Joe Archuleta, 71, fishes in the pond Wednesday at Loudy-Simpson Park. Craig was recently ranked 77th in Outdoor Life magazine’s fourth annual rankings of the top 200 towns for sportsmen. Archuleta, a Craig resident, said he tries to make it to Loudy-Simpson at least once a week to enjoy the outdoors.

Photo by Joshua Gordon

Joe Archuleta, 71, fishes in the pond Wednesday at Loudy-Simpson Park. Craig was recently ranked 77th in Outdoor Life magazine’s fourth annual rankings of the top 200 towns for sportsmen. Archuleta, a Craig resident, said he tries to make it to Loudy-Simpson at least once a week to enjoy the outdoors.

Craig ranks 77th in Outdoor Life’s list of best towns for sportsmen

Outdoor Life magazine’s top 10 towns for sportsmen:

  1. Bend, Ore.
  2. Pinedale, Wyo.
  3. Rapid City, S.D.
  4. Kodiak, Alaska
  5. Saratoga, Wyo.
  6. Cooper Landing, Alaska
  7. Lewiston, Idaho
  8. Pendleton, Ore.
  9. Sheridan, Wyo.
  10. Bismarck, N.D.

For the full list of top towns for sportsmen, according to Outdoor Life magazine, visit www.outdoorlife.com.

While hunters travel all over Colorado each year to bag big game, Craig offers one thing other towns don’t, Rob Schmitzer said.

“We have the big game hunting and a large population of other wildlife,” he said. “But, we have hundreds of thousands of acres of public land that are not over-utilized. Craig offers solitude.”

In Outdoor Life magazine’s fourth annual rankings of the top 200 towns for sportsmen, Craig was ranked 77th, dropping nine spots from last year.

Schmitzer, the sportsmen information specialist for the Craig Chamber of Commerce, said Craig has its “own character,” which may be why it slipped in the rankings.

“There are definitely more trendy options that offer big bodies of water or skiing along with hunting,” he said. “You can walk outdoors in Moffat County and see wildlife and landscapes that you can’t find many other places.”

The rankings are based on 40-percent socio-economic ratings and 60-percent outdoor life rankings.

In a change to past rankings, this year Outdoor Life double-weighted three socio-economic factors — unemployment rate, household income and cost of living.

“Our goal was to provide you with an exhaustive list of cities and towns that, in addition to having excellent and abundant hunting and fishing opportunities nearby, also are great places to raise a family and provide high quality of life,” the magazine stated on its website.

According to the magazine’s list, Craig had an unemployment rate of 6.1 percent, an average household income of $46,441, and a cost of living index of 82.3. All statistics are from 2009.

The outdoor life category rated towns on their performance in gun friendliness, fishable species, huntable species, proximity to public land and waters, and trophy potential.

Craig’s rating in the outdoor life categories were not available.

Schmitzer said the socio-economic ratings brought Craig down, but that isn’t necessarily a bad thing.

“We don’t have all the trendy shirt shops along our roads like other towns,” he said. “But, we built a new hospital and are building a new college campus, so we do have things to offer people economically”

Bend, Ore., was ranked No. 1 overall, while Granby was the highest rated town in Colorado, coming in at No. 24.

Carbondale, Colorado Springs, Rifle, Trinidad, Fort Collins, Evergreen, Montrose and Hayden were also ranked ahead of Craig.

Hayden made the jump from No. 114 last year to No. 74 this year.

“It all depends on the sports you like to do,” Schmitzer said. “Craig is the opposite of a lot of the cities because you can escape from other people and lose yourself in the outdoors.”

Schmitzer said he has lived in Fort Collins and hiked numerous places in Colorado, but he is always drawn to Craig.

“The Yampa Valley is the greenest place in all of Colorado this time of the year,” he said. “In Craig, you can recreate yourselves and breakaway from your busy lifestyle.”

No matter the ranking from the magazine, Schmitzer said he wouldn’t want to be anywhere else.

“I can see, based on their criteria, how Craig is rated a little lower,” he said. “But, Craig is special. We have nearby national forests, mountains, and the whole outdoor experience.

“I definitely think we should be higher than 77th.”

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