Joe’s Valley

 

Typically I don’t like bouldering very much, but after spending several weeks at Joe’s Valley it has overtaken Bishop as my favorite bouldering area. Here is why. First, the sandstone is extremely skin-friendly. I could easily climb two or three days straight without much problem. In Bishop, my tips start to hurt by time I’m done warming up. Speaking of warm-ups, there are a lot more high-quality warm-ups at Joe’s. In Bishop, you find yourself warming up on the same V-easy problems over and over. At Joe’s you can warm up on something new every day. Bishop is definitely much more beautiful, and it is a more interesting town than the towns around Joe’s Valley, but I still take Joe’s over Bishop.

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The Rock

The rock is excellent sandstone. The holds are really strong, I’ve only seen one break and it was on a rarely travelled warm-up. The landings are usually flat, and the approaches are short. The holds are typically pretty big, but it is not just all jug hauling. You can find a variety of climbing to suit your style. Unfortunately, there often aren’t intermediate holds for the vertically challenged to make their own beta to get past a big move. Because of this, grades felt easier for me (I’m 6’2”) but harder for my girlfriend (she’s 5’3”). Regardless, there were still plenty of high quality routes for her to get on.

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Bouldering Areas

There are three main bouldering areas: Right Fork, Left Fork, and New Joes. All three have their pros and cons.

 

Right:

Pros: Big parking areas, can find crowded zones or quiet zones. Dairy Canyon is the best place to go if it is hot.

Cons: You need to drive from area to area. Doesn’t get very much sun (pro if you like “sending temps”), can be hard to find some sectors

 

Left:

Pros: Parking can be limited, can find crowded zones or quiet zones. River if you want to cool off.

Cons: You need to drive from area to area. Doesn’t get very much sun (pro if you like “sending temps”), sometimes need to cross river.

 

New Joes

Pros: Best toilet situation, easy to find boulders, good camping, cell phone reception. Keeps the sun the longest.

Cons: Gets very hot on sunny days. Can be very crowded especially chips and planet of the apes.

 

Camping

There are a lot of options for camping in Joe’s Valley. My favorite place to camp is New Joes. There are two new, clean vault toilets that are rarely crowded and there are a lot of options. You can camp at the same road as the bouldering parking if you want to meet people or another road near by if you want some privacy. Here, the sun stays up longer and sets later than in the forks, so you can stay warm longer. You get cell phone reception although it gets slow because of all the people there. Also, you can walk to the New Joe’s boulders from camp.

You can also camp at entrance to left fork, but make sure not to camp after the signs that tell you not to camp (obviously). A new vault toilet has been added a little bit past the camping, but it could be a bit of a walk compared to new Joe’s.

At the right fork, you camp in several pullouts. The main areas are mansize, and boux. Mansize has a port-o-pottie, but is usually crowded. Boux is sans toilet, but you can usually have privacy.

 

Climbing Supplies

The Food Ranch has a few climbing supplies, but not much. If there is something you absolutely need, you’ll probably have to drive to Moab or SLC.

 

Groceries

The food ranch is the closest to the boulders. It has pretty much all you need, but their produce is pretty expensive and shitty. Bring as many fresh fruits and veggies from home as you can. They also have hot, comfort food and amazing doughnuts (oreo and butterfinger are my favs) to buy and eat at the tables upstairs if you don’t feel like cooking. The upstairs is also a good place to use your computer for wifi time.

If you are staying long term at Joe’s, the Stewarts at Castle Dale is a better place to load up on your groceries.

 

Alcohol

You can get low alcohol beers at the grocery stores above, or you can go to the tiny liquor store in Castle Dale but be ready to be kind of weirded out.

 

Restaurants and bars

I ate at two restaurants and I recommend both of them. R Place pizza has good pizza and wifi. Palenque has delicious, Mexican food. The burritos are gigantic and well priced, and you can order breakfast burritos at any time. Neither serve alcohol, but both are super friendly.

Chick’s is located just past the Food Ranch. It has good bottled beers for $4, the bartenders are friendly, and they often open up the pool tables if you come with a crew.

 

Water fill

To fill your big water containers, you can go to the RV dump (look for the big potable water sign), the Castle Dale Rec center (well spigot by the HEATED bathrooms), or use the Cup of Joes water spigot after buying some coffee.

 

Water dump

The RV dump. Fill up your drinking water at the same time.

 

Showers

$5 at the Food Ranch, $2 at the aquatic center or $0.50 per 3 minutes at the bathrooms.

 

Wifi

There are plenty of places to get wifi. It’s free at the Castle Dale Community Center. It can be free at the Food Ranch parking lot if you want to be a dirt bag. You can get it at the Castle Dale Laundromat, Cup of Joes, Chick’s or R Place Pizza if you buy something.

 

Rest Days

Most of my rest days were spent studying at either The Food Ranch with a doughnut or fried chicken or Cup of Joe’s with some coffee. I was able to check out the San Rafael Swell for a couple of days and I highly recommend it. The ‘little Grand Canyon’ earns its name. The views are amazing and there is free camping to be had. Apparently, there is climbing here as well, but I didn’t get to try it out. You can also see a great example of Native American art at the Rochester Rock Art panel. They are both within 30 minutes of Orangeville and highly recommended.

 

Easier for Tall People Problems:

 

V6

Pitbull

Cueball

 

Great White

 

V7

Pocket Rocket

Bring the Heatwole

 

V8

Golden Plates

 

 

Anita’s

Anita’s is a good place to have breakfast, a snack, or some chai, before climbing or to fill up on thali after climbing if you happen to be passing through the area. The owner’s family is super friendly and this is one of the few places that ask you if you want refills on your thali. You can also buy 20-liter water jugs here although just down the road a minute away you can buy water for cheaper at Lovely Family. Actually, I think the food at lovely family is better as well, but try them both and choose for yourself. In addition, they rent a couple of cheap rooms upstairs but you have to deal with loud religious chanting from the nearby temple very early each morning.

Gouthami Guest House

Gouthami was the first guesthouse that we stayed in when we arrived in Hampi. It was the only guesthouse that we were able to find that would give us a decent discount for staying long term. The room was clean and had an attached bathroom. It was actually a pretty good deal, but we heard a rumor that they were getting shut down, so we moved. It ended up working out for us in the long run, but at the time we thought it was a mistake. Overall, if you prefer the comfort of a guesthouse over saving money by staying at a homestay, make sure you check this place out as it might have the best prices for you.

Laughing Buddha

This is our favorite place to hang out and kill time on a rest day. I’m usually not very comfortable sitting on the ground, but all of the cushions have backrests and I can chill there for hours on end. It also has an amazing view of the river and temples across the way. The service is good and friendly and even if you stay for a few hours you don’t feel pressured to leave like in some the other restaurants. The wifi is one of the best in Hampi (which isn’t saying much), but since it is a popular place it gets crowded which slows down the Internet considerably. The food is good, but halfway through our stay in Hampi they raised prices and are now one of the more expensive restaurants on the island.

German Bakery

There are a few bakeries in town, but in my opinion this one has the tastiest goods in Hampi. My favorites are the apple crumble and the chocolate donut, although the latter is much better freshly baked early in the morning. The regular food on the menu is better than average, and cheap compared to the other restaurants. It does have some downsides. It isn’t as comfortable as say Laughing Buddha, just plastic chairs and tables, and the awning doesn’t stop rain and only gives some protection from the sun. They have wifi but it is slow for Hampi, which means really, really slow. Finally, the service is pretty awful. The staff is usually one their phones and completely inattentive. At least half of the time they serve me slices of pie without any utensils. Despite this, the prices and deliciousness keep me coming back.

Benjamin’s

Man, I have mixed feelings about this place. The first time I ate here, the food was fresh, hot, and delicious. The only dinner offering is Thali but it came with a wide variety of sides including the best curd and ghee I’ve had. Benjamin, the owner, and his wife and chef, Esther were charming and interesting. The next couple of visits, the food was cold, we had to ask for curd, and Benjamin was obnoxiously drunk. Another time, the place was full of friendly, eclectic locals and Benjamin was playing amazing music on his guitar. Each time I would visit, it would either be amazing or annoying. I recommend checking it out and deciding for yourself.

Devammas

Although it is pretty far from the main Hampi strip, Devammas is my favorite Indian restaurant in the area. In general, it is slightly cheaper than the other local Indian restaurants and the food is great. While they have a menu on the wall, they will make many more things. My go to dish is the mixed fruit pancake. It is packed with fresh fruit and is quite filling. The service is better than most, though they can sometimes forget to start your order, and the staff is friendly. If it looks busy inside you might want to go elsewhere because your food will take a while.

Rockland Hotel

Rockland is another cheap option to get Indian food. Their dosa is my favorite item on the menu. It has less oil than most places, and is thick. Most other restaurants make a very thin dosa, which I like as well, but not as much as the one at Rockland. Unfortunately, there are a couple of things that I don’t like about this place. One is that the prices change from visit to visit. Like many places in Hampi, they try to charge as much as they think they can get from you. If you become a regular however, you will get the low prices. Another thing I don’t like is that they really pressure you to come back and eat there everyday. It comes off too desperate and feels awkward. Finally, the owner is drinking more often than not. I prefer driving just a bit further and going to Devammas.

Lotus Massage

Ok, so massages aren’t your typical dirtbag expenditure, but when you are climbing nearly everyday, you might feel the urge to splurge for one. Now, I’ve been disappointed by a lot of the cheap massages I’ve had in Asia, and this one is more expensive than most, but the massages at Lotus are one of the best I’ve had in Asia and are still much cheaper than a comparable one back in the US. The masseurs know what they are doing and have good techniques and pressure. I strained my back bouldering and the massage I received helped a lot while still being pretty relaxing.

Goan Corner

Goan Corner is the most “professional” restaurant in Hampi. Usually I prefer eating at places that have a more local feel, but when I want to feel more at home I eat here. The food at Goan Corner is excellent. The pizza is cooked in a wood oven and rivals good pizza at home. My favorite dish however is the Afghan half-chicken. While I love the vegetarian offerings in India, the Afghan chicken is by far my go-to meat dish. It’s a proper half of a chicken, and it is juicy, tender, and delicious. When you eat here, you can be confident that it is cooked hygienically. This comes at a price though as it is one of the more expensive restaurants in Hampi although the drinks (try the peanut butter and honey shake) are reasonably priced.

Goan Corner is also the best place to watch a movie in Hampi. They have a large projector screen with good sound and video quality.