Crags, Cams and Carabiners
Although better known for its ice climbing, Ouray has recently gained a reputation for some of the best rock climbing on the western slope and the Four Corners area. There are great areas for beginners and families, and an ever growing number of high quality routes for more advanced climbers. Most routes are pre-equipped sport climbs boasting sturdy stainless steel bolts up steep limestone faces. Areas like the Pool Wall have quickly become popular with visiting climbers, as well as tourists watching and soaking in the hot springs below. Less experienced climbers can enjoy a more relaxed adventure at a number of smaller cliffs set in the woods around town. Better yet, check in with one of our local guide services and let them teach you the ropes safely. Always wear a helmet, and check out out our bookstore and outdoor shop for the latest edition of the local guidebook.
Climbing Areas Around Ouray
Ouray offers a little bit of everything for the rock climber over its 150+ rock climbing routs: sport, trad, mixed and even summer dry-tooling for the out-of-season ice enthusiast. Our local rock is just as varied with solid quartzite, blocky sandstone, and crumbly tuffa to keep things interesting. Below are some of our favorite areas in and around town to climb. When you are climbing around Ouray, definitely refer to our local professional guide services<-[hyperlink] and the local guidebook - the Ouray Rock Climbing Guide - available at our local bookstores. It will give you access information and the best climbing etiquette for each of our popular areas.
The City of Ouray maintains this beautiful park just one mile north of Ouray. This is fun sport and trad practice climbing area for the whole family with safe, easy and accessible single pitch climbs. The park also offers convenient public facilities and a great picnic spot under huge cottonwood trees.
The Pool Wall
The Pool Wall encompasses the steep rock cliffs in a mini-amphitheater just east of the Ouray Hot Springs Pool. This area features Ouray's highest quantity of routes and one of the shortest approaches.Climbs here are mostly single-pitch sport routes ranging from 5.5 to 5.13+. You’ll be entertaining pool customers while you’re up there, too, since many of the climbs are in full view of the Ouray Hot Springs Pool.
These are the beautiful red rock cliffs on the west side of Ouray, accessed by the Old Twin Peaks Trail. About a dozen routes offer multi-pitch mixed bolted/trad routes that offer absolutely stunning views of Ouray from the top.
The Overlook Cliff
This is a nice crag with pretty great views up the Uncompahgre River canyon and down into Ouray. Most of the climbs are bolted sport routes in the 5.11 range. The approach is a hike in from the Sutton Mine Trail.
Also along Camp Bird Road, a little closer to town, Roadside Attraction features fun climbing on solid quartzite with two personalities: an easier slab on the north and a series of 5.10+ climbs on the south.
Upper Camp Bird Road
The beautiful scenery along Camp Bird Road offers some incredible ice/mixed climbing, bolted rock/drytooling routes and bouldering. The volcanic rock is a little crumbly and lacks natural protection.
There are a number of bolted routes right off the road in the Skylight Area, just be aware of the many offroad and recreational users along Camp Bird Road in the summer months.
Ridgway Dike Wall
Access to the Dike Wall is about 3 miles south of Ridgway along highway 550. Climbing here is on a basalt dike that intersects the local sandstone. A number of bolted and top-rope climbs have been set up here throughout the years but the rock tends to be a little loose, so use caution.
Telluride Via Ferrata
The Telluride Via Ferrata is an exciting addition to our local climbing inventory. Set high above our neighbor town of Telluride, this is a unique adventure, which combines hiking, rock climbing, and cable and ladder systems for a thrilling day out. http://www.telluridemountainclub.org/via-ferrata/
Black Canyon of the Gunnison
If you’ve exhausted Ouray’s many crags and are ready for some epic, committing multi-pitch trad climbing, then head to the Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park. The Black Canyon is a spectacular vertical playground that traverses the 2,000-foot vertical, dike-infused, multicolor cliffs down to the class V rapids of the inner canyon. This is not a beginners’ climbing area and all climbers need to get permits through the National Park Service. http://www.nps.gov/blca/planyourvisit/rockclimbing.htm
Photos Courtesy of Peak Mountain Guides