For what is a man advantaged, if he gain the whole world, and lose himself, or be cast away? ~Luke 9:25

Rock climber's paradise publicly funds fake boulders

Posted: 2015-06-25

By   /   June 18, 2015 

Photo of Lions Park in Utah by Marjorie Haun

Photo of Lions Park in Utah by Marjorie Haun

FAKE IS ‘IN': It may be a surprising that a natural rock-climbing destination in Utah is receiving public funding for faux rocks.

By Marjorie Haun | Watchdog Arena

If southern Utah has one thing in abundance that can be obtained at little or no cost, it is natural rocks and boulders. It may be surprise that the local county government of Moab has put thousands of dollars toward fake boulders for a new climbing park.

This southeastern mining town-turned tourist mecca is located in Grand County, nestled between Arches National Park and Canyonlands National Park. Both are renowned for their sandstone spires and naked desert landscapes. The town of Moab itself, literally rests between valley rims of sheer sandstone cliffs and rocky vertical escarpments perfect for hiking, rock climbing, and mountain biking. The natural setting of this little town is a rock climber’s dream.

According to Kathy Wilson, chair of the Grand County Recreation Special Services District, of the $100,000 requested, the group spearheading the development of Moab Boulder Park has received $12,500 from the county Recreation Special Services District.  Wilson said the funds were rewarded with the stipulation that if the full amount was not raised, the grant would be returned to the taxpayers of Grand County.

The original budget for the Moab Boulder park project appears to be in the hundreds of thousands, with the five fake boulders alone projected to cost $200,000. According to a post on the Moab Boulder Park Facebook page, the taxpayer money they hoped for has fallen short of their expectations:


The organization has also received grants from Rocky Mountain Power and private donors. The city of Moab has not allocated public funds to the boulder park, but in a letter dated July 1, 2014, the city council pledged its support of the development of 8,500 square feet within Lions Park, the proposed location of the Moab Boulder Park, and “staff time, as necessary to help develop the project.” The Utah Department of Transportation has allocated $1,829.539.00 to the revival of Lions Park.

Photo by Marjorie Haun

Photo by Marjorie Haun

Proposed site in Lion’s Park for Moab Boulder Park. Natural boulders appear by the construction fence.

The fundraising arm of Moab Boulder Park was formed in 2013 by environmental lawyer Christina Sloan, who studied at the University of Colorado in Boulder and worked in Aspen prior to moving to Moab. As a subcommittee of the climbing organization, “The Friends of Indian Creek,” the Moab Boulder Park group is focused on raising funds through government appropriations, grants and donations to create a climbing park featuring five fake boulders up to about 13 feet in height.

The story of a fake boulder park in town like Moab is emblematic of what some regard as a schism between the natives, whose pioneer ancestors settled this rocky outpost in southeastern Utah, and the newcomers from other regions of the country where rocks for landscaping and other purposes, must actually be purchased.

Inspiration for the Moab Boulder Park apparently came from an artificial environment in a far-away city. In a Facebook post on July 17, 2014, accompanying a picture of little children climbing on fake boulders in the heart of New York City, is this comment:

“Believe it or not, the Pier 25 Park in NYC (Tribeca) was my original inspiration for MBP (Moab Boulder Park). We are back two years later. I hope Moab has a boulder park as nice as this by this time next year!”

This article was written by a contributor of Watchdog Arena, Franklin Center’s network of writers, bloggers, and citizen journalists.

Marjorie Haun is a former public school teacher, and author of a series of children's books, "The Heroes of the Vietnam War: Books for Children." She has written numerous articles, editorials, book reviews and white papers for a number of organizations and news outlets including The Daily Signal, American Thinker, the Post Independent, and Watchdog Arena. Her blog,, has been humming along for nearly 5 years. She makes her home in beautiful and rugged Western Colorado and is the mother of four excellent kids. Follow her on Twitter: @Reagan_Girl

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