The Wood: Climbing in Castlewood Canyon by Mike Burdon
There’s a lot of places to climb in the Front Range of Colorado, but Castlewood Canyon State Park is unique among them all. The first reason is its location; Castlewood is one of the few climbing areas in the front range, that is not actually in the mountains. It sits out in the plains to the east of Castle Rock, about 45 minutes from Denver.
Castlewood is also unique in its rock type. While a variety of sandstones, granite, gneiss and basalt can all be found in the Front Range, this is one of the only places to climb on conglomerate. This style can be tricky at first, but super fun and rewarding for those who have spent some time with it. It involves cranking on cobbles, sinker pockets, crisp edges, beautiful alligator skin and some wild looking features!
Castlewood has long been known for its bouldering, which is fantastic in both quality and quantity. As a previous guidebook author once marveled, the bouldering here is “inexhaustible!”
The more one seeks, the more one finds! But Castlewood is not only a bouldering area! There are over 130 sport routes, more than 200 trad climbs and still tons of potential for new routes of every style.
Due to its proximity to Denver, Castlewood has been a popular recreation spot for families and beginner climbers. On any given Saturday you’ll see a bunch of families toproping at the Grocery Store Wall, or the Boy Scouts out learning to rappel. Recently, however, there has also been a resurgence of more serious climbers, realizing the park’s untapped potential for new sport climbs, hard boulders and serious trad climbs. In the last year there have been many new routes developed; trad climbs as hard as 12a R, sport climbs up to 13a and boulders in the double digits! Castlewood is not just for kids.
The Wood also provides an opportunity to get off the beaten path. As crags like Canal Zone and the Graveyard are becoming increasingly overrun with the ever-growing number of Denver climbers, Castlewood Canyon remains a place of scenic solitude, where one can enjoy a quiet climbing experience away from the crowds and highways.
So whether you’re looking for some adventure and exploring, bolt protected pocket-pulling, cranking on cobbles, or a chill day in the forest, Castlewood has what you’re looking for and I hope this guidebook helps you find it.