Sitting in the foothills S.W. of Denver, Staunton State Park provides those looking for a little bit of adventure with great climbing opportunities on interesting, featured rock. The majority of the lines at Staunton are either purely trad or mixed, with a handful of fun bolt protected lines in the 5.10 to 5.12 range rounding out the mix.
The traditional and mixed lines are different than many traditional areas along the Front Range, with incipient cracks and interesting features making up the majority of the protection opportunities. A keen eye is important when venturing up many of the lines, with the lack of obvious pro often times adding to the excitement of the lines here.
From Denver, travel south on US Hwy. 285 to Shaffer's Crossing and exit onto Elk Creek Rd.. Head north on Elk Creek Rd. until you come to the park entrance on the right.
Per mmk: beware of speed traps: Morrison drops the speed limit to 45 on US Hwy 285 then lines up squad cars to issue tickets.
Fixed Hardware Restrictions
Due to Staunton being a State Park, there are fixed hardware restrictions in place.
Route developers wishing to install fixed hardware will be required to submit an application to a fixed hardware review committee made up of local volunteers.
Please respect this process. New routes are going to be a welcome addition at Staunton, but skirting this requirement will only erode the positive relationship that has been established between the climbing community and park management.
Much of the land that makes up Staunton State Park was giving to the State of Colorado in 1986 by Francis Staunton. In subsequent years, the State of Colorado purchased two other parcels to complete what is now slated to be Colorado's 42nd State Park, opening in May 2013.
In November 2011, volunteers were brought in to assess the climbing potential at the park and assist with developing climbing management plans. In June 2011, park management asked for help assembling a group of route developers to establish lines in the area known as Staunton Rocks. These volunteers worked to establish fun and interesting climbing routes on six formations in the Staunton Rocks area. Even with many routes already established across this area, great opportunities exist for exploration and establishment of new lines at Staunton Rocks and throughout the park.
Per Staunton Park Ranger: In short, our goal is to protect the park from the people and the people from the park. In order to do this, we have set daily hours unlike other parks, and when people do not make it out of the park on time, we have to determine whether we are dealing with a possible emergency. Daily hours are posted on the main entry gate and on the pass booth; the park is closed to the public at all other times.
Leaving after closing time will get you a $50/person fine here.
As D.G. indicated, Staunton SP is currently closed to public use. Nonetheless, we have the current cognoscenti slamming in new routes, climbing, clicking the pics, and laying claim to one of the largest of our State Parks. How exactly does this work? Closed but for us? Sounds like your tax dollars at work again.
Here's the back story, all I ask is that you consider it.
I've worked in the parks field in Colorado for several years now. In that time, I have been engaged in recreation management with a great deal of focus and attention put towards management of recreational climbing on public lands. With this interest and a resume of past work, I was approached by the Park Manager at Staunton State Park to assist in a site assessment of the climbing potential at the park, this was in November of 2011.
I volunteered my time along with my wife, hiking around the park and identifying areas of good rock that would be of interest to climbers when the park opened. I also worked with management to come up with a climbing management plan that had to be built within specific parameters set forth by the state.
In June 2012, park management approached me about bringing together a group of route developers to develop a specific area in the park for climbers to visit once the park opened. That area was Staunton Rocks, and there was no way around it, some people were going to be upset, I knew that going in.
I did my best to pull together a group that had a diverse background to develop this resource for recreating climbers. The development work was very much a group process and required a smaller core group of developers to achieve the results desired by the park.
I'd encourage you to be psyched that a state park took such a progressive approach, as to develop an area specifically for climbers before the park even opens. The park is committed to offering a quality climbing resource for us to play in, with good trails and thoughtful route development, and is embracing our presence. Which seems like a good thing to me.
Thanks, Mike, for all the effort. I agree with your stance on the park having a forward thinking approach. With a positive outcome, let's hope more land is opened up for legal, outdoor fun, Ralston....
Thanks for explaining what has been going on in Staunton. There is a good view of Black Mountain heading up Crow Hill, just east of Bailey on 285. There is a lot of rock up there, and I started investigating access last year and then soon realized it was in Staunton and closed. Glad to see the new park will allow climbing. What will be the rules regarding new routes and bolts...Eldo style or open range?
Hey Chris, the Fixed Pin pdf guide linked up top says any new routes requiring fixed hardware have to go through a review commitee to get a permit. Thank you, Mike and all the route developers, it's always a great thing to have a new area to check out so close to home. Can't wait to go climbing up there.
With 16 days until opening, please remember if you wish to install fixed hardware anywhere at Staunton State Park, you must go through a fixed hardware review process and receive a permit from the park. Details can be found on the Staunton Fixed Hardware Review Committee's wordpress site.
Me and my friends Luke, Kenny, and Brian went to Staunton State Park on May 18th (opening day) and hiked out to the Tan Corridor and checked out a bunch of the bolted lines there. They were all worthwhile from good to exceptional! Perhaps the best line was No Rain, rated 5.10+, followed by The Opportunist, rated 5.11- but probably 5.11c. 80 Grit, 5.10 (more like 5.10+), was another really fun route!. Haven't worked any of the 5.12s yet but looking forward to it. Hats off to all involved in putting up routes, as well as all those who did such an excellent job trail-building along the cliff face!
A word of caution, though: there are still some pieces of rock that will be breaking off as the routes are climbed more frequently, and I strongly recommend that at least the belayer wears a helmet for his or her own safety for the foreseeable future. An 8-inch-by-4-inch piece broke off and missed Luke by just a few inches while Brian was climbing Reef on It (5.10-)!
Damn, Paavo! Glad everyone was OK. Good advice for sure. We really worked hard to clean up the routes, especially in the Tan Corridor. But, as with any new area these routes will go through some "natural" cleaning as people get on them. Thanks for coming out on opening day. Cheers!
Beware - if commuting to Staunton via US Hwy 285, Morrison has developed a notorious reputation over the last 2 years as the speed trap capital of Colorado. Morrison drops the speed limit to 45 on Hwy 285 then lines up squad cars to issue tickets. They have increased their personnel 6 fold since starting this practice, but it's for safety only, of course. Too bad, we used to enjoy dining and eating ice cream in Morrison - no more....
Virgin rock. And just like the first time, a bunch of fumbling and grunting, but 30 minutes later, I was left wanting more!
One can only hope this place remains peaceful and sharp. Props to the crew who bolted routes and created "stairs" to the crag!
$7 park entrance fee and the day we went, there was limited parking. Lots of volunteers still out maintaining trails and vegetation, quite a few mntn bikers and hikers, and us climbers were treated like moose. As one ranger remarked to tourist, "Look! A herd of climbers. They are an elusive bunch, easily spooked and ready to charge, cams in hand, if they feel threatened. Otherwise, a peaceful breed." Ok, he didn't say all that, but he definitely excitedly pointed us out to the tourists. That said, Staunton really seems to support climbers...so let's keep the crags and trails clean...and I mean YOU, Starbucks cup leaver.
The routes were incredible and varied. We had a difficult time identifying the routes based on the free guide (but greatly appreciate the guide, nonetheless). We were in the Tan Corridor, and as mentioned in a previous post, rocks are still loose...one climber broke a hold off the run-out 10 (?) around the second bolt. Climbers questioned whether we can set TR up from the back, like at Table?
Hey Golden Girl, glad you had a good time. Setting up a TR would be challenging. You would need to hike around figure out where you are at on the top of the dome and in most cases rap in off of a tree to reach the bolted anchors for the desired climb.
Hello, I just moved to Colorado and would love to put up some routes on Lion's Head. Does anyone have any existing route info or has anyone else begun any projects up there? I don't want to step on any toes. Also, do any locals know of any ethical concerns for the area not covered in the info provided on Mountain Project, Fixed Pin or the Park website? If anyone else is interested in new routes on Lion's Head, I'd love to collaborate.
There are some routes on Lion's Head, but we have had a very hard time learning about their history. I'd say it is safe to assume that all the "major" weaknesses have been climbed. I haven't heard of any new routes on Lions Head yet, but I think the approach alone is keeping most climbers away. Lion's Head is completely open to trad climbing from Aug. 1st - Feb. 1st, but all proposed fixed hardware must be submitted to a committee for approval before being installed. Unfortunately this creates a lot more work for the developer, but this is the parks compromise to a ban on all fixed hardware.
The fixed pin exception was a compromise we brokered with the park management. The reasoning was that in cases like Lion's Head or other multi-pitch walls it would be very difficult to do anything except ground-up ascents. The fixed pin exception is meant to be an exception in the name of safety. The thinking is if you know fixed pins are legal and you are about to embark up unknown terrain where previous inspection isn't realistic you might bring along a quiver of knife blades for cases were you might find a seam but no other options for gear.
Also, there isn't a ban on bolts, you just need to obtain a permit before drilling and placing them.
Just a head's up: Eldo's flexibility on evening closing time does not apply at this State Park. I did not even think about it because the only other place I've ever climbed where those rules are taken seriously is Hueco.
Leaving after 7pm will get you a $50/person fine here. And to worsen the matter the ranger won't ask if everything is okay, he'll start yelling at you, accusing you of attempting to elude him, and telling you he's writing you a citation as soon as you meet him at the front gate.
Too bad the climbing management plan didn't include a way to emphasize this to climbers as they enter the park. Have trouble descending the Meadow Dome quickly because it's your first time here? You'll meet an unsympathetic ranger and a serious price increase on your State Parks Pass.
What Brandon says is definitely true. I was up past Sawmill Crags last week top roping and trying to figure out some new route potential. A few friends and I have established 5 nice new top ropes in hopes of bolting them. They are great 30 meter face climbs. I will post beta if anyone is interested. Long story short we climbed all day and ended up hiking a long way out to see more of the park. Not thinking too much about it (because a few weeks ago it was light much later), we ended up at the car past dark. Here we were confronted with a VERY angry ranger. He told me how selfish I was and that foolish climbers had been negatively affecting the park (read recent accident). It was too bad because I felt guilty and like I got off on the wrong foot with the park when I wanted to approach them about new routes, park stewardship, volunteering, etc. I hope climbers can continue to have an open and amicable dialogue with rangers as things progress in the park.
Just a little insight from an employee of Staunton: In short, our goal is to protect the park from the people and the people from the park. In order to do this, we have set daily hours unlike other parks, and when people do not make it out of the park on time, we have to determine whether we are dealing with a possible emergency. Daily hours are posted on the main entry gate and on the pass booth; the park is closed to the public at all other times. Winter hours begin November 4th and will be 8am to 5pm daily. Please continue to enjoy the park safely.