Eldorado Canyon State Park – Popular Rock Climbing Venue

Eldorado Canyon State Park

Eldorado Springs, Colorado.

About 10 minutes south of Boulder, a jewel of a park invites visitors to come and hike or rock climb. If you’re not into either of those activities, you can choose to simply drive through the park and enjoy the views. You can expect, though, to stop along the way and take a few photographs of the mountains and South Boulder Creek. Getting to the park is easy from the Denver-Boulder Turnpike (U.S. 36.) The exit from the turnpike is a bit funky, so watch for the signs. You will want to take Colorado State Route 170.

Eldorado Canyon SP-1
South Boulder Creek

Bring a picnic lunch if you plan to stay all day, and the park is open all year round, but you will need to reserve an arrival slot during the busy summer season. Weekends are especially busy. On weekends and holidays during the busy season, though, there is a free shuttle service from U.S. 36 and McCaslin Blvd.

Eldorado Canyon SP-10

The visitor center is closed Mondays, but otherwise, it is open from 10 am to 4 pm daily. Your mileage may vary, however. We attempted to stop at the visitor’s center on the day of our visit, but it was closed. We were there on a Wednesday during their open hour time, but a note on the website also qualifies their hours with “when staffing is available.”

You can purchase an annual pass online, or you can buy a day pass either at the park entrance station or a self-pay kiosk. As of this writing, a vehicle pass is $10, and an individual pass is $4. More details can be found here.

Eldorado Canyon SP-2-3
Eldorado Canyon

We discovered as we drove through the park how popular it is for rock climbing. There are over five hundred technical rock climbing routes on the picturesque cliffs and trails for hikers are connected to the Boulder trail system. Can you find the climber in the image above? You may need to click on the image to view it in 2K HD from my Flickr page.

Eldorado Canyon SP-4
Can you spot all the climbers working on this section of the cliff?

Though we didn’t see any wildlife on our journey through the park, there are mule deer, bears, bobcats, elk, and mountain lions spotted in the foothills around the canyon. Fishermen will enjoy catching several varieties of trout and other native species. Many birds also live in or migrate through the canyon each year.

Eldorado Canyon SP-5
Climbers on the cliff

At one point we parked the car and spent quite some time watching the climbers as they made their way up the cliff walls. Most of the images I captured that day included climbers on the many rock faces we drove or walked by.

Eldorado Canyon SP-6
Eldorado Canyon walls

Hikers can find plenty of trail options listed on the park’s website. Most trails are multi-use, open to horses, bikes, and other non-motorized equipment in addition to hikers. The longer trails are just over 3.5 miles (5.6 km) and the easiest trail is open to wheelchairs and strollers. The trail is an out-and-back format for a total length of 1.8 miles (2.9 km) round trip.

Eldorado Canyon SP-7
Something orange caught my eye

As we walked along the edge of the road at one point, I spotted something orange up in a crevice in the rock behind some trees. At first, I couldn’t figure out what it was. Curious, I stopped and watched for a bit.

Eldorado Canyon SP-8
A mascot

As the orange object climbed higher in the crevice, I could see it was some kind of sports mascot in costume. Below, hidden in the trees, a group of people was encouraging the mascot to climb higher as they took photographs. When the mascot got to about the point in the photo above, he started moving his head side-to-side in a definite “I’m not climbing any higher” attitude. No amount of encouragement from the group below could persuade him to continue the climb.

Eldorado Canyon SP-9
The mascot finished his climb.

Eventually, back at the base of those trees, the mascot picked up his flag and was no doubt happy to be done with his climbing photo shoot. All in all, we spent probably three hours in the park. We attempted to stop at the visitor’s center on the day of our visit, but it was closed. The website says that the center is open Tuesday through Sunday from 10am to 4pm, and closed Mondays. We were there on a Wednesday during their open hour time, but a note on the website also qualifies their hours with “when staffing is available.”

For those who would like to make more than a day trip of visiting Eldorado Canyon, there are campgrounds available near the park. They are listed on the park’s website linked above.

Unfortunately, like more and more public parks, drones are prohibited in the park so I was unable to use my Mavic Air to capture what would likely have been some pretty spectacular scenery from above. You can click on any of the images above to view them in 2k HD on my Flickr site, or you can visit my Flickr album here.

John Steiner

6 comments

  1. A horse climbing rocks isn’t something you see every day! 😀

    Your images are excellent, John. Thanks for introducing us to another spectacular corner of your country!

  2. Great photos, John! Beautiful rocks.
    We lived in Boulder until early 80s. The National Atom Res Center was right behind our backyard. 🙂

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