/ Outdoor bases in the US or Canada
Does anyone have any experience or well researched views or where in the US or Canada they would base themselves to enjoy the outdoors (easy climbing / mountaineering, canoeing, hiking and biking etc) between June - September?
I'm mid 40's and have saved up enough paid holiday to take four months off next year and I have begun looking at locations such as Colorado and British Columbia, but I would appreciate anyone's wisdom on specific locations and how expensive people found it. At the moment my research suggests that the cost of renting a flat or house, even some distance from the honeypot resorts, means that I'm looking at RV parks (some of which need to be booked 12 months in advance) and I'm also thinking of volunteering to help out with a conservation project for a couple of days a week whilst there, in order to meet people and just spend time outside.
Canada is normally cheaper than the US.
Squamish is an excellent base for all those activities and it's easy to meet partners/people in that town. I loved it when I was there a couple of years ago. The adventure hostel isn't that expensive but definitely more than camping, it depends what your budget is. Maybe even cheaper than renting an RV.
I don't know about the mountaineering at that time of year you may have to go further North, but it has everything else you want.
Hiking everywhere. Climbing everywhere. Whistler is <1hr drive and has world class mountain biking. Renting gear for the entire time won't be cheap in either if that's what you were thinking for bikes/canoes.
If I had 4 months I wouldn't stick to one place but I would road trip around, camping in the Parks and getting a motel/hotel room from time to time. North America is really set up well for this.
You're more likely to meet other climbers and outdoorsy types camping or in hostels than RV parks, probably cheaper too once you factor in the cost of everything.
If you do road trip across both countries I would make sure to pick up and return the rental in the same country, or I would get separate rentals between countries
This might sound odd, but I would maybe start with deciding how well you cope with heat. Quite a bit of the US is *hot* during the summer, and depending on how you do in the heat you may struggle to get much done (I certainly would!) in many of the most common outdoor bases. Even in places in Colorado/Utah that are reasonably high altitude, the intensity of the sun makes the temps feel hotter than they actually are.
Anyway my suggestion to start things off* is Bellingham in northern Washington. It's not as roasting in the summer as other areas, it's a big enough city to have plenty of people to meet but not so big to be overly expensive or crowded, and the hiking/mtb/climbing is superb. No idea about canoeing but at the very least there is plenty of sea kayaking. And you'd be near enough to drive to Squamish if you wanted.
If you've not found it already, the website Craigslist is what Americans generally use to find cheap housing.
For the volunteering, a lot of ultramarathons in the US require runners to have completed a day of trail work in order to enter, so you could probably find a trail work day by checking race websites--in the Bellingham area, you could try the Cascade Crest 100 miler for info.
*It took me long enough to write this that someone else already gave you your first suggestion
Thanks both for your advice.
I've been skiing in Whistler and have spent a summer on the Canadian prairies, plus a couple of weeks in the desert close to LA, so I do have some experience of the temps and knowledge of the geography, but you've both given me some ideas to explore. I think I'm probable now look to break the first 3 months up by camping and RVing and then hopefully spend few weeks on the John Muir trail before coming home.
> Canada is normally cheaper than the US.
No, not really, but it does depend on the relative exchange rates.
One suggestion that is rarely mentioned is Whitehorse in the Yukon. It is a small city with a vibrant outdoor community where you will have access to hiking, biking, canoeing and mountaineering. I'm not sure about the climbing but I would find it difficult to believe that there isn't any.
You will also then be on the doorstep of some truly wild places such as the Peel River Watershed, Kluane National Park and the Wrangell National park in the US:
You will also be close to (Relatively - remember these places are huge in comparison to the UK) Dawson City and Skagway although both are tourist traps. You can also drop down into northern BC or cut across into the North West Territories.
The summer weather will be generally good although it will start to cool off in late August.
Oooh interesting, I had never heard of Whitehorse but I'm filing that one away for my own use!
I love the place although some of the smaller communities just outside such as Haines Junction or Carcross can be cool little places.
One other big advantage of Whitehorse is the very long summer days. A midnight sun is always a joy to behold
Unless you have a reason for staying put in one place, I would second the advice to perhaps move around and make a road trip out of it. I'd recommend you look at some of the lesser travelled areas that you couldn't easily get to on a shorter trip. The further away from other tourist climbers I've found myself, the more likely locals seem to take me in and show me around.
Two of my all time favourite places:
Worth looking at Boulder (https://www.mountainproject.com/area/105801420/boulder), Canmore and the Bow Valley (https://www.vertical-addiction.com/us/blogs/blog/the-vertical-addiction-guide-to-rock-climbing-in-t/), Estes Park and Rocky Mountain NP.
I've spent time in the Yukon which is absolutely incredible; wild, beautiful and welcoming. Dawson City would be the place to base yourself in my opinion. Better located and far more interesting than Whitehorse. And hardly a tourist trap – subjective of course! Yukon has some incredible mountaineering, horse riding, hiking and river adventures, but it's not the place to go for rock climbing...
I'd recommend you ask questions on Mountain Project rather than UKC, as then you'll get ideas from North Americans in the know.
> No, not really, but it does depend on the relative exchange rates.
Obviously it does but that's why Canada is usually cheaper... Also things related to outdoor activities are usually cheaper for sure in Canada (lift passes for skiing/mtb, gear rental etc), car rental and accommodation in my experience is cheaper, as are groceries (produce and other ingredients/healthier foods), dining/drinking out and other entertainment, and medical care and rescue should you need it. Only thing that is always more expensive in Canada is fuel.
Are you thinking cheaper coming from the US to Canada or cheaper coming from the UK to Canada. Canada is NOT cheaper than the UK atm because of a poor exchange rate. I would be very surprised if Canada was cheaper than the US to a visitor from the UK but I'd have to do some price comparisons based on current exchange rates.
I would not base myself in Dawson City. Although a fascinating place it is somewhat the end of the line and you would have far more choices out of Whitehorse which, although a little more of an industrial town is still a great place to be. If Dawson City isn't a tourist trap I'm not quite sure what criteria you would use for that description but in the months that the OP is suggesting he will be there I would bet that the main industry would be tourism.
You should consider Salt Lake City, UT. You'd be within a striking distance of a LOT of climbing options: from the obvious ones like Moab (bit warm in summer) & other desert locales (Zion, Red Rocks are a bit further), to alpine granite in Wind Rivers of WY or Sawtooth Mountains in ID (or even the Tetons), to some nice, local granite in the Wasatch Range (just beyond the burbs). Also, City of Rocks (mini Josh) is close and so many other options if you're willing to drive a full day.
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