Nestled along the east side of Utah’s Manti-La Sal National Forest, Joe’s Valley evokes a primitive feeling—a spot with seemingly unlimited development potential and for those willing to venture off the beaten path, an abundance of untouched lines.
While Joe’s caters well to the strongest of climbers, it offers gems at all grades for any dedicated boulderers willing to make the journey. Crowds stay mild and you’ll find your travels will be rewarded with friendly sandstone and varied movement on a lifetime’s worth of rocks. The free camping, hospitable locals, and quick access to amenities will keep you coming back.
The general layout of Joe’s Valley is divided into three areas: Left Fork, Right Fork, and New Joe’s. Each has its own classics and all are worth spending time at.
Specific description of climbing style
Knee-bars, finger-locks, slopers, crimps, jugs, gastons, and more … Joe’s Valley has it all, offering an abundance of powerful climbs that are generally slightly overhanging or steeper. Dynos and mantly topouts abound, with plenty to keep the first-time visitor psyched for weeks on end.
Fall and spring are best. Winters can get pretty cold and are hit-or-miss with the snow. Temperatures are hot in the summer!
Climbing grade range
Joe’s Valley offers great climbing for any grade level. However, the trouble can be that climbs are scattered; the warm-up area may just have climbs from V0-V3 and jumping on a V10 project may require a short drive just for a single line. This can make climbing in a group of various abilities more difficult than in areas where the lines are more concentrated.
Top climbs in the area
- Angler (V2)
- Kill by Numbers (V5)
- Low Tide (V6)
- Wills of Fire (V6)
- Bring the Heatwole (V7)
- They Call Him Jordan (V8)
- Worst Case Scenario (V9)
- Buoux Crack (V1 R)
- Buoux Problem (V3)
- Frosted Flakes (V5)
- Water Painting (V7)
- The Flu (V8)
- No Substance (V8)
- Playmate of the Year (V9)
- Bad Genes (V3)
- Self Service (V4)
- Chips (V7)
- Planet of the Apes (V7)
- Resident Evil (V10)
Best local spots
All local spots are marked on this interactive map, with precise directions provided by clicking the pins.
Emery County Aquatic Center (for showers)
The Aquatic Center is your spot for warm showers; when feeling ambitious, you can even swim some laps in their pools or head down the water slide, too. As of this writing, access into the Center is just $4 and on Mondays they offer a dirtbag special: $2 after 3pm! Website.
Emery County Dump (for water)
You’re surely in a small town when a best local spot is the landfill, but it turns out this is where you can fill up your water jugs. From Food Ranch, head east on Route 29 and take a left on N Des Bee Dove Rd. Go 1/4 mile and a pull-off on the right-hand side offers potable water fill-ups.
Castle Dale State Liquor Agency
Utah laws only allow most store-bought beer to contain 3.2% ABW (4% ABV). Going to the liquor agency is your only opportunity to get alcohol that actually tastes like—well—alcohol. Selection is limited and beer must be bought by the bottle; overall, prices felt fair.
Fatty’s offers a spot to relax and enjoy burgers, pizza, fries, salads, and more after a long day of climbing. Yelp page.
Palenque Mexican Grill
Just a couple blocks west of Fatty’s, Palenque offers the best burritos around. Well worth a visit! Yelp page.
Where to stay
Plentiful free camping is available in New Joe’s and up Right Fork. Free camping is more limited throughout Left Fork, although several paid campgrounds do exist as you near the reservoir (past most of the climbing).
New Joe’s Camping
There are various smaller turnouts, but the two main campsites are 3.3mi (on left-hand side) and 3.5mi (on right-hand side) north on Route 57 from its intersection with Route 29. Get exact directions with this map.
Right Fork Camping
Venturing up Right Fork (aka Cottonwood Creek Rd) you’ll quickly see various turnouts with abundant, free camping. If you’re looking to find a bit more privacy, these options will be better suiting than the large lots listed for New Joe’s.
Joe’s Valley / The Flu guidebook
As of spring/summer 2016, there are no guidebooks available for Joe’s Valley. The old guidebook is out of print and a new one has not yet been released. However, an online PDF, found here, is available for the newly-developed Flu area in Right Fork.
Joe’s Valley is going through a transitional phase right now as more climbers discover and visit the area. Be responsible in the backcountry (there aren’t any toilets, so dig 6 inches!) and be courteous to the locals. Also, be careful about climbing on sandstone after it rains—the Access Fund advises waiting 24-48 hours before climbing because rain weakens the holds, lending themselves to easier breaking.
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