Save The Thumb & Needle

Sitting high above the town of Estes Park, Colorado, the iconic Thumb and Needle spires on Prospect Mountain offer excellent granite climbing for all abilities. However, this idyllic area, with its abundant recreation opportunities and excellent access to downtown Estes Park, is privately owned, closed, and currently up for sale. If it isn’t protected quickly, public access could be lost forever to a private sale and a future landowner could develop the area.

Mike Whelan photo, Ancestral lands of Arapaho, Cheyenne, Núu-agha-tʉvʉ-pʉ̱ (Ute)


Access Fund is mobilizing to protect this popular climbing area with a commitment to raise $67,500. The first $15,006 will be matched by local leaders Tom and Kathy Hornbein, Tommy and Becca Caldwell, Colorado Mountain School, the Murdock family, Chris and Kristin Winter, and a generous anonymous donor! What's the deal with the extra $6? That is in honor of Doc Mall who taped up Tom Hornbein's three broken ribs for $6 after a fall on the Needle in the late 1940’s.

Thanks to the Innovo Foundation, we have added $5,000 to our matching fund for Thumb Open Space. We are now halfway to our goal.

First climbed by the legendary Tom Hornbein in the late 1940s, these two features were later used by Tommy Caldwell as a training ground. The property now offers nearly 50 routes from 5.0 all the way up to 5.13, as well as high-quality bouldering. The area is also a great hiking, trail running, and dog walking destination—with Longs Peak, Mount Meeker, and Twin Sisters in view from nearly the entire trail.

What's At Stake?

  • Exceptional climbing and bouldering for all abilities
  • One of the best local spots to learn climbing skills outdoors
  • Scenic hiking, trail running, and dog walking
  • Close-to-home open space for Estes Park locals
  • Opportunity for outdoor and environmental education

Save The Thumb & Needle

Access Fund is mobilizing to protect this popular climbing area with a commitment to raise $67,500. Help make Thumb Open Space a reality.

A Vision: Thumb Open Space

A coalition of climbers, hikers, business owners, conservation organizations, and local government agencies have joined forces to protect this exceptional landscape as a primitive, 65-acre open space park for hiking, climbing, bouldering, instruction, and environmental education.

However, the cost of this property is too great for any one entity. A financial partnership is needed among many entities. The Town of Estes Park has agreed to take ownership and manage the property, and the coalition has identified several committed financial partners to make this vision a reality.

Committed Partners

  • Town of Estes Park
  • Estes Valley Land Trust
  • Great Outdoors Colorado (GOCO)
  • Rocky Mountain Conservancy
  • Access Fund, and you?

    Sustainability & Infrastructure

    Access Fund and Rocky Mountain Conservancy have committed professional trail crews to improve the trails and staging areas to create a sustainable and resilient recreation resource.

    Project Details

    Project Budget
    Thumb Open Space Map

    Photos and Video courtesy of Mike Whelan

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