Two and a half hours south of Salt Lake City is a sandstone paradise called Joe’s Valley. It’s truly a mecca for bouldering enthusiasts. Hundreds of black and tan streaked sandstone boulders sit on National Forest Service land that is shared by hunters, RV campers, fishermen, and off-roaders. As it is a desert, the weather is usually perfect for climbing in the fall and spring and even into the winter. Camping is free and easy, the locals are generally quite friendly and welcoming, and the surrounding scenery is awesome. Joe's Valley is dog friendly, but be mindful of your crag dog's comfort and be sure to bring extra water and shade tents for them.
What Makes It Great
The climbing is split between three main areas: Left Fork, Right Fork, and New Joe’s (camping can also be found in each area). New Joe’s is south facing and tends to be warmer, while the two forks are canyons that can trap the cold air. Though the trails are often steep and rocky, most approaches are five minutes or less, with many of the most popular boulders within quick, easy reach of camp.
The rock is almost perfect for climbing. Boulder problems are striking and aesthetic, with a lot of gymnastic movement and good friction. You will find the occasional sharp pocket or crimp, but for the most part the holds are quite comfortable. A quick web search will find you tons of videos of classic problems, from The Angler (V2) to Resident Evil (V10) and the perennial favorite Wills A Fire (V6). Hundreds of problems have been documented, and hundreds more await the adventurous climber. A good place to start is Mountain Report's beta and forums.
It’s important to note that temperatures in the Utah desert can vary dramatically, especially in the spring and fall when the climbing is at its best, so bring a tent and a warm bag. 80-degree temperatures during the day can turn into 40-degrees and even less at night, so be prepared. Also, water can be scarce and beer, while delicious and rewarding, won’t keep you hydrated. Bring lots of water. (It’s a good idea to bring lots of beer, as well—just to be safe).
Who is Going to Love It
Everyone from expert climbers to first-timers will love Joe’s Valley. The comfortable holds and wide variety of boulder problems make this a climbers’ paradise. Their dogs will love it, too.
Directions, Parking, & Regulations
Joe’s Valley is just outside of a small town of just under 1500 called Orangeville. To get there from Salt Lake City, head south on I-15. At American Fork, you’ll take US-6 east. Once you reach Price, you’ll take UT-10 south into Orangeville. The trip is 150 miles and will take you just about two-and-a-half hours. Parking is plentiful and free.
For an extended guide on the Joe’s Valley lifestyle, visit The RV Project's post on it. If you're heading to Joe's out of Salt Lake City, swing by IME Utah for local beta, stories, and gear. Also, REI Salt Lake is just around the corner, as well as a grocery store and a liquor store.