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Utah Travel Headlines

Thursday, June 30, 2005

Recreation Outlook Good for Holiday

Travel and recreation conditions look good throughout Utah for the long Fourth of July holiday weekend.

Popular areas will be crowded but there are still sites available at some favorite campgrounds. Boat launching conditions are good at all of our reservoirs.

This newspaper article gives details.

Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Nordic Valley Becomes Wolf Mountain Ski Resort

Wolf Creek Resort has acquired Nordic Valley Ski Resort, and will operate it under the name Wolf Mountain Resort. Upgrades and repairs are now underway and the resort will be open for skiing this fall. “Our objective is to make Wolf Mountain the best learning hill in the west, and keep the prices as affordable as possible,” commented Cindy Beger, Wolf Mountain’s new Ski School Director and 25 year PSIA instructor. Wolf Mountain has issued this news release.

Monday, June 27, 2005

Wildfires Hinder Travel

Wildfires in southwestern Utah have caused road closures and otherwise hindered travel. Restrictions on fireworks and campfires are expected around the state as vegetation dries out under summer heat.

Residents of the small town of New Harmony were evacuated for a time, and are on notice they may have to leave their homes again if wind turns the fire back toward them. The fire has closed I-15 intermittently, frustrating travel. The area is located south and west of Cedar City and I-15 is the main artery between Las Vegas and Salt Lake City.

Residents of Gunlock, west of St George, have been allowed to return to homes after another fire forced their evacuation. That fire blocked travel on secondary roads.

Other fires may also cause travel problems. Details

In southwestern Utah, open fires will probably be restricted to fire pits in developed campgrounds – campfires will not be allowed in backcountry areas.

Statewide, fireworks are prohibited in recreation areas and national forests, including campgrounds, and will probably be prohibited in the foothills above many cities and towns.

Check with local officials about specific regulations in areas you plan to visit.

Thursday, June 23, 2005

Whitewater Rafting & Antelope Biking

As expected, this is a great year for whitewater river rafting. Rivers have been high and wild, offering the adventure of a lifetime in some of our classic canyons. Other sections offer milder rides – there has been an adventure for everyone.

This newspaper article provides a good rafting overview.

This article describes the role of a river guide on adventure trips.

There's still time to book rafting trips for this season.

We also have this great article about mountain biking on Antelope Island, in the Great Salt Lake. The island offers an excellent hiking and biking trails and wonderful wildlife viewing, just a few minutes from Salt Lake City.

Monday, June 20, 2005

River Flows Down But Fire Danger Up

Rivers throughout Utah are returning to normal flows after a spring of exceptionally high runoff.

The Narrows and some other canyon hikes in Zion National Park were closed for a time because streamflows were dangerous, but the canyons are reopening now as flows decline. The next few weeks will provide generally good canyoneering conditions. Always check at the visitors center or talk to a ranger before challenging backcountry routes.

Grass and other plants grew profusely this spring because of the abundant moisture. Now the grass is drying out and the fire danger is high in some areas. Zion officials have now implemented campfire restrictions and prohibited smoking on trails. Details.

Monday, June 13, 2005

Angels Landing in the Rain

In-laws in town wanted to see some of Utah’s best scenery and so I coerced them into hiking Angels Landing in Zion National Park. It was classic. They read the description in the trail guide, but still had no concept of the emotions they would feel as they climbed the hogs back. My macho brother-in-law did pretty well going up but freaked a bit on the return trip.

The brochure describes Angles as a fairly short but intense hike with sheer cliffs and exposure. Those words don’t adequately paint the picture. You don’t really grasp what you’ve signed up for until your knuckles turn white because you are holding the chain so tight, trying to figure out where to put your feet, trying not to look down because you know you are climbing over rocks along a narrow trail where 1,330 foot cliff fall away on two sides, just a couple feet away.

Not a good place for someone scared of heights. But it is a thrilling hike and the view from the top is incredible. It’s actually not that difficult, physically. But it is emotionally difficult for some people.

It was pouring rain in Cedar City, as we drove down I-15 heading toward the park. The rain eased as we approached Hurricane and it was only sprinkling as we started to hike. A few lightning bolts lit up the sky and that worried me – you don’t want to be on Angels Landing in a thunderstorm. We figured we’d start the hike and evaluate when we reached Scout Point. Luckily, the sky cleared and we had ideal conditions.

By the time we returned the Virgin River was noticeable higher and muddier, from all the rain coming down up on Cedar Mountain. Large logs were floating downstream.

It’s still too early to hike the Narrows – another of my favorite initiation hikes for visitors. Another couple weeks and the flow should be down enough to challenge that classic route.

- Dave Webb

Friday, June 10, 2005

Top Utah Campgrounds Listed

This newspaper article gives an overview of top Utah campgrounds, as determined by, the national campground booking service.

The article also lists the author’s favorite camping areas.

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

Update on Cathedral in the Desert

Editor's note: We thank Chet for providing the following update:

Here's the story on how I found the Cathedral-in-the-Desert's condition on June
1st (compared to my earlier visit on April 7th).

The lake level had risen about 30' (to 3587' in June 1st), so only the upper fluted 20' (estimated) of the waterfall remained. The floor is gone, of course. The
current level is about 3593' so not much is still exposed. And the lake is rising fast.

There were a lot of people there on June 1st. The rising water had made it possible for boaters to again reach the bottom of an old ski tow rope that someone had left there sometime earlier, so kids were pulling themselves up the rope and jumping off into the pool.

We climbed up to the top of the pool and walked the 100 or so yards back into the Nave to the second waterfall -- which is about half the size of the first one, but lovely as it drops into its plunge pool. I would guess that within another couple of weeks people will be boating over the first fall and will think that the second one is the main waterfall. Then that one will become inundated, most likely.

We both saw it at the right time.


Tuesday, June 07, 2005

Road Construction, Wildfires Impact Travel

Road Construction
A project is now underway to add a car-pool lane in each direction on I-15 from the Alpine interchange in Lehi to University Parkway in Orem. The stretch is located between Salt Lake City and Provo. Most work will be performed between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m, so it is expected to have little effect on traffic flow. Details.

SR 14 in Cedar Canyon, east of Cedar City, will probably reopen by the end of this week, after crews clean up debris and repair damage caused by a massive mudslide. Details.

Brush Fires
Brush fires in the St George area are mostly controlled. The largest, in the Red Cliffs Recreation Area near Leeds, was expected to be controlled Monday night. The Cottonwood Trailhead, which is accessible from Old Highway 91 south of the Red Cliffs Recreation Area, should reopen later this week.

Other fires have not significantly impacted travel or recreation.

Low-elevation desert areas in southern Utah have a high fire danger because spring rain prompted grass growth. The grass is now drying out and is highly combustible. Details.

Friday, June 03, 2005

Fishing Conditions Improve Around Utah

With stream flows coming down and reservoirs warming, fishing success is improving around Utah. Our mountain streams and reservoirs should provide great trout fishing during the next few weeks and our lower-elevation reservoirs will be hot for bass and catfish. Check out our new fishing report.

Wednesday, June 01, 2005

Flood Danger Eases In Many Areas

Runoff has peaked on many Utah streams. High flows will continue for a few weeks but the flood danger is now easing.

I traveled through southern Utah over the weekend and most streams were noticeable lower. However, I tried to get to Kolob Reservoir above Zion Park on Monday and could not make it because a stream was flooding the road. There is still considerable snow at high elevations so expect streams to be high and fast.

I’m an old fisherman, not a weather forecaster, so take this for what it is worth. I estimate the East Fork of the Sevier River will be fishable within a week, albeit flows will still be high. Fishing conditions should be good there by mid-June. Other southern streams will probably have similar conditions. Northern Utah streams should come down within a couple weeks.

Uinta Mountain streams will probably be high through most of June.

Rainstorms are hitting ever few days and they could bring localized flooding. At this writing, flood watches are in effect for Big and Little Cottonwood Creeks and for the Logan River.

Major highways are all open and in good condition. Secondary roads and trails in a few areas have been damaged and are being repaired.

A bridge over Diamond Fork River washed out recently, closing the Three Forks Trail east of Provo.

Before heading into the backcountry, check with local authorities to learn about current conditions in the area you intend to explore.

- Dave Webb
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