Creek Canyon.
And beware of Nollie, too...she's a killer!
And beware of Nollie, too...she's a killer!
Estes Park lawnmower. Photo by Blitzo.
Estes Park lawnmower. Photo by Blitzo.
Bouldering at Mary's Lake.
Bouldering at Mary's Lake.
Summer sunset.
Summer sunset.
Interesting flakes.
Interesting flakes.
BH on the southeast arete of the Trojan Horse Boul...
BH on the southeast arete of the Trojan Horse Boul...
Sundance and the Pear. Lumpy Ridge. Photo by Blitz...
Sundance and the Pear. Lumpy Ridge. Photo by Blitz...
Hallett Peak from town. Photo by Blitzo.
Hallett Peak from town. Photo by Blitzo.
Bouldering on Churchill Rock. Actually falling. Lo...
Bouldering on Churchill Rock. Actually falling. Lo...
Craggy settings.
Craggy settings.

Comments on Estes Park Valley Add Comment
Show which comments
By Leo Paik
From: Westminster, Colorado
Mar 8, 2010
Amazingly, it was 62F on Sunday! Melted away desires to whack ice.
By Reece Henson
From: Knoxville, TN
Jun 6, 2010
Does anyone know of a good place to camp around the area that's either free or cheap?
By MountainManny
From: Idaho Springs
Sep 9, 2012
Box Prairie, Dragon Scales, and White Pines West....
ALL closed to public access, including all climbing routes.
Call 970-295-6700 for more info on this crag and other local areas impacted.
By Cjex19
Jun 6, 2013
I saw this video of a boulder problem called Gold Diggaz AKA The Crack, it was a V10. They said it was in Estes Park, but I could not find the problem on Mountainproject or anywhere else? Anyone know where I could find this problem? It looks amazing.
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