The topography of Charon's Gardens can be a complex maze with small outcrops which can obscure features that are relatively near. There are good to fair trails leading to the major destinations. These areas include Tiny Bubbles, Pear & Apple, Treasure Cove, Elk Slabs and Crab Eyes, but even then, once you are close there can be a bit of route finding to get to the base of the actual climbs.
There are several areas with no maintained trail leading to them. Pick up a USGS map, a condensed version of the Refuge from the Visitor Center or print out a satellite image to aid you in finding these places on and around Mt. Lincoln, West Horizon Pass, Sunset Peak/Big Whiskey and other more obscure crags. The advantage of these areas is that you will avoid the crowds at the Narrows and Mt Scott.
The original 1980 book by Duane Raleigh and Bill Thomas 'Southern Exposure - A Climber's Guide to Oklahoma' simply states: "CHARON'S GARDENS - To the west of Elk Mt. is a rugged wilderness area known as Charons Gardens. Throughout this area there are many excellent one pitch and shorter crack climbs. These can be difficult to locate and no listing of the specific routes will be given.
Climbing is year 'round but you will want to avoid the roasting south facing cliffs in summer and the shady north facing cliffs in winter. Encounters with wildlife can be sudden. Watch out especially for rattle snakes, elk and rogue bison bulls.
There is a designated camping section within Charon's Gardens. You must backpack in a couple of miles and the camping is primitive. Check at the Visitor Center for permits.
Residing on the far southwestern end of the Refuge, there are two main parking lots for this large area and a few pull-outs in between. Drive west on 49 to the north, Sunset Pool Parking which provides access to most of the major climbing areas. Off of the Indiahoma Rd is the south parking lot at Treasure Lake. This is the best point to start in to areas such as Panther Canyon, West Horizon Pass and Mt Lincoln. It's also a good way in to Elk Slabs. This lot has had high incidences of break-ins from time to time so keep your valuables with you or hidden if you must leave them in the vehicle.
163 Total Routes
['4 Stars',23],['3 Stars',55],['2 Stars',38],['1 Star',16],['Bomb',0]
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