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Utah Travel Headlines

Friday, June 30, 2006

North Rim and Zion’s Kolob Terrace Reopen

The North Rim in Grand Canyon National Park will reopen Monday (7-3) after being closed because a wildfire cut off access via Hwy 67. Some 1,000 tourists and employees were stranded at the North Rim but were not threatened by the fire, which was burning many miles to the north. All those people were safely evacuated by last Wednesday.

The wildfire is still burning but is no longer close to the highway.

Meanwhile, crews have made progress battling a wildfire in Zion National Park. Most of the park and all major roads are open. The Kolob Terrace Road reopened today (6-30) after having been closed by the fire.

A National Park Service statement included this: “The Kolob Terrace Road reopened today (6/30/06), as well as the Smith Mesa and Dalton Wash Roads. The Lava Point Road, West Rim Trailhead Road and MIA Camp Road are still closed. All trails connected to the Kolob Terrace Road and in the Southwest Desert are closed. State Route 9 is open. All other roads in the park are open. Zion National Park and Springdale are open.”

Lake Powell and Rainbow Bridge

Conditions are excellent for boating, camping and fishing at Lake Powell this summer.

The lake’s surface is now 3610.48 feet above sea level, up a few feet over last year. The lake’s level apparently peaked at 3610.85 a few days ago. It is holding fairly steady now but will drop a little through the summer and fall.

You can boat close to Rainbow Bridge, the most popular attraction at Lake Powell, but you still have to hike a short distance to get right up under it. This video clip features the massive natural bridge (flash video, 3.66M).

All major marinas and boat ramps are open and in good shape. No launching problems are expected this season.

The ramp at Hite is still officially closed but small boats are being launched at the owners risk. Road base was spread below the concrete ramp during the low water years. Now the lake has risen and covered that base. However, clay under the road base is sticky and even 4X4s get stuck occasionally if they have to back very far into the water.

The lake level is not yet high enough to allow launching at Farley Canyon or any of the primitive sites.

The Castle Rock Cutoff connecting Wahweap with Warm Creek Bay is still unusable. Boaters hoped the lake would rise enough to allow boats to use that shortcut, but it appears that will not happen this year.

The lake has now settled into its summer pattern, with warm water and hot air temperatures. Conditions are great for skiing and other water sports.

Fishing is good now and will become very good within a few weeks, when striped bass begin to feed on the surface (usually that action begins in mid or late July). See this website for the latest fishing report.

Thursday, June 29, 2006

Celebrate America, Utah Style

We got a kick out of a news item in the Roanoke Times. In an article headlined “76 ways to celebrate America's birthday,” Cindy Porter writes:

4. Honor the meeting of the Central Pacific and Union Pacific railways in Promontory Summit, Utah, by visiting the Virginia Museum of Transportation. (She really wrote that, you can read it here.)

Its all good, but we think it may be even better to honor the meeting of the rails by visiting Golden Spike National Historic Site, the place where the deed was done. There is a fascinating visitor center, along with working replicas of the 1869 steam locomotives 'Jupiter' and '119,' which brought railroad dignitaries to Promontory to drive the famous golden spike, connecting east to west via the first transcontinental railroad.

Parades, patriotic programs, fireworks, pancake breakfasts and other festivities will be held all around Utah during the next several days. Here are links for two of our bigger celebrations:

Provo’s Freedom Festival

Ogden’s Hot Rock’n Fourth

This article lists many other community 4th of July events around Utah.

This article suggests opportunities for outdoor recreation during the holiday period.

Professional fireworks will be visible in virtually every community in the state the evening of the Fourth.

Brush fires are a major problem this year all around the West. Many fires are started by people setting off fireworks, and so the use of fireworks has been restricted in many communities and on public lands.

In general, don’t light fireworks in Wasatch Front foothill areas or in the adjacent canyons. Fireworks are prohibited in National Parks, National Forests, State Parks and on many BLM lands.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Wildfires Hamper Travel at North Rim and Zion

Wild fires in southern Utah and northern Arizona are hampering travel and recreation in specific areas. Fire conditions can change rapidly so monitor local news reports for areas you may wish to visit.

No injuries or deaths have been reported from these fires.

Grand Canyon North Rim and Hwy 67A are closed because of a fire burning in the forest north of the North Rim. The fire is not in the national park but has closed the only paved highway access to that part of the park. Tourists stranded at the North Rim are being escorted to safety. Nobody knows when public access to the North Rim will reopen. More information.

Kolob Terrace section of Zion National Park is closed because of a wildfire. The Kolob Terrace Road from Virgin is closed. Lava Point Campground is closed, as are all trails originating in that area. Huber Wash, Chinle and other trails in the Park’s southwest desert are also closed. Hwy 9, the main access road to the park, was closed briefly but is now open. More details.

The tiny community of Terra, in Tooele County west of Salt Lake City, was threatened by a fire sparked by lightning about 4:30 pm Monday. The blaze was expected to be contained quickly and no additional information is available at this time. The area, along Utah Road 199, is sparsely populated. There are no major highways or recreational sites in the area.

Fires are also burning NW of St George and NE of Vernal, but at this time they are not threatening major roads or recreational areas.

Monday, June 26, 2006

Grand Canyon North Rim Closed By Forest Fire

Hwy 67A and the North Rim of the Grand Canyon were closed on June 25 because a forest fire threatens the area. The closure will remain in effect until the fire danger subsides – perhaps several days to a week.

The Park Service reports some 1,000 visitors and employees stranded at the North Rim. Emergency crews will work to escorted people away from the site as needed, and as conditions are safe.

Early reports indicates the fire jumped the highway miles from the North Rim, cutting off access, but that people and buildings at the North Rim itself are not threatened at this time. Helicopters would be used to evacuate people should they be threatened.

People with North Rim travel plans need to monitor the situation for developments. Access will be impossible for travelers, at least for the immediate future. When the highway becomes safe, contact lodging providers and guide services to determine if they can honor your reservations.

Here is the National Park Service news release.

This news page is being updated regularly with the latest information.

Friday, June 23, 2006

Living Planet Aquarium Opens in Sandy

The Living Planet Aquarium officially opens to the public today at 725 E. 10600 South, in Sandy. It gives visitors a chance to see a wide assortment of aquatic species, including tropical ocean-dwellers and fish that live in local Utah waters.

Today’s Deseret Morning News includes an article about the aquarium. You can read it here. Excerpts are given below:

“Previously housed in The Gateway shopping center, the aquarium became so popular that it outgrew the spot a year and a half after opening in 2004.

“The current 43,000-square-foot space includes a cafe, numerous multipurpose rooms and a small theater. Later this year, an endangered Utah species hall will open, as well as a biology station.

“The Sandy exhibit is a "preview" of what aquarium officials hope will be a world-class, 90,000-square-foot site that they would like to be built in Salt Lake City.

"There's certainly been some question of why have an aquarium in the desert," she said. "Why not? Water is such a precious resource, and we don't have the access to the ocean and the world seas. This is a perfect place."

St George Named Dream Spot for Retirement

AARP The Magazine commissioned a team to search the US for five Dream Spots for Retirement. The selections: Las Cruces, N.M., Charleston, S.C., Rehoboth Beach, Del., Memphis, Tenn. and St. George, Utah.

Excerpts from the article are given below:

“Much of the appeal of St. George lies in its myriad opportunities for hiking, biking, and other fitness activities in the red-rock cliffs that surround the town. Both Nora and Pat play pickleball—a fast-paced racquet game popular in the area—and since moving, they have also bought bicycles. ‘And on Sundays we try and make it a point to take the Jeep off-roading, because there's such great territory to explore,’ says Pat. ‘We could never have afforded this kind of life back in California,’ adds Nora.

“Retirees here get Arizona weather and scenery but also enjoy Utah's tax advantages.”

Read the entire article.

CBS News ran a story about the article, explaining that selection criteria included taxes, affordability, walkability and recreational opportunities. The CBS News website includes the story and a video clip. You can see them both here.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Panguitch Valley Balloon Rally

The annual Panguitch Valley Balloon Rally will be held this weekend, June 23-25, in the town of Panguitch in southern Utah.

A mass balloon ascension will take place every morning at about 6:30 am. Other events include a parade, pancake breakfast, live entertainment, vendors, karaoke and children’s activities.

See this website for details.

Friday, June 16, 2006

US Superbike Series Comes to Utah

The Miller Motorsports racetrack will host the US Superbike series this weekend. Here’s what has to say about the event, and the new racetrack:

"Miller Motorsports Park is the best racetrack in America. Already." -- Neil Hodgson.

The Miller Motorsports racetrack is new-brand new-and construction crews were still working on the facility earlier this week and will probably be working through the weekend to tie up last minute foibles. While all of the US Superbike teams have tested at Miller Motorsports Park, they're still trying to come on pipe in getting to terms with the place. The track is wide, fast and expansive and as the aforementioned Hodgson quote reveals, most of the riders are already spewing superlatives about the place.

Read the entire report.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Zipping Around Utah's Cool Sights

The headline above comes from the Sun-Sentinel, a south Florida newspaper. The paper carried this article by Tribune Media Services writer Eileen Eileen Ogintz, outlining great summer activities in Utah.

Highlights from the article:

“Besides hitting the parks, visitors to this state can ride a bobsled at up to 70 miles per hour (even in summer), research their family tree or mountain-bike for miles and miles.

“There are even-the-teens-will-think-they're-cool national monuments like Rainbow Bridge, the world's biggest natural rock span (278 feet wide and 309 feet high), and Dinosaur National Monument, where some 1,500 dinosaur bones are still embedded in the rock wall.

“Let's get the learning out of the way first. Whether the kids want to or not, stop at Temple Square. It is, after all, Utah's top tourist destination.

"Another plus: Utah's gas prices were among the lowest in the country this spring."

Read the entire article.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Utah Shakespearean Festival Opens June 22

The Tony Award-winning Utah Shakespearean Festival is celebrating its forty-fifth season this year, producing nine plays in three different theatres over a period of some four months. The festival is based in a and the season kicks on June 22.

This year’s productions are:
— The Merry Wives of Windsor
— Antony and Cleopatra
— Hamlet
— H.M.S. Pinafore
— On Golden Pond
— Room Service
— The Merchant of Venice
— Peg o' My Heart
— Johnny Guitar

Visitors have the opportunity to participate in seminars, backstage tours and other festival-related activities, in addition to the wide variety of events in the community.

The Festival was named the recipient of the coveted Tony Award for America’s Outstanding Regional Theatre in 2000.

See the Festival website for more details.

Monday, June 12, 2006

Zion’s Chains, Rain and Automobiles

Angels LandingA group from went to Zion National Park recently to get material for a short video clip on the popular Angels Landing hike. We had a great time and we were able to produce this fun little video clip:
--(Flash video (4.5M)

This was Brian Topham’s first time up Angels. He jotted down these comments:

This Memorial Day weekend I had the pleasure of visiting Zion Nation Park. First on the agenda was to conquer Angles Landing. Angles landing got its name in 1916 when explorer Frederick Fisher declared, “Only an angle could land on that.” Although a set of wings would have differently made the hike easier, there is no way I would have wished for a pair. I would have lost the chance to hike through Refrigerator Canyon, to climb Walter’s Wiggles, and finally to ascend the last half of a mile using chains as handrails.

Refrigerator Canyon – A cool canyon just east of Angles Landing that provides hikers with shade and a cool breeze at almost any time of the day.

Walter’s Wiggles – An extra fun set of switchbacks named after the first superintendent of Zion, who helped engineer them.

Scout Lookout—A very scenic place to rest, eat a snack and take in the view and breeze, before the chains start. Often, from here, rock climbers can be seen scaling the northwest face of Angles Landing.

The chains – The most difficult and technical part of the hike. I would probably have a hard time recommending this part of the hike to those who fear heights. However, traversing the saddle up to Angles Landing is not has hard as it looks from Scout Lookout. I believe anyone with a little determination (and probably a small group of friends or family to act as a cheer leading squad) can do it—especially if they just take it slow.

A very short walk (probably three to four hundred yards) from one of the stops will put you under “Weeping Rock.” This was one of the neatest things I have seen in a long time. This rock sheds hundreds of thousands of tears each day. Go find out why.

Since 2000 Zion Nation Park has prohibited most personal vehicles from going up the canyon. Today most tourists ride Zion’s very own bus system. This system comes complete with buses, bus stops, and knowledgeable and helpful drivers. An interesting fact about these buses is they run on propane instead of gas. The byproducts of burning propane are water and carbon dioxide (the same things humans exhale). Reducing the amount of carbon monoxide from cars has substantially increased the air quality in the canyon over the past seven years.

Friday, June 09, 2006

Biking and Jazzing the Ski Resorts International is telling people it is time to head to the ski resorts for summer activities like mountain biking and music festivals. The news service has this to say about Park City:

“The resort town the 2002 Winter Olympics helped make famous is a popular destination for mountain bikers and hikers, drawn by spectacular scenery and more than 300 miles of public trails linking the three resorts. Wide, paved bike lanes and recreation paths are also plentiful, as are organized group rides and races.
“Musical offerings include weekly outdoor concerts, the Park City International Music Festival, the Deer Valley Music Festival and the Park City Jazz Festival. Movies are also shown outdoors by the Sundance Institute, known for its Sundance Film Festival in winter.”

Read the entire article.

Friday, June 02, 2006

Utah Free Fishing Day Is June 10

Strawberry Reservoir trout
On Saturday, June 10, you will not need a fishing license to fish in Utah. All other regulations will be enforced.

This is an opportunity for people to get a taste of the good fishing Utah offers, before they make the commitment to pay out money for a license. We hope it will help get you hooked on fishing here.

This is the Division of Wildlife Resources (DWR) news release about Free Fishing Day.

Here is a Salt Lake Tribune newspaper article about it. The article describes special events being held that day.

The DWR publishes weekly reports describing fishing conditions. They provide excellent info to help you choose where to fish.

The Utah fishing proclamation can be viewed here.

We have some excellent pages about popular Utah fishing waters.
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