The Sphinx is the perfect bouldering area for all levels of climbers. There are plush climbs for beginners or for warming up, plus the hardest *** V10 climb in the Cody area is located here. Plague Boulder is a steep-sided black rock dominating the northeast corner of the field. The Sphinx is easy to get to and makes for a great winter afternoon spot. It can get toasty warm in the summer though so get here early in the morning before the sun bakes you off the rocks. It’s a 10 minute drive from downtown and an easy 15 minute hike to the area - no lugging gear long distances. Your coffee won’t even be cold by the time you get here.
What Makes It Great
The area of The Sphinx is compact allowing you to move between boulders quickly. There are a variety of problems depending on how you're feeling and you can spend days here, if not weeks. The Sphinx is a three season climbing area - it’s best to let it remain quiet during the heat of summer. Due to its southern exposure the snow melts out quickly, but the lack of vegetation makes for zero shade.
This is Tensleep sandstone so the rock is generally good, but can vary. Watch the chicken heads which are prone to break, especially after a rain when they're weaker. This is a classic bouldering area, known to locals for a long time, but new routes are periodically still being sent. Climbers of all abilities will be giddy from the variety of routes and there are even some boulders up higher on the slope that haven't been tapped.
Who is Going to Love It
If you're a mid-range climber, the Sphinx is for you. If you're pushing to bounds on V14 this area's for you. There's easy access to the rock and it's fine for kids. There can be rattlesnakes snoozing in the shadows in summer so be careful. Bring a fishing pole in case you get bored climbing because this section of the Shoshone River has some fighters lurking in the cool water.
The best time to hit the Sphinx is late fall or early spring. The rocks are just enough out of the wind tunnel of the Shoshone Canyon making it protected from Cody's notorious winds. A sunny day in December or January can be downright pleasant here if you go early enough for the short day length to play across the rocks.
Directions, Parking, & Regulations
From Cody, drive 4 miles west on US HWY 14/16/20 to the Hayden Arch Bridge turnout. You can park either before or after the bridge, but there are a maximum of 5 spots here and you'll have to share with folks walking up the road to the dam. If this area is full, there's another parking area along the highway. Walk across the bridge and take the first trail to the right and continue down the dirt road to the third draw.
There are no bathrooms and there’s no water at the parking area or at the site.