Food Ranch, the climber-friendly Orangeville, Utah grocery store and gas station located a few miles from the famous Joe’s Valley boulders, closed its doors on January 24. The store has been a haven for rock climbers visiting Joe’s Valley, offering gas, guidebooks, crashpads, groceries, and their beloved sending donuts.
Drew Elroy started the business in the late 1980s and ran it for 30 years. Then ownership changed hands about 18 months ago, when Clark Harringer bought the store in 2017. However, the change in ownership showed the difficulties of running the store in the small town. Harringer says there wasn’t enough money or daily business to keep the store open. He’s thankful for all the support the Food Ranch received over the years, but they’ve been struggling for the past six to eight months. “We’re going to sorely miss it, but you don’t always get to pick and choose your battles,” said Harringer.
“It’s a grocery store that also sold rock climbing equipment,” said Salt Lake climber and Director of the Utah Office of Outdoor Recreation Tom McAdams. “You just don’t see that every day.” McAdams made his last trip to the Food Ranch in spring 2018. McAdams was touring the area with Rep. John Curtis, The American Alpine Club, The Access Fund, and The Salt Lake Climbers Alliance to show what the community of Orangeville has done for climbing and why it’s so valued. “The highlight of the day was Food Ranch donuts for everybody. It’s just such a comfort food when it’s cold; a donut with some coffee or hot chocolate, it’s nice.”
“I’ll miss it,” said Salt Lake local Steven Jeffrey, who has climbed in Joe’s valley for over 20 years and developed over 60% of the sandstone boulders. “Climbers and locals would cross paths and share what we all loved about the area.” He remembers spending countless hours in the Food Ranch writing a new Joe’s Valley guidebook. Beyond the classic Butterfinger, Oreo, and glazed donuts, The Food Ranch also offered climbers free wifi, cheap showers, chalk, groceries, and a warm place to hang out in the upstairs Spartan Den during cold and rainy days. “Not all is lost,” said Jeffrey, “Stewart’s grocery store is still in Castle Dale, and Cup of Joes, Fatty’s, and R Pizza are great options for eating out.”
But it’s not just climbers that will miss the Food Ranch, Orangeville Mayor Roger Swenson says the closing will be hard on the community of Orangeville. He says the town is sad to see the business go, as it’s been a tremendous asset to the community. Swenson, who lives a block from the Food Ranch, says he’ll miss being able to run down there to pick things up. The hope is that someone will come in and take the space over, but at this time Swenson doesn’t know of anyone who has plans to.