Unaweep Canyon is isolated and for the most part still remains raw, wild, and pristine. The canyon is very unique because it has two creeks, East and West Creek, flow out of the opposite ends of the canyon creating Unaweep Divide. State Highway 141 runs inside Unaweep Canyon between Whitewater and Gateway, this road is designated as Unaweep/Tabeguache Scenic Byway. The main bouldering area is along the East Creek, before the entry to the main Unaweep Canyon.
Bouldering possibilities on Dakota Sandstone are unlimited from the head of Lower Creek Canyon to the top of the Nine Mile Hill. There are several turn offs into boulder areas from the main road 141, especially near the mile marker 149, and mile marker 147.
There are hundreds of boulders, and there is primitive camping available on multiple dirt roads leading into the bouldering area.
Please note that bouldering is on Dakota Sandstone, but the climbing inside the main Unaweep Canyon is granite.
The bouldering area is large, extending over several miles. Boulders are hard to miss, you will see many along the road 141. The scenery appears initially dry and high desert like, it becomes more green and lush after entering the main Unaweep Canyon.
Falcon Guide to Bouldering Colorado says: "This soft Dakota Sandstone refuge is loaded with quality boulders and blocks that even the whiniest boulderer will find satisfactory."
Steep faces, overhanging pocketed walls, and vertical and leaning aretes characterize this bouldering getaway. The desert environment makes this a wonderful winter area, and the sandy ground makes for the great landings. Camping is also available on some of the more secluded pullouts. Be prepared to find new problems along with the wealth of already established licks. All areas are worth a visit, but B.C.s' Western Boulders and the Grand Valley Boulders have become the most popular due to their excellent quality.
Rockclimbing.com citation: Could be a lifetime of routes because it seems that you could walk around endlessly finding stuff to climb. Beautiful desert environment with thousands of sandstone boulders to climb. Suggestion: just leave the guidebook and grab a pad, shoes, and water and start ambling around the desert, getting lost, climbing stuff, and having fun.
Currently, this is a primitive area - no official parking lots, no information signs, no toilets. I found a discussion topic on Super Topo about future plans for this area. There are some suggestion that it will get developed. The land is owned by , and they may be building in the future parking lots, bathrooms, and trails in order to protect and keep the area clean.
Link to some bouldering videos on You Tube
Bouldering season: year round, it does get snow in the winter, but there should be some warm winter days too. Summers tend to very hot, boulder on the shady sides of blocks.
Climbing weather information for Unaweep Canyon
DirectionsTake I-70 to Grand Junction and exit south onto Highway 50, towards Whitewater. From Whitewater, turn right (southwest) onto Highway 141 = Unaweep Canyon Road. Follow Higway 141 approximately 1.2 miles and you will reach the first area, known as the Freight Yard, followed by Bat Cave, the Rock Shop, Texas Boulders, Varnish Area, and the Rock Garden, Bone Park, B.C.s Western Boulders, Grand Valley Boulders, and finally Liquor Store Block. The areas fall within a 7-mile stretch from the Freight Yard to Liquor Store Block.
I used information from the Bouldering Guide to Colorado, Mountain Project and various web searches, and obviously several visits to the area.
THE FREIGHT YARD
This area is approximately 1.2 miles southwest from the intersection of Highway 50 and Highway 141. At 1.2 miles, head left (south) on a dirt road and park beyond the cement factory. Hike 150 feet south on the road, past a fence and then upslope 100 feet on a boulderer's trail that leads east. Look for a large, extensive, undercut west-facing block at a high point on the western slope.
Superchief Expanse This large extensive undercut block sits up at a high point on the western slope. Quality problems are located along its 40-foot expanse, with excellent landing zones.
1. Tiers Away V4 From down low, climb out the pockets on the left side of the underbelly, right of the twisted juniper tree on the west face.
2. The Bubble V4 From down low, climb up to the right of Tiers Away, starting on the bulbous layaway to the pockets above.
3. Super Supper V5 Climb up the center of the west face, utilizing finger pockets.
4. Super Eliminate V8 Climb up the center of the west face, eliminating the pockets.
5. Supper V5 Climb up the right side of the west face, utilizing pockets.
The Engine Wall This small cliff is located downslope west of Superchief Expanse. It has a traverse across its base.
1. West Side Traverse V6 Traverse the base of the west face from left to right, starting slightly left of the big knobs.
The Caboose Wall This small cliff is just downslope from the Engine Wall and has similar features.
1. West One V6 Traverse the west base from left to right
2. East One V0 Traverse the east base of the wall.
The Bat Cave This caved section of the ridge is located 0.1 mile up the road from the Freight Yard. Continue west on Highway 141 for 0.1 mile from the Freight Yard turnoff. Park before the bridge on the right side of the road and hike up and over the fence line. Follow the trail, staying to the left, eventually connecting to a groomed trail that leads up to the ridge line. You can see the Bat Cave overhang along the trail as it peaks.
1. Bat Traverse V5 Traverse across the overhanging west face from right to left.
2. Chips are Down V6 Climb out the right side of the roof.
Junior Cave Boulder This bulging boulder is 20 feet to the right of the Bat Cave.
1. Junior V6 Traverse across the west base.
The Slum Block From the Bat Cave continue along the trail to the next ridge, approximately 150 yards south. Hike downslope to the left on a faint trail that leads toward a few large boulders. The Slum Block is behind this first set of large boulders. The block forms a cove-like area.
1. Slumbuldigulion V7 Traverse across the right side of the coved overhang from right to left.
This boulder and block filled area, with its landmark massive block in the shape of the Lone Star State, is located another 2 miles up the road from the Bat Cave area. Take a right onto the dirt road just beyond the cattle guard. Drive slightly downslope and park along the creek bed. From the parking area, hike 200 yards northeast up and across until you see the massive block shaped like Texas. The boulders are located around this centerpiece. There are bolts at its summit for top roping the tall face routes.
Anchor Block This lengthy block is located just southwest of the Texas boulder. It has an edge-filled south face. Descend from the east side.
1. Anchor Steam V0 Climb up the good holds on the left side of the south face.
2. Anchors Away V1 Climb up the lengthy center of the south face.
3. Conrad V0 Climb up the right side of the south face.
Horizontal Crack Boulder This fun boulder is west of Anchor Block.
1. Horizontal Bob V4 Climb the left side of the east face, utilizing the prow.
2. Horizontals V3 Climb up the pockets on the right side of the east face.
Corridor Block This block is north of Horizontal Crack Boulder. Walk approximately 100 feet through the narrow squeeze or around to the left. Look for the west-facing block with a prow. This is the far-left side of this extensive block.
1. Corridor Arete V3 Climb up the northwest arete.
2. Shady West V3 Climb up to the right of the arete.
3. Corridor Crack V0 Climb up the crack system to the right of Shady West.
4. Sunnysine V0 Climb up the far-right side of the block to the south outside the corridor.
Cancel Christmas Block From the parking area for Texas Boulders, hike southwest up the dirt road, staying to your right. After about 300 feet, beyond the wood-laden wash, cup upslope to the west for approximately 200 feet and look south for the block at the edge of the open field.
1. Cancel Christmas V6 Climb up the lengthy side of the pocketed west face.
2. The Grinch V3 Climb up the lengthy center of the west face.
3. Whoville V3 Climb up the east face left of the center, utilizing the good pockets.
4. Xmas V4 Climb up the pockets in the center of the east face.
5. Vmas V3 Climb up right of center left of the tree, utilizing the pockets.
To find this area hike down the dirt road to the west side from the Texas Boulders area (past the Cancel Christmas Block) for about 10 to 15 minutes. After a meadow you will see the varnished boulders up on the right, followed by other rocks along the road.
Iron Block This is on the right side of the road, at the base of the slope. It looks like an iron.
1. Iron Arete V2 Climb the southwest arete.
Half Dome Boulder This rounded varnished boulder sits within the first rise in the slope, across and north of the meadow.
1. Regular Route V5 Climb up the middle of the south face.
Shaft Rock This protruding pinnacle is up the road and west of the meadow. It is a free standing pillar on the right side of the road.
1. Shaft V2 Climb the southwest corner of the pillar.
THE ROCK GARDEN
This boulderfield is located on the left (southeast) side of Highway 141. Drive west on Highway 141 from the Texas Boulders turnoff for 1 mile and park on the left pull off just before the smiley face painted on the rock. Hike down the dirt road that cuts back to the east off the main road.
Faces Boulder This classic boulder is on the right (south) side of the dirt road as you hike from the parking area. It is a lengthy boulder with a classic south face.
1. Two Face V3 Climb up the center of the south face.
2. Face the Arete V1 Climb up the southeastern arete.
Cheesy Arete Block This block is upslope approximately 50 yards south of Faces Boulder.
1. Cheese Arete Left V3 Climb up the left side of the arete.
2. Big Cheese V5 Climb up the right side of the arete.
3. Cheese V0 Climb up the center of the east slab.
Gash Block This block is 100 yards south of Faces Boulder. It has a classic layback problem on the left side of its east face. Another large block leans against its cap.
1. Gasher Sends V2 Climb up the layback system on the far-left side of the east face.
Deception Block This small ramped block is up the road from Faces Boulder. It sits on the right side of the road.
1. Deceiver V4 From down low climb out the overhang on the south face.
Orange Crush Rock Hike another 200 yards down the dirt road from Deception Block and you will see this illuminating rock on the right. It has a colorful and black-striped north face.
1. The Crush V4 Climb up the black stripe in the center of the north face.
2. Orangina V2 Climb up the pocketed norht face jsut right of the center.
Broken Boulder Continue beyond Orange Crush Rock to a meadowed area. Look on the left edge of the flat and you will see this big boulder sitting independent of the others. Problems exists on three sides.
1. Broken Arrow V2 Climb up the far left side of the south face, right of the arete.
<b>2. Broken Corner V2 Climb up the center of the south face, utilizing the small corner.
3. Broker V1 Climb up the far right side of the south face.
4. The Ramp V0 Climb up the right side of the ramp on the east side.
5. Token V2 Climb up the northeast arete.
6. Spoken V3 Climb up the left side on the north side, utilizing layways.
7. Joken Arete V2 Climb up the arete on the right side of the north face.
Cored Block Continue down the road another 150 feet past Broken Boulder. Look on the left side of the road for a beautifully colored block.
1. Colorful Path V2 Climb up the center of the east face.
2. Coloring V0 Climb up the right side of the east face.
Striped Block To find this orange striped block continue farther down the road approximately 200 feet from Colored Block. Look on the left side os the road fro this striped block.
1. Candy Striper V1 Climb up just left of the center on the east face.
2. Striper V1 Climb up the far right side of the east face just left of the center.
3. Burnt Orange V2 Climb up the northeast prow's right side.
4. Stars and Stripes V7 Climb up the center of the crimpy north face.
Pole Block This stubby block is 100 feet beyond Stripped Block. Look for it on the right side of the dirt road.
1. Pogo Stick V1 Climb up the southeast arete's left side.
2. Pole Vault V3 Climb up the southeast arete's right side.
3. white Pole V0 Climb up the center of the east face, slightly left of the white stripe.
To find this prime camping and bouldering spot drive up Highway 141 another 0.7 mile from the Rock Garden. Turn right (north) onto the dirt road and circle and look for the prominent, almost limestone looking boulder sitting on the right side of the circle. This is Fossil Block, named for its bone fossil on the east face. This is also the parking and camping are for B.C.'s Western Boulders, where you'll find the sought-out Upper Boulderfield.
Fossil Block The lengthy cubed block is on the right side of the circle, close to the road. Look for the fossil on the east side.
1. Fossil Dihedral V1 Climb up the dihedral system on the south face.
2. Fossil Haul V0 Climb up the center of the east face, utilizing good handholds.
3. Fossil Traverse V5 Traerse around and across the entire block.
Victoria's Secret Boulder This hidden boulder is approximately 200 feet northwest of Fossil Block. The overhanging northwest face has good problems.
1. Victoria V2 Climb up the left side of the northwest face.
2. Seduction V3 (hb) Climb up from the fire ring of the northwest side.
3. Kinky V5 From down low, climb up the left side of the west overhang.
4. Ted's V3 Climb up and right of Kinky.
Plethora Boulder This block, off the right side of Highway 141, is located 200 feet west of Fossil Block. It has a nice southeast underbelly with good problems.
1. Work It V6 Climb up via a dyno from down low to the lip on the far left side of the southeast face.
2. Caught in a Zipper V6 Climb up the line just left of the center of the southeast face.
3. Head Way V5 Climb up the right side of the southeast face.
4. Southeast Groove V4 climb up to the groove from the start of Head Way.
5. Underdyno V4 Dyno up from the undercling pinch slightly right of the arete.
6. Plethora Traverse V5 Traverse across the east face from right to left.
7. The Pud V5 Climb up through holes to the arete.
Gonad Block This round, steep, and smooth-faced block is just left of Plethora Boulder.
1. By the Balls V0 Climb up the pocket problem just left of the center of the southeast face.
2. Balls of Fire V4 Climb up the seam right of the center on the southeast face.
3. Balls and Chain V5 Traverse across the southeast face from right to left.
B.C's WESTERN BOULDERS
This field of boulders and blocks is located on the west side of the creek. Hike southwest from the Fossil Block parking area, following the cairns along the wash to the creek. Cross the creek and follow the bouderer's trail to the cow trail crossing. Head left 300 feet and you will see Artifact boulder, capped with a huge roof on its south side.
Artifact Boulder This roofed boulder is a cow's den, and its stings.
Big Black Block Follow the cairned trail another 100 yards west from Artifact Boulder and you will see this isolated block with an intriguing north face.
1. Dark V3 Climb up the face left of the crack line.
2. Dark Crack V0 Climb up the crack on the right side of the face.
3. Grande Arete V0 (hb) Climb up the quality, classic arete on the left side of the north face.
4. Horizontal Black V2 (hb) Climb up the left side of the north face just right of the arete.
Hole in One Boulder This lengthy rectangular block is upslope from the east side of the road, approximately 0.8 mile from Bone Park. Park on the left side of the road and hike upslope approximately 100 feet to this bright reddish orange block.
1. The Cyclopes V3 (hb) Climb up the right hand arete and face of the south face, utilizing the unipod.
Brain Boulder To find this boulder drive southwest on Highway 141 for 2.1 miles from Bone Park. Park on the right and hike 100 feet along the dirt road until you see this brain-looking boulder.
1. Psycho Boy V6 Dyno from the pocket undercling, just right of the center of the southwest face,up for the lip.
Bucket Cave RockThis massive rock, with an awesome overhanging northwest face, is located 100 feet downslope to the west of Brain Boulder.
1. Hell in a Bucket V3 Climb the buckets out the left side of the northwest overhang.
2. Bucket Brigade V5 Climb out smaller holds right of Hell in a Bucket.
3. Soaped Out Bucket V4 Traverse across the northwest overhang.
4. Bozo Buckets V4 From down low, climb up and right on the south face.
THE BLACK WAVE AREA
This is an extension of Brain Boulder is located south of it. Hike 175 yards toward and beyond the distant ridge, keeping to the west side of Highway 141. Look for the bright red block and the dark black block.
Big Red Block You can see this massive red block with black streaks as you approach from the ridgeline.
1. Bid Red V4 (hb) Climb up the blackstreaked northwest face, left of the tree.
Black Wave Boulder This black faced boulder is 30 feet southwest of Big Red Block.
1. Black Wave V4 Climb up the left side of the east face, from the crack to the tree top.
Blacked Out Boulder Of all boulders in this area,this large one is closest to the highway, approximately 60 feet southwest of Black Wave Boulder. It has a plus sign in the center of the east face.
1. Dizzy V1 Climb up the left side of the east face.
2. Spells V2 Climb up the face just left of the center.
3. The Count V3 Climb up just right of the center from the micro pinch, up and left.
4. Out of It V1 Climb the right side of the east face, right of the nip.
GRAND VALLEY BOULDERS
From Bone Park, drive southwest on Highway 141 another 3.1 miles and park in the large pullout on the right side of the road. Look for the "Grand Valley Overlook" sign. The boulders are just west of the parking area, across the creek. Hike beyond the creek and then take the dirt road approximately 200 feet west. The rock texture is of great quality.
Chinese Algebra Boulder This boulder is located along the side of the dirt road and has a thick white streak on the left side of the northeast face.
1. Equate V1 Climb up the left side of the northeast face.
2. Minus V2 Climb up the face just left of the thick white streak on the northeast face.
<b>3. Chinese Algebra V6 From down low, climb up the left side of the west face and then mantle off.
4. Plus V3 Climb out the right side of the overhanging west face.
5. Multiple V1 Climb up the brown, far left side of the south face.
S Crack Block This lengthy orange block is 100 feet north of Chinese Algebra Boulder. Junipers sit behind and to the right of the block.
1. Playground V0 (hb) Climb up the center slab of the south face.
2. Prowground V2 (hb) Climb up the south east prow.
3. S Crack V1 (hb) Climb up the S crack on the southeast face.
4.Seam V3 (hb) Climb up the line to the right of the S crack.
5. S Traverse V1 Traverse across the northeast face, then up.
Box Car Block This polished block has a caved southeast side. To find the block, hike up upslope approximately 100 feet north of Chinese Algebra Boulder. A nice flat slab sits in front of the southeast face.
1. The Slot V6 (hb) Climb up from the cave on the left side of the southeast face, then up to the top.
2. Avoidance V4 (hb) Climb up the face on the far-right side of the cave.
3. Boulder Pad V4 (hb) Climb up the center line of the southeast face from the boulder.
4. Seems Thin V4 (hb) Climb the thin line to the right of Boulder Pad.
5. Box Carete V0 Climb up the arete on the right side of the southeast face.
6. Racing the Sun V2 Climb up from the pyramid on the left side of the north face.
Arete Boulder To find this boulder with arete, hike upslope 100 feet west of Box Car Block.
1. Left Arete V3 (hb) Climb the left arete of the southeast face.
2. Hueco Way V4 Climb up form the hueco to a lengthy reach for the top.
3. Invisible Sun V6 (hb) Climb up the leaning line, utilizing crimps.
4. Right Arete V3 Climb up the right arete of the southeast face.
5. Arete Slab V0 Climb up the center of the east face.
Pink Floyd Boulder This large boulder is located northwest across the meadow from Arete Boulder. From Arete Boulder, hike approximately 300 feet northwest, toward the cliffs, and across the meadow.
1. The Machine V3 Climb up the thin line on the left side of the south face right of the branches.
2. Earthbound Misfit V3 (hb) Climb the pocket in the center of the south face.
3. Summagumma V7 Climb the thin face just right of Earthbound Misfit.
4. Comfortably Numb V6 Climb the thin line the blackened section of the right side of the south face.
5. Pinky V0 Climb up the middle of the east face.
Liquor Store Block This is another lengthy block located across the road from the Grande Valley Boulders pull off. Hike across the road to the dirt road and hike upslope 200 feet to this block with a horizontal handrail across its north face.
1. Liquor Up V6 Traverse across the north face from left to right.
2. Latina Heat V5 (hb) Climb up the bulging left side of the north face.
3. Beer Run V3 (hb) Climb up the face right of Latina Heat.
The Tavern Boulder This boulder is just right of Liquor Store Block.
1. Tavern V3 Climb up the arete.
Relative Bouldering Scales
|Yosemite||V system||B system||Fontainebleau|
The V system rating has become the universal bouldering language used today. It was established in the early 1990s at Hueco Tanks, Texas.
Exposure to a long fall is not reflected in a V grade. Sometimes you can see rating like V3(hb), hb meaning highball.
The nearest services are in Grand Junction, including REI store and Summit Canyon Mountaineering store in case you need to pick up climbing/bouldering equipment.
Bring plenty of water.
There is a primitive camping right around the boulders. This area is currently managed by BLM, and access and camping are free. This may change if they decide to develop it.
It is definitively worth to make a trip the the main Unaweep Canyon. The climbing there is limitless, and so many more routes can be established.
External LinksGrand Junction Rock - rock climbs of Unaweep Canyon This book provides good information about rock climbing in the main Canyon, but very limited information about bouldering (1/2 page).
Already mentioned above Falcon Guides Bouldering Colorado
Bouldering Unaweep in Mountain Project