Crazy Woman Canyon: Scenic sport climbing in the eastern Bighorn Mountains
Crazy Woman Canyon is a serene limestone canyon with excellent rock climbing readily accessible from the road. What Crazy Woman Canyon lacks in size it makes up for in the uniqueness of its geological features, quality of climbing, and positioning right above a blue-ribbon trout stream. Not to mention it’s a quick and scenic drive from the town of Buffalo. If you’re looking to avoid crowds and explore the backroads of sport climbing in the eastern Bighorns, this is the place for you.
A note on the name: there are a few different legends associated with this canyon’s inglorious name, some of native women and some of settlers, most of them incredibly violent. In a sense, Crazy Woman Canyon reminds us of the violence against women in the early frontier era, but it also reminds us of these women’s toughness and spirit of survival. We find this sort of grit inspiring, not least for our effort to make the outdoors more accessible to women and other underrepresented groups.
Crazy Woman Canyon at a glance:
Single pitch sport climbing
Beginner to intermediate
Crimpy, sharp pockets, stemming
Summer and fall
Morning and early afternoon
Car camping and guest ranches
Fishing, horseback riding, mountain biking, hiking
Classic climbing routes in Crazy Woman Canyon:
- Aquaphobia (5.9, 50’) – This unique and thought provoking route climbs up a sometimes-running waterfall on the backside of the beautiful Wave formation. Perform an awkward mantle to stand on top of a prominent shelf then slab climb your way into the water groove. Then shake out and stem your way up the rest of the climb, keeping the moss and seasonal trickle of water in front as you smear up the sides of the trough. There are only three, well-spaced bolts on this climb and we recommend backing up the single bolt anchor with a cordelette wrapped around a nearby boulder.
- Rumor Mill (5.10b, 100’) – Located on a prominent buttress on the north side of Crazy Woman Canyon, this well-bolted climb follows a wandering line of sharp crimps and pockets through several small bulges all the way to the top of the buttress. The crux is down low; the rest isn’t too hard but it can feel a bit sustained for the grade. Beware of loose rock to the left of the bolt line while lowering off this route.
- Outta the Drink (5.11a, 45’) – This aesthetic line follows the jagged edge of a massive boulder right above Crazy Woman Creek. Start by finding a way over the creek, commit to the left face of pockets, then pull an awesome layback move over a roof to regain the arete to the chains. Kudos if you manage to stay dry!
Programs available in Crazy Woman Canyon:
Resources for planning your trip to Crazy Woman Canyon
- Guidebook: Rock Climbs of the Eastern Bighorns
- Gear and supplies: The Sports Lure
- Accommodations: Crazy Woman Vacations and the Klondike Guest Ranch
- Maps and trail info: Bighorn National Forest – Powder River Ranger District
Interested in climbing with us in Crazy Woman Canyon? Send us an email with your name, email address, and a brief description of what you’re looking for.