Provo’s purchase shows that Rock Canyon is here to stay

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Mayor John Curtis announced that the Provo is purchasing 80 acres of Rock Canyon.

So what changes for those who rock climb, hike, mountain bike and participate in other activities in Rock Canyon?

The dispute that has spanned a decade concerning Rock Canyon and its fate finally came to an end when the city made the purchase at $20,000 an acre. Going forward, the city was happy to close the deal as the goal to preserve the canyon will ensure that it stays a popular spot for local use.

Avid rock climber Richard Branscomb makes his way up a rock face in Rock Canyon. (Photo by Katie Nielson)
Avid rock climber Richard Branscomb makes his way up a rock face in Rock Canyon. (Photo by Katie Nielson)

“The preservation is the number-one objective,” said Deputy Mayor Corey Norman. “When we talk about improvements we are talking about simple things such as bathroom facilities and picnic tables. We are certainly not talking about major changes of any kind.”

Many climbers and residents who often use the canyon became concerned after the announcement that the purchase would make changes to climbing routes, permits and overall recreational use of the canyon. The city dispelled these rumors as fast as it could, reminding residents that preservation is the key to the sale.

They also reminded everyone that Provo was granted a conservation easement, stating the city agrees not to mine the land.

“We have been asked if we are going to develop the land, and simply put, no we are not,” Norman said. “You can still enjoy the canyon the same way you always have. We do not plan on coming in and putting in place any regulations at all.”

Rock Canyon is known for the climbing appeal its cliffs offer. But before the city’s purchase, the canyon sat in the middle of a use dispute between owners. Before the sale, the Big Cottonwood and American Fork canyons acted as the main destinations for climbing. But with 17 climbing courses throughout the canyon and a slight facelift from the city, Rock Canyon could finally become a top climbing, biking and hiking location for climbers and outdoors enthusiasts around the country, safe from the possibility of mining.

Not only that, but one of the longest sport climbs in Utah was recently developed on the south face of Squaw Peak, the climb cascading directly above the city. With so much to offer, having city sponsors who are wanting to create a recreational haven will do nothing but great things for the spot.

A hiker carrying his infant son begins going up the trail in Rock Canyon. (Photo by Katie Nielson)
A hiker carrying his infant son begins going up the trail in Rock Canyon. (Photo by Katie Nielson)

“I started climbing at Rock Canyon because it’s close and has a lot of places to climb,” said BYU student and avid rock climber Eric Bendall. “It has a good range of difficulties.”

By having the city obtain the land, the canyon will not be the only thing to benefit. The deal is great for the culture of Provo, a city that is known for great music, great food and, of course, great venues for outdoor activities.

Curtis knew the deal would mean nothing but good things for the canyon, the city, the culture and the residents.

“For many of us, we will look back at this as one of the most significant things to happen in this decade to Provo,” Curtis said.

By guaranteeing that the canyon is not only here to stay but is going to stay in good condition, Provo has made a major step toward growing into a city that has much to offer to not only residents but outsiders looking for an experience.

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