From a climbing and hiking perspective, Glenwood Canyon is host to innumerable opportunities for recreation and exploration. Glenwood Canyon is in the White River National Forest and several of the trails can access, with a little proper preparation and know-how, the Flat Tops Wilderness Area. Several of the canyon's walls have been developed with both sport and trad routes, the most popular being No Name for traditional climbing and the Puoux for sport. Other types of climbing exist, however, including grade IV routes on the International Buttress in the heart of the canyon and Grizzly Creek Canyon's Mudwall as well as ice climbing in various locations. Glenwood Canyon is not only popular with hikers and climbers but with rafters, bikers, kayakers, inner-tubers, I-70 truckers, roller-skaters, sun bathers, and folk of all other sort. Most seem to coexist peacefully despite a premium on parking.
|Record high water in Glenwood Canyon- June 2011|
Glenwood Canyon also is home to the Shoshone Dam and Powerplant. When this project was completed in 1909 it made Glenwood Springs one of the first fully-powered cities in the United States.
Glenwood Canyon is also home to several major hot springs, many of which can be enjoyed for free at river level during low water. The Yampah spring is the largest and is the source for the ultra-popular Hot Springs Pool in Glenwood Springs. Old West gunslinger Doc Holliday died in Glenwood Springs where he came to find some relief for his tuberculosis in the Yampah spring.
Teddy Roosevelt frequented the Hotel Colorado at the mouth of the canyon many times during his life. Supposedly, one day after a failed bear hunt Hotel Colorado maids presented him with a stuffed bear made of scrap material as a consolation for failing to bag the real thing. As legend would have it, Teddy Roosevelt presented the bear to his daughter, the idea caught on, and the toy now known as the teddy bear was born. Teddy Roosevelt, interestingly, wasn't the only celebrity who frequented the Hotel Colorado. It was a mountain retreat for many of America's elite of the time. President William Howard Taft, The "Unsinkable" Molly Brown, "Diamond" Jack Alterie, and even Al Capone made frequent trips to the hotel. The building has such a storied (and even violent) history that it is rumored to be haunted. Almost every Glenwood Springs local either has or knows someone who has a Hotel Colorado ghost story.
There are numerous quality hikes in Glenwood Canyon, many of which offer exciting potential for more in-depth exploration. The Glenwood Canyon Bike Path is a concrete trail that follows the river for the entire length of the canyon from near Dotsero to Glenwood Springs. This 18-mile trail is popular for joggers, bikers, and casual hikers.
|Scenery along the Grizzly Creek Trail|
The Jess Weaver trail follows No Name Canyon, the next drainage west of Grizzly Creek. No Name also offers miles of hiking in a beautiful canyon setting.
The most popular trail, however, is the Hanging Lake trail which climbs 1,200 strenuous feet to a verdant oasis of waterfalls and lakes. Surely this is one of the most popular hiking trails in this part of the state and for good reason. While Hanging Lake can be very busy during the summer, especially on weekends, solitude can still be found in the off-season. Fall is one of the best times to visit the canyon. The combination of colors in the beautiful lake setting is breathtaking. Wintertime can be treacherous, as dangerous ice can form in the canyon. For those with knowledge of ice travel and ice climbing the trip can be very rewarding.
Glenwood Canyon has several quality climbing areas that offer a variety of climbing adventures. The rock in Glenwood Canyon is a mixture of limestone, quartzite, and granite of mixed quality. In the 1960's and 70's, legendary Colorado climber and occasional Glenwood local Layton Kor spent much time training on the rock in Glenwood Canyon for more heralded first ascents across the Southwest, such as mega-classics the Naked Edge (III 5.9 A3) in Eldorado Canyon, The Yellow Wall (V 5.8 A4) on the Diamond on Longs Peak, the West Buttress (VI 5.10 A3) on El Cap, and the Kor-Ingalls (III 5.9+) route on Castleton Tower just to name a few. Relics of Kor's extensive exploration of the walls of Glenwood Canyon can be found in surprising places, from random pitons on the Puoux to established routes on the Mudwall to unknown random gear on many of the canyon's most obscure walls. It has been a common experience of modern Glenwood Canyon climbing pioneers to be climbing up dirty towers and faces, thinking they were establishing a brand new route only to find pitons and anchors likely placed there by Kor.
|Ironing Board Direct (5.10b) in No Name Canyon|
Despite this history and the immense wealth of large walls in the Canyon, it is a relatively untapped and under-appreciated climbing destination. There are several contributing factors to the obscurity of Glenwood Canyon's climbing. One is the presence of I-70. At crags like the Airy Block and the Puoux, the noise of numerous semis, cars, and SUVs is certainly enough to damper your experience. I-70 also takes up alot of space and limits the portals of access, making the approach to many walls quite a task, particularly those that are located on the opposite side of the river. The other deterring factor is the large band of loose, blocky quartzite that dominates much of the canyon terrain. While this large layer has yielded some interesting climbs and crags such as the Mudwall and the Deadhorse wall, its gnarly character eliminate all but hardened adventure climbers. Still, there are at least half a dozen established crags of both traditional and sport climbing, and there is amazing potential for expansion if you are willing to put in a little work. Here is a list of the most-popular Glenwood Canyon climbing destinations:
The Puoux- a limestone sport crag near the No Name exit. The Puoux (pronounced “Pukes”) offers easily accessible sport climbing immediately off of I-70 with difficulty ranging from 5.7 to 5.14. This fairly popular spot keeps the locals in shape. Some of the established sport lines include:
|No Name 1 (aka Graybeard)||Sport||1||5.8||This excellent pitch is one of the better moderate routes at the wall|
|Pass the Ditchie||Sport||1||5.9||Scramble up to a ledge and climb an arcing dihedral past a piton to the anchors. Fun!|
|No Name 5 (Roadside Attraction)||Sport||1||5.10a||Polished and popular. This is probably the most frequently climbed pitch in the canyon|
|No Name 4 (aka Moral Decay)||Sport||1||5.10a||Another good moderate route on solid rock. 60 ft up a slab then onto a flake|
|Youth Warm Up||Sport||1||5.11c||On the left side of the Main Wall at the Puoux. Challenging and popular route.|
|No Name 18 (aka Kors Korner)||Sport||1||5.11d||A challenging route in the middle of the main wall.|
|Urban Cowboy||Sport||1||5.12a||One of the best 5.12s around. Steep, perfectly bolted. Does have some manufactured holds.|
|The Birdman||Sport||1||5.13a||A 55 ft route on the left side of the main wall. Part of recent development at the upper grades|
|Fault Line||Sport||1||5.13d||A local test piece! A photo of Joe Kinder on this difficult route accelerated the popularity of the Puoux|
No Name Canyon- located just off the Jess Weaver trail, this area has several single-pitch trad climbing routes from 5.4 to 5.12. Here are some of the No Name favorites:
|Second Dihedral||trad||1||5.6||A high-quality corner, just to the right of the Pink Face. Perfect first lead.|
|Jungle Book||trad||1||5.7||An open corner just to the right of Unnamed aka "The Ironing Board" (5.9)|
|Electric Butterfly||trad||1||5.8||A fun, moderate climb next to the power shack just before the footbridge over No Name Creek. Can be done as TR|
|The Ironing Board||trad||1||5.9||A right-trending splitter with challenging gear placements and a 5.10b direct variation|
|The Pink Face||trad||1||5.10+||A long (110') splitter just left of Second Dihedral.|
|Lone Pine Direct||trad||1||5.10||Down and left from the Pink Face heading towards a pine tree. Thin splitter with finger to hand sized moves|
|Lightning Bolt Crack||trad||1||5.10||West side of creek on the Poison Ivy Wall.|
|Lost Dog||trad||1||5.12-||A recently posted route that comes right out of the creek. Three bolts in addition to finger sized gear. Possible #3 Camalot sized piece|
The Neighborhood- a sport crag near the canyon mouth just east of Glenwood Springs on the south side of the river. This little spot is easily accessible for Glenwood locals as an afterwork/school climb. The lines rate from 5.9 to 5.12b
|Planet Janet||sport||1||5.9+||On the far right side of the Zipper Buttress. Short climb that follows a unique "groove".|
|California Dreaming||sport||1||5.9+||Right-facing dihedral 20 feet left of where trail meets crag.|
|Git 'Er Done||sport||1||5.10c||Right side of Zipper Buttress starting in a chimney.|
|Zipper||sport||1||5.11c||A 7-bolt climb sometimes called the best 5.11 in Glenwood Canyon|
|Enter the Dragon||sport||1||5.12a||The feature route on the Dragon Cave wall and one of the best 5.12's in the canyon.|
|Bitch Slap||sport||1||5.12b||Shares first bolts with The Tube but veers left.|
Big (or almost big) Wall:
|The International||trad||18||5.10+, Grade IV||A massive Grad IV climb in-between the Shoshone and Hanging Lake exits on south bank of river|
|Mudflap Girl||trad||10||5.10, Grade IV||A monster, chossy wall about a mile up Grizzly creek on the west side of canyon. Can be seen from I-70|
A non-exhaustive list of some of the other, less-traveled climbing crags in Glenwood Canyon:
The Airy Block- an interesting fin of granite with several good moderate trad climbs. The only catch is it's right next to the freeway...
Dead Horse Crag- this quartzite crag is accessed off the trail to Hanging Lake. There are several climbs of surprising quality from 5.9 to hard 5.11. Most require some gear to supplement bolts.
Fountain Buttress- Some of the best rock in the canyon, but difficult to access due to a river crossing. A tyrolean is sometimes set-up here, otherwise you will have to use a boat, swim or wait until very low water and walk across. Despite the excellent rock, classic routes, and massive potential, this rock sees surprisingly little use.
The Grey Slabs- Slabby, limestone climbing on the canyon's western end. Access by parking near the Hot Springs or Vapor Caves and hiking upstream along the bike path. Good moderate sport routes.
The Surgery Buttress- This limestone crag on the canyon's eastern end is also under-appreciated. There are about 15 climbs here from 5.9 to 5.12a.
OTHER RECREATIONAL ACTIVITIES
Biking- The Glenwood Canyon Bike Path offers 18 miles of uninterrupted concrete pathway through a beautiful canyon setting. This trail is mellow and popular and provides a nice opportunity for a good workout/escape.
|Rafters in Glenwood Canyon|
River Sports- River sports are one of the most popular recreational activities in Glenwood Canyon. There are many options for kayaking and rafting within the canyon ranging from beginner to expert only. Local commercial outfitters run half & full day raft trips down the Colorado River through Glenwood Canyon. This is also an excellent place to learn and hone your kayaking skills. The runs include (from top to bottom):
|Section||Put-in||Take-out||Length||<2,000cfs (low)||2,000-5,000 cfs (medium)||5,000-10,000 cfs (high)||>10,000 cfs (cranking)|
|Dotsero-Bair Ranch||Bike Path east trailhead||Bair Ranch||3 miles||class I+||class I+||class I +||class II|
|Barrel Springs||Hanging Lake||Shoshone Power Plant||2 miles||class IV+ (P)||class V (P)||class V (P)||class V+ (P)|
|Shoshone||Shoshone Power Plant||Grizzly Creek||2 miles||class III||class III||class IV||class IV+|
|Grizzly||Grizzly Creek||Two Rivers Park||6 miles||class II||class II+||class III||class III|
Recreation is available in Glenwood Canyon year round. In the summer the canyon is busy with people pursuing adventures of all sorts. In the winter, however, the narrow canyon is mostly shaded and cold but you can still hike and climb. There is, in fact, a long-running tradition amongst kayakers to float the Shoshone section of the Colorado River on New Year’s Day.
Glenwood Canyon is accessible from I-70 just east of Glenwood Springs. There are several exits from the freeway from which to launch your adventure, the most popular are No Name (exit 119), Grizzly Creek (exit 121), and Hanging Lake (exit 125).
The only legal place to camp inside Glenwood Canyon is at the developed Glenwood Canyon Resort at the No Name exit. The resort offers cabins, showers, rec rooms, and tent sites.
Mountain Project climbing pages:
No Name Canyon
Glenwood Hot Springs- The World's Largest Hot Springs Pool.