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Crazy Woman Canyon

One of Johnson County’s natural treasures is Crazy Woman Canyon, a serene limestone canyon with countless recreational opportunities as well as the chance to just enjoy the beautiful natural scenery.

Van drives through Crazy Woman Canyon with rock walls, creek and boulders.Located about 12 miles south of downtown Buffalo, Crazy Woman Canyon Road from Highway 87/196 snakes through the canyon alongside a rushing creek to U.S. Highway 16 on the west end. The graded dirt road is accessible for most vehicles, although high-clearance vehicles are recommended. Trucks, large RVs and vehicles pulling trailers should not drive the canyon.

The 13-mile single-lane dirt road encourages slow travel, which is perfect for taking in the scenery of the high cliffs, the large boulders that have tumbled down from above, and the mountain waters cascading down the canyon.

There are several great camping sites, many located near small pull-out areas.

Rock climbing and trout fishing also are part of the attraction for Crazy Woman Canyon. There are no marked trails, though hiking along the creek is common, and a hike to the Saddle Overlook is rated as difficult.

 

How the Canyon got its name

There are two legends related to the Crazy Woman Canyon name.

The first legend tells of a white woman and her husband, a trader who was said to have cheated the Native Americans out of their goods. He was killed by the tribe, and some stories say the woman witnessed the scalping of her husband and children, which drove her to insanity. It was said she stayed in the area, hiding from people but receiving assistance from a Native American woman. She was eventually presumed dead from starvation or an animal attack.

The second legend is of a Native American woman who was the lone survivor of an attack on her tribe by another warring party. Remaining in the area by herself, she eventually lost her senses and went crazy.

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