What's so special about Red Rocks?


An early morning approach at Red Rocks.

If you climb or even talk to rock climbers, you've inevitably heard the expression "Rock-Tober." This isthe migration of climbers flocking south to low elevation cliffs across the southern United States in search of moderate temperatures and cloud free skies. While it might be snowing and even decent skiing in British Columbia and Washington state, the desert rock of the Southwest and the steep faces of the Red River Gorge beckon rock climbers to resole their shoes and continue rock pursuits. So why do so many climbers choose Red Rocks canyon?

The sandstone Quarry area. 2 minutes from the parking lot.

It's accessible. Both geographically and in terms of climbing, Red Rocks is about as easy as it gets. It's a half hour from the airport and all of the amenities of the city sits thousands of climbing routes. Whether you're throwing down a crash pad, clipping bolts or linking pitches to shorten your trad route to single digit pitches, there is no shortage of routes in your grade.

It gets as hard as you want it to get (or at least as hard as I want it to get). But it offers climbs of all lengths and styles for every level of climber. Want to chill at the crag with six of your best friends and climb with just a rack of quick draws? Get an alpine start and climb over 2,000' of vertical rock? Don a headlamp and project some boulders after dusk? These are all options in the 13+ miles of Aztec sandstone projecting out of the earth here.

10 pitches up on Solar Slab.

It's huge. While there are plenty of single pitch options, Red Rocks shines in the availability of long trad routes. Even if you lead 5.6 you can climb ten pitch routes to the top of towers. Where else can you get that?

The rock is unique. The sandstone here mostly offers eroded patina face holds, but it there are certainly splitter cracks and overhanging huecos. It takes a little getting used to if you're coming from granite, but within a few days it becomes your new norm. Lotta balls, a unique route, features a pitch of smooth varnished sandstone where the only holds available are widely spaced round, marble sized concretions. Tunnel Vision literally goes through a section of rock via a tunnel. Black Orpheus descends a rappel station includes a nut, a slung column and a snow picket wedged into a hueco- possibly one of the most memorable anchors I've rapped off.

You can climb year round. Even when the temps in Vegas are scorching, the deep dark canyons of the conservation area provide respite from the heat. When temps cool down, just move to one of the multitude of south oriented faces and soak in the sun.

It's worth a trip or two! Happy climbing~