Red Rocks has been one of our favorite climbing areas for a long time. It is probably the mecca of moderate trad climbing in the US. With tons of great multi-pitch from 5.6 to 5.11 in of the most beautiful desert areas anywhere, Red Rocks has become very popular. It has also changed (for the worst) a lot since we took our first climbing trip there the year we started climbing. Long gone are the days of free camping in Black Velvet Canyon or at the tiny Oak Creek campground. Still, Red Rocks has a special place in our hearts and it always will...

The weather there is generally good year-round making it possible to climb during the winter months. Summer on the other hand, is brutally hot. Camping at the 13-mile campground is probably the best option ($10/night as of 2008). The campground is run by overzealous hosts (a pain in the butt) who strictly enforce the rules. One of the more problematic rules is a 14 day maximum stay in any 28-day period; i.e. once you've reached the limit, you must find some other place (good luck!) for 14 days.

The best time to be at Red Rocks is when spring is in full swing (usually mid-april) and all the vegetation is blooming. End of March coincides with the annual Red Rock Rendez-Vous and can be very crowded. The weather in late winter (January through March) is less reliable. Low pressure systems are not uncommon. Fall (October and November) is also enjoyable.

We've climbed a lot of the mega-classic routes over the years. The table shows what we've done and provides links to trip reports and pictures for most of them (those pages are spread out throughout this and our previous site).

Route (alphabetical order) Rating Pitches Quality Area
Amber 5.10c 4 ** Black Velvet
Atman 5.10b 1 ** Calico Basin
Beulah's Book 5.9 4 **** Oak Creek
The Big Horn 5.8 4 **** Pine Creek
Birdland 5.7+ 5 **** Pine Creek
The Black Dagger 5.7+ PG 7 **** Juniper
Black Magic 5.8 4 *** First Creek
Black Orpheus 5.9+ 10 **** Oak Creek
Cat in the Hat 5.6+ 5 *** Pine Creek
Crabby Appleton 5.9+ PG 5 ** Pine Creek
Crimson Chrysalis 5.8+ 9 ***** Juniper
Dark Shadows 5.8 (5.5 PG) 4 ***** Pine Creek
Dream of Wild Turkeys (p1-7) 5.10a 7 ***** Black Velvet
Eagle Dance 5.10c A0 9-11 ***** Oak Creek
Epinephrine 5.9 16-18 ***** Black Velvet
Fold Out 5.8 2 ** Icebox
Frigid Air Buttress 5.9+ 7 *** Icebox
Frogland 5.8 6 ***** Black Velvet
Geronimo 5.7 5 ***** Juniper
Ginger Cracks 5.9 7 *** Juniper
The Gobbler 5.10 3 ***** Black Velvet
The Great Red Book 5.8 2 ** Calico Hills
Horndogger Select 5.8 3 * Oak Creek
Inti Watana 5.10+ 12 **** Mount Wilson
Johnny Come Lately 5.10d 1 ** Black Velvet
Johnny Vegas 5.7 4 ***** Oak Creek
Karate Crack 5.9 1 * Willow Springs
La Cierta Edad 5.10c 6 **** Icebox
Lotta Balls 5.8 3 **** First Creek
The Misunderstanding 5.9 2 *** Black Velvet
Mountain Beast 5.11- 8 *** Oak Creek
The Nightcrawler 5.10c 4 **** Juniper
Olive Oil 5.7 PG 6 *** Juniper
Overhanging Hangover 5.10a 2 ** Black Velvet
Peaches 5.7 1 ** Willow Springs
Plan F 5.10 1 ** Willow Springs
Power Failure 5.10b 3 *** Juniper
The Prince of Darkness 5.10c 6 **** Black Velvet
Ragged Edges 5.8 2 *** Willow Springs
Raindance 5.10a 1 ***** Black Velvet
Red Zinger 5.10d 2 **** Oak Creek
Refried Brains (p1-4) 5.9 4 *** Black Velvet
Resolution Arete 5.10+ C1 24 *** Mount Wilson
Sand Felipe 5.10a 1 *** Black Velvet
Sensuous Mortician 5.9 1 ** Icebox
Solar Slab 5.6 PG 9 ***** Oak Creek
Sour Mash 5.10a 7-8 **** Black Velvet
Sundog 5.9+ 5 ** Oak Creek
Triassic Sands 5.10c 6 ***** Black Velvet
Tunnel Vision 5.7+ 6 *** White Rock Springs
Unimpeachable Groping 5.10+ 7 **** Juniper
Wholesome Fullback 5.10a 2 **** Black Velvet
The Woman of Mountain Dreams 5.11a 16 **** Mount Wilson
Y2K 5.10a 4 ** Pine Creek
Yellow Brick Road 5.10c 2p var. ***** Black Velvet

We stopped four times at Red Rocks during our 2003-2004 bus trip (twice in 2003 - here are accounts of the first and second stop that season, and twice in 2004, in the spring, then in the fall).

After being deprived of good rock climbing while spending the winter in New Zealand, we returned to Red Rocks in mid-April. Having not climbed there for the last 4 years, we were really excited about the great routes that Red Rocks has to offer and we ended up staying a month!

Guidebooks: a lot of them have been published over the years. The latest and greatest is "Red Rocks" by Jerry Handren. It has nice color pictures and maps, and good gear info. It unfortunately does not give any info however on the seriouness of the routes (PG or R ratings).

SuperTopo has a good selection of the more classic routes and good gear info as well. Nice for first time visitors or overseas climbers not used to climb a lot in the US.

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Welcome to Red Rocks Canyon!

 
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The 13-mile campground.
 
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The sweet finger crack of Birdland (5.7+), one of the many great Red Rocks moderate climbs.
 
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Blue Diamond is the small community next to Red Rocks. It has a library and a small store.
 
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Eric leading one of the chimney pitches of Epinephrine - one the best 5.9's anywhere.
 
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One of Epinephrine's sweet corner pitches above the Rose tower.
 
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Camping at the 13-mile campground.
 
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The crux pitch of Triassic Sands (5.10).
 
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Red Rocks is wonderful when all the flowers are out in the spring.
 
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Lucie on Refried Brains (5.9), another great 5.9 on the Black Velvet Wall.
 
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Hiking toward Solar Slab in Oak Creek Canyon in the spring.
 
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Eric leading the roof pitch on Inti Watana, a nice 5.10 route on Mt Wilson.
 
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This ain't called red rocks for nothin'!
 
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The Misunderstanding (5.9), one of many very good shorter routes in the Whiskey Peak area.
 
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Wild burros are not an uncommon sight.
 
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The incredible roof of Overhanging Hangover (5.10), a 2 pitch climb on the Black Velvet Wall.
 
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Descending from the top of Eagle Wall.
 
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Lucie on the first pitch of Wholesome Fullback (5.10a), another great pitch in the Whiskey Peak area.
 
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At the base of Resolution Arete at sunrise.
 
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The tricky traverse pitch on Resolution Arete on Mt Wison, one of the longest routes at Red Rocks (~24 pitches).
 
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Signing the summit register after an ascent of The Woman of Mountain Dreams, another long route on Mt Wilson.
 
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The second pitch of The Gobler (5.9), an excellent variation to Dream of Wild Turkeys on the Black Velvet Wall.
 
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Cactus flowers.
 
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Packing for another day of great climbing at the 13-mile campground.
 
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Eric on the crux pitch of Amber (5.10c), a 4-pitch climb in the Whiskey Peak area.
 
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High on Power Failure (5.10), another sunny climb. .
 
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Views of the Solar Slab from high on Woman of mountain Dreams (5.11a).
 
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On the slab descent down Oak Creek Canyon after climbing Mountain Beast, one many good routes to be found on Eagle Wall.
 
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Lucie leading the beautiful varnished corner of Sour Mash (5.10a).
 
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On the approach into Black Velvet Canyon, home of celebrated classics such as Frogland, Prince of Darkness, Dream of the Wild Turkeys, and Epinephrine to only name a few...
 
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A local and much better climber than you and I...

Red Rocks, Nevada - the Summary Page

April 19 - May 12, 2008