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. 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, although at summitpost.com, that can be a challenge from time to time.
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. Integrity Wall has the largest collection of 5.10 routes in the Canyon at a respectable height of 50’.
The Routes are Left to Right, West to East
Integrity Wall is to the Right of Sunrise Buttress and Picnic Wall on the North Side of the Creek
- Firestorm – 40’ – 5.10a/
- Hotdog Philosophy – 35’ – 5.10a/
- Picnic Dudes – 50’ – 5.11b/
- Talk the Talk – 50’ – 5.10c/ This is actually a tough stemming corner until you get past the crux at about 20’. Then one more tough move as you figure out the minor overhang below the anchor via slightly run out for a sport route. This is the first route up and truly away from the picnic wall. Well shaded section in the afternoon. Four bolts to anchor (photo).
- Walk the Walk – 40’ – 5.10a/ Five bolts to anchor, yet a shorter route than Talk the Talk. You go to anchor below the last crux move on Talk the Talk (photo).
- Centurion – 50’ – 5.10c/ You throw your left arm up onto a sloping ledge and have to unlock a move over the arête to the right to continue. As I recall, there is a noxious plant growing out of the face at this move, kind of gets in your throat. Continue up easier ground towards Walk the Walk’s anchors and turn right over the arête and angle up to a set of anchors there. Five bolts to anchor (photo).
- No Holds Barred – 50’ – 5.11d/
- High Fidelity – 45’ – 5.12/
- Honor Amongst Trees – 45’ – 5.11a/
- Integrity – 50’ – 5.11c/
- Truth and Consequence – 50’ – 5.11a/
- Stemming the Tide – 50’ – 5.10d/ This route is marked incorrectly on its brass plaque as a 5.10a. Someone has scratched through the a and replaced it with a d which is closer to its grade and how it is referenced in Todd’s guide book. This is the best route on the wall in my opinion. Starts out with a strong mantle move and then some stemming as it moves out onto the right face for some crimpy feet and reachy hands. Five bolts to anchor (photo shows alternative start, good luck with that one!)
- Round Two – 35’ – 5.10d/
- Use Your Head – 40’ – 5.10c/ I just led Stemming the Tide at 5.10d clean, no worries and then hopped on this with another climber who can climb all 5.10 range as well and we could not even muscle our way past the crux. You can go right or back left up the arête, but neither are in line with the route. The crux section is about 2/3rds up and consists of no hands or feet really, just some sort of counter balancing move that I could not unlock and it was the end of a long day anyway. Good luck with it, four bolts to anchor (photo).
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.