Colorado has dozens of great climbing areas, but Devil’s Head seems to be the best kept secret among the less well known crags. With the route count closing in on 1000 and free camping all within an hour of downtown Denver, chances are we’ll be seeing a lot more climbers down there in the years to come. The addition of many new crags to the east and west of the previously known areas has nearly doubled the previous route count in just four years. Additionally, there have been new routes on what’s historically been known as Devil’s head Rock, deep on the Jackson Creek side that are much longer than any of the previous climbs.
Probably the best thing about Devil’s Head besides the quality of the climbing is the feeling of remoteness, while being just a short distance from both Denver and Colorado Springs. The great views in all directions provide a hard to beat ambience compared to all of the other nearby areas like Clear Creek and Boulder Canyon. With about a half dozen different access points it’s possible to set up camp & hike directly from camp to many of the crags. No need to drive hours from Denver to find great camping and climbing, its right there in the back yard.
What makes Devil’s Head unique is the highly featured, fine grained granite found all over the mountain. This great stone allows a wide variety of climbing styles, making each crag and each route different. Unlike many granite areas, Devil’s Head has plenty of steep walls loaded with 5.12s & 5.13s, sometimes right next to lower angle crags with 8s, 9s & 10s. There are plenty of positive, incut holds to choose from on most routes in contrast to the usual granite dome slabbiness.
Recent exploration has produced a ton of new routes as featured in the November 2014 Rock & Ice article that showcases some of the best of the best new crags like Devil’s Gate, the Switchblade and Recovery Wall. More multi-pitch climbing has been added too on Devil’s Head Rock over on the Jackson Creek side with several five pitch routes and some that may go eight pitches in length. Revelation at 5.11, and Sunny Side Up at 5.10 top the list of the new longer routes that can be done with just a rack of draws. The intense patina features of Devil’s Gate make it a sought after destination for 5.11 to 5.13 climbers, with a high concentration of four star routes on impeccable stone. Over to the north, the rope stretching pitches on the Switchblade have been popular too and with a southern exposure sheltered from the wind it’s usually climbable on chillier days in the spring and fall.
Somewhere between 50 and 100 routes go in each year, so a rakkup app is the only way to keep up with the latest developments. The maze of spires, ridges and valleys is much easier to navigate the first few times with the GPS capability of rakkup too as opposed to getting lost in the woods. Whether you’re on a road trip from far away or a Colorado local, the best granite sport climbing in the US is right there waiting for you.