Best Climbing City/town? (See my criteria & yes, I've read posts on it before)


Original Post
Clark Patrick · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Dec 2015 · Points: 0

Aloha,

I live in Hawaii (and since living here have realized how important climbing is to me and that I need to move back to a location where it can be a part of my weekly/daily life again.) But, am I looking for a unicorn location that doesn't exist?

More info:
- I don't care about winter sports so that isn't an important factor
- I'd prefer a town on the smaller-med. side, don't need to be close to a big city (could even be very small if the community was cool.)
- I'm mainly a sport climber - Love climbing in the Red (but it's a stretch wanting to live near there in KY)
- Open to/interested in living in the desert, but not a huge crack fan... so that rules out a lot
- Don't care too much about the economy/lots of job opp. etc. - I'm happy to be a bar tender or something like that
- More interested in affordable rental housing than good jobs

Other general thoughts:
- I lived in Boulder for a min. - too expensive, kind of snobby for my tastes, and actually getting to be too crowded
- I lived in Carbondale - cool town, nice size, but way too expensive as well, no good work, zero rental options when I was there
- Kind of over CO in general...
- Salt Lake city sounds cool, but I've heard the air quality is really bad? That's important to me...

What smaller towns/cities make sense for a sport climber that can find a decent rental? And that also has a gym for winter/training? Any thoughts would be awesome! Thanks!

Jai · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Oct 2016 · Points: 0
Tasmania!
CornCob · · Sandy, UT · Joined Nov 2012 · Points: 20
Clark Patrick wrote:Salt Lake city sounds cool, but I've heard the air quality is really bad?
You heard right. If air quality is important to you SLC probably isn't the best choice. I know you said you are over the CO scene, but you could check out Cañon City for easy access to Shelf Road. A quick glance at Craigslist shows somewhat promising housing prices.
Clark Patrick · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Dec 2015 · Points: 0
CornCob wrote: You heard right. If air quality is important to you SLC probably isn't the best choice. I know you said you are over the CO scene, but you could check out Cañon City for easy access to Shelf Road. A quick glance at Craigslist shows somewhat promising housing prices.
Thanks! Do you know if there are other smaller towns a little ways from SLC that are outside the bad air quality zone? I live in a 2,000 person town now and would prefer a smaller town anyway. like within an hour of climbing there?
JK- · · SLC · Joined Nov 2012 · Points: 58

Salt Lake is rad, but the air quality can suck, and winter can sometimes shut down most climbing (or all if you're a wimp like me).

For smaller-ish towns... Look into Cedar City, Utah (about 3.5 hours south of SLC on I-15). About 30k people, but doesn't feel it. Job market is iffy, but there are good jobs if you can get them. Cost of living is low. Decent sport climbing in every direction. 45 minutes from Zion NP and Bryce NP. Day trip from Great Basin NP or Capitol Reef NP. Weekend trip to see monument valley, Arches NP, Canyonlands NP, and so much more. Decent food for a town of it's size (benefit of a largely tourism based economy). Great art scene for a town it's size (Tony award winning theater company). About two hours from a major airport, but there is a variety of cheap shuttle options running several times a day. Vegas/Red Rock (world class climbing of all types) is a day trip for the ambitious or an awesome weekend destination. PM me if you have any questions/want to know more. Lived there for a lot of years and still visit regularly (driving down tonight actually).

There are lots of small (often very small) towns spread out nearby too, if you wanted to go even smaller.

Bonus: The weather is great most of the year. In the months where it is too cold or wet you can drop ~4000 feet elevation in a 45 minute car ride and be back to good weather, or drive two hours to vegas an have near perfect weather.

Ted Pinson · · Chicago, IL · Joined Jul 2014 · Points: 190

I know you mentioned that you didn't want to necessarily live by the gorge, but why not Lexington? It's actually a really cool town. Also: Chattanooga.

Andrew Yasso · · Las Vegas, NV · Joined Sep 2012 · Points: 215

I love Las Vegas. Longest rock climbing season out of most places, and then it switches over to hard limestone sport in the summer. Or leave and go elsewhere. I would much rather live somewhere that is nice for 8 months out of the year, and have to travel for 4 months for climbing than the other way around.

Have lived here for 5 years, is great.

Jordan Marvel · · Tempe, AZ · Joined Oct 2014 · Points: 5

Tucson, AZ. I'm not kidding.

Luke Bertelsen · · Tucson, AZ · Joined Feb 2005 · Points: 2,736

Waking up in Tucson right now. Jordan is on to something. Just don't tell everyone.

Tristan Higbee · · Ogden, UT · Joined Mar 2008 · Points: 2,970

St. George, Utah is one to consider. Lots of great sport climbing. Las Vegas airport isn't too far away. Not as cold as Cedar City. Beautiful red rock country. Close to Zion. Big enough to have everything you need, but it's not a big city. Pretty cheap rent. Even cheaper if you want to live in one of the small towns around it.

Downside: May be too hot in the summer for you, but I like it.

Canon City is also a good suggestion.

ViperScale · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Dec 2013 · Points: 230

https://www.mountainproject.com/v/obed--clear-creek/105891970

Not desert but alot of sport climbing and small cities there.

Kemper Brightman · · Tucson · Joined Dec 2011 · Points: 1,913

Tucson, AZ.

I'm currently in the process of moving back to Tucson from the PNW, for all the reasons you've mentioned and more.

JK- · · SLC · Joined Nov 2012 · Points: 58
Tristan Higbee wrote:St. George, Utah is one to consider. Lots of great sport climbing. Las Vegas airport isn't too far away. Not as cold as Cedar City. Beautiful red rock country. Close to Zion. Big enough to have everything you need, but it's not a big city. Pretty cheap rent. Even cheaper if you want to live in one of the small towns around it. Downside: May be too hot in the summer for you, but I like it. Canon City is also a good suggestion.
St George vs Cedar City basically boils down to whether you like unbearable heat or frigid cold more, and which season you'd rather do your escaping. Like both towns. Love Cedar City.
Dylan Pike · · SLC, UT · Joined Sep 2013 · Points: 35

Lander? Jobs might still be an issue there but....wild iris

JCM · · Seattle, WA · Joined Jun 2008 · Points: 100

For best climbing access: Fayetteville WV and Lander WY. Both are pretty cool little towns with incredibly good sport climbing access. Very different climates. WV is incredibly cheap to live in. Lander isn't quite as cheap as you'd expect/hope for a small town in the middle of nowhere.

Chattanooga, Tucson, and Cedar City/St George are all also good options for small cities with good sport climbing and reasonably low cost of living. All have their pros/cons.

Vegas has great sport climbing and the cost of living is reasonable, but is a much, much bigger city than I imagine you are looking for.

Central Oregon is really nice, so long as you don't mind having Smith Rock as your main zone. Bend is getting pricey, but the small towns to the north are cheaper.

In CA, both Bishop and Sonora are worth a look.

JK- · · SLC · Joined Nov 2012 · Points: 58
JCM wrote:For best climbing access: Fayetteville WV and Lander WY. Both are pretty cool little towns with incredibly good sport climbing access. Very different climates.
This reminds me... Cody, WY also a pretty decent town with some cool climbing.
Clark Patrick · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Dec 2015 · Points: 0

Awesome everyone! Thanks for the great responses.

Tucson: I've spent a decent amount of time there in the past. The town itself is ok-ish... it's got a strip mall vibe to it for me. And yeah, summers are crazy hot. I haven't climbed in that area though so don't know what the climbing is like. I know I could find work there though.

Lexington: Well, didn't spent much time there... was always climbing. Anything interesting or noteworthy about the city? Also, climbing there means only at the Red. Living somewhere like Bishop means more access to other areas closer by.

Vegas: I know all the reasons why it makes sense, but man, it just seems like the vibe of Vegas doesn't really connect with the climber culture I'm use too. Is there a nice local climber scene?

St. George: Will look into this one... any further thoughts on it? Sounds like a decent option. So, some prefer Ceder City over St. George?

Canon City: Will also check this out further. Any more info. on it?

Lander: Sounds like rad climbing. But, too remote and too expensive?

Fayetteville WV: I know nothing about this place? What's it like living in WV??

Bend: Sounds awesome, but I already know it's getting to be super expensive and growing rapidly.. Not as much of a fan of the PNW either.

Chattanooga: Really peeks my interest. Seems like it's got a lot of culture stuff going on, good climbing, decent weather, etc. not a super small town, but not huge. And seems like a cool local climber scene? Does anyone have further thoughts on it?

Bishop: This looks like a real winner as well. Lots of good local climbing. Decent weather most of the year, with it being a little too hot mid-summer, but winter climbing available. Looks like a cool small town. Anyone know more about finding housing, etc.? As long as I can find a decent rental I can always find ways to make enough cash to get by. Also, seems like a decent sized climber scene there. Is there a gym anywhere close for training days? I also really like how reasonable close it seems to be to other awesome climbing spots. It comes up on the climber radar a lot... is it on it's way to becoming over run/over crowded? Looks like there is tons of bouldering, but how are the wall? I'm mostly a sport climber, but is there any trad, multi-pitch?

Between: Chattanooga, Cedar City/St George, and Bishop is there a clear winner? How about flat out best climbing between the 3 areas? Best meaning, most climbs, most variety, best rock, high ratings, etc.

Thanks again for all the thoughts so far... super helpful.

Arlo F Niederer · · Colorado Springs, CO · Joined Mar 2009 · Points: 385

I've become a real fan of Colorado Springs. The weather is milder than up north. Its vibe is way different than Boulder. I've lived in Boulder, Denver, Fort Collins, and now Colorado Springs. Boulder was my least favorite place, for the same reasons you mentioned.

Shelf Road provides climbing over the winter months and is 45 min away. Eleven Mile Canyon is also 45 min away, and provides cooler climbing in the summer, and you can climb in the winter, weather permitting. It also has great trad if you want a change of pace.

Red Rocks is on the west side of town and provides sport slab climbing. There is also Garden of the Gods.

The South Platte has all kinds of sport and trad climbing within a reasonable drive - many, many areas and crags.

We moved here because the rents were way more reasonable than up north. We live in Old Colorado City on the west side of town and it doesn't feel like a big city to me - and I grew up in a small town in Wyoming. You mentioned a smaller town - Canon City would fit that criteria but I feel Colorado Springs has more variety of areas easily accessible.

Good luck with your search!

David Gibbs · · Ottawa, ON · Joined Aug 2010 · Points: 6
Clark Patrick wrote:Bishop: This looks like a real winner as well. Lots of good local climbing. Decent weather most of the year, with it being a little too hot mid-summer, but winter climbing available. Looks like a cool small town.
Bishop is close enough to the high Sierras that, even in the hot summer months, you should be able to gain enough altitude for climbing to be ok. Though, the higher altitude stuff might be less likely to be as much sport.
Curtis Baird · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Oct 2013 · Points: 161

Abingdon, VA has Hidden Valley. The place is great sandstone and a guidebook just came out. It has hundreds of sport routes plus places like the New and the Red are relatively close. Small town and not that expensive. From there it is a few hours to Chatt and North Carolina. A good geographically centered location.

Tradster · · Phoenix, AZ · Joined Nov 2007 · Points: 0

Prescott AZ would give you access to local climbs (lots of granite); Sedona an hour away, Flagstaff climbing, Phoenix (Sups, McDowells, etc in winter.) Four hours to Lemmon, Stronghold, etc. Not sure about job situation. Tucson is great fore climbing, but the city itself is just one giant strip mall.

Prescott has four seasons, with a mild winter. I'm biased as I have a place up Prescott way. Also great mountain biking, some pleasant flat water kayaking and lots of hiking. Plenty of canyoneering nearby also.

Prescott metro area is maybe around 100K.

Guideline #1: Don't be a jerk.

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