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Thunder Ridge

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Alligator Lounge, The 
Arch Rock 
Battlement Crag 
Black and Tan Wall 
Brown Wall, The 
Cat Scratch Wall 
For Real Canyon, The 
Great Warm-Up Boulder, The 
Gunky Wall, The 
Meadow Rock aka Cougar Cliff 
Metaphysical Wall 
Post Office, The 
Quarry, The 
Wasp Canyon, The 

Thunder Ridge  

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Location: 39.1987, -105.2199 View Map  Incorrect?
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Administrators: Ben Mottinger, Leo Paik, John McNamee, Frances Fierst, Monomaniac, Kristine Hoffman (sitewide)
Submitted By: Richard M. Wright on Jan 1, 2001
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BETA PHOTO: Parking and key hiking points for Thunder Ridge.

Road & nearby private property MORE INFO >>>


Scattered around the state of Colorado, a little off the beaten path, are dozens, if not hundreds, of superb climbing areas that see very little traffic despite hosting oftentimes many wonderful routes. Thunder Ridge is one of my favorite "secret" crags with a wealth of fine climbing to be had. Strictly speaking, Thunder Ridge is a South Platte crag; however, the ridge is so extensive as to warrant status as an area in its own right.

Thunder Ridge was discovered by Steve Cheyney in the late 1980s and features over 200 routes. The routes are typically highly-featured alligator skin, single-pitch mixed and sport lines in the 5.10 to 5.11 range. Picture vertical to slightly overhanging face climbing on bomber incut edges and chickenheads. With that said, several standout routes also exist in the 5.7 to 5.9 range. Additionally, some of the best 5.12s in the Front Range can be found here. If Thunder was closer to Boulder, it would be the most popular cragging area around. Since it is nearly two hours from Boulder and a solid hour from Colorado Springs, it sees very little traffic, and you typically have the entire area to yourself. The crags primarily face south, although there are some canyons that hold shade all day as well. In the winter, Brown Wall and Alligator Lounge bake in the sun, while For Real and Wasp Canyon can be great summertime choices.

January 2013 Update. Please read as access is sensitive here:
The rocks at Thunder Ridge reside entirely on Pike National Forest land. However, half of the approach, which involves walking down a gated dirt road, is on private property. The road is private property from behind the gate (where you park) to where you leave it at the two-track. This is not a closed Forest Service road; it is essentially a driveway. The landowner is ok with climbers walking the road, but he is NOT ok with anyone driving or mountain biking down the road. This is a reasonable request; please honor it. The land to the left of the road is forest service land as well, but there is not a trail along this and we want to continue to utilize the road as long as the landowner is ok with it. PLEASE DO NOT JEOPARDIZE THIS IN ANY WAY. The landowner has become extremely frustrated with people driving down the road and approaching his house to ask for direction and has posted a lot of threatening signs about no trespassing and shooting people. Several climbers, including Joe Sambataro of the Access Fund, Jason Haas of Fixed Pin Publishing, and original developers Steve Cheyney and Glenn Schuler spoke with the landowner after these signs were posted, and got him to agree to allow climbers to walk the road, but that’s it! Please follow these simple rules:

  • Park off to the left at the end of Nine-J Road and do not block either gate.
  • Do not drive or mountain bike down the road.
  • When the private road makes a 90-degree turn towards the house, continue straight on the two-track and do not approach the house.
  • No camping or overnight parking. Instead drive about three miles back up Nine-J Road and camp in one of the pullouts where the trees start up again.
  • Walk to the side of the road and get out of the way of oncoming cars – this is a private road that is used by the local landowners.
  • No fires – this is a high fire danger area.
  • Stay on existing trails.

Getting There 

From Denver/Boulder – take US-285 to Pine Junction and head south (left) on CO-126/Pine Valley Road. Once at the small community of Deckers (about 27 miles), continue south on CO-67 for 8.7 miles and turn right (west) onto Abbey Avenue at the small community of Westcreek. If coming from Colorado Springs, take US-24 to Woodland Park and then head north on CO-67 for 14.1 miles from its intersection with US-24 and turn left (west).

Once on Abbey Avenue, go 0.2 miles to a T-intersection at a stop sign and turn left. Drive 0.5 miles to a volunteer firefighter station and turn right onto Stump Road/CR-68. Drive 2.0 miles and take the first right past Sheep Nose onto Nine-J Road. Follow this for 5.2 miles to where the road ends at two gated driveways and park on the left, being sure to not block either gate.

Hike along the left road (this is private property, do not drive on it!), going uphill at first then heading downhill. After roughly ten minutes (0.6 miles), the road makes a sharp, 90-degree turn to the right towards a house; continue straight on an old two-track. After several hundred yards, spot a climber’s trail veering off at a 45-degree angle to the right at a stump with a cairn consisting of rocks and skulls. Take this trail as it quickly becomes more defined and heads up through the hillside towards the rocks. This trail will wind its way through the burn area and into the aspen groves. The first area you come to will be the Quarry Wall.

Climbing Season

Weather station 2.9 miles from here

114 Total Routes

['4 Stars',21],['3 Stars',60],['2 Stars',26],['1 Star',3],['Bomb',0]

The Classics

Mountain Project's determination of some of the classic, most popular, highest rated routes for Thunder Ridge:
W.A.S.P. (What About Some Pesticide?)   5.7 5a 15 V+ 13 MVS 4b PG13     Trad, 1 pitch, 70'   The Wasp Canyon
Pulp Friction   5.8+ 5b 16 VI- 15 HVS 4c     Sport, 1 pitch, 70'   The Quarry
Let's Do It Again, Daddy   5.8+ 5b 16 VI- 15 HVS 4c PG13     Trad, 1 pitch, 80'   The Alligator Lounge
Is This For Real?   5.10 6b 20 VII- 19 E2 5b     Trad, 1 pitch, 50'   The For Real Canyon
Reptile   5.10 6b 20 VII- 19 E2 5b     Trad, 1 pitch, 50'   The Brown Wall
So Wild   5.10+ 6b+ 21 VII+ 20 E3 5b     Trad, 1 pitch, 70'   The For Real Canyon
No Pressure   5.10+ 6b+ 21 VII+ 20 E3 5b     Sport, 1 pitch, 75'   The Quarry
Reptile Tears   5.10+ 6b+ 21 VII+ 20 E3 5b     Trad, 1 pitch, 100'   The Brown Wall
Powder Monkey   5.11a/b 6c 23 VIII- 23 E3 5c     Trad, 1 pitch, 75'   The Post Office
In Your Face   5.11 6c+ 23 VIII- 23 E4 5c     Trad, 1 pitch, 90'   The For Real Canyon
Real Black Velvet   5.11c 6c+ 24 VIII- 24 E4 6a     Sport, 1 pitch, 70'   The For Real Canyon
The Expensive Route   5.11+ 7a 24 VIII 24 E4 6a     Trad, 1 pitch, 90'   The Wasp Canyon
Super Nova   5.11d 7a 24 VIII 25 E5 6a     Trad, 1 pitch, 60'   The For Real Canyon
Chocolate Thunder   5.12a 7a+ 25 VIII+ 25 E5 6a     Sport, 1 pitch, 75'   The Brown Wall
Reality Check   5.12 7b+ 27 VIII+ 26 E6 6b     Trad, 1 pitch, 50'   The For Real Canyon
Storm   5.12 7b+ 27 VIII+ 26 E6 6b     Trad, 1 pitch, 70'   The Wasp Canyon
The G Route   5.12 7b+ 27 VIII+ 26 E6 6b     Sport, 1 pitch, 80'   The Wasp Canyon
The Rodeo   5.12+ 7c 28 IX 27 E6 6b     Sport, 1 pitch, 70'   The Quarry
Starlight   5.12d 7c 28 IX 28 E6 6b     Trad, Sport, 1 pitch   The Wasp Canyon
Thunderstruck   5.13 8a 29 X- 30 E7 6c     Trad, 2 pitches, 200'   The Brown Wall
Browse More Classics in Thunder Ridge

Featured Route For Thunder Ridge
Pulp Friction follows the obvious black streak.

Pulp Friction 5.8+ 5b 16 VI- 15 HVS 4c  CO : South Platte : ... : The Quarry
Follow the line of bolts along the obvious, black, water streak. Excellent climbing on chicken heads and edges will lead you to the anchors. ...[more]   Browse More Classics in CO

Photos of Thunder Ridge Slideshow Add Photo
THUNDER!! nananananananana
THUNDER!! nananananananana
The Real Thing 5.12 K. Mclaughlin on f.a.  In the For Real Canyon.
The Real Thing 5.12 K. Mclaughlin on f.a. In the ...
Thunder Ridge- Storm, 5.12, Wasp Canyon
Thunder Ridge- Storm, 5.12, Wasp Canyon
Thunder Ridge - Reptile Tears, 5.10+  Brown Wall.
Thunder Ridge - Reptile Tears, 5.10+ Brown Wall.
Kevin McLaughlin and Stefan Doucette, For real wall.
Kevin McLaughlin and Stefan Doucette, For real wal...
South Platte wolf.
South Platte wolf.
Thunder Ridge.
Thunder Ridge.
After the long crux just holding on to finish out is the second crux. Phil Wortmann clinging with what he has left. Starlight 5.12+
After the long crux just holding on to finish out ...
Phil Wortmann heading into the 20 ft. crux of Starlight 5.12.+  Ken Alston working the rope.
Phil Wortmann heading into the 20 ft. crux of Star...
The Penetrators 5.12 Glenn Schuler climbing. Left of the Brown Wall   F.A.
The Penetrators 5.12 Glenn Schuler climbing. Left ...
Kevin Stricker cruising on IS THIS FOR REAL 5.10
Kevin Stricker cruising on IS THIS FOR REAL 5.10
These signs assure your on the right path to the crag.
BETA PHOTO: These signs assure your on the right path to the c...
1-Alligator Lounge <br />2-Quarry Wall <br />3-For Real Canyon <br />4-Arch Rock <br />5-Wasp Canyon (hidden) <br />6-Brown Wall <br /> <br />
1-Alligator Lounge
2-Quarry Wall
3-For Real Canyon...
Installing the new sign at the Thunder Ridge parking area. Check it out on your next visit. The landowner Mike is shown here. Mike and Julie are good neighbors to have and quite nice - just follow those rules to maintain climber access.
BETA PHOTO: Installing the new sign at the Thunder Ridge parki...
Glory days.
Glory days.
Starlight 5.12 climbs out the overhanging wall starting deep and climbing steep!!!
Starlight 5.12 climbs out the overhanging wall sta...
Overview shot from before the Hayman burn.
Overview shot from before the Hayman burn.
Please park here and do not drive down this road. The land owner is ok with climbers walking down his road, but please stay on the road.
Please park here and do not drive down this road. ...
Climbers on For Real Wall.  Kevin Stricker on right, on IS THIS FOR REAL, on left, 5.10 corner crack.
Climbers on For Real Wall. Kevin Stricker on righ...
Follow the trail when you find the skull.
Follow the trail when you find the skull.
V2s don't get much better than this.  This block could host about 8 problems.  <br /> <br />The area beneath the brown wall has seen the most developement as far as bouldering goes.  There are beautiful boulders all over the place, put on your adventure hat and find yourself a sweet line.
V2s don't get much better than this. This block c...
Founding Father of Thunder Ridge - Steve Cheyney. <br />Thank you, my friend!!
Founding Father of Thunder Ridge - Steve Cheyney.
Fading light on Thunder Ridge.
Fading light on Thunder Ridge.

Show All 29 Photos

Only the first 24 are shown above.

Comments on Thunder Ridge Add Comment
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Comments displayed oldest to newestSkip Ahead to the Most Recent Dated Jul 12, 2013
By Anonymous Coward
Jul 28, 2001
Ethics are a thing of the past.
By Tod Anderson
Jun 12, 2002
Burned June '02 by a human caused fire. Hopefully the originator of this fire will commit suicide.
By Richard M. Wright
From: Lakewood, CO
Jan 15, 2003
Is Terry Barton human or a loosely cohered sack of hormone imbalances - something like a cockroach on estrogen?
By Thomas Jensen
Jul 11, 2003
Hey Richard, you could sink a bolt in her face next to the crack and call it 5.13!
By Squid
Aug 26, 2004
Anyone know how to get here by these directions? I didn't find them by the directions. I was in the right area. Any info is appreciated.
By Stefan Doucette
Mar 14, 2008
Submitting directions would have that nasty little side effect of bringing people in there! We already have Shelf Road for that kind of climbing. My previous comment was an attempt to keep people from getting lost.
By Derek Lawrence
From: Bailey
Mar 15, 2008
Wow Stefan, between your comment above and your comment on Phil's photo (which I thought WAS helpful), you sure come across as an ass...trying to have your own private crag? I've seen those crags for years heading down 67, just had no clue had to get there without crossing private property. Frankly, considering the length of the approach that I'm sure it involves, I don't think you'll be finding any Shelf Road crowds there ever.... Perhaps a friendlier soul will post the current approach directions.
By Stefan Doucette
Mar 15, 2008
Derek, I can see where you got that. To clarify, Phil and I climb a lot together, and I was just giving him crap on the hand drawn numbers (which there is nothing wrong with, as you said the picture is helpful). In fact, theres a good chance that when he took that picture, Kevin M. and I were there. If I didn't know him, and if I didn't know for sure the poster wouldn't take it seriously, it would have been a different comment.

About my directions comment- After I re-read it, I can understand your perspective. My ideas behind this comment, though possibly poorly worded and communicated, go as follows. The feeling is almost unanimous that Thunder could never become another Shelf, mainly because of the approach. Also, I have chosen to refrain from posting directions out of respect of the climbers who have found and developed that area. If anything, it's not my personal crag but theirs. This small handful of climbers have put an enormous amount of work into setting routes there; so much so that I wouldn't feel justified in bringing people in there. If/when they want to do that, that perfectly fine with me, but I feel that's their choice to make. This is a personal choice, and it was not imposed upon me by any of those people.
By Derek Lawrence
From: Bailey
Mar 15, 2008
Gotcha - that makes sense... thanks, Stefan.

Now...what's the deal w/ the dome with the right-leaning corners? (not labeled, behind 5...).

I can be emailed thru this site....
By Glenn Schuler
From: Monument, Co.
Mar 16, 2008
Since I'm one of "those" people and I like to consider myself a friendly soul, here's what I know:

Just past Sheep's Nose turn north on the 9J road and follow it until you reach a gate and chain link fence. Park at the small pullout on the west side of the road adjacent to the gate. From here, you can see the climbing area to the northeast and up the hill. From this point, there is a large rectangle of private property extending to the north and east, the gate is located at the SW corner of the private land. To avoid trespassing walk north along the road for about .7 miles and then turn right (east)once you are past the private property. As you get towards the end of the road it makes a 90 degree turn towards the east - do not go down this part of the road or you will be crossing private property! Instead continue straight north for another couple hundred yards and then go east toward the creek. Find the creek crossing at a small meadow with a 15' cliff band on your left (north). Keep walking eastward up the hill and you will find yourself on an old road that takes you directly to the cliffs.

One other thing I should mention about the road that runs along the west boundary of the private property - to the west is National Forest land and to the east is private land. The road meanders a bit and crosses both. There are metal signs clearly marking the NF boundary, so stay to the west of these when in doubt.

Once you know where you are going this is about a 45 minute hike to the first crags (Quarry Wall, For Real Canyon and Wasp Canyon). Beyond that, add another 15 - 30 minutes to the crags further on up the hill (Alligator Lounge, Brown Wall and Thunder Dome).

There is some amazing climbing here, well worth the hike! I'll post some more route/crag info in the near future.

By Kevin McLaughlin
From: Colorado Springs
Mar 16, 2008
Thunder Ridge is unlike any other South Platte granite - it is very featured. All routes have been drilled on the lead - as per South Platte standards. A few all bolt routes exist, but most take gear.
By Derek Lawrence
From: Bailey
Mar 16, 2008
Thanks, Glenn!
By Chris Cavallaro
Apr 22, 2008
The developers did an excellent job on this area. The hike is long but not too hard, and is well marked with cairns and red tags along the way. Great place to climb and find some solitude.
By Hayden Miller
Apr 20, 2009
To Whom It May Concern,

I visited Thunder Ridge on Wednesday April 15th and noticed that the landing under the large boulder below the G-Route had been dismantled. I was very disappointed to see this considering the time and effort put into the development of this boulder. I know there are people that have been climbing at Thunder Ridge longer than I have but that does not give you the right to destroy a boulder problem. There are many routes at Thunder that are bolted and could be done with run out gear. However, I do not chose the chop the bolts on your routes so please do not destroy the hard work of other climbers. Unlike you, I chose to leave only what was already there. Without that constructed landing there is no way that this boulder would go and it does not significantly detract from the canyon, considering the people that use this canyon are all climbers that are dealing with stainless steal bolts left on the rock. If you have an issue with this please feel free to send me a private message. Otherwise, please be respectful of other users of the area who have the same vested interest in the long term sustainability of Thunder Ridge.

Sincerely, Hayden Miller
By Kevin McLaughlin
From: Colorado Springs
Apr 20, 2009
I don't WANT to post here - but before I see anymore verbal sparring I WOULD like to say .... Thunder is a nice place to be with a great atmosphere to it ... PLEASE do not change that. Thank you.
P.M. sent
By Shane Neal
From: Colorado Springs, CO.
Jun 8, 2009
T-Ridge is amazing. The area, the post burn atmosphere, the amazing routes and rock all make it a great place to climb. Thanks Kev and Glen for the best Platte weekend ever! Not to mention all the hard work and cost you two and others have put into this gem over the years- you dudez rock! Especially for OLD dudz! ;)

For everyone else- please, just respect it. TRidge is a unique and amazing area. The long hard hike will deter the crowds and this is NOT a sport stop by any means. You need to have skill and mental strength to climb here. It is truly a climbers paradise in the CORE sense of the meaning. The ground up ethics prevail with pride, thus be prepared to climb that way. You must be SOLID and your grade, strong in your mind and really know how to use bolts that are where u need em' only and make the best of natural gear.

Come here with that fun, friendly, positive mind set that Kevin spoke of above- thats what it is all about here. Keep it green, respect the rock, route's, land and other users- and this one of a kind area will forever be around. TRidge is truly what climbing is all about, in every possible aspect. Love it and enjoy it!

p.s.- bring extra nuts! (not talking about the aluminum kind) Also, beware the wind, dead trees are being blown down-we witnessed it this weekend.
By Monty
From: Golden, CO
Jun 25, 2009
I love this place! Its great... but it can be a rope eater. On a lot of routes think about belaying from above, the rock tends to eat your rope on a lot of routes. Just think twice before you lower and have fun!
By Mark Tarrant
Jun 25, 2009
Those atheistic anchors will certainly eat your rope. They could have a similar effect on your soul. Clip only theistic anchors -- save your rope, save your soul.
By Christopher Barlow
Apr 9, 2010
I'm curious about the comment that Thunder hosts routes from 5.7 - 5.13+. To the best of my knowledge, there are three routes in the 12+/13- range (Starlight, Thunderstruck, and Wave Goodbye). Are there any lines harder than these? If so, where are they?
By Glenn Schuler
From: Monument, Co.
Apr 9, 2010
You're right, Christopher, those are the contenders for the hardest established routes so far. Not sure how/why Richard came up with that statement. However, there will be a .13+ very soon - as soon as a certain someone finishes their project.
By Christopher Barlow
Apr 9, 2010
Intriguing. . . .
By rob bauer
From: Golden, CO
May 25, 2010
(Thanks to Kevin, Glen & Brennan for taking the mystery out of the approach.) Had a great day there 2 days ago! From my small sample of 4 routes on Alligator, the ratings aren't exaggerated in the least and most sport climbers will find the dirth of bolts daunting, to say the least. (This area defines why I'm proud to be a 5.10 climber.) Trad climbers will be greatly rewarded and many thanks to the developers!
By Alec Solimeo
Aug 15, 2010
Who has thunder this week (August16-20th?) Young group of climbers looking to sample some Thunder Ridge anyone willing to climb with us?
By Alec Solimeo
Aug 15, 2010
Regardless...what does a local desire for campers to do...what is primo locale...for me and you!
By Lizzy Scully
From: Lyons, Colorado
Oct 17, 2010
Directions are incorrect. The road is not 360 that you turn right on from West Creek. It is Stump Rd, #68, and you turn right at the fire station. Also, the landowner who owns the property at the gate where you park (at the end of 9J) is a decent fellow. However, he is a bit bummed because people camp by the gate (there's a big no camping sign as its a wildlife area), and he relayed some stories about climbers driving down his road (it is a private road that he allows people to walk on) and then being belligerent when he told them it was private property. Whoever you are, please cease and desist with the irresponsible behavior as it will threaten access for all of us. This is one of the most gorgeous climbing areas I have visited. I hope to climb there for many years!
By noah gostout
Sep 21, 2011
Contrary to common belief, the rock here is choss, and the area is full of snakes!
By Amir
From: Boulder, CO
Oct 2, 2011
Kevin and Glenn,

Great meeting you today at the crag! This is one of the best crags in the state. Thanks for your huge contribtuion to Colorado climbing!
By rob bauer
From: Golden, CO
Nov 12, 2011
Glen or Kevin?

What's the light colored, slabby rock to the right side of WASP Canyon? (The one with the 2 or 3 friction routes.) Pretty friable stuff. I did the one on the right yesterday and a few more of the features fell off. (So did I.) Stout lead!
By Glenn Schuler
From: Monument, Co.
Nov 13, 2011
Rob, that is the DJ Wall. If I remember right, there are two bolted routes on the left side of the wall put up by Steve Cheyney and Dave Dyess. I'll have to look thru my old notes and see if I can find the names.
They used to be rated in the .10 range - but I bet they are quite different now. That wall was probably the hardest hit from the flames and you can see where all kinds of holds have spalled off. I've never seen anyone on it since before the fire - so how are they now? We saw you guys rapping off the wall as we were headed out on Friday.
By Scotty Nelson
From: Boulder
Jan 19, 2012
Is going here in winter a bad idea?
By Glenn Schuler
From: Monument, Co.
Jan 20, 2012
Snow can get pretty deep on the approach during big snow years. Should be OK right now. The road is plowed to the parking area, so even when there is quite a bit of snow you can get there alright. Tomorrow looks good - we're going!
By adam brink
From: Boulder, CO
Mar 19, 2012
What is the best place to camp at near Thunder Ridge? I know there is private property around the area, and I want to make sure we camp in an already established area. Thanks!
By Glenn Schuler
From: Monument, Co.
Mar 20, 2012
Adam, from the parking area, head back south up the road until you are in the live trees again. A little ways past the first live trees on the west side is a nice flat area with an established fire ring and nice views of the Platte. If that is taken, just head further back towards Sheepsnose and there are plenty of campsites. Just avoid camping near the rancher's driveway that comes in from the east side of the road about halfway down.
By adam brink
From: Boulder, CO
Mar 20, 2012
Thank you, Glenn!
By mbynum
Dec 24, 2012
Incredible place! Went to Thunder Ridge yesterday for the first time and acquired some beta about access:

As we were walking on the Forest Service land on the West side of the private property, we ran into one of the local land owners, Mike. He is a generally friendly guy who told us that he is beginning to get irritated with people not respecting his (and his neighbors') property (i.e. biking down their driveway, DRIVING down their driveway, and even being as bold as to go up to the house and ask for directions). Mike told us that he has been getting annoyed to the point of "carrying around his shotgun" lately. Yikes. He also told us that he was okay with people walking down the road, but please stay off to the side, because he cruises down the road at 30 miles per hour and could hit someone.

Please do your best to maintain good relationships with the people who own the land in this area. Do not drive your vehicle past the "private property" sign. Do not go up to the house to ask for directions to the crag. Do not ride your bike down the road. It would be a shame to lose this precious gem. Thanks!
By Jason Haas
From: Broomfield, CO
Jan 13, 2013
The information at the top of this page, including directions, has been updated. This includes information about the public vs. private access. Please take a look at it before you venture out to Thunder. Also, do not drive the gated road - this is entirely private property, not a closed FS road. The landowners are ok with climbers walking the road (despite the newly-posted signs), just not driving or mountain biking it. Lastly, metal signs will be added to the parking lot very soon.
By Dave Meyers
From: Golden, CO
May 10, 2013
Finally there’s topos for Thunder Ridge! Check them out; they should make navigating this awesome place much easier.
By steven r cheyney
Jul 12, 2013
Ok, now I get it! I'll bet you have fooled a lot of unsuspecting people.