Fearless Heights

A short drive north of Cañon City on County Road 9 will lead you to some of the best, most challenging rock climbing in Colorado. Head to the popular Shelf Road Climbing Area near Sand Gulch Campground where you’ll find hundreds of bolted routes. Spring and autumn are the best seasons to climb, but even in the heat of summer, there are routes that offer shade. A sport climber’s paradise, Shelf Road is a great location off the beaten path but close enough to town to enjoy a great meal and a cold drink at the end of the day.

The area has three campgrounds that are spread apart, so it’s easy to feel secluded. Next to one of the campgrounds is a trailhead for Redemption Trail. Follow this trail down into the canyon where Grape Creek runs along the floor. In the spring, the canyon is rich with green trees and grasses and the creek is perfect for wading.

Follow the trail and you’ll discover the “temple,” after which the canyon is named. This rock alcove was formed by the continual seepage of water into small fissures or cracks in the rock and may have been used by the Ute Indian Tribe as a ceremony site.

When climbing in the Royal Gorge Region, please help us to keep climbing areas in the best condition possible. Join us as we observe Leave No Trace principles specific to climbing areas:

  1. Know the rules and regulations of an area
  2. Always use durable surfaces in climbing areas
  3. Dispose of human waste in 6-8″ catholes or pack it out
  4. Pack it in, pack it out
  5. Minimize the use of chalk and clean up spills.
  6. Learn about seasonal raptor closures
  7. Keep dogs under control and don’t monopolize a climb
  8. Minimize your impact and don’t jeopardize crag access


Learn more about the local climbing opportunities and outfitters. Come enjoy a rock climbing adventure for both beginners and intermediate climbers.


Rock climbing in the Royal Gorge Region will challenge even the most accomplished athletes.  Please make sure to Care for Colorado and Leave No Trace!