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Utah Travel Headlines

Friday, December 30, 2005

First Night Events in Utah

Salt Lake City will hold an extensive, New Orleans-themed New Year's Eve celebration this Saturday at the center of town. In addition to the standard fireworks display, First Night will feature all sorts of entertainment including comedy shows, music, food, and more.

The event is designed to be family-friendly, and alcohol is not allowed on the premises. The cost of admission is $10, and admission pins can be purchased at the celebration or beforehand at Albertson's, the ZCMI Center and The Gateway concierge desk. Free parking is available at numerous locations throughout the downtown area, and TRAX tickets are free with the purchase of admission.

Events will be held at numerous locations in the downtown area, including the Salt Palace Convention Center, Rose Wagner Performing Art Center, Abravanel Hall, Gateway, and Temple Square. The block of West Temple between 100 South and 200 South will temporarily be renamed "Big Easy Street" as part of the festivities.

Nathan Williams and the Zydeco Cha Chas headline the celebration, and will perform from 10:30 p.m. to Midnight on the main stage on Big Easy Street. The evening will conclude at Midnight with fireworks and an on-stage jambalaya party.

Other performers, events, and activities include jugglers, break dancers, fire dancing, comedy shows, hands-on exhibits from the Children's Museum of Utah, a hypnotist, concerts featuring several varieties of music, a Native American pow-wow, a film festival, and a parade.

In addition, other cities and towns all over Utah will hold their own First Night celebrations.

For more information on First Night Salt Lake City as well as the other New Year's celebrations around the state, read this article from the Salt Lake Tribune or visit http://www.

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Ski for free, Go Celebrity Watching

USA Today has a very nice article in its Travel Deals section about why Utah is a great January destination. It mentions many things but focuses on these key:

Great skiing
Affordable lodging
Sundance Film Festival

The article mentions that many lodging providers and resorts participate in a ski for free deal where you get free lift tickets for the day you arrive. That can be attractive because major airlines offer a full schedule of flights into Salt Lake International Airport and the resorts are just minutes away. You can fly in during the morning and be skiing that afternoon.

We can help you book a trip.

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Mongolian Yurts offer travelers a unique winter experience

Travelers looking for a new kind of skiing adventure this winter might be interested in Tushar Mountain Tours, which combines guided backcountry skiing with a nomadic camping experience in Mongolian yurts. For more information, read this article from the Salt Lake Tribune.

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Christmas Ski and Golf

There’s plenty of snow, with more falling, at Utah’s ski resorts. They always have a white Christmas. It looks like our valleys will have balmy holiday weather – perfect for golf.

Several Salt Lake City golf courses re-opened yesterday with good numbers of people on the links. Daytime highs are expected to be near 50 for the next several days. We should see rain off and on today. Christmas day is expected to be sunny and very nice.

Cedar City saw a record-warm 61 degrees yesterday. St. George is expected to see temperatures in the low 60s through the forecast period.

St George always has great winter golf weather – this is the time of year the play the red rock courses down there in national park country. But it is quite unusual for most of Utah to be seeing St George-like weather.

Meanwhile, a snow advisory has been issued for our northern Wasatch Mountains, with the snow level lowering to about 7,000 feet. The avalanche danger is increasing with these warm temperatures. Avalanche control work is ongoing at developed ski resorts and they are considered safe. Skiers, snowmobilers and others venturing into backcountry areas should exercise extreme caution and monitor the latest avalanche forecasts.

Monday, December 19, 2005

Park City Named Best Winter Vacation Spot

Travel + Leisure magazine has released its “list of this season's hottest and coolest (pardon the pun) vacation spots — from Australia's Great Barrier Reef to Utah's slopes.” The magazine also touts the sun and beaches in Mexico and the Caribbean.

Park City is named the best winter adventure getaway spot. “It's really an incredible deal. And you can do more than ski. You can bobsled and snowshoe and skate. It's also a great place to eat. They have great food there,” writes Heidi Mitchell, senior editor at Travel + Leisure magazine.

Read more

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Adopt a Living Western Legend

Thousands of wild horses and burros roam free on Utah’s public lands. They are descendants horses that escaped from early Spanish explorers, American Indians, Western cowboys and early prospectors.

These animals are an important part of our national heritage and are living symbols of the American West. The federal Bureau of Land Management has responsibility to protect and manage them.

The wild herds sometimes grow to the point that there are more animals than the range can support. When that happens BLM crews round up surplus animals and make them available to the public for adoption.

One such adoption will take place Saturday, Dec 17, at a BLM facility near Salt Lake City, for some 45 wild burros. Burros are small, donkey-like animals, as you can see from the photo. They were used as pack animals by Western prospectors.

The next adoption for horses will be in March at the Utah Horse Expo, in South Jordan, Utah.

See BLM’s website for more info. This pdf also has details.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Jeopardy’s Clue Crew Features Utah Bobsledding

The Utah Athletic Foundation provided these travel news items:

1) JEOPARDY’S Clue Crew Features “Bobsledding” From Utah Olympic Park
2) Nordic Combined World Cup “B” Visits Utah Olympic Park and Soldier Hollow
3) US Long Track Championships At Utah Olympic Oval Dec. 27-31
4) Upcoming Schedule Of Events

Tune into JEOPARDY on December 20th to see the Clue Crew in action at the Utah Olympic Park. This episode will feature bobsledding clips that were filmed at the Utah Olympic Park last winter. The “Clue Crew” travels the world and films clues for JEOPARDY. JEOPARDY airs locally at 7:30 p.m. on KJZZ-TV.

The Utah Olympic Park offers public bobsled rides daily Tuesday through Saturday. The public can make reservations now by calling the Utah Olympic Park at (435) 658-4206. Space is limited so reserve your ride now!

Known as “The Comet,” bobsleds travel in excess of 70 miles per hour and 5 G’s of force as they rocket down the icy track the equivalent of a 40-story drop in less than one minute. Participants must be at least 16 years of age. The cost is $200 per person. For more information a section called “Frequently Asked Questions About Bobsled Rides” is located on the Utah Olympic Park website at to answer a variety of inquiries.

A world-class field of international ski jumpers will compete in a World Cup “B” event on Dec. 16-17 at the Utah Olympic Park and Soldier Hollow. The Nordic Combined event is returning to Soldier Hollow for the first time since the 2002 Olympic Winter Games. Over 80 athletes from 17 nations will be competing in Park City and Midway.

The public is welcome to watch the competitions. The Nordic Combined World Cup “B” schedule is as follows:

Thursday, December 15
Official training

Friday, December 16
Utah Olympic Park, K120 Jump - 10:30 a.m.
Soldier Hollow, 7.5km Sprint – 3:00 p.m.

Saturday, December 17
Soldier Hollow, X-C 10km Mass Start – 9:00 a.m.
Utah Olympic Park, K120 Jump – 1:30 p.m.

If you would like to volunteer for the event please contact the National Sports Foundation at 435.645-7660 ext. 104 or email

Utah Olympic Oval and US Speedskating will host the U.S. Long Track Championships competitions Dec 27-31 on the “Fastest Ice on Earth” in Kearns. This is one of the important competitions this season which will provide an opportunity for U.S. athletes to make their way into the 2006 Olympic Winter Games in Torino, Italy.

The public is welcome to watch the competitions. The schedule is as follows:

Tuesday, December 27, 2005
500m Ladies
500m Men

Wednesday, December 28, 2005
1000m Ladies
1000m Men
3000m Ladies
5000m Men

Friday, December 30, 2005
1500m Ladies
1500m Men

Saturday, December 31, 2005
1000m Ladies
1000m Men
5000m Ladies
10000m Men

For more spectator information, or if you would like to inquire about public activities at the Oval, please call the Utah Olympic Oval Guest Services at 801.968.OVAL or visit

Dec. 17, Luge Ice Engineer’s Open, Utah Olympic Park
Dec. 16-18, Nordic Combined World Cup “B”, Soldier Hollow/Utah Olympic Park
Dec. 27-28, Speed Skating US Championship, Utah Olympic Oval
Dec. 30-31, Speed Skating US Championship, Utah Olympic Oval
Jan. 3-10, 2006, U.S. Cross Country Championships, Soldier Hollow
Jan. 6-8, 2006, Visa Winter Series #1 – Olympic Team Tryouts, Utah Olympic Park
Jan. 15, 2006, Luge Masters Nationals, Utah Olympic Park
Jan. 28-29, 2006, North American Pack Style Championships, Utah Olympic Oval
Feb. 3-4, 2006, Visa Winter Series #2, Utah Olympic Park
Feb. 4, 2006, Wasatch Luge Club – Founders Race, Utah Olympic Park
Feb. 25-26, 2006, Visa Winter Series #3, Utah Olympic Park
Feb. 28 – Mar. 5, 2006, Luge Junior Nationals, Utah Olympic Park
Mar. 3-4, 2006, Visa Winter Series #4, Utah Olympic Park
Mar. 8-11, 2006, Ski Jumping Nor Am Jr. Championships, Utah Olympic Park
Mar. 10-12, 2006, Champions Challenge, Utah Olympic Oval
Mar. Junior Olympics, Soldier Hollow

Monday, December 12, 2005

Baltimore Sun Promotes Best Friends Sanctuary

The Baltimore Sun has published this little article on Best Friends animal sanctuary, calling it the travel deal of the week.

Best Friends, the largest no-kill animal sanctuary in America, “has added four tidy cabins to its eight cottages in Utah, all the better to house some of the 20,000 people who visit each year.”

The facility is located just outside of Kanab, making it a convenient stop for people touring Zion, Bryce and Grand Canyon national parks, and Lake Powell.

Best Friends houses some 1,700 animals and most are available for adoption. It depends on volunteers to help care for the animals and has won accolades from many celebrities and animal rights groups.

“Many animal lovers - 4,500 last year - volunteer for a day or two, walking and grooming the dogs, playing with the cats or helping out with training,” the article says.

Thursday, December 08, 2005

View Elk and Bighorn Sheep

Utah’s Division of Wildlife Resources provided the two new releases below, highlighting great opportunities to view interesting local wildlife.

Elk Viewing Begins Dec. 15 at Hardware Ranch

Taking a sleigh ride through the middle of hundreds of wild elk are among the activities people can enjoy at the Hardware Ranch Wildlife Management Area this winter.

A new season of viewing elk at the ranch begins Dec. 15.

Elk began arriving in the meadow at the ranch on Dec 1. Heavy snow will continue to push elk into the meadow through most of the winter.

Sleigh Rides

Hardware Ranch has been offering horse-drawn rides to view the elk for more than 30 years. When there’s snow, big draft horses pull 25-person sleighs through the herd. When there isn’t enough snow, the horses pull wagons. During the rides, Division of Wildlife Resources personnel talk with visitors about the elk and the other animals at the ranch. They also provide a short history about the ranch and talk about its habitat.

While the rides are the main attraction, Hardware Ranch is also well known for its informative visitor center and the excellent food served in the Hardware Café. Stock Crossing Catering is operating the restaurant this year. The restaurant is open on Saturdays and Sundays and offers a full-service menu.

Operating Hours

The ranch is open for business Thursdays through Mondays, from noon to 5 p.m. The sleigh rides and visitor center open at noon. On Saturdays, the ranch is open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., with rides beginning at 10 a.m. Ride tickets cost $5 for those ages 9 and above and $3 for children ages 4 to 8. Children under 3 years old can ride for free. Tickets may be purchased in the visitor center. Please purchase your tickets before 4:30 p.m., which is when the last ride of the day leaves.

The restaurant is open from 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. on Saturdays and noon to 4:30 p.m. on Sundays. Prices range from $4.50 to $7.95 per meal. Hot drinks and snacks are also available.

A “moonlight sleigh ride and dinner” package is also offered every Saturday night beginning New Year’s Eve. The package includes a wagon ride among the elk and an all-you-can-eat Dutch oven and prime rib buffet for $25 per person. The ranch will also offer moonlight rides on Valentine’s Day this year. Reservations are required for all of the moonlight packages and may be made by calling (435) 753-6206.

Programs for school children begin in January. The programs include two-hours of educational activities that are tied to the core curriculum and are focused on elk. The program also includes a ride through the elk herd.

To reserve a time for a program, school teachers can call (435) 753-6206 or send an e-mail to

How to Get There

The Hardware Ranch WMA is located at Mile Marker 22 on east State Road 101 in Blacksmith Fork Canyon. The ranch is about 115 miles north (about a 2-hour drive) from Salt Lake City. It’s about 17 miles east of Hyrum and 22 miles southeast of Logan.

Good lodging, food and entertainment are readily available in Cache Valley, within 45 minutes of the ranch. The roads up Blacksmith Fork Canyon are usually plowed and sanded by noon each day.

For more information about the Hardware Ranch WMA, call (435) 753-6206 or visit on the Web.

Lots Happening Through the Year

Personnel at Hardware raise all of the hay that is fed to the elk through the winter. The ranch also includes facilities and equipment to conduct numerous wildlife and habitat studies, including grazing programs that promote healthy rangelands and reduce fire danger in forests.

The ranch is owned and operated by the Division of Wildlife Resources as a resting and feeding area for big game animals, including elk, deer and moose. The ranch’s managers are also working to develop year-round educational programs and to provide improved recreational opportunities for the public. Hardware Ranch is already a prime location for hunting and fishing and is seeing a marked increase in the number of people who visit the ranch through the year to view wildlife.


View Bighorn Sheep in Provo on Dec. 17

A chance to view bighorn sheep in the foothills east of Provo awaits Dec. 17 at a free bighorn sheep viewing event. The Division of Wildlife Resources will host the free event at Rock Canyon Park in Provo from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Rock Canyon Park is at 2620 N. and 1200 E. (Iroquois Dr) just northeast of the Provo LDS Temple. Biologists will be on hand with spotting scopes and binoculars to help visitors spot bighorn sheep and to answer questions.

Before the viewing event begins, a 40-minute presentation about these magnificent animals will be given at the Springville DWR office at 1115 N. Main St in Springville. The presentation by BYU student Loren Chase and DWR Conservation Outreach Manager Scott Root begins at 9 a.m. The presentation is limited to 60 participants and reservations must be made in advance by calling Root at (801) 491-5656.

There is no limit to the number of people who can view the sheep at Rock Canyon Park, and reservations are not required for the viewing event. Participants are encouraged to bring binoculars or spotting scopes and to dress warmly.

Directions to Rock Canyon Park

From I-15 take either the University Parkway or Provo Center Street exits. Drive east to 900 East. Turn north on 900 E. to Temple View Drive (east of the Missionary Training Center at approximately 1900 North). On Temple View Drive, proceed east past the LDS Temple (the road will curve to the north). At the stop sign, continue north (the road is now called Iroquois Drive) about 200 yards. Rock Canyon Park is on the east side of Iroquois Drive at 2620 North.

Wild Sheep Are Making a Comeback

Rocky Mountain bighorn sheep are native to Utah and had climbed the hills of Utah County until about 1930 when sheep in the northern portion of Utah were thought to be extinct in that part of the state. Since January 2000, many bighorn sheep have been reintroduced into the mountains overlooking Utah County’s larger cities (from American Fork Canyon to Nebo Mountain) through a joint effort among the Utah Chapter of the Foundation for North American Wild Sheep, the Division of Wildlife Resources, sportsman and conservation groups, and private citizens.

Utah is home to three subspecies of bighorn sheep. Desert bighorns live in several locations in southern Utah. California bighorn sheep have been trans-located to Antelope Island State Park and the Newfoundland Mountain range. Rocky Mountain bighorn sheep are found at several Utah locations, including Utah County, Flaming Gorge Reservoir, the North Slope of the Uinta Mountains, Desolation Canyon and Dinosaur National Monument.

The Utah County bighorn sheep population is thriving and now numbers more than 100 animals.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Great Snow Now, Record Ski Season Expected

A massive winter storm left deep powder and excellent conditions at Utah’s ski resorts over the past few days. Alta led the snow derby with 24 inches of new and a base of 76 inches. Brighton has a base of 77 inches and received 21 inches during the past 48 hours.

Nathan Rafferty, president of Ski Utah, issued a report yesterday predicting another record season. With the snowpack now above normal, he has every reason to be optimistic. Holiday bookings are running 10-30 percent ahead of last season (and last season set a record). Now that we have plenty of powder, he expects the booking rate to increase even more.

"Nationally, all I can say is, 'Look out,'" The Boston Globe quoted Rafferty as saying. "We've seen a huge increase in skiers and snowboarders coming to the state of Utah over the last couple of years, and I think you're going to see that continue in the future."

Read the Globe’s excellent article previewing Utah’s new season.

The Salt Lake Tribune had this report.

Monday, December 05, 2005

Ride the Polar Express

The Heber Valley Railroad is offering a Polar Express train ride inspired by the beloved Chris Van Allsburg story.

Passengers watch characters come to life as the story unfolds en route to the North Pole. Trains depart daily (except Sunday) at 5 & 7:30 pm through December. There are limited seats and they are filling up fast, so act quickly if you want to ride along.

More information; or call (435) 654-5601; in SLC call (801) 581-9980.

Thursday, December 01, 2005

Ice Fishing Begins On Utah Waters

Die-hard anglers found solid ice and good fishing at Huntington Reservoir over the Thanksgiving holiday, kicking off ice fishing in Utah.

Scofield Reservoir is usually our first major fishery to freeze; the ice there will probably be thick enough to safely support ice fishermen in early December. Birch Creek and Woodruff reservoirs, over near Evanston, and Currant Creek Reservoir will probably also have safe ice about that same time.

It's hard to predict the timing for ice-up and it is always essential for fishermen to use caution when ice fishing. Stormy weather can slows down the freeze. If we get several clear, cold nights, most of our waters could be frozen solid within a few weeks.

Anglers look forward to ice fishing on Strawberry Reservoir, which will probably be safe to fish by Christmas. Causey, an excellent small, deep reservoir above Ogden, will probably have safe ice about that same time. Rockport Reservoir has offered great ice fishing in recent years and it should be safe by Christmas. Panguitch Lake is one of our better waters in southern Utah and it should also be safe by Christmas.
Fish Lake should be solid and offer very good fishing by New Years Day. Bear Lake sometimes freezes and sometimes doesn't. My crystal ball says it will have ice by mid-January, in time for the cisco run. Some of the bays at Flaming Gorge Reservoir should also support ice fishing by mid-January.

Ice fishing is often very good during the first couple weeks after a water freezes. For that reason some people rush to be the first to get on the ice, even to the point of venturing onto thin, dangerous ice. That is crazy. There is plenty of good fishing available and no need to endanger yourself or others. In general, four inches of clear, solid ice is needed to safely support a group of ice fishermen. Use caution when fishing on new ice. Drill a test hole over shallow water near shore. Only move out away from shore when you are positive the ice is safe.

Huntington Reservoir, located along the Skyline Drive above Fairview, is popular because it freezes early, and because tiger trout are fun to catch through the ice. Tigers are a cross a between a brown trout and brook trout. They are an aggressive fish and readily bite jigs tipped with bait. They are beautiful, as you can see from the photo at top. Most of the tiger trout caught in Utah are small but occasionally a tiger over 20 inches long is pulled through the ice at one of our reservoirs.

- Dave Webb
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