You Belong Outside Spotlight: Madison River Bouldering

Neat Rock

The Madison River is a recreation hot spot in Southwest Montana.  Fly fishing, floating, white water boating, hiking, camping, and climbing are all common activities along the lower Madison.  The climbing here is great during the spring because it is often warmer and dryer than the climbing areas around Bozeman.   It is also closer than the more well known Whiskey Gulch Bouldering area.  While the opportunities are not as endless as they are in Whiskey Gulch it is still a worthy area to check out with some great problems.

Getting there: Head west from 4 corners on State Hwy 84.  You will reach the Madison River in about twenty miles, drive past the Red Mountain campground and turn right at the fishing access on the other side of the Hwy 84 bridge.  Take the road on the west side of the Madison back toward Neat Rock.  About 2.5 miles down the road it forks, take the left fork and park near the cliff.

Neat Rock Area

 Located just south of Neat Rock (a popular climbing crag) are several boulder problems, here is a map for reference.  (courtesy of Loren's Madison River Bouldering Guide).

Below are descriptions of a few worthy problems with pictures.

Loren Rausch on Tick Season

Tick Boulder- Tick Season V0

A great warm up problem, the crack is located on the west side of the boulder.  A relatively self explanatory problem, follow the finger crack to the top.   Another V0 warm-up is about 30 feet east of this boulder called the Serendipity Slab.  Check the map for reference.

Loren Rausch on Follow the Wind

 The Wind Boulder-Follow the Wind V5

The Wind Boulder is a prominent feature further west of the Tick Boulder.  There are several problems on it ranging from V0 to V7. Follow the Wind is the best of the group, a V5 problem with slopers and a difficult mantle to top out this problem is a good challenge after you have warmed up.  Wind Weaver V3 is another fun problem with a dyno move and another mantle top out.

Loren Rausch on Bridge Over Troubled Waters

 The Cow Skull Boulder-  Bridge Over Troubled Waters V0-

The Cow Skull Boulder is the next boulder to the west and holds some hard problems.  In addition there is one V0 worth a go, Bridge Over Troubled Waters works a sloping shelf with good foot holds on the East side of the boulder.  Others to try are Bovine intervention V4 and Yesteryear V6.
Loren Rausch on The Butterfly Effect

The Butterfly Boulder-The Butterfly Effect V6

Arguably the best problem in the area The Butterfly Effect is a difficult V6 problem with slopers, challenging crimpers  and a heel hook thrown in for good measure.  With a juggy top out this is a great problem worth the slightly longer hike.

Once you're done:  Head down to Norris Hot Springs for a soak and a beer (if you are 21).  Great place to enjoy some music and soak your sore muscles. 

There are several other boulders with established problems in the area for a better guide check out this Madison River Bouldering Guide created by Loren Rausch and hosted by  Be aware of ticks, poison ivy, and rattle snakes, these can be much more of a problem mid summer but be aware none the less.  Climbing is a dangerous activity and having the right equipment and a spotter are necessary for a safe outing.  Your comments and critiques are welcome as we show off areas of Southwest Montana we know and love.

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