Eagle Plume Tower is probably the premier tower in the Valley of the Gods area in extreme southeastern Utah. Offering three established routes, the South Face "Eagle Feather" route is one of the few that can be climbed without aid and is probably the safest, most easily protected route in the entire valley. Although this tower is labeled as Castle Butte on the USGS maps, it's known as Eagle Plume Tower to climbers. The nearest towns are Bluff and Mexican Hat which aren't much but motel, gas and food services are found in each. The Valley of the Gods road makes its near 180 degree loop around the tower making it easy to find. If coming from the east side of the loop, you will see the daunting north face first, then ascend to a 5,140 foot saddle west of the tower then turn south and descend slightly where the south face will come into view.
The tower has about 560 feet of prominence with 330 feet of that being the main, vertical section of the tower. All the routes on Eagle Plume have a short 20 minute approach up the talus cone. This is an excellent tower to climb if you are newer to desert climbing or want to practice aid climbing as it seemed like I could place a cam anywhere I wanted. Solid cracks were easy to come by the entire route. Despite this fact, approach this tower with respect as it is still a desert tower with plenty of objective hazards.
Note that the USGS maps label this tower as Castle Butte
From Bluff, Utah continue west on US Highway 191 to the junction with Highway 163 and continue straight, staying on 163. Drive over Comb Ridge and continue roughly nine more miles and turn right onto the Valley of the Gods Road. There is a sign so locating the junction is easy. The gravel road crosses a stream right away which will be dry most of the time but after a storm may be impassible. Continue north on the good road all the way until it begins curving leftward and curves back to the south. Pass by a handful of awesome looking towers including Petard Tower which has an amazing overhanging summit block. Eagle Plume Tower is located in the apex of the large curve in the road. About 8 miles from Highway 163 the road heads over a small saddle just west of Eagle Plume Tower. For the south face route, descend slightly and park at a pull-out where the full south face is visible.
Described below is a table depicting the three established routes on the tower. The South Face route is described in more detail on the corresponding route page.
|South Face||5.10b||This is the standard route on the tower and offers fantastic climbing. This is one of the only free routes in the valley and has great protection the entire route making it a good first route in the area. It's also a good route to practice aid climbing. The route is in a fantastic setting with steep climbing to a beautiful summit. Being on the south side of the tower, it's commonly done in winter.|
|Fuzzy Crockpot||5.8 A2+||This is a thin route on the shady north side of the tower. The first pitch is the crux and requires some aid climbing. A death block supposedly resides right above the first belay anchor.|
|Ardbeg, Vaca & Beyond||C3-||This route is a strange one being entirely a clean aid route. No free moves and no bolts. It's located on the far right side of the south face on the arete. Some white graffiti marks the start of the route. Four pitches of mostly good rock bring you to the summit.|
The entire Valley of the Gods area does not lie on the Navajo Nation lands so camping is limitless. There are many places along the Valley of the Gods Road to pull off and camp or even park an RV. There is no red tape to camp or climb so enjoy the area! More car camping can be found along Comb Wash which drains southward along the western base of Comb Ridge. County Road 235 leaves Highway 163 just west of Comb Ridge and passes by numerous camping spots.
Eagle Plume Tower can be climbed at any time of year however summer would be miserably hot and borderline dangerous. The weather is typically always stable and warm so it can be climbed it winter. It's probably best to wait until March to climb on the north face though as it does get below freezing at night in winter and stay cold in the shade.