Relocating within the US for MTB access

Hi folks, I’d like to move to some proper mountains and I’m looking for some intel. For basics, I’m a single 30 year old woman and I have the option to work fully remote. I currently live in the research triangle area of NC, which is nice and we have some pretty good local trails, but it’s a solid 3-4 hours to get to the real mountains from here. I’m also into rock climbing, and would get back into snowboarding if I were in the right place for it. Here are some of the options I’m considering so far, I’d love any intel on anyone who has spent time riding in these places, or suggestions for other places to put on my radar! I’ll be working with a budget of <$3k/month for rent/mortgage. A fun local art/music scene is also a big plus.

Boulder, CO: I’ve never been but in my head it is a Mecca for outdoors activities. A little concerned about cost of living in CO. Snowboarding access in the winter. Longmont as a suburb option.

Salt Lake City, UT: Prime access to snowboarding in the winter. Ogden or Sandy as suburb options. I wish that I could afford Park City.

Brevard, NC: This option is the most familiar to me as I’ve ridden here a few times. Pisgah trails are sick. It’s a bit “small town” for my tastes but it would be affordable, I have some friends there already, and the move would be the easiest.

Chattanooga, TN: Still staying on the east, I don’t know the MTB trails here but I have visited before and I like the city, it has a reasonable cost of living, well known for prime rock climbing.

I feel like there’s some other places in the West I should be thinking about also (e.g Tahoe area), but I don’t want to get too deep into the desert. I’m not looking at the Northeast. I really just want to FEEL like I’m in the mountains wherever I end up!!

Thanks :slight_smile:

Brevard NC unless you really like winter sports and would be happy not mountain biking for half the year. In Boulder or Salt Lake your MTB season will give or take only be May-Oct.

  • Boulder - Very expensive, better road and gravel scene than MTB. You still will be driving to MTB, but more like 30 mins rather than hours. Winters are no joke, MTB is very seasonal because even when it is warm in the winter the trails will generally be too wet to ride without damaging them. Not too far of a drive to go ski at Eldora, but the drive to the actual mountain resorts is much further than people think. I-70 traffic is hell, so it’s 2-3 hours each way to get to the main I-70 resorts. If you do come to CO, I’d strongly recommend Durango over Boulder/Denver metro.

  • Salt Lake - Much closer access to ski resorts. All the above comments about weather, short MTB season, driving to MTB, etc still apply. And also it’s Utah… the culture in much of SLC is not what I’d call artsy. Amazing riding in the summer though.

  • Brevard or Asheville- have only been there once so you know it far better than I, but sounds like this is the sensible choice for you.

  • Chattanooga - I have no first hand experience, but I can tell you that nationally I hear a lot of buzz about how good the riding is around Brevard and how cool of a city Asheville is. I’m not hearing the same things about Chattanooga but maybe it’s an undiscovered gem.

source - am from east coast (FL), have also lived and ridden all kinds of bikes in in mid-west (4 years), Southern California (5 years), and more recently in CO for the last 7 years.

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Frederick MD
Asheville NC
Boone NC
If you want to stay east coast

I moved from Denver to Brevard and miss CO so much it hurts. Yes, the trail access here is unreal but the west has a certain je ne sais quoi that can’t be beat, especially if you ski (until it dries up or burns down.)

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We’re evaluating a similar move and the list has been narrowed down to this if full remote is possible:

Bend, Oregon - Close to Smith and we both really enjoyed the mountain biking. We spent a week here and really just fell in love with the place. We haven’t done a ton of research into the cost of living or where situation yet for here because the visit was before our relocation project kicked off. It was certainly the thing that sparked a discussion. I could live at CruX fermentation.

Boulder/Fort Collins, Colorado - We spent an afternoon exploring and it was close to cool things to do. I think this would be better for gravel/road riding and you’re still driving to get to mountains, but you’re close to the plentiful number of them. I like the idea of living at elevation for the doping gains returning to sea level and the lack of humidity (compared to DC area) is a huge plus for me.

Hanover, NH - We’re visiting next month and this one would keep us on the east coast. On the border of Vermont and class 4 roads are basically mountain biking sometimes. Kingdom trails looks awesome. Rumney is right there. I did a week long bike packing trip last year around Vermont and everything but Rutland was absolutely charming.

I’m sure there are other places and I’ll be keeping an eye on this thread for other locations we might want to check out.

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Wife and I considered the Park City suburbs for a while. Heber, Midway, Kamas, Oakley, Wanship. We almost went for Heber as that would provide nice access to summer and winter activities with a more affordable cost of living than PC proper (which has gone insane). We lived in SLC for 6 years and enjoyed the area a great deal.

For an endurance athlete, the XC Skiing is nice during winter. Definitely get the mountain biking and rock climbing once the snow thaws and there are always trips south.

Adding to the list: Fruita / Grand Junction Colorado might be worth a look.

If you consider Chatt, then you should look at Knoxville too. 50+ miles of singletrack riding distance from downtown, a whole lot more within a short drive…it sure is awesome not having to get in a car to ride. Chatt and knox mtb is much more like dupont. Nothing like pisgah.

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Asheville, Mills River, Bent Creek area, Black Mountain - I’d pick any of these over Brevard. As far out as Asheville and you give up the idea of riding to the trail head (although there is one really fun city park that’s easy to get to by bike), which for me, would be the biggest draw to Brevard. It’s a nice place, but I agree, it’s too small for me. Trails are obviously well known there. If you go to any of the other places I listed you’ll be getting in a car to ride, so, that’s the trade-off. The Brevard area of Pisgah is the most well known, but there’s good (and even better) trails everywhere in WNC and East TN.

I’m going to throw another one out there. Only visited there for Big Sugar last year, but Bentonville, Arkansas seemed incredible from a biking, especially mountain biking standpoint. Trails everywhere, all levels. I only rode on a few the day before Big Sugar, but was blown away. Lots of great restaurants and amazing art gallery. Definitely a super cool place if you are into biking.

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Tahoe/Truckee checks all your boxes. Great riding, good snow and lots of rock climbing. Reno is high desert but Tahoe is very much in the mountains.

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Adding another to the list is Oakridge, OR. It may be too small, but it actually has a strong music/arts scene and the trails are incredible (like, some of the best I’ve ridden). The elevation is lower so you will still get snow, but it won’t stick around and be as cold as something like Boulder or SLC.

Love Bend, but its culture is very much one of endurance sports instead of music/art. That said, I would love to live there. Trail access is nearly as good as Bentonville, but it doesn’t have that creepy Truman Show / Stepford Wives vibe that I feel in Bentonville, hehe.

Bellingham, WA is another option if you don’t mind a LOT of rain and cloudy days. Best trails in the US, IMO, but man, the winters are a dreary slog.

Truckee and anything in Tahoe is likely out of your budget.

Reno is within your budget (cheaper than Boulder, a bit more than SLC), warmer and sunnier than SLC and Boulder (We typically have about 15 days per year where you can’t ride any trails due to snow/mud, but if you really need to ride, you can still drive 90min to Auburn), has a somewhat decent music/arts scene (Burning Man influence seems to be a main driver in that scene here), and good trail access.

Reno’s reputation of a trashy, sub-par Vegas is absolutely earned if you like to go to casinos and gamble in downtown, but if you want outdoor lifestyles, that’s simply never a part of your living experience here and instead you have awesome outdoor recreation.

The tricky part with Reno is smoke and forest fires (Oregon is similar in this regard). It didn’t used to be this way, but this year we had nearly one month with AQI above 150, last year it was nearly 3 months, in 2020 it was 2 months, and 2019 it was nearly a month. I can only assume this is the new normal moving forward, and it honestly has me considering relocating, or even just relocating during the summer.

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That’s funny. @Jonathan - if you stay there long enough they are going to make you ride a Trek Supercaliber with Schwalbe tires, SIDI shoes, and short socks… :rofl:

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Not a mountain biker so I can’t comment on trails - but given the rest of your post, a move to Brevard or Asheville - with a longterm rental, might be a good start.

Think of it as a first step - if you’re truly going fully remote, spend a few months in a bunch of places before you pick one to buy. Throw most of your things into long-term storage and spend the fall in WNC, then go West for a warmer winter, then head to CO next summer.

Then you can pick which you like best based on your own experiences

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For example my daughter lives in Reno, and I agree with Jonathan’s assessment with one exception - when in Reno I hate walking past all the smokers. Feels like they are everywhere, and I never walk into a casino unless we are forced to stay at one (I avoid that at all costs!). Couldn’t live there.

Last time I was in Bend it still had a strong hippy vibe. I would dig it but my wife doesn’t like it.

As an alternative to Tahoe/Truckee, parts of Sacramento metro are affordable, relatively speaking, but I don’t MTB and can’t comment on the trails in the nearby Sierra foothills and coastal mountain ranges. You can ride all year here, and be skiing in Tahoe basin in less than 90 minutes. My favorite ski area is Palisades where the 1960 Winter Olympics were held, the skiing is great and you can watch crazies jumping off 50 foot cliffs while riding the chairlift. You can drive to Yosemite and start climbing in a little over 3 hours, the climbing of course is world class.

Bellingham. Close to Squamish and whistler for weekend trips, and fantastic year round mountain biking. Also close to mt baker and whistler for skiing and snowboarding. Forest fires and smoke are a matter of a few days, rather than weeks like other places.

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My friend from Knoxville recently move to Boulder, He loves it, BUT. 1. They were not able to find a house to live in that wasnt crazy expensive, so they are renting a TINY condo. 2. He is trying to figure out how to live back here in E Tn during the winter and live out there in the summer….i guess the weather gets a bit old.

I agree with another commenter - get some 1 month AirBNB rentals and try each place out for a month - especially if you can work fully remote. That will give you the best idea.

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Mid February hurts. It is the only time I miss Houston - then I try to remind myself of what August in the swamp felt like and suck it up for another few weeks.

But definitely a shout-out for more the affordable Boulder-adjacent areas in NoCo. We moved to Fort Collins 3 years ago. Absolutely love it. I didn’t get into biking until after about a year here but there’s just so much daylight during the warm months that you just have to do something outside :slight_smile:

Surprised no one has suggested AZ. Year round amazing MTB. If you dont like weather you can drive to it in two hours or so… All winter: Phx (South mtn, Phx mountain preserve, McDowell mtns, Black Canyon Trail). Spring and Fall: Sedona, lower parts of S Utah (Gooseberry Mesa and St George). Summer: Flagstaff, N Rim GrandCanyon, high parts of S Utah (Brian Head and Thunder Mtn near Bryce Canyon) White Mtns and SW Colorado (Telluride Durango). Skiing and snowboarding in Flagstaff and WhiteMtns. Only 1 hr flight to SLC for real snow… Ive lived here for 20y and the diversity and access is amazing. Not to mention youre in the 5th largest city in the Country, so cultural/entertainment options abound. Only drawback, It can be a long hot (but pizza oven dry) summer so be sure you can get out for some of it. Keep in mind, you can also go out at sunrise in Phx summer and get a 1-2 hr ride in. Many riding groups, affordable cost of living, too. If you look at MTB project or Trailforks, you will see how many trails there are… Not to mention the entire AZ Trail from mexico to UT!!

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Durango, CO is great if you don’t mind being in the middle of nowhere. The town, however, has all you need and has a great art scene. There is a great trail system that you can access from pretty much anywhere in town. Head west…you have southern Utah trails and Moab. Head south…great desert riding. North…high country riding. It is awesome. Real estate prices have really shot up the past 10 years, though.

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