Sign Up  |   Log In:Login with Facebook
REI Community
Horsetooth Reservoir

Select Area...
Duncan's Ridge 
Dungeon, The 
Land of the Overhangs, The 
Marina Ridge aka Sunshine Boulder 
North Horsetooth Ridge 
Party Cove 
Piano Ridge 
Rotary Park 
Scoop Area, The 
Torture Chamber 

Horsetooth Reservoir Rock Climbing 

Photos:  Recent | Best | Popular
Location: 40.57812, -105.16399 View Map  Incorrect?
Page Views: 573,045
Administrators: Ben Mottinger, Leo Paik, John McNamee, Frances Fierst, Monomaniac, Kristine Hoffman (sitewide)
Submitted By: Joe McManus on Mar 15, 2002
You & This Area
Best climbs for YOU in this area
Your opinion of this PAGE:    [2 people like this page.]


Horsetooth Reservoir is characterized by mostly bouldering, but there is top rope and trad too, and they have recently had anchors put in at the top for lowering. It is sunny all year. In the summer, it is so damn sunny it'll kill you. The rock is pretty clean, since it has been climbed for who doesn't like Ft. Fun. I believe Rock & Ice called Horsetooth one of the ten best places to boulder in the world.

Currently, there is no camping at Rotary Park and there is a $6 fee for the day use parking lot. 45 minute parking on the dirt pull off is allowed. Also, at the 420s, a Colorado Habitat Stamp is currently required for all people heading back to the boulders and they must have it with them. It can be purchased for around $10 (instead of a $70 ticket).

You have to stop at Yong's Korean Cuisine 1232 W. Elizabeth St. (970) 482-4885 for grub, cheap and awesome.

The Southeast Reservoir access has been clearly marked as private land for 25 years.

Getting There 

From the town of Ft. Collins, head towards the mountains on W. Horsetooth Rd. Go left on South Taft Hill. Go right on 38. Take that up into the reservoir. At the first intersection, bouldering is on the right. Or go right, when you get over the bridge park and walk uphill to get to Duncans Ridge. Walk uphill about 5 minutes and then descend via the obvious 4th class descent. A map of the park can be seen at:

Closed areas 

Per Chris N: from the Larimer County website: "due to Homeland Security restrictions, no recreation activity is allowed on dams or within 100 feet of dams when on land."

Climbing Season

Weather station 1.7 miles from here

191 Total Climbing Routes

['4 Stars',8],['3 Stars',60],['2 Stars',105],['1 Star',18],['Bomb',0]

Classic Climbing Routes in Horsetooth Reservoir

Mountain Project's determination of the classic, most popular, highest rated climbing routes for Horsetooth Reservoir:
Curving Crack   V0- 4-     Boulder   Rotary Park : Central Ridgeline, includin...
Penny Lunge   V0+ 4+     Boulder   Rotary Park : Pitch Penny Boulder
Bolt Wall   V1- 5- X     TR, Boulder, 1 pitch, 40'   Rotary Park : South Ridgeline, including ...
My Two Cents   V2 5+     Boulder   Rotary Park : Pitch Penny Boulder
Beached Whale   V2+ 5+     Boulder   Rotary Park : Eliminator Boulder
Penny Pincher   V3 6A     Boulder   Rotary Park : Pitch Penny Boulder
The Nipple Wall   V3 6A R     Boulder   Rotary Park : Nipple Wall
Finger Ripper   V3 6A     Boulder   Rotary Park : Central Ridgeline, includin...
Cat's Eye Face   V3 6A R     TR, Boulder, 1 pitch, 30'   Rotary Park : South Ridgeline, including ...
Right Eliminator   V4 6B     Boulder   Rotary Park : Eliminator Boulder
Mental Standard   V4 6B     Boulder   Rotary Park : Mental Block
Cornerlock   V4 6B     Boulder   Rotary Park : Mental Block
Right Eliminator Prow   V4 6B     Boulder   Rotary Park : Eliminator Boulder
The Scoop   V5 6C     Boulder, 1 pitch, 20'   The Scoop Area
Punk Rock Traverse   V5 6C     Boulder   Rotary Park : Punk Rock
Pinch Overhang   V5 6C     Boulder   Rotary Park : Mental Block
Apples   5.7 5a 15 V+ 13 MVS 4b     Trad, TR, 1 pitch, 45'   Duncan's Ridge
Cheeseburger in Paradise   5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a     Sport, TR, 1 pitch, 45'   Duncan's Ridge
Roof Route   5.10 6b 20 VII- 19 E2 5b     Trad, TR, 1 pitch   Duncan's Ridge
Out of the Black   5.12+ 7c 28 IX 27 E6 6b     Sport, 1 pitch, 40'   Duncan's Ridge
Browse More Rock Climbing Classics in Horsetooth Reservoir

Featured Route For Horsetooth Reservoir
Rock Climbing Photo: The Scoop.

The Scoop V5 6C  CO : Fort Collins : ... : The Scoop Area
This is one of the best problems at Horsetooth, the kind of problem that begs to be climbed. It is in the league with the quality of the famous Mental Block and Eliminator problems, but it's so isolated from the other problems at Rotary that I'm not sure if many people bother to come check out this one problem. It is a stemming problem reminiscent of Stem Gem at Joshua Tree. If the power problems on the Mental Block frustrate you, then try T...[more]   Browse More Classics in CO

Photos of Horsetooth Reservoir Slideshow Add Photo
Rock Climbing Photo: Horsetooth at Sunset
Horsetooth at Sunset
Rock Climbing Photo: Some crack action in Horsetooth Reservoir - Rotary...
Some crack action in Horsetooth Reservoir - Rotary...
Rock Climbing Photo: Horsetooth on a cloudy January day.
Horsetooth on a cloudy January day.
Rock Climbing Photo: Bouldering around Horsetooth Reservoir - Rotary Pa...
Bouldering around Horsetooth Reservoir - Rotary Pa...
Rock Climbing Photo: Horsetooth Res, a day of climbing in the snow but ...
Horsetooth Res, a day of climbing in the snow but ...
Rock Climbing Photo: A park map with some reference on it.
BETA PHOTO: A park map with some reference on it.
Rock Climbing Photo: Cat's Eye Face. Taken with a Holga.
Cat's Eye Face. Taken with a Holga.
Rock Climbing Photo: Early Sunset at Horsetooth
Early Sunset at Horsetooth
Rock Climbing Photo: A climber ascends on of the boulderings problems a...
BETA PHOTO: A climber ascends on of the boulderings problems a...
Rock Climbing Photo: A picture up on Horsetooth taken my ma.
A picture up on Horsetooth taken my ma.

Comments on Horsetooth Reservoir Add Comment
Show which comments
Comments displayed oldest to newestSkip Ahead to the Most Recent Dated Aug 31, 2015
By Adam Holmes
Apr 1, 2002
This site suggests Bob Horan's bouldering guidebook. It sucks! Get Phillip Benningfield Colorado Bouldering guide instead. Or there was a cover story on Horsetooth in Climbing magazine in the late 90s (cover photo is someone on Pinch Overhang). It has a mini-guide in it.
By Andy Mauk
Sep 21, 2002
Yes I would have to agree with Adam. That guide book is really bad. The on I would get is the Colorado Bouldering book, that thing is great for horsetooth.
By Anonymous Coward
Oct 7, 2002
Due to reconstruction of the dams on the resevoir, traditional access to horsetooth has been closed off for an undertermined amount of time. Tried to go up there a month ago and couldnt access the boulders. Anybody know of alternate access to the good areas while this construction is underway?
By Jesse Ryan
Oct 7, 2002
As the A.C. noted there is a long term contruction project on all of Horsetooth's dams. Detailed comments on two ways to hike to Rotary are mentioned by Alan and Adam's comments in the Rotary's area description. You can still drive up between the Spring Canyon and Dixon dams and park at the road just above the N end of Spring Canyon dam to access Piano Boulder and Duncan's Ridge - just be very aware of the fenced off construction area. The Torture Chamber Ridge is closed.
By Anonymous Coward
Feb 22, 2003
I'm a former Fort Fun resident. Is it true that the Tropics have been demolished? If this is true, I'm majorly bummed. I spent a number of happy afternoons there in grad school.
By Jesse Ryan
Feb 24, 2003
Yes the tropics are gone. I miss them too, especially for the endurance sessions. If we are ever allowed to climb in the area again it looks like all that is left is a ridge of blasted slabs. I don't think that the 'powerhouse rock' has been touched.
By Sean Bradley
Jul 27, 2003
What I've heard about the dam's being opening is that they are going to re-open in August of 2003. Until they open it you can either park on the street by the parking lot for Hughs Stadium and walk through the field and up... or park in the neighborhood just northwest of Prospect and Overland Trail and follow a trail up the hill that way.
By Andy Mauk
Sep 9, 2003
I heard that the dam to get to Rotary will not open til December. I hope this is not true and I'm not sure.
By Krister Sorensen
From: Centennial, CO
Nov 15, 2003
Does anyone know anything about Aurther's Rock? I can't find beta for it anywhere.
By Anonymous Coward
Dec 6, 2003


The modern guide is quite nice. Very complete description of the rock and problems that people have established. Bouldering on rock with a road map to problems other people have established, complete with grades and beta, isn't exactly adventure. Its about just wanting to send the hardest problem and know exactly how hard it was so that one can relate this conquest to others.

Some people prefer to approach the rock without knowing such specific things. Without an overly specific guide, they are free to create their own lines. This provides extreme challenges to the faith and epxressive powers of the boulderer. Establishing a hard boulder problem on improbable and unknown rock is a very challenging endeavor, physically emotionally and mentally.

These guides represent two completely different mindsets towards bouldering. They both suck in the eyes of people from the other mindset. The lone zen boulder apostle will despise the modern guide and the punk v10-er will hate the old guide that wastes afternoons will little accumulation of vermin pointage.

I used to boulder at horsetooth, before the modern guide provided the epxlicit list of problems. We, the guys and gals I bouldered with while I lived there, had our own set of problems that we forged, partly our own creations where we thought none had previously been, and partly trying to repeat lines we had only hear vague descriptions of, mysterious echoes from the past. One of the raddest things was meeting someone who had bouldered there long before and having them give you a tour to "their" horsetooth. Inevitably they would show you a whole different set of problems on the exact same stone as you and your buddies had established your own. I'm afraid that the presence of an explicit guidebook listing is only a sample of one generations lines. And, worse, it makes it very difficult for new climbers to approach the stone, thinking they are the first, with a sense of creativity and adventure. This is a bummer.

I hope I see some of you out at horsetooth some day and you'll show me some new problems.

Live long and find some stone of your own, Chad.
By Ben
Mar 7, 2004
I heard that there are some plans for the city of Fort Collins to enact a fee to climb at rotary park. I guess our tax money isn't good enough for those who see an opportunity to make a profit. Fight the man.
By Jeremy Monahan
From: Fort Fun, CO
Oct 16, 2004
Yeah, 6 bucks to get into the park (rotary park) each time is ridiculous. They want you to pay $65 for a year pass! It is not even a state park! There is so much better climbing at Horsetooth, and best of all, it's FREE!!!! (i.e. torture chamber, piano ridge, duncan's ridge)
By Old Fart aka Dave Bohn
Oct 16, 2004
Actually, Piano Ridge is CLOSED !!. It's part of an Open Space area (open for what I don't know but it's closed to all "off-trail" use including climbing.
Apr 27, 2005
I was climbing around on mental block yesterday and i found something on the back. does anybody know what i'm talking about? if so what is it.
By ac
Apr 28, 2005
BZD ... unless it's a wallet or a very expensive camera, why don't you just leave it there. Picking up someone's stuff they accidentally left behind is not cool. You know, most people come back for things that they leave behind (sunglasses/chalkbag/shoes/keys/etc.)

Just cause someone forgets something does not make it booty. A post on that ends up in the side comments for Horsetooth is unlikely to be read by more than a handful of us who regularly read the recent comments. is purportedly perused by 3% or less of front range climbers. I suspect it's much less.

I'm aware the law is on your side in this matter, but do a better job of alerting the person who lost whatever it is if you are going to bother to pick it up and take it home. Post signs at Horsetooth and Fort Collins gyms giving the time and date of your booty grab if you are going to pick it up and take it home.

Bad karma dude.
Apr 30, 2005
AC- I didn't an item, I found a climb. It starts really low on a small edge. Then you go to a side pull, then to another side pull and out to a sloper, and that as far as I could get, but it looks like there's some finising moves, but I'm not strong enough to do it yet. Sorry about the confusion. Peace out.
By Brandon johnson
From: Highlands Ranch, CO
Apr 7, 2006
Looks like a large variety of climbs in and around the area. Hope to visit up there in the near future.
By Ricky Newman
From: Fort Collins, CO
Sep 19, 2007
Lately, someone has decided to garden the landing of Mental Block, removing two large stones that are crucial in preventing further erosion of the landing area. I have spent several minutes moving these rocks back into place with my friends on several occasions but, when I return they are simply moved again. With the increased amount of young climbers entering the sport (myself included) I figured we all should realize that removing rocks from the landings of other people's problems (especially classics like Mental Block) is not only disrespectful to every other climber but is also leaving an impact. To those who moved the rocks at Mental Block; if you are worried about the landing, take the 15 minutes you would need to clear the rocks and set up a top rope!
By Chris Chaney
From: Stanton, Kentucky
Apr 27, 2010
What exactly does "Southeast Reservoir is closed" mean? Where is Southeast Reservoir?
By JOhn CAmeron
From: DENVER!!!
Sep 1, 2010
Yo- I seem to have lost my wallet. I was climbing at the topropes west of the Piano Boulders up at Horsetooth 2 days ago. If you find it, please give me an email.

By Rayna
From: Arvada, CO
Dec 30, 2011
For anyone else looking for information on the habitat stamp, this website (Northern Colorado Climbing Coalition) says you don't need one anymore....
By Nickolas V
Jul 17, 2012
I don't see any note of the small crag near the Torture Chamber here. Its the one just across the gully from the bottom of the Torture Chamber at the base of the dam. There is a large iron power pole on top of the crag. The coords are(40.531242, -105.136497). I have heard it called "The Dungeon". There are about half a dozen easy to moderate topropeable routes here. Fun climbs and great for learners, this is where the CSU outdoor program took me for an anchor clinic. Does anyone else know this area, It would be good to get it up here but I don't know enough to put up a new page by myself.

Rock Climbing Photo: The Dungeon.
The Dungeon.
By H Poet
Oct 22, 2013
Is Horsetooth Reservoir a good location for Winter (Jan.-Feb.) bouldering in Ft. Collins? I will be out there for a few weekends in the winter, and I am trying to determine what I can hit up and what will be snowed over or inaccessible.
By Brett Billings
From: Fort Collins, CO
Oct 29, 2013
I love winter bouldering at Horsetooth Reservoir. It's always accessible, and generally if it's sunny the temperature isn't an issue.
By Brogan Cheevers
Jul 13, 2015

I need some info about accessibility getting to Duncan's asap. I am going with a group of climbers and have one climber who uses a wheelchair full-time, so I need to know how steep/intense the approach is as we will be piggybacking him in. Any info would be greatly appreciated!
By Chris N
From: Loveland, Co
Aug 31, 2015
From the Larimer County website, "Due to Homeland Security restrictions, no recreation activity is allowed on dams or within 100 feet of dams when on land."

The Definitive
Climbing Resource

Inspiration & Motivation
to Fuel Your Run

Next Generation Mountain
Bike Trail Maps

Backcountry, Sidecountry
& Secret Stashes

Better Data. Better Tools.
Better Hikes!