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Utah Travel Headlines

Thursday, January 31, 2008

See Bald Eagles Feb 2 and Feb 9

Many bald eagles winter in Utah. They concentrate in several areas where they can often be seen flying and roosting in trees. Every year Utah holds a Bald Eagle Day, where members of the public are invited to join wildlife in observing these majestic birds. This year, activities will be held on Feb 2 and Feb 9.

On Feb 2, viewing sessions will be held at these locations:
- Cedar Valley
- Split Mountain/Green River
- Fountain Green State Fish Hatchery

And on Feb 9 at these spots:
- Salt Creek Waterfowl Management Area
- Farmington Bay Waterfowl Management Area

Participants are encouraged to bring spotting scopes or binoculars; biologists will also have scopes set up for public use.

See this press release for more information.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Mobile Travel Guide Names Top Hotels, Restaurants, Spas

Five Utah establishments were ranked at 4 or 5 stars in Mobile's new Travel Guide - the 50th edition of the popular guide. That is the most Utah companies ever to make the prestigious list.

Stein Eriksen Lodge in Deer Valley was named a 5-star hotel

The Grand America in Salt Lake City was named a 4-star hotel

Riverhorse on Main in Park City was named a 4-star restaurant

The Glitretind in Park City was named a 4-star restaurant

The Spa at Stein Eriksen Lodge in Deer Valley was named a 4-star spa

Competition is tough for these awards. Nationwide, only 17 restaurants were ranked as 5-star, and only 3 spas.

See Mobil's complete lists.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Hinckley Funeral Will Bring Crowds To Downtown Salt Lake City

Gordon B Hinckley, the president and prophet of the Mormon Church, passed away Sunday. His funeral has been set for Saturday, Feb 2, at 11 am in the Conference Center next to Temple Square in downtown Salt Lake City.

President Hinckley's body will lie in state at the Church Conference Center. Public viewings have been scheduled for Thursday and Friday, from 9 am to 7 pm on both days.

Hinckley was beloved by Mormons and non-Mormons alike and crowds are expected to participate in the viewings and funeral service. As people come to pay their respects at the viewings, they may need to stand in lines that stretch down streets adjacent to the Conference Center, just north of Temple Square.

There will also be crowds of pedestrians making their way to the Conference Center on Saturday morning before the funeral, and a concentration of people exiting the center after the services.

Motorists are encouraged to be considerate and use caution in those areas.

People are encouraged to use TRAX and UTA buses to get downtown on those days. Riders need to be aware there will be more people than normal using these public transportation services.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Battle Brewing Over Roads into Wilderness

The Salt Lake Tribune has this interesting article about state efforts to keep some roads open for energy development and recreational use.

According to the article, the State of Utah is attempting to gain control over some roads that cross federal lands. The initial effort involves well-established "Class B" roads that are not controversial. If successful, the effort may be expanded to involve some "Class D" roads, and may become highly controversial.

The effort could impact the battle to expand the amount of federally protected wilderness in Utah. As a general rule, new land designated as wilderness cannot have existing roads. The fight centers on the definition of a road. Class D roads could potentially include recognizable two-tracks, meandering livestock paths, abandoned pathways oil and gas drillers once used for seismic exploration and even narrow trails across creeks, according to the article.

Proponents say the state needs to control some such routes to ensure access to recreation areas and areas holding the potential for energy development.

Those opposed to the action fear it could be used to block protection of pristine areas that deserve wilderness status.

The issues are complex and the battle has been raging for decades. Public comments will play a role in its ultimate resolution. We encourage people to learn about the issues and voice their opinions.

Read the complete article.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Powder Mountain to Host Superfly Snowkiting Competition

The 2008 Superfly Snowkiting event will take place at Powder Mountain Ski Resort, Ski Utah reports in this news release. Below are excerpts.

Kiteboarding is the generic term for any sport where a colorful kite is strapped to an athlete on surfboard, snowboard, skis, skateboard, etc. Those addicted to snow sports, or anyone who enjoys colorful displays of talent, will love watching or participating in the 2008 Superfly Snowkiting Competition at Powder Mountain February 8 – 10. If you’ve ever watched the colorful beauty of hot air balloons launching, imagine the basket on a pair of skis or snowboard ripping across the horizon, and you’ll have some inkling of the intrigue of this sport. It’s colorful, it’s dynamic, and it’s COOL! Charge up your cameras and video recorders and head on up to Powder Mountain!

This is the first time a competition of this type has been hosted in Northern Utah, and is testimony to Powder Mountain’s commitment to becoming Utah’s primo destination for Snowkiting. They are the only ski area in Utah that offers a specific day pass for snow kiters, which provides access to the Sunrise Poma lift that accesses ideal terrain and winds for Snowkiting.

Read the complete news release.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

10 Quick, Affordable Vacations For Women

USA Today has this new article on short, affordable women-only vacations in the US that promise empowerment, relaxation, and adventure.

Two Utah tours are on the list, mixed in with luxury spas and shopping vacations. Tidbits are given below:

Hiking in Zion and Bryce national parks.
"Pampering is nice, but sometimes a girl just wants to get outside and go on a kick-ass adventure. Women high on energy but short on time should look at some of the trips operated by Adventures in Good Company, a women-only tour operator that runs affordable active trips around the world."

Rafting and yoga in Utah and Idaho
On its women-only summer retreats, the adventure tour outfitter Holiday Expeditions promises whitewater rafting, yoga and meditation, and chocolate at every meal. Running co-ed rafting and biking trips in the West since 1966, the company led its first female-only rafting trip in 1994. Over the years, Holiday Expeditions added spiritual activities and top-notch cooking into its women's trips, and made the decision to keep groups small and the guides all female.

Read the complete article.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Play in Snowy Heber Valley

The Heber area is featured in this new Sunset Magazine article. Here's a tidbit:

Gliding on Olympic-class cross-country tracks, romping in the snow, and working up an appetite for one of the area's growing selection of inviting dining spots — that's what winter in the side-by-side towns of Heber City and Midway is all about.

See the full article.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

St George Winter Bird Festival Fri-Sun

The annual St George Winter Bird Festival begins on Friday, Jan 25, and runs through Sunday. It offers presentations, workshops, family events, a photo contest and field trips.

The Tonaquint Park and Nature Center will host most Friday and Saturday events. On Sunday there will be an all-day field trip to the California condor release site in nearby Vermilion Cliffs National Monument.

Other field trips are planned around Washington County.

Paleontologist Jerry Harris discuss the origins of birds Friday at the Dunford Auditorium at Dixie State College. Festival Presentation topics range from "Biodiversity and You" to "Introduction to Birding."

The event is sponsored by the Red Cliffs chapter of the Audubon Society. The Bureau of Land Management, Utah Division of Wildlife Resources and Tracy Aviary also are participating.

You will find more info here.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Skiing Sundance During Sundance

Ski conditions were perfect at Utah resorts on Saturday, with new snow, mostly sunny skies and mild temperatures. We skied at Sundance Resort and had a great time.

The Sundance Film Festival is in town and has brought crowds to Park City. There are also film screenings in Salt Lake City and at Sundance Resort, and there can be frenzied crowds near the screenings.

I feared the Sundance lifts and runs would be crowded because of the festival, but that was not a problem. Oh, there were plenty of people skiing and we did have to wait in lift lines, but never more than 5-6 minutes. Some of that could also be attributed to the fact that we were skiing over the Martin Luther King holiday weekend - always a busy time on Utah's slopes.

Parking was an issue, but even that wasn't too bad. The main lots were full so they routed us up the mountain a ways, but had shuttles running every few minutes to ferry people from parking down to the resort.

The Sundance area was incredibly beautiful with sunshine glistening off the powder, snow clinging to the evergreen trees, majestic Mount Timpanogos in the background.

I had some new skiers with me, recent imports from Florida. This was their first time skiing and they did great. They spent a couple minutes getting use to the equipment and then they were read to ride the lift.

Sundance is a good choice for new skiers, with about 20% of its terrain appropriate for beginners. But it didn't take long before these girls were on the intermediate runs.

And the film festival? Well, we ignored the screening because we were having so much fun playing in the snow.

Friday, January 18, 2008

X-Dance Festival Promotes Action Sports Films

The X-Dance Action Sports Film Festival runs Jan 19-23 in Salt Lake City. Here's a brief overview:

"For one insane week each winter, the world’s top action sport filmmakers and athletes, along with cutting-edge bands and DJs and key figures from the entertainment industry, gather... to celebrate action sports culture at the annual X-DANCE Action Sports Film Festival."

"Launched in 2001 and coinciding each year with the Sundance Film Festival, X-DANCE showcases the year’s top action sport films, followed by post-screening Q&A’s with filmmakers and athletes. X-DANCE also features open forum panels with athletes, filmmakers, industry figures and icons from the action sports world, plus special screenings, privately sponsored parties and a legendary Closing Party/Awards Ceremony."

"With roots in both the core industry as well as the mainstream, no other event on earth harnesses the creative energy of adrenaline culture and brings it together under one roof like the X-DANCE Action Sports Film Festival."

See the festival website for more information.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Boom Looms For Sundance

The Sundance Film Festival opened today and runs through Jan 27. Expect frenzied activity both weekends. See the festival website for current information.

Meanwhile, Hollywood Report says this may be the best Festival ever. Below is a tidbit. Read the entire article here.

As the indie biz flocks to the Rockies with the curtain going up Thursday on the 2008 Sundance Film Festival, an unusually large number of available films, an abundance of potential buyers and Hollywood's labor unrest is fueling talk of the most robust Sundance market in years.

The Los Angeles Times offers interesting facts about Sundance.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Salt Lake Tops Forbs Jobs List

Forbs Magazine is out with a list of the best US cities for jobs, and Salt Lake City leads the pack. See the ranking here.

"Salt Lake City, in all its tech-job abundance, looks like it will remain No. 1," Forbs said.

"To compile the rankings for the Best Cities For Jobs list forecast, we used five data points, weighted equally: the state's unemployment rate, job growth, income growth, median household income and cost of living for full-year 2006 (only partial data is available so far for 2007). We measured the largest 100 metropolitan areas, as defined by the U.S. Census Bureau, and obtained the data from Moody's"

Read their full article.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Rolling Stone Previews Sundance

The Sundance Film Festival begins on Thursday (Jan 17) in Salt Lake and Park City. Hollywood types and wannabes will soon be rolling into town, creating a frenzied atmosphere at screening and party locations.

See the festival website for schedules and tips on how to survive the experience.

Rolling Stone is just out with this preview, under this title:
Sundance Preview: CSNY, U2 Lead Pack of Movies That Rock

"With the Sundance Film Festival set to kick off in three days, we thought we’d make it easy for you to fill in those gaps when you’re not skiing and run down the most essential music-oriented films Robert Redford and his selection committee have to offer."

Read the entire article.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Learn to Ski During 'Lucky 13' Promotion

Utah ski resorts are participating in a "Lucky 13"promotion to encourage people to learn to ski, as part of SnowSports Industries America's "Learn-A-Snowsport" campaign.

During the promotion, which runs from Jan 19-31, the resorts offers discounts and special packages. provides details in this news release. Below are excerpts.

13 Days - 13 Resorts - 13 Great Deals... Lucky for You!

Skiing and snowboarding are great ways to get off the couch this winter and achieve those holiday fitness goals. Fortunately, Utah is home to 13 world-class ski resorts, all waiting for riders young and old to come out and get lucky. Whether learning for the first time or simply brushing up unpracticed skills, these offers are the jackpot for people looking to ski or snowboard. Locals can also enter to win a free beginners ski or snowboard lesson at a different Utah resort each day.

See the complete news release for information about discounts at the individual resorts.

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Utah Hit By Big Snow

Almost 2 feet of new snow has fallen in some spots in northern Utah. All of our ski resorts received new powder. Check our snow report for details.

In general, crews have done a good job keeping roads open but there have been a few problems. More snow is possible Thursday and Friday and so travelers need to use caution.

The road through Little Cottonwood Canyon was closed for a time this morning while crews cleared a small snow slide. Big Cottonwood Canyon was also closed briefly while crews did avalanche control work. More closures are possible.

This news report describes the storm.

The avalanche danger is high in mountain areas throughout Utah. Developed ski areas and maintained highways are generally safe because of avalanche control work. Use extreme caution if you are venturing into other areas where there are steep mountain slopes.

This website has current avalanche information.

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Sundance Festival Preview

The Sundance Film Festival runs January 17-27, in Park City and Salt Lake City. has this new preview of the festival. Here's how the article begins:

"Before pulling on your parka and wagon-training to Utah, get to know the films competing for the title of 'Sundance Darling.'"

The website also has this preview photo gallery.

Whether you plan to attend in person or participate via the Internet, read the festival information on the official Sundance site.

Friday, January 04, 2008

Sunset Magazine Touts Adventure in Ogden

Sunset is out with an interesting listing Ogden Utah as one of 10 places you've got to see

The subhead: Here are our latest picks, from an unspoiled beach in Mexico to Utah's newest adventure town

Sunset places Ogden at number 9 on the list and says it is, "For adrenaline junkies"

"Locals have always considered Ogden their very own playground. But being home to heaps of fresh snow (about 500 inches of the real deal annually), three sprawling ski resorts (Powder Mountain, Snowbasin, and Wolf Mountain), and all sorts of daredevil sports (whitewater kayaking, rock climbing, mountain biking), it was only a matter of time till word spread about just how good life is in the western foothills of the Wasatch Range. And spread to big-name brands such as Salomon, Atomic, and Suunto, no less, whose outdoorsy employees are moving here in droves — and bringing their friends — transforming the little town that hosted 2002 Olympic curling and downhill events into one of the West's hottest adventure spots. Just in case Ogden's great outdoors isn't enough, there's the new Salomon Center (801/399-4653), a $20 million 'high-adventure' hub."

Thursday, January 03, 2008

Utah's Capitol Reopens After Remodel

Remodeling and retrofitting work has been completed on the Utah State Capitol Building in Salt Lake City. It will be officially rededicated on Jan 4 in an invitation-only ceremony.

Beginning Jan 5, members of the public are invited to participate in a series of open houses focusing on different aspects of the restoration.

The Deseret Morning News has this article about the reopening. Here’s an excerpt:

It's a brighter, cleaner building that embraces its past through restored artwork and lighting. Yet it is also prepared for the future with modern technology and a new foundation that is designed to keep the Capitol intact and strong for another century or more.

The Salt Lake Tribune has this article about the building. The Trib says:

A less visible result of the restoration project is a safer, more functional Capitol. Though the public areas have painstakingly been returned to historical accuracy, the administrative facilities are modern and flexible, equipped with state-of-the-art communications and security equipment. "Over time, things change and functions change," Hart says. "The Capitol can be modified to meet new needs."

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

A Swell Winter Hike

The dragon of Black Dragon Canyon

Strange art work in Black Dragon

Spirit Arch in Arch Canyon
I resolve to do more hiking and fishing during 2008. And I'm off to a good start - I did a very enjoyable New Years Day hike in search of rock art in the San Rafael Swell. As a bonus, we saw some impressive natural rock arches.

The day dawned clear and cold over Utah. Our southern desert country was bitter cold during the early morning, but I knew it would warm up nicely during the afternoon. We slept late, ate a leisurely breakfast and then drove down Hwy 6 toward paradise.

There was considerable snow on the ground as we cruised past Price, and the noon-time temperature was a frigid 12 F. As we caught our first views of the northern part of the Swell, there was snow everywhere. For a moment I wondered if the white stuff would jinx my hiking plan. But we quickly left the snow behind and the temperature warmed considerably as we approached Green River.

We did easy hikes into Black Dragon, Petroglyph and Arch canyons, which push into the San Rafael Reef just north of I-70. The sky was a deep blue, the sunshine felt warm as we hiked and we had the whole world to ourselves, or so it seemed.

We did bump into one other hiker, a guy from San Francisco who was spending a week hiking the desert. He was traveling with his black lab, a dog he affectionately called "Utah."

As we probed these canyons we moved from sunshine into shade and temperatures dropped a little. While hiking in sunshine we had unbuttoned jackets but in the shade we buttoned them up again. We adjusted our plan as we went, making sure we had plenty of time to get back to our vehicle before sunset. It would not be fun to be stranded in one of those canyons on a cold winter's night.

As you can see from my photos, we found fascinating rock art panels. All in all, it was a great hike and a great start to the new year.

We are now in the coldest part of winter but hiking is very pleasant most days. During warm spells in January, daytime temperatures may climb into the low 40s. There will be days in February when temps reach the upper 40s or low 50s.

And I'm talking about the desert regions from Moab through Arches, Canyonlands, The Swell, Capitol Reef and Grand Staircase. Over around Zion and St George, temperatures will be at least 10 degrees warmer.

Occasional dangerous winter storms hit these area, so take care.

All in all, hiking is great this time of year.

- Dave Webb
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