Crawdad Canyon is one of the most “unique” crags I have ever visited. The first and only (2007) climbing area I have ever experienced where you have to “pay to climb”. Of course this is no doubt why I ignored it for years. But once you meet the folks who run the place, comprehend the dream that started it and realize where the money is going (Southern Utah Climbers Coalition), it becomes much easier to pay the $2.50 per head entry (2007 member fee). Jim Bosse purchased the old Veyo Pool Resort in 1995. His plan was to create a private climbing park second to none. However, he passed away in 1998 before completion of the ambitious project. Jim’s motto, “Never argue with stupid people”, is one I hold close and attempt to remind myself of every chance I get.
Crawdad Canyon offers endless sport climbing featuring over 180 bolted routes up and down both sides of a well shaded (cottonwood trees) one mile long canyon in the middle of the high desert north of Saint George (Veyo, UT). The property is centered along a spring fed mountain creek lined with 80’ high basalt cliffs on both sides north of the Prophesy Wall area. It is open to the general public during spring and summer months, but is also open to Southern Utah Climbers Coalition annual members off season. You actually have to pick up a key for the gate at Outdoor Outlet in Saint George. If you are a member, the fee is $2.50 per person which gives you total access to swimming, climbing, volleyball, whatever. If not a member, the fee is $8.00. There is camping available as well, albeit, not so private in season. Watch out for about a dozen goats that roam the property keeping the brush trimmed back. It is kind of surreal to be on route and hear the goat collar bells below. Some brass plates with identification and rating still line the base of the routes, although many have gone missing. Most, but not all, of the routes have sport anchors to clip into. The cottonwoods shed so much in May, it looks like it is snowing at times.
Due to its higher elevation and unique shading by the large cottonwoods, Crawdad is definitely an escape option when it is too hot to climb at the Saint George Crags, i.e. Black Rocks. The Flytrap combines some of the easiest climbing at Crawdad, directly over the pool area, with some of the stiffest sport climbs, a handful of 5.12’s to the right over the creek, most of which are at a nice height of at least 65’.
The Routes are Left to Right, East to West
- Super Fly – 60’ – 5.9/ This pitch is more like 5.7, so an ego boost if you need it.
- Fly Boys – 60’ – 5.10c/ The continuation of Super Fly to the next anchor. Fun mantle/awkward move. Still more like 5.10a than 5.10c. Worth doing this one.
- Chef Sheri – 40’ – 5.8/
- Fly Soup – 40’ – 5.7/
- Hopscotch – 50’ – 5.12b/
- Metamorphosis – 50’ – 5.11a/
- The Fly – 65’ – 5.11c/
- Ape Variation – 65’ – 5.12c/
- Barking Crawdad – 65’ – 5.10c/ Halfway up you have to move out left onto Ape Variation, definitely the crux of the climb. Hard to find a left foot piece out and over the buttress. Quite awkward. Seven bolts to shared anchor with Ape (photo).
- A Fly in the Ointment – 65’ – 5.10d/ Not near as fun as Moucha which it shares a first bolt with. Follow the corner through eight bolts to anchor.
- Moucha – 65’ – 5.10b/ Moucha is Czech for fly. Hey, you learn something new everyday. Moucha is just about the best route I have been on in Crawdad Canyon to date. Stem up easy ground to below decent sized roof. Positive, but athletic move makes the roof. Eight bolts to anchor.
- Deck Attraction – 65’ – 5.11b/
- Body Language – 65’ – 5.11c/
- Lord of the Flies – 65’ – 5.12b/
- Czenglish Master – 65’ – 5.10d/
- Hate Crimes – 65’ – 5.12b/
- Lagoon – 65’ – 5.10b/
- Learning to Fly – 65’ – 5.12c/
- The Prow – 65’ – 5.11c/
- DowClimbing.Com Crawdad Canyon
- Veyo Pool-Crawdad Canyon
Getting ThereTake Highway 18 (Bluff Street) north of Saint George for approximately 18 miles to the small hamlet of Veyo. Look for the Crawdad Canyon sign on your right hand side prior to entering town. If you have run the Saint George Marathon, this is the first small town you run through on your way back to Saint George after being bused out. A very supportive town as I recall (particularly for 6:AM in the morning). Follow the road you turned onto past some horse property and to the Veyo Pool sign. Turn left and park here at the top of the hill. No dogs are allowed and they actually have a dog pen in the parking area, but much of the year it should be way too hot to leave your dog in the pen or your vehicle. Proceed on foot down the paved steep road through a set of gates to the bottom of the hill. Turn left into the pool area to pay your fee and sign your waivers. Many of the routes are marked with their respective ratings, but it is best to have Todd Goss’s “Rock Climbs of Southwest Utah” handy as many of the markers are missing.
Red Tape/CampingYou can climb at Crawdad all year around, but the gate is locked during the winter months and you will have to get a key at Outdoor Outlet in Saint George, UT. To do this, you will have to become a Southern Utah Climbing Coalition member. The annual membership is $30 per person or $60 per family (5 people can be listed) (2007). Your daily fee with annual membership is $2.50 and $8.00 if you are not an annual member. In either circumstance, you must have a signed waiver on file. Please always check in at the office by the pool. Drinking water is available and they serve snacks, burgers, etc. by the pool.
No trad, bouldering or free soloing is allowed (thank your local lawyer). No children under 10 or dogs are allowed in the climbing areas.
The campsites are pretty aesthetic below the cottonwoods, but not too private, as the canyon is relatively narrow and climbers will be walking back and forth beside your tent. That being said, I have never seen the place too busy. The 2007 camping rates are $20 per vehicle site, up to eight people and $10 per walk in site. The nearest free camping is the Prophesy Wall area back south at Dameron Valley.