ApproachFollow the directions on the main page to the parking lot at the base of the butte. The route starts at the parking lot.
Route DescriptionUpdate, February 2010: Recent visitors to Courthouse Rock have noted a continued deterioriation of the soft sandstone and clay on this route, particularly just below the summit. Due to heavy erosion, basic climbing moves are necessary to reach the top. One visitor has suggested increasing the rating to Class 4; others may still consider it Class 3. Use your best judgment.
This is a straightforward scramble up the north side of the butte. It is the standard and easiest route, and has seen many ascents. The soft clay and sandstone is brittle and crumbles easily, and portions of this route are heavily eroded from past use--tread as lightly as possible. USE CAUTION, as loose rock can be a problem as well. This route should not be attempted in rainy or snowy weather.
From the parking area, walk south through the prairie to the base of the butte and hike up the easy lower slopes, which are composed of clay. The route is not cairned but past foot traffic has made it obvious. Soon the route encounters the steeper cliff of the sandstone strata. There are several ways to negotiate the cliff, and it will be obvious which ones are the most popular. The most common choice is a heavily eroded gully that has been worn smooth by numerous boots.
Beyond the gully, the route reaches a grass slope littered with rocks, with another cliff beyond, just below the summit. Again, there are several ways to continue. A common choice is to traverse right (west) across the slope and ascend to the base of the summit cliff. This cliff requires some easy scrambling moves. Individual handholds and footholds have even eroded into the rock but can be slippery. See the accompanying photographs.
The flat summit offers outstanding views of the North Platte River Valley and the entire region. You can see for many miles in all directions. Chimney Rock is visible on the western horizon, twelve miles distant. Numerous 19th-century emigrants carved their names on the summit, but most of these have long since worn away.