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Arcata, CA or Grand Junction, CO
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By DarrenG
Mar 1, 2013
I know this kind of thing is asked all the time, but which town would you prefer to live in?

I'd appreciate input regarding all things outdoors (mtn. biking, skiing, boating,disc golf,...), not just climbing. Comments on overall quality of life would be valued, too.

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By adam brink
From Boulder, CO
Mar 1, 2013
Arlo in all his magnificence.
Both have totally amazing outdoor opportunities. This difference is Arcata is hippy cool northern California and Grand Junction gritty, meth head, edge of the desert type of place.

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By Andy Laakmann
Site Landlord
From Bend, OR
Mar 2, 2013
Racked and loaded... name that splitter behind me?...
While there is climbing near Arcata, there is 1000x more near GJ. And the weather can be a bit depressing (foggy/overcast/drizzle) often in Arcata. Lots of whitewater kayaking available within 3 hours of Arcata though.

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By JCM
From Seattle, WA
Mar 2, 2013
For culture, I would prefer Arcata. For climbing, i would vastly prefer GJ. Which one is more important to you?

For a climbing perspective, Arcata is isolated. They have some worthy local areas, but not a lot. Any really notable climbing area is is going to be a really long drive (long drive to Yosemite, tahoe, Smith). GJ, on the otherhand, has tons of good local climbing, and within 3 hours are several of the best areas in the US (Indian Creek, Castle Valley, Rifle, Balck Canyon, etc)...the access to climbin there is amazing.

Honestly, you'd have a hard time picking two more different places.

GJ is desert, Arcata is basically temperate rainforest.

GJ is inland, Arcata is coastal

GJ is conservative/redneck, Arcata is alternative/liberal/artsy

GJ has great climbing access and decent skiing access, Arcata doesn't have nearly the same quality of access

Not sure about the boating or biking

It really comes down to which environment works for you.

For me, climbing matters enough that I would choose GJ; it is located directly between my two favorite climbing areas. If climbing weren't on the table, though, Arcata would be the place.

I've always thought is a bit tragic that the northern CA coast generally lacks climbing. If it had just one good area, it would (to me) the perfect place to live. Why do all those good sandstone crags have to be in the south? Couldn't be just move the Obed to somewhere near Arcata/Eureka; wouldn't that be nice?

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By GhaMby
From Heaven
Mar 2, 2013
I would choose GJ, although I do want to learn how to surf so??? Guess it depends on how much you love the ocean vs climbing & mtn biking.

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By Lurker
Mar 2, 2013
I moved from Tahoe to Arcata recently to go back to school. If you're looking for purely outdoors...Arcata leaves a bit lacking. It's got some of everything, just not as close as I'm used to.

Depends on what you're into though. Climbing: bouldering at Moonstone/Houda/Luffenholtz beaches within 10 minutes of town. At least an hour to anything really good though (Lost Rocks, Trinity Aretes). Mountain biking is okay at best. I certainly wouldn't move here for it, and again, at least 45 minutes to anything good. Skiing: Horse Mountain (45 minutes) gets a decent amount of snow. Backcountry only, and you have to hit it right after the cold, low-elevation storms. Otherwise, looking at at least a 3-4 hour drive to any resort (Shasta, Ashland), or a couple of hours to the Trinity Alps for backcountry (with some long ass winter approaches).

The access to surfing is fantastic (although I'm not a surfer...yet), and with the number of rivers around here, I would guess the same for boating. I think there's at least 6 disc golf courses within 30 minutes of Arcata.

Quality of life is pretty good though. Arcata is a chill little town with a college vibe. The north coast is beautiful, the redwoods are amazing, and it doesn't rain as much as they say. Not this winter at least!

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By Airbiscuit
Mar 2, 2013
adam brink wrote:
Both have totally amazing outdoor opportunities. This difference is Arcata is hippy cool northern California and Grand Junction gritty, meth head, edge of the desert type of place.


You obviously have not been to Grand Junction in awhile.

No surfing, but the mountain biking here is SICK!
Junction is Boulder Colorado thirty or fourty years ago -- before all the pretentious deushbags moved in.

Draw a two and a half hour circle around this place on the map and see what lies within, you'll be impressed.


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By DarrenG
Mar 2, 2013
Thanks everyone. All of your comments confirm my feelings about each place.

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By adam brink
From Boulder, CO
Mar 2, 2013
Arlo in all his magnificence.
Airbiscuit wrote:
Junction is Boulder Colorado thirty or fourty years ago -- before all the pretentious deushbags moved in.


That's hilarious! Are you really saying that in the 1960s and 70s Boulder was a sprawling highway town with little or no urban planning, a growing meth problem and a largely conservative population?

All that aside, GJ does have stellar climbing and mountain biking, along with stacks of other outdoor opportunities.

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By fossana
From Bishop, CA
Mar 2, 2013
West Overhang
One more thing for GJ is whether you're OK with chasing the shade (or heading up to higher altitudes) during the summer months. I personally would opt for GJ based on the outdoor options and landscape, but I have lived in quite a few conservative places (Eldo aside).

GJ monthly temp averages
GJ monthly temp averages


Arcata monthly temp avg
Arcata monthly temp avg

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By Airbiscuit
Mar 2, 2013
No, Im saying GJ is a recreation destiniation that few towns can rival. But thanks for proving the rest of my point.

Im from Alaska and truthfully it is a touch hot here in the dead of summer (some summers are worse than others) but totally easy to escape, the big mountains are close. The rest of the year (to me) is jsut totally pleasant.


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By Peteoria
Mar 2, 2013
Well YOUR quality of life is different than 99% of the people on this earth because you play outdoors and (presumably) aren't a total fatass.

That said, Grand Junk town is a great place to be if you climb, bike, and do winter sports like ski or ice climb. It's also full of meth heads. The future is in your hands!

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By Tapawingo
Mar 2, 2013
Are you moving for school or just moving for a change? I live in Arcata and have been here for over a year now. Honestly I love it, the climbing scene is pretty local, and there is a handful of crags within a 2 hour drive, mostly sandstone bouldering on the coast and limestone sport climbing inland, with a few exceptions. In the rainy season, the stuff along the coast usually dries out after a day or two of clear weather and there are a couple good south facing limestone crags that are good during the winter (about 2-3 hr drive). In the drier season inland gets hot, but there's still good climbing at the trinity aretes and on the coast. There's also some good stuff closer to Shasta which is about 4 hours away(also good for some backcountry skiing in winter).

In terms of other outdoors stuff, there's loads of whitewater kayaking, sea kayaking, surfing, good fishing, crabbing, backpacking in the trinity alps(also some good adventure backcountry trad routes) and along the coast . There's also some good mtn biking , but i'm sure it probably doesn't rival the stuff around GJ.

The culture here is great, a mix of students, growers, farmers, transients, hippies, artists, great farmers market during the drier months ever saturday. It is definitely a landlocked island in some ways, 5 hour drive to any major city, 6-11 hour drive to any major climbing destination (smith is 7, tahoe is 9, the valley is 10, the eastside is 11ish).

Overall though, I'm pretty happy here, I've only driven through GJ and if it wasn't for climbing, there would be no question that Arcata is a better place to live in my opinion. Another thing to remember, is arcata is pretty moderate in temperature all year, but once you head 5 miles inland the weather is completely different, i.e. really hot and dry in the summer which is perfect for hanging out along the many rivers and getting some vitamin d.

Hope this helps, Good luck!

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By NorCalNomad
From San Francisco
Mar 2, 2013
Grand Junction wins on climbing and biking by far...Fruita DUH

Arcata wins on climate and scenery (at least in my mind, I like the forrest over the desert)

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By Lurker
Mar 2, 2013
Eureka is also full of meth heads. Arcata, more on the dirty hippie side.

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By Max Supertramp
Mar 3, 2013
I hear GJ feckin sux.

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