When climbers talk about the South Platte, they are referring to a giant playground north and west of Colorado Springs, from Sedalia to Conifer and south to Eleven Mile Canyon. This vast collection of domes and spires is known for its fine, water-streaked granite and cracks. Most of the area is part of a massive granite formation called Pikes Peak batholiths, formed as the earth’s crust was pushed up from below, then eroded over millions of years. Classic climbs here are found on Turkey Rocks, Arch Rock, Sheep’s Nose and Big Rock Candy Mountain.
What Makes It Great
The area in the northern South Platte region is known for its roadside cragging. Climbing season here peaks in the summer and early fall, with the most activity in May. According to the Mountain Project, there are 1,390 total routes, mostly traditional and sport with a small number of top rope routes.
The majority are rated 5.9-5.11. A number of this area’s most popular climbing routes are found within the boundaries of a new state park. Staunton State Park in Pine has more than 60 routes that range from 5.3 to 5.12+. There are also a dozen sport routes in the park. Most of the park routes are on Staunton Rocks, Elk Creek Spires and Lion’s Head. Because it is a state park, Staunton routes have fixed hardware restrictions. Popular routes in the park, according to the Mountain Project, include the Dungeon, The Labyrinth and Tan Corridor.
Who is Going to Love It
Climbers know this area for its classic granite knobs and domes, often visible from far away. Staunton State Park’s granite cliffs add more variety. Staunton has a more than 2,000-foot elevation gradient, and the very things that attract climbers also make a perfect habitat for falcons, hawks and golden eagles.
Directions, Parking, & Regulations
To get to Staunton State Park from Colorado Springs, take U.S. 24 west to Woodland Park. Turn right on Colorado Highway 67. At Deckers, take Road 126 toward the town of Pine. Turn right onto U.S. Highway 285 and take the exit toward S. Elk Creek Road. The park has a daily entrance fee of $7. The climbing access trail in the park is open to hikers only; other trails are open to bikes and horses as well. There are falcon nesting closures in the park at specific crags from February 1 to August 1.
To get to Turkey Rocks from Colorado Springs, take U.S. 24 west to Woodland Park. Turn right on Colorado Highway 67. Turn left at Westcreek, then right onto County Road 68. After two miles, you’ll pass Sheep’s Nose. Turn right on Forest Road 51. The road deteriorates in about two miles; you can park at an old campground and walk, or drive another mile to the road on the left. (For more detailed directions or directions to other routes in the area, check the Mountainproject.com website.) Watch for private property signs to make sure you are on public land.