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Best Cities in the US for climbing / skiing / WW kayaking?

Original Post
Zach Allin · · VA · Joined Jun 2017 · Points: 35

Gearing up to move and starting to apply for jobs, what's the best city to live in for Rock/Alpine Climbing, Skiing, and WW Kayaking?

Bonus points if said location actually has employment for a young mechanical engineer.

Current top choices include Boise and Reno. Plenty of places like Durango, Bend, and Fayetteville WV would be perfect, but have very few to no engineering jobs.

Apologies to those of you who already saw my post in the Idaho forum. Any suggestions are much appreciated! 

Ben Pellerin · · Spaceship Earth · Joined Mar 2018 · Points: 0

Boise is pretty sweet. My parents live there and you can find every outdoor activity you can imagine minus surfing within an hour of the city.

It is however very white bread and country. Not so much a city as a giant urban sprawl suburb. If you don't care about culture or the sociopolitical climate and just want access to the outdoors it's a great spot.

MorganH · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Sep 2010 · Points: 185

If alpine climbing , ww kayaking, and mountain biking are as important as rock climbing, then the PNW is the place for sure. 

Caz Drach · · C'Wood, UT · Joined Jun 2013 · Points: 310

BEND OREGON, BOULDER COLORADO, TAOS, LAKE TAHOE

NOT SALT LAKE CITY - IT DOESNT SNOW HERE

Daniel Bookless · · Portland, OR · Joined Oct 2015 · Points: 350

define city?  > 1,000,000 or less than 100,000?

Mikey Wally · · Unknown Hometown · Joined May 2014 · Points: 8,049

Too much crag drama at Bend ;)

Zach Allin · · VA · Joined Jun 2017 · Points: 35

Ben: Nope they got that too ;)      I actually thought Boise's downtown was decent! The sprawl to the south and west was pretty awful but all the green space in the NE quadrant was great with a lot of young people and solid food/drink options.

MorganH: What areas specifically? Seattle has plenty of job opportunities but what is there to do outside (ski/paddle/pedal/climb) on a weekday after work? Ditto Portland, etc.

Caz: Not sure if I believe you about SLC haha but I'll look into Taos

Daniel: For the sake of this conversation let's set the population around 100k, simply because I'm finding that's the population at which decent engineering jobs start to become available. Although I've lived in places with pop. 800 all the way up to a couple million and they all suited me well enough. Also wanna try to sell me on Portland?

peter heekin · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Aug 2010 · Points: 136

The City of Rocks 

MorganH · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Sep 2010 · Points: 185
Zach Allin wrote: Ben: Nope they got that too ;)      I actually thought Boise's downtown was decent! The sprawl to the south and west was pretty awful but all the green space in the NE quadrant was great with a lot of young people and solid food/drink options.

MorganH: What areas specifically? Seattle has plenty of job opportunities but what is there to do outside (ski/paddle/pedal/climb) on a weekday after work? Ditto Portland, etc.

Caz: Not sure if I believe you about SLC haha but I'll look into Taos

Daniel: For the sake of this conversation let's set the population around 100k, simply because I'm finding that's the population at which decent engineering jobs start to become available. Although I've lived in places with pop. 800 all the way up to a couple million and they all suited me well enough. Also wanna try to sell me on Portland?

Seattle has Index & the I-90 corridor for post work fun in the spring/summer/fall. Weekends get you the north cascades, Squamish, Leavenworth, and the olympics. Portland has mt hood and bend, Seattle is better. Crazy expensive though, and it's gotten progressively crazier in terms of people and traffic.  The mountain biking within an hour of Seattle has to be some of the best and most varied in the country. Rivers include the snoqualmie, skykomish, and the snohomish. 


Bellingham is a much more mellow town with almost all the same cool stuff, but tipped towards biking and skiing rather than rock climbing. Harder to find work though. Cheaper cost of living and no traffic. 
Ben Pellerin · · Spaceship Earth · Joined Mar 2018 · Points: 0

Calling that surfing is like calling gym climbing an alpine adventure. 

Zach Tom · · Lafayette,CA or Seattle, WA · Joined Oct 2017 · Points: 0
Zach Allin wrote: MorganH: What areas specifically? Seattle has plenty of job opportunities but what is there to do outside (ski/paddle/pedal/climb) on a weekday after work? Ditto Portland, etc.

For Seattle, exit 32 is decent for sport climbing and its 30 minutes from Seattle. For weekends you have Index and Leavenworth for good trad climbing. I don't ski but I have heard it is pretty decent. For ww kayaking, the Sky near index is great class 3/4, the Snoqualmie is good for class 3 and it is 40 minutes away.

kenr · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Oct 2010 · Points: 16,658
Zach Allin wrote: Caz: Not sure if I believe you about SLC

but I've heard the region around Salt Lake is pretty weak for whitewater kayaking.

And the skiing has been weak for the last couple of winters.
Pnelson · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Jan 2015 · Points: 521
kenr wrote:

but I've heard the region around Salt Lake is pretty weak for whitewater kayaking.

And the skiing has been weak for the last couple of winters.

Utah has great whitewater for multi-day expeditions in the desert, but would be a poor choice for a whitewater kayaker; just not enough water nearby.

the schmuck · · Albuquerque, NM · Joined Feb 2012 · Points: 115

What about Los Alamos?  Would have to drive for white water, but it is day tripable. Lots of engineer jobs. 

Daniel Bookless · · Portland, OR · Joined Oct 2015 · Points: 350

Post or Pre work climbing sessions are completely the norm in Portland. Downtown to Broughtons Bluff with 100 plus routes in 20 minutes or less.   (Denver and SLC are probably the only cities with a million plus inhabitants that have closer access to climbing than PDX).  Hood is about an 1.5 hours from town.  The only downside is that the climbing in the immediate vicinity is an acquired taste, slick scary basalt.  As the old saying goes, the best climbing in Oregon is in Washington, which is partially true, Alpine rock in the North Cascades is certainly closer to Seattle, but it's still a weekend trip for Portlanders.  Smith Rock and Trout Creek are long day trips or good weekend spots. I suggest going on week days though.  I don't white water kayak, but I've been told by those that do, that white salmon is pretty rad, world class even.  Good access to decent skiing too. 

Zach Allin · · VA · Joined Jun 2017 · Points: 35
the schmuck wrote: What about Los Alamos?  Would have to drive for white water, but it is day tripable. Lots of engineer jobs. 

What's the "after work" climbing like around Los Alamos, is it actually a good? Some of the local crags look solid. Where do most of the people who work there live? Is the destination climbing in NM pretty crowded? Do you paddle? Los Alamos is a really intriguing suggestion 

Roy Suggett · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Jul 2009 · Points: 8,124

Park City UT/Jackson Hole WY? 

the schmuck · · Albuquerque, NM · Joined Feb 2012 · Points: 115
Zach Allin wrote:

What's the "after work" climbing like around Los Alamos, is it actually a good? Some of the local crags look solid. Where do most of the people who work there live? Is the destination climbing in NM pretty crowded? Do you paddle? Los Alamos is a really intriguing suggestion 

I do not paddle, but my dad does, and I understand that paddling is decent around Taos. There is a ton of single pitch cragging within 45 minutes of Los Alamos, much of it quite good and of all grades.  Look under "Jemez" in mountain project in addition to "Los Alamos/White Rock" as it really is the same area. There is also a fair bit of skiing, with Pajarito practically in town. Quite a few of the Labs denizens live in White Rock. 

bus driver · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Aug 2009 · Points: 1,386

Any of the others besides SLC. The SLC Slips is the best climbing and it sucks so bad to wait in line to climb there.  

SeƱor Arroz · · LA, CA · Joined Jan 2016 · Points: 10

How would your prioritize your sports? Because a lot of places meet 2 out of 3 but the 3rd is a problem. Also, how far are you willing to drive? And how important is the quality of the actual CITY to you? (note conversation about Boise above). You could live somewhere like Fresno or Sacramento with tons of all three within an hour or two. But the quality of life in those towns is meh (Sacto better than Fresno for sure.)

the schmuck · · Albuquerque, NM · Joined Feb 2012 · Points: 115
Señor Arroz wrote: How would your prioritize your sports? Because a lot of places meet 2 out of 3 but the 3rd is a problem. Also, how far are you willing to drive? And how important is the quality of the actual CITY to you? (note conversation about Boise above). You could live somewhere like Fresno or Sacramento with tons of all three within an hour or two. But the quality of life in those towns is meh (Sacto better than Fresno for sure.)

...and per criteria provided, it needs to be an engineering hub. There are really not that many options out there. 

Guideline #1: Don't be a jerk.

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