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Crow Butte

Crow Butte

Crow Butte

Page Type: Mountain/Rock

Location: Nebraska, United States, North America

Lat/Lon: 42.66000°N / 103.33°W

Object Title: Crow Butte

County: Dawes

Activities: Hiking

Season: Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter

Elevation: 4401 ft / 1341 m


Page By: panhandletrails

Created/Edited: Apr 19, 2007 / Feb 9, 2013

Object ID: 286371

Hits: 6276 

Page Score: 82.17%  - 15 Votes 

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Steep Sides
Steep sides all around increase the challenge
Crow Butte helps to dispel the image of Nebraska being just treeless plains. The site of a major 1849 battle between the Crow and Sioux tribes, it rises almost 900 feet above the White River, five miles north. A feature article on the history of Crow Butte was written in the Chadron Record newspaper. Bighorn sheep and deer are seen on Crow Butte, and there are rare sightings of mountain lions. Rattlesnakes can be a problem on some parts of Crow Butte, except during winter. But, the greatest difficulty in reaching the summit is a combination of soft rock, sometimes unstable, along with the extent of the sheer sides around the butte. There are two routes that make the summit accessible. One starts on the east side, while the other begins on the southwest corner and winds around to the northwest corner.

UPDATE: Crow Butte did not escape the massive forest fires of September, 2012. While damage is not as great as some adjacent areas, please do not plan any expeditions here until landowners will give you permission and assurance that post-forest fire hazards have been minimized.

Getting There

Crow Butte can be reached by county roads, either from Highway 20, or from Highways 2 & 71. While Crow Butte is just a few miles southeast of Crawford, probably the best thing for visitors to do is stop at the National Forest Service office at 125 North Main Street in Chadron and pick up a map of the area. Chadron is around 25 miles east of Crow Butte, on Highways 20 & 385. The forest service map will show main roads and back roads, plus where public and private property lines are at.

Red Tape

Crow Butte Summit Marker
Crow Butte Geodetic Marker
Crow Butte is entirely on private property. So, when you pick up your map, you will save time by checking to see who owns the property on the route you choose to take. A Dawes County Plat map, available at The Chadron Record newspaper office, can help with that. It is very essential you obtain permission from the property owner before you attempt to climb Crow Butte.

Crow Butte Outfitters may be the quickest resource for obtaining permission for a climb. Crow Butte Outfitters


There are a variety of campgrounds in the area. The closest are at Crawford and at Fort Robinson, only a few miles away. The Crawford Chamber of Commerce (308-665-1817) and the main office at Fort Robinson (308-665-2900) can each give you more specific information on camping locations, services, and rates. There are also excellent camping facilities at Chadron State Park, 30 miles east. You can get complete camping information for Chadron from the Chamber of Commerce office there (308-432-4401). You can also try these links:

Fort Robinson State Park

Chadron State Park

External Links

National Forest Service and Nebraska Department of Fish & Game website links, along with other hiking information, can be found at Panhandle Trails, www.panhandletrails.com

An Unexpected Find

Bighorn Sheep Skeleton
Coming down the western side of Crow Butte, we found a radio tracking collar in the bottom of a small ravine. Just a little further down the ravine, we found the skeleton of a bighorn sheep. After returning the collar to the nearby Ponderosa Wildlife Management Office, we were informed the sheep had been at that location for about two years, before some predator killed it. Since that time, the mountain lion population in the area has grown significantly. Nebraska game biologists have identified at least thirteen lions in the Pine Ridge area from Chadron to Crawford. Solo hiking in the area, without any means of repelling lions, is certainly risky.