Spring through fall
Estes Park, CO, is a five-minute drive from the park’s entrance
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“Rocky” is big, loose, and totally worth the early morning start
Rocky Mountain National Park (RMNP) is a bucket list destination for climbers all over the world, and it’s easy to see why: it’s home to Longs Peak, the tallest mountain in the park, and some of the most beautiful, long, and committing routes in America. Even Blitzen Ridge (5.4) is no slouch — the ridge sees plenty of lightning and gives no clue about approaching storms. Commitment is key when climbing at Rocky. But with an early start and a certified guide by your side, the long hike to your objective will immediately fade to the background when you gaze up at the magnificent alpine rock towering above you — some climbs start at 12,000 feet!
Most popular packages and classes in Rocky Mountain National Park
Rock Climb Rocky Mountain NP
If you want a taste of alpine climbing but don’t have much experience, consider starting out on Lumpy Ridge. Looking for something a little more moderate or challenging? Consider Hallet Peak, Spearhead or Sharktooth as objectives.
Rocky Mountain National Park Climbing
The objectives in Rocky are big and require planning, skill and care! Spend either one or two days on technical climbs with objectives like Keyhole Ridge, The Diamond or Kieners on Longs Peak. Other climbs could include Mount Meeker, Petit Grepon, Sharkstooth, Notchtop, and more. Previous climbing experience is required for this program.
Get ready to take on some alpine climbing classics with guides who have RMNP right outside their door in Estes Park. Even though the approaches for some of these objectives are north of 2.5 hours, there’s something for all levels of climbers, from shorter classics to steeper routes.
Things you need to know
Do you need a permit?
If you want to camp in Rocky Mountain National Park, a $30 permit is required from May 1st through October 31st. For non-camping visitors, the park offers a Day Pass that costs $25. A seven-day vehicle pass is $35, and a seven-day motorcycle pass is $30. An annual pass for the park is $70.
When is the best time to go?
This really depends on when the snow melts. Some climbs are accessible in mid to late spring. The climbing can be good until the fall — or when the snow falls. Either way, you gotta look out for the snow.
What about bad weather?
Inclement weather can always get in the way of climbing, especially at Rocky Mountain National Park. Afternoon thunderstorms are real and frequent. Even snow can fall in June. Your guide will know the best spots to move to if and when it rains or snows. If in doubt, though, always ask your guiding service for more information on their policies when weather disrupts climbing. And bring an extra layer.
What's a typical itinerary?
You’ll meet up with your guide, go over gear and beta, and then plan on what routes you want to ascend, or what techniques you want to focus on most, depending on your skill level and course. For climbing in RMNP, count on a very, very early start to beat the afternoon storms.
What about group sizes?
Group sizes are usually between 1-4 people with one instructor. Also, remember that the costs decrease as the group grows, so it’s the perfect opportunity to climb with friends and family.
Estes Park sits just to the east of the park’s entrance and is often the meeting location of choice for any RMNP endeavors. Denver is 1.5 hours by car; Boulder, CO, is just under an hour’s drive.
Memories of climbing at RMNP will last a lifetime
Regardless of your objective, whether it’s climbing above Estes Park, ascending the legendary Diamond on Longs Peak, or tackling classic granite crack and face climbing at Lumpy Ridge, the thrill of climbing at Rocky won’t fade from your memory anytime soon. When the conditions are right and the body is willing, climbing in RMNP is tough to beat.
Who should climb in Rocky Mountain National Park?
Colorado’s big. Big terrain, big skies, big rock. RMNP is the biggest of Colorado’s big stuff. It’s because of this that so many climbers seek its crags out from all over the world. While Lumpy Ridge has more accessible objectives for new climbers, Longs Peak demands you bring your best. Every climber of every level should climb at RMNP at least once.