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Utah Travel Headlines

Friday, December 19, 2014

Why Utah is America's Real-Life Jurassic Park

Cleveland-Lloyd is a working quarry, where you
can sometimes watch paleontologists in action.

© Dave Webb
I've pulled the title for this post from this interesting report on It talks about many of the great places in Utah where you can see and learn about dinosaur fossils.

Below I give the introduction from the article. It is worth reading the whole thing.

Exploring North America's greatest dinosaur graveyard

With "Jurassic World," the fourth installment in Steven Spielberg's Jurassic Park franchise, set to hit theaters in June 2015, interest in learning about dinosaurs is on the rise. And there's no place in North America with a richer dinosaur legacy than Utah.

The article talks about the famous spots – Dinosaur National Monument, the North American Museum of Ancient Life, the Cleveland-Lloyd Quarry and a few others.

I'll have to do a tour one of these days, get photos and report on the new ones. It does not mention The Utah Field House of Natural History, in Vernal, which is a wonderful spot.

So many recent dinosaur discovers have come out of Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, and BLM has some of them displayed at its Big Water Visitor Center. I don't know that anyone has done a good article on that new facility. I'll have to pop down and take some photos.

A new facility is being built in Moab to display and protect some of the area's dinosaur tracks, after the infamous theft of a fossil footprint from a nearby trackway. I'll watch and report on that facility as it opens.

- Dave Webb

Thursday, December 18, 2014

What Happens When A Cow Gets Stuck In A Spectacular Utah Slot Canyon?

Peak-a-Boo Gulch © Dave Webb
A cow did in fact get stuck in one of our most popular slot canyons and, well, the outcome was horrible for all involved. Especially for the cow.

This blog at described a “comedy of errors” that began when a cow became stuck in Peek-a-Boo Gulch, part of the very popular Peek-a-Boo/Spooky Gulch loop off Hole in the Rock Road in Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument.

If you planned to go there anytime soon, don't. Visitation is low in winter but some hardy folks still hike in the area. Hopefully, by spring the mess will be cleaned up.

Cattle graze legally throughout much of the national monument, but are prohibited from Peek-a-Boo and other nearby canyons. Somehow the cow wandered into the area and became lodged in a tight spot in the slot.

The rancher was notified and ranch hands made considerable effort to free the valuable animal. But his efforts failed. When they decided the animal was hopelessly stuck they “put it down.” They then “cut off the head and front quarters,” hoping they could carry out the pieces, but the hind quarters “remained wedged in a narrow passage.”

The ranch hands then “piled wood under the carcass and lit it in hopes the flames would consume enough of the cow that it could be pulled out.” That failed and, in the process, rocks and dirt fell into the canyon and partially covered the animal.

National Monument officials are now trying to decide how to get more of the carcass out. Hopefully, they will find a way before the next flash flood hits. Such floods move boulders and could carry the carcass down into the middle of the canyon.

I've hiked Peak-a-Boo many times and it is easy to see how a cow could get stuck. Area ranchers know they need to keep their animals away, but mistakes do occur.

I expect it will be cleaned up soon and hiking conditions will be good come spring.

– Dave Webb

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Volunteers Needed For Audubon Christmas Bird Count At Lake Powell

Photo courtesy Glen Canyon NRA
Glen Canyon National Recreation Area (which includes Lake Powell) is seeking volunteers to help with the annual Audubon bird count on January 5, 2015.

Glen Canyon provided the news release below:

Glen Canyon Recruits Volunteers for 2015 Christmas Bird Count

Glen Canyon National Recreation Area is currently recruiting volunteers for the Audubon Christmas Bird Count on January 5, 2015.

During this annual citizen-science event new birders will be paired with more experienced individuals, making this a great way to learn about the birds of Glen Canyon.

The event begins at 7:30 a.m.and lasts until approximately 4:00 p.m.Volunteers will meet at park headquarters in Page, Arizona located at 691 Scenic View Drive (off of Highway 89), to sign in and receive their location assignments. Volunteers will have the opportunity to survey birds in a variety of land and water-based locations. Birdwatchers should be prepared for exposure to winter weather conditions during this outdoor event. Please bring warm clothing, lunch, water, and birding equipment such as binoculars and a bird guide book if possible.

Holiday traditions abound this time of year, and the long-standing tradition of the Audubon Christmas Bird Count has supported science for 115 years. Participants offer significant contributions to science and bird conservation during this global count. Additionally, free commemorative t-shirts will be provided to volunteers by the Glen Canyon Natural History Association.

To learn about the birds of Glen Canyon, visit

Questions about the annual count may be directed to John Spence at 928-608-6267.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Utah Launches Massive Effort To Stop Wildlife Poaching

Utah is blessed with abundant wildlife, and wildlife watching is a popular pastime. Winter is a great time to observe animals because they often congregate at lower elevations where they are easier to see. If done responsibly, winter wildlife watching can be enjoyed without negatively impacting the animals.

Unfortunately, some folks aren't satisfied to observe, photograph or even harvest animals legally during prescribed hunting seasons. Poaching and the wanton destruction of wild animals has long been a problem. Just today KSL TV carried this report on deer poached in SE Utah.

Now, Utah's Division of Wildlife Resources is launching a massive effort to curb poaching. The agency provided the news release below.

DWR launches massive patrol effort

Officers need your help
This winter is not a good time to try to kill a mule deer illegally in Utah.
DWR officer Josh Carver shows what wildlife officers are trying to stop this winter: the illegal killing of mule deer in Utah.
DWR officer Josh Carver shows what wildlife officers are trying to stop this winter: the illegal killing of mule deer in Utah.
Photo by Josh Carver.
Conservation officers with the Division of Wildlife Resources are focusing massive patrol efforts on ranges on which deer congregate in the winter. Officers are conducting the patrols for one reason: to protect Utah's mule deer from poachers.
Tony Wood, chief of the DWR's Law Enforcement Section, says winter is the time of year when deer congregate on ranges at lower elevations. As large groups of deer bunch together, they provide an enticing target for poachers. But the deers' behavior helps wildlife officers too: it allows officers to zero in on the areas where poaching is most likely to occur.
"If there's an area in Utah that attracts mule deer in the winter," Wood says, "we're watching it."
Wood encourages you to get involved.
"This winter," he says, "as you travel to areas where deer congregate, make sure 1-800-662-3337 is programmed into your cell phone. That's our Turn-in-a-Poacher hotline number. If you see anything suspicious, call us. The hotline is staffed 24 hours a day, seven days a week."
Patrol efforts
Wood says DWR officers are doing the following this winter:
  • Patrolling winter ranges at night. Officers are conducting these patrols on land and from the air.
  • Conducting saturation patrols that put several DWR officers on the same piece of winter range at the same time.
Wood says winter range patrols are underway across Utah. The patrols will continue until the deer shed their antlers this spring.
Poachers take a big toll
So far in 2014, wildlife officers have investigated the illegal killing of 152 mule deer in Utah.
Most of the deer were bucks. The antlers on seven of the bucks were big enough to place the deer in a trophy category.
"If you're a hunter," Wood says, "you would have been thrilled to take any of these bucks. Poachers took that chance away from you."
The monetary value of the animals to Utah's citizens is $114,000.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Locale Magazine: It’s Super Hip to Skip to Salt Lake this Holiday Break

Locale Magazine serves the Los Angeles, Orange County and San Diego areas. The magazine has this interesting article on Salt Lake City. It recognizes Salt Lake is a cool place to ski, but says the city offers more than that. Below is the title, sub-title and then a couple excerpts.

It’s Super Hip to Skip to Salt Lake this Holiday Break

#SaltLake is trending—trending in a really big way.
  • Salt Lake is one of America’s five new foodie cities
  • Three of its mountains are in the 2015 Top Ski Resorts—the Snowbird, Alta and Solitude.
  • It has also been named the least stressed city.
  • Furthermore, it is home to the number one College for Skiers—the University of Utah.
The inside scoop on this Utah outpost? Salt Lake has a casual, community vibe, though it is a healthy, mid-sized metropolis. The stunning Wasatch Mountain backdrop houses eight world-class resorts in an hour’s drive of downtown. It seems colonies of artisans from food, wine, and the arts now call Salt Lake home so they too can enjoy the outdoors and friendly lifestyle.

...With a bevy of direct flights from Orange County, San Diego, and LAX, you can be on the mountain with a wide grin enjoying the famed Utah powder by lunch. Be sure to put some of these places in your itinerary the next time to take a trip to Salt Lake for an unforgettable trip. Enjoy!

The article goes on to talk about where to stay, where to eat, where to drink and what to do. It is worthreading.

Friday, December 12, 2014

Travel & Leisure Names 50 Incredible Places To Travel In 2015

Travel+Leisure is out with a list of 50 incredible destinations world-wide – places that are “changing the travel map.”

Utah is represented on the list, or course. But surprise, for our national parks. It's the Wasatch Mountains and embedded ski resorts that make the list.

Below we give an except from the article and then a summary list.

“The world is getting smaller, but the chances of having an extraordinary new experience are only increasing. We’ve identified 50 standout destinations, based on industry news and trends, with input from contributing writers, A-List travel agents, and our new local experts. These are the places changing the travel map, whether it’s an emerging arts hub in Germany or a quiet stretch of sand in the Caribbean.”

Here are the first 20 destinations from the list. (No 1 is the introduction.)

2 - Fez, Morocco
3 - Catskills, NY
4 - Rotterdam, Netherlands
5 - Puerto Plata, Dominican Republic

6 - Wasatch Mountains, Utah

The new year brings new restaurants, high-speed chairs, and lifts, including one that connects Canyons to PCMR, making it the largest ski resort in the U.S. And the industry is buzzing over a proposal that seems headed for approval called One Wasatch, which would link all seven ski areas in a European-style mega-network spanning 18,000 acres and 100 lifts. The project will have major tourism implications, introducing a new flock of riders to what locals proudly declare on their car license plates: the greatest snow on earth.”

7 - Istanbul
8 - Chengdu, China
9 - Milan
10 - Prince Edward County, Canada
11 - Oman
12 - Mekong River Region
13 - Valletta, Malta
14 - Chile
15 - Tanzania
16 - Houston
17 - Western Ireland
18 - Leipzig, Germany
19 - Mozambique
20 – Cuba
21 - Nicaragua

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Skiing Through An Avalanche

Eric Hjorleifson sets off an avalanche on a big mountain pillow line
and attempts to ski through it.
Every winter people die in avalanches in Utah. Most victims are skiing or snowmobiling in backcountry areas. Avalanche control work is done regularly at developed skiresorts and along highways and so those areas are safe. People venturing away from these areas need to be knowledgeable about risks and follow safety procedures.

The video at right shows skier Eric Hjorleifson actually skiing through an avalanche. Hjorleifson survived. Sometimes others don't. This is serious stuff.

Be aware of current conditions if you are heading into the mountains. The Utah Avalanche Center provides excellent general information and specific forecasts. Study the info there.

If you are new to backcountry winter sports, take a class. Go with a guide. Learn about dangers. Acquire proper equipment and learn to use it.

Snow sports can be incredible enjoyable. Many times families enjoy these activities together. They can be relatively safe if you use common sense.

I hope to see you in the backcountry.

Stay safe and warm.

– Dave Webb
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