Located just southwest of Boulder, Eldorado Canyon is known for its towering sandstone cliffs and world-class rock climbing. Boulder Creek carves through the canyon creating a variety of day-use recreation. Hiking, fishing, and picnicking are fun park activities.
Just as the name implies, Eldorado Canyon sits in a high and narrow canyon. The park offers exceptional hiking opportunities, as well as bait, fly, and lure fishing.
Rock Climbing, Fishing and Hiking near Boulder
Fishing in South Boulder Creek provides visitors with a scenic area to catch trout and smaller fish, however, the main attraction at the park is rock climbing. Eldorado Canyon is renowned in the U.S. for its more than 500 climbing routes. Hiking is also popular on a number of outstanding trails.
Fowler Trail: This trek goes through the main drag of the canyon. It’s nearly a mile and a half round trip along a relatively flat section of the park. It’s a fairly quick hike at about a half-hour. The trail leads to just out of the main canyon and then connects with a Boulder Open Space Park trail.
Head back here or continue for however long before turning back. Some people park cars at both parking lots and hike the whole trail. It’s not so far. Before heading out, pick up a trail guide offering you info at each of the numbered stations.
Rattlesnake Gulch Trail: Starting from the same parking lot as the Fowler Trail, take the Fowler Trail east out of the canyon. After only a little bit the trail takes a right for Rattlesnake Gulch. This trail rewards you with amazing views of the Continental Divide and an old ruin site for the Crags Hotel.
In its heyday in the early 1900s, the Crags Hotel was a big deal. For $1 you could hop aboard the Moffat Railroad in downtown Denver and enjoy a round trip to and from the hotel high above the Eldorado Canyon.
In addition to the railroad, back in the day you could take a wicked wagon trail up the current Rattler Gulch Trail or take the funicular up the side of the mountain. People drank, danced, ate, played cards, and enjoyed shows at the Crags Hotel, which complimented the already existing Eldorado Hot Spring.
Biking: Permitted on the Rattlesnake Gulch Trail and the Walker Ranch Loop at Crescent Meadows.
Camping: No, day-use only.
Fishing: The South Boulder Creek runs through the canyon and is renowned for its fly fishing. There are no bait restrictions or size limits. The park prefers to catch and release, but the limit is 4 to take home.
Hiking: There are three main trails in the central park. There’s also a 4th trail in the Crescent Meadows portion of the park. See trails below.
- Fowler Trail – 0.7 mile, one-way, along the side of the canyon. It ends at the edge of the park and connects with a Boulder Open Space Trail. Closed to bikes.
- Rattlesnake Gulch Trail – Gains 800 feet in elevation and leads 1.4 miles, one-way to the historic Crags Hotel ruins. Once at the ruins, there is an optional forest loop of about a mile that takes you to a beautiful overlook of the Continental Divide. Open to bikes.
- Eldorado Canyon Trail – Gains 1000 feet in elevation for 3.5 miles one-way before intersecting with The Walker Ranch Loop Trail (a 7.2 miles loop). Open to hikers and horseback.
- Walker Ranch Loop – An easy 5-mile trail, round trip. This trail is not accessible from the regular section of the park. You must drive west to the Crescent Meadows section of the park.
Hunting: Allowed on the Tuesday after Labor Day through March 31st in the Crescent Meadows section of the park.
Picnicking: 33 picnic tables with grills all line the shore of the South Boulder Creek. Available first-come, first-serve.
Rock Climbing: Permitted on several rock faces along the canyon with over 500 technical climbing routes. It’s one of the premier rock climbing destinations in the country.
Winter Recreation: Cross-country skiing and snowshoeing are permitted on trails when there is adequate snowfall. Call the park to be sure.
After enjoying the recreation, relax at Eldorado Springs Pool, situated next door.
Season: Year-round | Sunset to sunrise
Pets: Yes, on leash
Fees: Daily vehicle and walk-in entry fee