Things To Do
Shelf Road, running from Cañon City to Cripple Creek, follows an old stagecoach route on the southwest side of Pikes Peak. Limestone cliff bands up to 80 feet high line the rims of a series of dry canyons above the dirt road about 15 miles north of Cañon City, forming Shelf Road climbing area. The scruffy cliffs, with over 1,000 bolted routes, is one of Colorado’s best and most popular sport climbing venues. The area naturally divides into six main climbing venues—The Bank, Cactus Cliff and Spiney Ridge, The Gym, The Dark Side, Sand Gulch, and The Gallery. The Bank, Cactus, and The Gallery are the most popular sectors. Expect great climbing on vertical faces, using pockets, incuts, edges, and jugs, as well as occasional crack climbs.
The first time I visited Shelf Road climbing area was on a warm spring day in 1984. My friends in Colorado Springs had been developing new routes there. “They’re not really climbing those dirty cliffs north of Cañon City?” I asked. But they were. That day I saw the future of Colorado climbing at Shelf. Over the next few decades I learned a new vocabulary of climbing moves and established many new routes by drilling bolts and prying off loose flakes. I still go to Shelf Road for fun on its limestone cliffs. There’s no better climbing day anywhere.
Recommended season(s): Year-round.
—Stewart M. Green