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Utah Travel Headlines

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

BLM Pulls Plug On Energy Development Near Utah National Parks

The federal Bureau of Land Management caused a big stir a few weeks ago when it scheduled lease auctions for potential oil and gas wells near Arches and other Utah parks and sensitive areas.

Yesterday the agency removed some 34 parcels from a lease auction set for Dec 19.

Many news groups have articles about the potential sale, and now BLM's concessions. Below are excerpts from this LA Times article.

The Bureau of Land Management on Tuesday backed off from plans to auction more than a dozen leases to explore for oil and gas on the doorstep of several national parks, deflecting accusations by environmental groups that it was handing a "parting gift" to the energy industry before the Obama administration takes over.

The agency still will proceed with more than 100 lease sales at a Dec. 19 auction. BLM officials did not return calls for comment Tuesday night, but they released a statement with the National Park Service after a Monday meeting, saying the two agencies had come to an agreement on protecting the environment.

"Putting oil and gas exploration and industrial zones in the Southwest causes irreparable damage," said David Nimkin of the National Park Conservation Assn. "It's like burning Rembrandts to heat the castle. I'm not sure we're that desperate."

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Park City Will Open For Skiing Friday

Park City Mountain Resort will be open for skiing on Friday, Nov 28, 2008. The resort released the information below on its blog:

Opening day at Park City Mountain Resort will be this coming Friday, November 28! So here's my advice, take it easy on Thanksgiving Day, watch some football, eat lots of turkey and get ready to ski and ride it all off over the next three days. We are planning to open with both PayDay and First Time Lifts...

Meanwhile, The Canyons resort has pushed back its opening day until Dec 5.

A storm is expected to move over Utah Wednesday evening, with rain at lower elevations and snow up higher. Showers are expected to continue Thursday, so the resorts could have some fresh, natural snow for the big weekend.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Utah Properties Maintain AAA Five Diamond Ratings

The Grand America Hotel in Salt Lake City and the Stein Eriksen Lodge in Park City have once again earned AAA five diamond ratings.

The Salt Lake Tribune has this article on the awards. Below are excerpts.

"Utah's Five Diamond award winners truly represent the best of the hospitality industry," said Rolayne Fairclough, AAA Utah spokesperson. "They are repeat winners, which prove their dedication to continuing a tradition of excellence."

"Four Diamond" awards were granted to 15 other Utah lodging establishments and 10 restaurants. New to the list this year are Zermatt Resort and Spa in Midway, Goldener Hirsch Inn in Park City and The Paris restaurant in Salt Lake City.

Read the entire article.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Park City Mountain Resort Postpones Ski Opening

We're basking under unseasonably warm temperatures and that has prompted Park City Mountain Resort to postpone its opening day. The ski resort was set to open on Saturday, Nov 22, but now says it will not open until conditions become more winter-like. has this article about the development. Below is an excerpt.

"The resort [is unable] to provide guests with the experience they have come to expect from a top-five rated mountain," said PCMR's Paula Altschuler.

Snowbird, Brighton and Solitude have been open for some time and have decent early-season conditions. They are in canyon locations where temperatures are cooler and they have also had significant natural snowfall.

Meanwhile, people are golfing, hiking, biking and enjoying the nice weather. The latest forecast suggests it will hold into next week. A storm is out there and may bring new snow to our resorts next Wednesday.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Football 'Holy War' Comes To Salt Lake

They will be playing football On The Hill Saturday, in Rice Eccles Stadium at the University of Utah. It is the annual holy war between the Utes and Brigham Young University - a game that has evolved into one of the premier rivalries in the United States.

The struggle is more intense this year because a lot is riding on the game, including the Mountain West Conference title and a potential invitation to a BCS bowl. San Diego Union-Tribune writer Brent Schrotenboer summed it up this way: "Never in the 10-year history of the Mountain West Conference has there been a game bigger than this." Read his column: One more win, Utes likely in BCS.

There will be crowds and traffic congestion and screaming fans. If you need to be in that part of Salt Lake City on Saturday then be ready for anything.

Kickoff is set for 4 pm.

Below are some articles about the teams, provided by our friends at Google.

BYU, Utah football: Utes quick to admit this game is a biggie Deseret News

Utah football notes: Utes want whole pie, not just a piece Salt Lake Tribune

BYU, Utah football: Battles within the battle Deseret News

Utah football: Business as usual for Utes Salt Lake Tribune

All 255 news articles »

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Pritchett Canyon Trail Named An Outstanding Offroad Route

One of Utah's premier offroad trails has won national recognition, and also funding to be used to preserve offroad activities along the route. has this report about the Pritchett Canyon Trail. Below are excerpts.

The Pritchett Canyon Trail, located southwest of Moab, Utah, has been named an "Outstanding Trail" by BFGoodrich Tires. Accompanying the recognition is a $4000 grant given to the Moab Friends-For-Wheelin' club, which will be used in the preservation efforts of one of America's best offroading trails.

According to Jeff Stevens, president of the Moab Friends-For-Wheelin' club, "Pritchett Canyon is a `must-do' for any four-wheeler visiting Moab who is looking for an extreme challenge and unbeatable scenery. The trail is unforgiving and environmentally sensitive, and we are very pleased to have BFGoodrich Tires assist our efforts to preserve the trail."

Monday, November 17, 2008

Hiking Notch Peak

Notch Peak rises some 4,000 feet above the surrounding desert, an almost sheer cliff of major magnitude.

El Capitan, the famous rock mass in Yosemite National Park, has a vertical rise of about 3,000 feet. As precipices go, Notch Peak is almost as impressive, but Notch is virtually unknown because it is located in Utah's remote, desolate west desert.

From the top of Notch, looking straight down for almost a mile, the feeling is almost overwhelming. Vertigo is common as you move toward the edge. It sometimes feels like a mysterious force is sucking you toward the cliff. Hikers innately respect the mountain; most lie on their bellies as they try to peer over the edge.

Most of the towering cliffs in Zion Park drop a meager 1,500 to 2,000 feet straight down. Aside from Notch and the Yosemite peaks, I don't know of another precipice in the US that boasts such an impressive sheer face.

I've wanted to hike Notch for some time, and finally made the trip last weekend. It was a very enjoyable experience well worth the effort.

Notch Peak is located west of Delta, about 3.5 hours from Salt Lake City. The hike is moderately strenuous, about 8 miles round trip. We made it up and down in about 5 hours, and that allowed time to play around on top.

There is no formally designated trail and you need route-finding skills to make this hike. A topo map is essential and a GPS comes in handy.

We approached from the east and followed a winding canyon up to a saddle just below the summit. Hiking in the canyon is relatively easy but you do have to bust through brush and climb around one dryfall. You also ascend a series of ledges, almost stone steps. Hiking through the canyon is fun and a little adventurous. We had a couple kids with us, ages 12 and 13, and they made it with no problem.

As you come out of the canyon onto the open ridge, you gain a panoramic view of the surrounding desert. You feel like you've been transported to some distant planet, with stark, alien landscape falling away in front of you. The desert is mostly flat and devoid of life. The glassy waters of Sevier Dry Lake reflect distant brown mountains, with snowcapped peaks visible in the far distance.

You look out over hundreds of miles of desolate country, no cities or towns in sight; a few roads are the only signs that humans have impacted this vast land.

Views from half-way up the mountain are impressive and the wonderment grows with each step as you approach the summit.

When you reach the saddle, the summit rises a couple hundred feet above you to the left. To the right, we followed the ridgeline to another saddle, a little lower, where we could take photos that captured most of the peak's dramatic rise.

Bristlecone pine trees grow in a grove adjacent to this second vantage point. They are amazing trees; some are thousands of years old. Gnarled and scared, bristlecones are the oldest living things on earth. Some, on nearby Wheeler Peak, are thought to be more than 4,000 years old.

For something to live for thousands of years, you would think it must grow in the best soil, in a spot where temperatures and other conditions are favorable. Not so. These trees push their roots down into cracks in the rock, where there is little soil available and the soil that is there is poor. They grow at high altitudes, here about 9,200 feet, on windswept slopes where summer days are very hot and winter nights are bitter cold.

The bristlecone grove on Notch is impressive, as is the entire experience.

Yes, I think Notch Peak makes a great hike.

(View more of my photos from this hike. We also have video showing the adventure.)

- Dave Webb

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Paria Canyon Is A Wonder World

The Toronto Star has this article on Paria Canyon and Buckskin Gulch, a complex of long, rugged slot canyons straddling the Utah/Arizona border. Below are excerpts.

You walk softly and quietly in Buckskin Gulch.

Not so much out of reverence but because this long slot canyon is so closed-in, spooky and dark it seems that around the next wild-textured red rock bend you might step through the back door to the universe or tumble into the Earth's navel.

"Every corner you go around – and there are many corners – the view is different, whether it's the colours or the texture of the geology, like caves, or the lines in the rock that go horizontally, and then the next corner the lines are going vertically," says Brenda Reibel of Seattle, one of a party of six Northwesterners who backpacked Paria last April.

"Buckskin Gulch, it's the most otherworldly and surreal place," says longtime hiker Bryn Beorse of Seattle. "It's just sort of a magical underworld. The colours inside it were just amazing.''

Paria Canyon has been the subject of numerous stories in national magazines and people come to hike it from all over the U.S., Canada and Europe, even Japan and Australia.

Read the complete article.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Delta Air Lines Plans Nonstop Flights Between Salt Lake, Tokyo

Beginning in summer, 2009, Delta will offer a nonstop flight between Salt Lake City and Tokyo, according to this Desert News article. Below are excerpts.

The flight will begin in the summer 2009. The Atlanta-based carrier credited its merger with Minneapolis-based Northwest Airlines Corp. for creating the opportunity for new flights to Tokyo. Northwest has a hub at the Tokyo airport.

Salt Lake City International Airport is a hub for Delta and will remain so with the merged airline, which will be called Delta and will be based in Atlanta...

Also Wednesday, Delta announced it will offer a third daily flight between Salt Lake City and Detroit, and new daily service between Salt Lake City and Minneapolis.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Ski Utah Fat Flake Festival

Celebrate the beginning of another ski season by participating in the annual Fat Flake Festival. It will be held Saturday, November 15, from 4:30 – 10 pm at the Gallivan Center in downtown Salt Lake City.

This year’s festival features music by The Bastard Sons of Johnny Cash, Cavedoll and Junior Giant. Join the action by participating in the first-ever ski boot race, vintage ski outfit contest, ice skating and much more. All your favorite athletes will be there to sign autographs including Julian Carr, Rachael Burks, Sage Cattabriga-Alosa and more. Don’t miss out on the chance to win great prizes including an outfit from Eider, Rossignol skis and boots, a Burton snowboard, lift tickets and other Utah resort swag. Join Ski Utah we we welcome winter back to the Wasatch!

The festival is free of charge.

More details.

Friday, November 07, 2008

They're Skiing At Snowbird. Other Resorts Move Up Opening Dates

Snowbird opened for skiing today at 9 am - the second earliest opening in the resort's history.

Brighton will open on Nov 12, and Solitude will open on Nov 14. Most resorts will be open by Thanksgiving weekend.

The early openings were made possible by last weekend's winter-like snowstorm, and more snow is expected this weekend. The natural stuff will be supplemented by man made snow. has this new report about Utah resorts opening early. Below are excerpts.

Mother Nature is smiling on Utah's tourism industry.

Chilly temperatures and a few early snowstorms are allowing ski resorts to open earlier than usual this season, with the first Utah opening Friday.

"There are a lot of things that we can't control like the economy and weather, but Mother Nature is getting us off to a really nice start," he said. "Right now, everybody is just going berserk in getting ready to go skiing. Our phones are ringing and everybody's excited."

Utah's main competitor in the winter sports industry is Colorado, which will have four resorts open this weekend. Utah's commercials highlight one advantage the state has over its competitor to the east - some resorts are as close as a 30-minute drive from downtown Salt Lake City.

By comparison, many of Colorado's resorts require are about a two-hour drive from Denver International Airport.

Read the complete report.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Snowbird Will Open Friday, Nov 7

Two cold winter storms have now blasted northern Utah and snow is starting to pile up at Utah's ski resorts. As a result, Utah resorts are scrambling to open ahead of schedule.

Snowbird will be the first to open. It provides this information:

"Snowbird will be offering the Aerial Tram and two lifts, Gadzoom and Mid-Gad, to skiers and riders beginning Friday at 9 a.m. Expected open terrain includes Regulator Johnson from the top of Hidden Peak, as well as Big Emma and Bassackwards. Additional lifts and terrain will open as conditions permit. The Snowbird Center and Creekside Lodge will be offering multiple food, merchandise and equipment rental options throughout the weekend."

"More than 3 feet of snow has fallen in November, and cold temperatures have allowed snow guns to operate, adding to the already impressive early season snow totals. Last year, Snowbird received 611 inches of The Greatest Snow on Earth® and had a 183-day season with skiing and riding from Nov. 30 to June 22."

See the Snowbird website for more information.

That will be the second earliest start to a season in the resort’s 38-year history.

Other resorts will follow quickly. Most will be open by Thanksgiving weekend. Watch this blog for details.

Deer Valley Rug Sale Benefits Elderly Navajos

The 19th annual Navajo Rug Show and Sale will be held this weekend at Deer Valley Resort's Snow Park Lodge, Nov. 7 - 9. The event allows guests to enjoy Navajo culture through song, dance, storytelling, and artwork, and to help support Native American elders by purchasing their custom-created rugs, jewelry, and art.

This year's theme is, "The Ceremony of Weaving." The featured weaver is Elizabeth Clah, a master weaver known for her creative designs depicting ceremonial themes as well as her use of inventive colors.

In attendance will be 25 Elders and their families, who will participate in a variety of popular events including:
- Demonstrations of Navajo weaving and culture.
- Special programs for school children.
- The annual Shi Yazi Princess Pageant.
- Navajo Veterans Ceremony
- Ceremonial Dances.

Over 700 rugs will be displayed and available for sale at the show. At the last rug show in November 2007 over 500 rugs were sold with all proceeds returning home with the weavers. Donations are also accepted.

The sale is part of the Adopt-A-Native-Elder Program. The program's website has details.

Monday, November 03, 2008

Bonneville Salt Flats 2009 Racing Events

Many people have asked about dates for major Salt Flats race events for 2009. Here's what we have found.

Bonneville Speed Week - Aug 8-14

BUB International Motorcycle Speed Trials - Aug 30-Sept 3

World of Speed - Sept 16-19

Cook Motorsports FIA-FIM Speed Trials, Sept 20-26

World Finals - Oct 7-10

BLM manages the Salt Flats and so they schedule events. See their listing here.

If you want to know what it is like to go to a race event at the Salt Flats, see the reports on this site.

Also see our video clip showing Speed Week.

America's 10 Most Dangerous Hikes

Buckskin Gulch

Buckskin Gulch

Backpacker Magainze, October, 2008, lists what it describes as America's 10 most dangerous hikes. Two of them are in Utah. The Maze tops the list as the most dangerous. Buckskin Gulch also makes the list. Below are excerpts about these two areas.

The Maze, UT
You'd better be a map savant if you want to wander into–and back out of–this redrock jungle, which is full of dead-end canyons. "This is not the place for inexperienced hikers," declares park ranger Paul Henderson, who says it could take rescuers three days to reach you in this remote unit of Canyonlands...

The Maze ranks as the riskiest hike on this list–yet it's claimed no lives so far. Why? Because its challenges intimidate all but the most canyon-savvy trekkers...

Plan trips for spring, when temps are lower and a few potholes may hold water. Practice off-trail canyon travel elsewhere. And chart your route with GPS, but carry maps. Says Henderson, "I've encountered visitors who knew their coordinates–but were still lost."

Buckskin Gulch, UT
No one's died here–yet. But the odds mount every time a dark cloud crosses the sky. This tortuously twisting sandstone bottleneck is the longest, deepest slot canyon in the Southwest (and probably the world). Its narrow walls carve a 12-mile gash through the southern Utah desert, although most hikers bypass the first of those pinched miles by starting at Wire Pass, a tributary that enters Buckskin from the south and plunges them right into its tightest squeeze. The extended exposure to flash flood danger makes Buckskin one of the country's most dangerous slots: Rarely more than 10 feet wide, the eerie corridor is 400 feet deep at its junction with the Paria River. Most chilling: The entire length of sandstone wall is virtually insurmountable–except for a single escape hatch at the Middle Route, about 8 miles in from Wire Pass. Should thunderstorm-bloated flood waters come charging down the tunnel, you're no better than a bug in a firehose.

Read the entire article.
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