There is a lifetime of climbing in the areas surrounding Denver, CO. But two nearby cities especially stand out. Boulder, a city 30 miles northwest, sits at the base of the Flatirons—a series of beautiful and well known rock formations. It is also home to the nearby Eldorado Canyon. Eldorado is one of the most famous and desired trad climbing areas in the entire country. Golden is approximately 15 miles west of Denver, and this makes it an excellent after work destination. It is home to Clear Creek Canyon and North Table Mountain.
Boulder is a world renowned climbing destination—the Flatirons are known for their long, easy to moderate, multipitch trad routes. However, that is not meant to imply the area doesn’t also contain it’s fair share of difficult sport routes. But the majority of climbers are drawn to the majesty and exposure of the long Flatiron climbs. An excellent guidebook for the area is Climbing Boulder’s Flatirons by Jason Haas. Denver Climbing Company also leads daily trips up these iconic rock formations. You can join one of these guided climbs here.
Just outside boulder lies Eldorado Canyon. Eldorado is one of the most famous rock climbing areas in the entire world. Along with Yosemite, it was one of the major hotbeds of the 60’s and 70’s free climbing revolution in America. Due to the long history and unique ethic, bolted routes are few and far between. The Fixed Hardware Review Committee accepts applications and develops a consensus on whether new bolts will be allowed to be placed. The gold standard guidebook is Eldorado Canyon: A Climbing Guide by Steve Levin.
For those who live in Denver and want a quick to the crag after work, Golden has a couple areas which could be appealing. North Table Mountain at the Golden Cliffs is a short drive from Denver with a quick hike from the parking lot. There is a plethora of moderate routes—perfect for someone looking for an alternative to the gym. North Table Mountain: Rock Climbs at the Golden Cliffs by Jason Haas and Ben Schneider is the foremost guidebook for the area.
Clear Creek Canyon is yet another Golden climbing area—with even more short approaches. This area contains upwards of 1000 routes of various difficulty. Clear Creek is primarily a sport climbing destination– a place where you can find everything from easy multipitch to hard projects in the 5.13 range. Kevin Capps’ Rock Climbing Clear Creek Canyon is an excellent resource for the area.
For those who aren’t into ropes, the Morrison Boulders lie a few miles south of Golden. This spot is a small, concentrated area of boulder problems. It is another spot that will allow you skip the gym and get some outdoor climbing in after a full day of work. There are hundreds of problems ranging the entire gamut of ratings. Colorado Bouldering by Phillip Benningfield is the best bet for a guidebook for the Morrison Boulders(as an added bonus, it will have various other Colorado bouldering areas).