Nestled in the Rocky Mountains, about two hours from Colorado Springs and three hours from Denver, the Salida, Colorado area offers outdoor enthusiasts plenty of opportunities for rock climbing. Salida is located in Chaffee County and is home to more than a dozen mountain peaks that are 14,000 feet tall. If you are a beginner, you can visit one of the many outfitters to get you fitted for the right gear and take you on an escorted tour. There are also plenty of challenging climbs for experts if you wish to go it alone. This guide offers some of the top tours and climbing locations in Chaffee County. First, let’s take a look at the three main types of climbing available in Chaffee County.
- Sport Climbing uses permanent anchors that are fixed in the rock to protect climbers. Climbers clip into these fixed anchors on predetermined routes, so they don’t have to forge their own path.
- Trad Climbing, short for traditional climbing, is where climbers place and remove their own anchors as they climb.
- Bouldering is rock climbing stripped down to bare essentials. Basically, you find a rock and climb it. Climbers aren’t focused on height, but instead, practice traversing. You don’t need the same safety gear as safety mats replace ropes and anchors.
Top Climbing Locations in Chaffee County
- Midland Hill – Beginners who want to go bouldering will head west of Buena Vista to Midland Hill, also called Sleeping Indian. Midland Hill refers to a ridge of mountains with four peaks that is two miles long. The four summits are about 9,500 feet. The trail starts at one of the parks in Buena Vista and has unusual rock formations along the way. After you cross the Arkansas River via footbridge, you continue through the forest until you reach the first peak. Although this hike is geared for beginners, you can reach up to about 1500 feet in vertical gain.
- Almost a Tunnel – This is a traditional route that is located just after the Midland Tunnels. Perfect for beginners, this route has a variety of short climbs and hills with plenty of granite formations like most of the climbs in the area.
- Bob’s Rock – This is a great climb for those who are planning a trip with a group of people. Bob’s Rock has routes for all different abilities. Beginners will enjoy the Top Rope Slab while experts will want to check out the 5.10b rated Cartoon Watcher route.
- Turtle Rock – Another great location in Chaffee County, this is another location for all ability levels. Turtle Rock is located about three miles north of Buena Vista and includes routes for sport climbing, trad climbing, bouldering, and scrambling. Scrambling is a step down in difficulty from bouldering and is a perfect intro to the sport for beginners. An easy scramble route is similar to a steep walking route, while a difficult scramble is akin to an easy rock climbing route.
Climbing Tours in Chaffee County
Located in Buena Vista, Rocky Mountain Outdoor Center (RMOC) offers three different guided climbing tours. Tours start between 8:30 and 9:00 a.m. and equipment is included in the price of the tour:
- Half Day Guided Climbs – RMOC’s half-day climbs go to the Pump Station and Falls Gulch. The Pump Station overlooks the Arkansas River and offers challenging climbs, as well as intermediate climbs on the South Face. Falls Gulch in Bighorn Sheep Canyon offers short and easy climbs for beginners and longer climbs for those with more experience.
- Full Day Guided Climbs – If you are staying in Salida, we recommend the full day tour to Falls Gulch. Located on the Upper Bighorn Sheep Canyon, you can experience long and short climbs including repelling. The perfect full day tour for a diverse group. Other options include Shelf Road, which is famous for it’s sport climbing, and the remote castle domes of Castle Rock.
- Professional Instruction – RMOC’s professional instruction focuses on building skills instead of location. Sign up for a full or half day of private instruction and take classes like Intro to Sport Climbing, Anchor Building, Learn to Lead, and Multi-pitch Climbing. Lunch is included.
When you visit Chaffee County for rock climbing, you will want a clean and comfortable place to rest and relax at the end of the day. Book your stay at the Creekside Chalets. A convenient location to all the best climbing spots in the area.