The terrain is open semi-desert with large coulee/rock/cliff features (lots of climbing activity near by). What little vegetation there is is dominated by sage brush.

The most prevalent symbol on the map – rough open land. Land cover is very rugged – small stones, cliffs, big stones, boulders. Very tiring for the feet and knees.


The footing is tricky, there are many high cliffs (the uncrossable cliff symbol is used for dangerous locations where you must not go).

Pits – in lower places which are a bit wetter throughout the year, but not enough to form a pond, meadows can be found. Some parts of the map have been used for livestock and people seem to have tried to get water in some organized shape. Several pits and rocky pits can be found there. Rocky pits can be fallen into. Please don’t do that.

Footing – cliffs with sand are slippery, stones roll, ankles too. Please be careful.

Snakes – there are rattlesnakes from May through about September, depending on weather. While it’s unlikely you’ll see any, be aware that they are out there.

Note: Samples of the map are provided here for educational purposes only; the map shown here is not kept up-to-date.

The purpose of providing these navigational and physical ratings below is to provide greater context for how challenging an orienteering course at this venue might be. For example, an advanced-level course at a local city park will be easier to complete than an advanced-level course in the mountains.

Navigational Challenge Rating: 7/10

The primary characteristic of Frenchman Coulee is nearly unlimited visibility, which is a huge aid to navigation. At the same time, there are few trails or other obvious linear features, and it can be tricky to maintain map contact in the more complicated rocky areas, while the flatter, vague areas with few or no easily recognizable features make keeping good compass direction a must. In both settings, when uncertain it can feel like everything sort of looks the same, such that it’s often not so easy to relocate. The temptation can also exist to move *too* fast and lose track of where you are! In the orienteering world, this is known as “outrunning your own navigation.”

Physical Challenge Rating: 7/10

The terrain at Frenchman Coulee is extremely and self-evidently open and runnable, with few trees or other significant ground cover to hinder speed. However, the footing can be quite rocky and uneven in places, and there are numerous cliffs of various size which can present a physical challenge. While the main area of the map is located on a plateau and is thus *generally* flat, there’s a lot of small ups and downs which add up quickly. In addition, there’s a massive cliff system separating the main upper part of the map from the more distant lower part, which may be used on a longer course and necessitates a very tough climb back up.