Mountain Project Logo

Roanoke, VA

Original Post
A. Michael · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Jul 2016 · Points: 40

Anybody have firsthand experience with Roanoke?  Not just from a proximity to climbing perspective, but from a livability perspective.  We're looking to relocate, and geographically Roanoke makes a lot of sense for our circumstances.  I've heard good and bad about the place.  We intend to visit soon, but I'd love it if somebody could share their opinion.  I'm asking here because as climbers, we probably look for similar things in cities/towns besides the proximity to climbing and outdoors.

wgc75 · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Oct 2010 · Points: 0

Lived there for a year but this was 8-9 years ago so take it with a grain of salt.  

When I moved up there I was expecting a nice little mid sized mountain town but it had a very different atmosphere from say a Boone, NC or Asheville (also places I've lived or am very familiar with).  Really nice people everywhere but I never really felt or found a really obvious and active outdoors scene there.  Now that could have been me not reaching out or putting the effort in but I've never had that trouble in other places.  There are really good hiking and fly fishing options around town, didn't climb much back then so can't really speak to it but don't think there's much of a scene there - I'm sure there's at least some scattered bouldering and you wouldn't be terribly far from the New, Grayson and Shenandoah.  Wasn't even a climbing gym when I left.  The downtown area was great and the hike up to McAfee Knob or Dragons Tooth are a lot of fun.   I guess I'd sum it up as it just felt to me like a slightly gritty mid atlantic city that just happened to be in the mountains?  

By all means definitely take a visit and check it out, I moved up there with basically zero research due to just needing a job after losing mine and may have just had unrealistic expectations coming from Boone and Raleigh.     Also the Blacksburg/Christiansburg areas may be an option as well - about 20 min from Roanoke but smaller college (Virginia Tech) towns...


frank minunni · · Las Vegas, NV · Joined May 2011 · Points: 96

How far is that from Seneca or The New River gorge?  Both are stellar climbing areas with completely different climbing.

mission · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Feb 2010 · Points: 0

I would happily live in Roanoke except that it is too removed from a major airport for me. It has seemed like a good town on my visits, particularly downtown.

Mark O'Neal · · Nicholson, GA · Joined Oct 2009 · Points: 1,335

Roanoke is OK, but as wgc75 said don't expect it to be like a little mountain town.

I went to school in Blacksburg and heartily recommend living in that area. You can be at NRG in a few hours or Hidden Valley in a couple hours. Seneca is a bit further but still doable.

Oh wait, was I not suppose to say Hidden Valley out loud? Hidden Valley, Hidden Valley, Hidden Valley.

. · · Asheville NC · Joined Jun 2014 · Points: 510

Another VT grad here.  I would echo what has been already said about Roanoke not seeming to have much of an outdoors scene from what I saw in my limited experience. 

 Tech was great up until the shooting, I took a D- in a class to get off campus for the rest of the semester, the only D i got in college.  Tech handled that incident very poorly IMO.  sorry that's kinda off topic.  In general I have a bad taste in my mouth for how the government is run up in VA and  I wont return to Virginia to live, I feel there are too many laws there and it feels oppressive. but that's just my opinion.   This seems overly negative, I enjoyed my time at tech and the area really isn't that bad but would be far from my first choice if I had other options.

There is a small climbing area down by the new river just outside of blacksburg.  
christiansburg disc golf course is good

some nice mountain biking up at pandapas pond area.

bacripe · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Jun 2015 · Points: 0

As someone who currently lives in Roanoke, I can tell you that the above responses may have been accurate a few years ago, but are no longer the case. Roanoke is a great outdoors town, and a very comfortable place to live. I've been here for 2 years, and continue to discover new things to do here.

For climbing there is a gym in town (River Rock) that while not huge, has good variety, good route setting and frequent turnover in routes. Nothing seems to stay up for more than a month or so at the most. There are a smattering of outdoor cliffs in the immediate area (nothing to write home about) and 100+ bouldering problems within 20 minutes of downtown at McAfee's knob area. You're about 2 hours from Grayson Highland with several hundred bouldering problems. For roped climbing, it's 2 hours to Hidden Valley, 2.5 hours to New River Gorge (3 to Summersville) or Seneca Rocks WV. It's 3 hours to Pisgah, and 4.5 to the Red River Gorge. 

Roanoke has some of the best mountain biking on the east coast at Carvin's Cove, plus a ton of great riding in the national forests. Road riding is great here too. 

If you're into water, there are class III-V rapids within 20 minutes of downtown. There are a bunch other areas to paddle in the region as well. Lots of good fly fishing too. 

There are an abundance of hiking trails (20 minutes to the AT in several spots). 

If you like beer, there are over a dozen local breweries in the immediate area. Deschutes chose us over Asheville for their east coast operations (opening here in 2019) and so did Ballast Point (2020 I think). There are a lot of good food options here as well, and it continues to develop.

If you need to get to a bigger city, the local airport has lots of options to connect. Amtrak is reopening here in the fall, so the train to DC or Philly/Baltimore/NY is an option if you don't want to drive. 

Feel free to PM me if you have specific questions, I'm happy to answer.

A. Michael · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Jul 2016 · Points: 40

Thanks for the replies.  We have yet to visit, but will probably do that this summer.  We're trying to find as spot in that part of the country to be close to family in western VA, and my current job.  I work remotely most of the time, but would like to be able to travel to the office in Arlington, VA without too much hassle.  My one fear with Roanoke is the job market should I happen to change employers.  I'd pretty much have to bet on being able to continue working remotely.  Not too much of a stretch in my line of work (IT) but something to consider.

Nathan Witt · · Roanoke, Va · Joined Dec 2016 · Points: 10

I currently live in Roanoke. We have legit bouldering at McAffee's Knob and are two hours from each NRG, Grayson Highlands, and Hidden Valley. River Rock is our local gym which is very accomodating. There are also climbing gyms in Christiansburg (Crimpers) and Lynchburg (Rise Up) that are worth checking out. If you come into town to visit again, hit me up. I'll let you burn one of my guest passes at the local gym and meet the crew.

Guideline #1: Don't be a jerk.

Post a Reply to "Roanoke, VA"
in the Southern States

Log In to Reply