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Utah Travel Headlines

Friday, April 29, 2005

Care Needed Because of Rain, Flooding

Streams have been at flood stage near Logan and Brigham City in northern Utah. There is also flood danger in the St George area in southern Utah, along the Virgin and Santa Clara rivers. Rain has been widespread over the past several days and forecasters call for more next week, keeping the danger high.

Flooding is not expected to significantly interfere with travel; secondary roads in a few local areas may be affected.

People involved in outdoor recreation need to be cautious because high stream flows pose real danger. The most common problems come when people try to wade or drive across swollen streams. High flows can undercut banks and make streamside trails unsafe. Flash floods can suddenly fill normally dry desert canyons. Deaths occur almost every year because people underestimate the danger posed by high streamflows.

Utah does not experience the widespread flooding occasionally seen in other areas. Our mountains and canyons channel water and so the areas of impact are normally restricted to the streams, banks and bridges. When flows are high, stay out of the water!

These news articles describe recent flooding:
Salt Lake Tribune
Deseret Morning News

Thursday, April 28, 2005

Whitewater Rafting Conditions Look Great

This could be one of the best seasons in years for whitewater rafting on the Colorado and Green rivers. This article gives a good preview.

Tuesday, April 26, 2005

A Night In The Rain For This Hiker

I hike the Right Fork of North Creek in Zion Park on Saturday to get photos of Double Falls while stream flows are up. It was a great hike in a beautiful canyon, and I did get nice photos.

A thunderstorm hit as I hiked back. It really dumped and the trail turned to gooey clay. Hiking is slow when you have five inches of mud stuck to the bottom of your boots and you struggle to keep from sliding on every little hill. I pushed hard but failed to get out of the canyon before dark.

Then I faced a decision: Do I try to climb the switchbacks up the cliff face in the dark? I decided it was too dangerous and so I spent the night sitting under a rock trying to stay dry. I had emergency supplies and it wasn’t cold. Ok, it was a little chilly when the wind blew rain into my face. I was uncomfortable but never in real danger.

I write this as a reminder that spring conditions can change in a hurry in Utah’s backcountry. If you go, be prepared for anything. This is a great time of year to enjoy outdoor recreation, just do it carefully and safely.

- Dave Webb

Monday, April 25, 2005

Red Rock Wilderness Battle is Hot Again

A bill now before Congress would bring federal wilderness designation to 9.5 million acres in southern Utah - the latest incarnation of a battle that has been raging since 1989. The current bill was introduced by Rep. Maurice Hinchey, D-N.Y. and Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., with 151 co-sponsors.

Virtually everyone agrees some places in southern Utah merit wilderness protection. The debate is over just where to draw the lines. Wilderness designation would mean major changes in outdoor recreation, with less opportunity for motorized activities.

These recent news articles provide perspectives on the issue:
Red Rock bill gets another chance in Congress
Red Rock Wilderness Act is again under scrutiny in Congress
Wheels vs. Wilderness
Advocate leads the charge for Utah's off-road riders
ATVs bring big bucks to rural economies

Monday, April 18, 2005

Updates from Olympic Parks Of Utah

Spring skating is now open most Wednesday and Friday nights on “The Fastest Ice on Earth”. The Utah Olympic Oval is offering public skating from 7 to 9 p.m. on the international ice rink inside the oval. The cost is $4 for adults, $3 for child/senior with skate rental available for $2.

The Alf Engen Ski Museum is ahead of schedule! The 2002 Winter Olympic Games exhibit on the second floor of the Alf Engen Ski Museum will have a soft opening on April 29. The grand opening of the exhibit will be on May 28. The new exhibit is a great way for tourists to relive the 2002 Olympic Winter Games as they walk through amazing and detailed displays.

For more info see:

Friday, April 15, 2005

We Visited Cathedral in the Desert

A group from and KSL Radio boated to Cathedral in the Desert on April 13-14, to see for ourselves the sight that has attracted so much national attention. It was a great trip: the Cathedral is spectacular, the weather was wonderful and it was fun to explore Lake Powell at its current low water level.

View this video clip from our trip.

The Cathedral exceeded my expectations. Often, when you hear extensive hype about something before you see it, the actual experience does not live up to your expectations. In this case I expected it to be great and it was exceptional. I'm glad I had the chance to visit it.

Powell's water level is now on the rise, coming up about 2 inches a day. That rate will increase as spring progresses and runoff becomes stronger. By mid-May the lake water level will probably be at or near the bottom of the waterfall. By July the waterfall may be completely covered by lake water.

So, if you want to see this phenomenon, now is the time.

On April 13 the lake's surface was at 3555.95 feet above sea level, a few feet below the bottom of the waterfall. You can track the lake level at this website.

I've noticed some faulty information in media reports about the Cathedral. Some have described this as a great hiking opportunity. You can boat into the Cathedral, just a few yards from the base of the waterfall, with no hiking involved. Some have tried to hike down to the Cathedral from Hole In the Rock Road. That is extremely difficult and requires specialized canyoneering skills and equipment.

Some imply Mother Nature is draining Lake Powell - that it is only a matter of time before the lake is gone. Extended drought plagued the Southwest for several years, causing Powell and many other reservoirs to fall to low levels. But the drought is now officially over. The lake is expected to rise 50 or more feet through the runoff period, then fall about 20 feet through the rest of the year. So the lake will have a net gain of about 30 feet during this water year.

The Cathedral is located in Clear Creek Canyon, on the Escalante Arm, about 23 miles down-lake from Bullfrog. Its colorful sandstone walls arch upward to form a huge cavern-like structure. Hanging gardens grow from seeps in the stone walls. A small stream falls down the cliff face at one end.

I've explored most of Powell's 96 named canyons. I've poked my nose into many beautiful spots. The Cathedral is now my favorite. It's worth the trip.

- Dave Webb

Monday, April 11, 2005

Cathedral in the Desert featured in Times article

The New York Times has a long article describing Cathedral in the Desert and other areas that have re-emerged from Lake Powell’s receding waters. Great photos are included. You have to be registered with the Times to read the article, but registration is free.

The lake will begin to rise now and the Cathedral will probably be inundated within a couple months. Now’s the time to visit the area if you want to see Glen Canyon treasures that may not be visible again for decades.

Boats can be launched with little trouble at Wahweap, Bullfrog and Halls Crossing marinas.

Friday, April 08, 2005

6 Utah Campgrounds on Top 100 List

Six Utah campgrounds are included on ReserveAmerica's list of top 100 family campgrounds.

That website also spotlights three Utah parks, calling them "beautiful."

Explore Grand Gulch Ancient Sites

Grand Gulch is a remote, rugged, scenic canyon that shelters amazing ruins, rock art and artifacts from the ancient Anasazi culture. Here's a series of articles that describe backpacking the canyon.

Wednesday, April 06, 2005

Celebrate the Night Sky In Kanab

Kanab, located in national park country in extreme southern Utah, is one of the few communities in America where skies are still dark at night. Residents and visitors alike enjoy seeing bright stars, watching comets and meteor showers and occasionally seeing the northern lights. The community has scheduled a “Celebrate the Night” presentation at the Crescent Moon Theater on April 15 at 7 pm. This pdf has details.

Tuesday, April 05, 2005

Spring Means Good Fishing on Utah Waters

Fly fishing is now great on Utah’s Green and Provo rivers, and many smaller streams. The popular waters are already crowded on weekends. This newspaper article gives tips on how to get away from the crowds and into the trout.

Our April fishing report gives good information on fishing in general.
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