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Utah Travel Headlines

Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Have A Happy, Safe, Adventurous New Year

Here's hoping 2009 brings you joy, prosperity and plenty of opportunity to enjoy spectacular scenery and exciting outdoor adventure.

'08 is now gone - Father Time will determine its place in history. The new year, hopefully, will bring new opportunities to live, to work and to play. The world won't change overnight. Tomorrow's sun will rise over conflict, hate and suffering. But it will also illuminate beauty and love.

Perhaps a year from now we will all be in a better place.

Meanwhile, our national parks offer great escapes where you can find beauty and serenity. That's true even though Zion Park is on track to set a new record for number of visitors in a year. This article gives details.

Our ski resorts offer beauty and adventure. That's true even though the backcountry avalanche danger remains high and experts urge caution. This article has details.

The world looks better after you ski down a mountain or hike up a canyon.

I hope to see you outdoors.

- Dave Webb

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Sundance Online Film Guide

Final preparations are being made for the Sundance Film Festival, set to run Jan 15-25 in Park City and Salt Lake City.

Sundance offers this Online Film Guide to help people plan schedules.

Here's info on festival jockeying, including a last-minute festival addition, a feature film called The Winning Season.

Ticket sales have been strong - it looks like the festival will be as crowded as ever. But there is still time to get involved, still plenty of opportunity to see films and hob-knob with Hollywood types. See the Sundance website for complete info on how to do the festival.

Monday, December 29, 2008

New Years Eve in Utah

The First Night celebration in downtown Salt Lake City is a big, family-friendly New Years Eve bash offering music, arts, food and fun.

Live performances and other events will be held at Gallivan Center, Gateway Mall, The Leonardo and Temple Square.

Admission buttons can be purchased in advance at Albertsons, Discovery Gateway, The Leonardo, and The Gateway concierge, $8 in advance, $10 day of show. Children 12 and under are free. Group discounts are available.

Ride TRAX free on December 31st (from 3 pm- 1 am) with your First Night 2009 admission button. * Rider must display button, up to 4 children may accompany an adult. Not valid on FrontRunner.

Many other Utah communities also offer New Years Eve activities.

The Daily Herald has this article about the celebration in Provo. Below are excerpts:

Provo's First Night celebration gets a little bigger every year, and organizers believe this year could be the best party yet.

Helen Anderson, spokeswoman for Provo city, said the theme this year is "Party Under the Big Top." The events will center around carnival activities, including virtual Nintendo Wii carnival games. People will be able to walk a virtual tightrope or participate in a ring toss.

JaNel Grim, recreation supervisor for Provo city, said an event that will likely be most popular at First Night will be the circus performing group, Cirkus Pandemonium. The Salt Lake City group will be performing all night long, with acts such as human juggling and fire dancing.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Utah Is The Fastest Growing State in the US

Utah's population continues to grow, but the rate has slowed somewhat from the boom times of the past few years.

Still, our grown hasn't slowed as much as other areas and so Utah leads the nation in population growth.

Business Week has this interesting article on Utah's population trends. Below are excerpts.

Utah won the designation Monday as the fastest growing state based on figures released by the U.S. Census Bureau for the year ending in July. The population grew by 2.5 percent to more than 2.7 million.

But Utah's growth rate has slowed since earlier this decade, and the rate has continued to decline since July, state demographer Juliette Tennert said Monday.

Still, Utah won the growth race because of the one thing that keeps the state expanding through good times and bad: a high birth rate attributed to the state's dominant faith, Mormonism, and family oriented culture.

"Utah is really unique in that over 60 percent of the growth is natural increase," Tennert said.

The face of Utah's population also is changing. Within a generation, the state's 60-and-older crowd will be larger than the school-age population, part of a nationwide demographic shift, according to a University of Utah study.

The study released last week by the university's Bureau of Economic and Business Research said that a third of the state's population will be made up of racial or ethnic minorities a generation from now.

Developers and real-estate lenders say southern Utah still is a draw for so-called equity refugees from California and other places who are looking for relatively cheaper living in a mild climate.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Snow, Snow and More Snow

Snow is the big new in Utah today. It's snowing as I write this. City streets are snowpacked and plows are working hard to stay ahead of the storm.

A winter storm warning is in effect through tonight. In a nutshell, ski conditions are great but travel conditions are difficult.

And the weather forecast calls for more of the same. A few weeks ago we wondered when the snow would come. Now we wonder if it will ever stop. Snow off and on through Christmas, with heavy snow at times.

Check weather forecasts and road conditions before traveling.

There is high avalanche danger in backcountry areas. Check avalanche forecasts before heading into mountainous backcountry areas.

Hope you can get where you want to go.

Merry Christmas.

- Dave

Friday, December 19, 2008

Get Utah Snow Reports On Your iPhone

A new application to display snow reports on iPhone and iTouch devices has been created by Canyon Sports and is available free from the Apple Application Store. Canyon Sports links to the application from its website.

The snow reports are generated daily by Ski Utah.

"The key to catching some fresh turns this winter is getting dialed into the Ski Utah Snow Report," says Jessica Kunzer, spokesperson for Ski Utah. "The Report is updated each morning by 6:30 a.m. with the latest snow totals, average base depths, open runs and lifts, and resort activities."

The Utah Office of Travel & Tourism also offers a desktop snow report widget for download.

You can also see the snow report on our website and on the Ski Utah website.

Those away from their computer can get the report the old-fashioned way - by telephone - by calling the Ski Utah Snow Report line at (801) 521-8102.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

High Backcountry Avalanche Danger

The avalanche danger is high in backcountry areas in mountains east of Salt Lake City and Provo, according to the Utah Avalanche Center.

Recent storms have dumped heavy snow in many areas around the state. Snow conditions are monitored and measures are taken to minimize avalanche danger at developed ski resorts and along highways.

No control measures are taken in backcountry areas and so the danger of a natural or human-caused avalanche is high. The Avalanche Center gives this advisory:

Bottom Line for the Provo, Salt Lake, and Park City area mountains:

The avalanche danger is HIGH on and below mid and upper elevation slopes, especially those facing west through north through east and southeast. Human triggered avalanche are likely on slopes steeper than about 35 degrees, and slides can be triggered remotely from a distance, so avoid travel adjacent to and below steep avalanche paths. As the winds pick up this afternoon and this evening, a natural avalanche cycle could occur again. Only those people with excellent avalanche skills and experience should travel in the backcountry, and travel should be on gentle slopes and ridge lines well away from avalanche paths.

You can monitor avalanche danger at this website.

These events are scheduled to help people learn about avalanche danger:
- Free Avalanche Awareness Class, 12/23/2008 - 6:00 pm
- La Sals Avalanche Awareness Seminar, 01/12/2009 - 6:00 pm
- Avalanche Terrain and Decision Making Seminar, 01/14/2009 - 7:00 pm

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Four Corners Monument

We've just completed updating information on the Four Corners Monument - you can see our Four Corners pages here.

The states of Utah, Colorado, New Mexico and Arizona meet at Four Corners - it is the only spot in the US where 4 state borders touch.

We noticed that our Four Corners page was popular - it gets a tremendous number of page views - and so we decided to expand the information.

We've now posted new text and new photos, and we've added a video clip.

Four Corners is a remote area far from cities, gas stations and normal travel services. We've posted information designed to help people understand what the area is like, and to help them plan trips to see the monument.

We think our info is the best available on the Internet.

We would love to hear your comments. Let us know if you have ideas about how we can improve our content.

- Dave Webb

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Sleigh Rides To View Elk Begin Friday

Hardware Ranch will begin its annual sleigh rides on Friday, Dec 19, 2008.

The ranch is a Utah DWR wildlife management area where elk are fed during the winter to keep them from migrating down the mountain and destroying farms.

When there is adequate snow (there is this year) then horse-drawn sleighs are used to transport hay to the animals. Horse-drawn wagons are used at other times. The wild elk get use to the horses and wagons and show little fear.

People are allowed to ride on the wagons. They often get close enough to take remarkable photos of the elk. On many days, large bulls can be seen and photographed with the herd.

A DWR news release said about 100 elk were at the ranch early this week, with more showing up daily.

Read the news release.

Visit the Hardware Ranch website.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Southern Utah Gets Snow, More Coming Statewide

Snow is falling in Utah's Dixie. On Monday, weather forecasts called for a 100% chance of snow across much of southern Utah, including St George and Zion Park. A winter storm warning is in effect for that area until 10 am Tuesday (12-16-08).

Tuesday afternoon conditions should start to dry out and temperatures will warm a bit, up into the mid-40s by Thursday.

Northern Utah will see on-again, off-again snow through the forecast period. Ski resorts and other mountain areas may see several inches of new snow on any given day; northern Utah valleys should only get moderate amounts.

Use caution when traveling. Check local forecasts and road conditions.

Below is the text of the storm warning for southern Utah.

... Winter Storm Warning remains in effect until 10 am MST

A Winter Storm Warning for heavy snow remains in effect until 10
am MST Tuesday.

This warning is for utahs Dixie and Zion National Park... south
central Utah and the southern mountains.

Snow totals of 2 to 5 inches are expected at lower elevations of
Washington County with 6 to 10 inches in the higher southern
valleys. Accumulations of 12 to 20 inches are expected in the

Snow will continue to develop at all elevations of far
southwestern Utah during the midday. Snow will be heavy at times
until late afternoon when it may mix with or change over to rain
at elevations below about 3000 feet.

Snow and low elevation rain will continue... heavy at times
through Monday night then taper off beginning Tuesday morning.

The snow will significantly impact travel across southern
Utah... particularly around St George. Motorists should allow for
extra time to get to their destinations.

A Winter Storm Warning means heavy snow are expected or
occurring. Travel difficulties can be expected as roads will be
slick. Slow down and use caution while driving. For winter Road
conditions from the Utah Department of Transportation visit...
http://www.Commuterlink.Utah.Gov or dial 511

Friday, December 12, 2008

Winter Storm Warning For Much of Utah

The National Weather Service has issued a winter storm warning for NW Utah valleys and all northern Utah mountain areas. That includes the heavily populated Wasatch Front area.

The warning period extends from 3 am Saturday to 5 pm Sunday. The text of the warning is given below.

Check local forecasts before traveling. Also check road conditions.

...Winter storm warning in effect from 3 am Saturday to 5 pm MST Sunday...

The national weather service in Salt Lake City has issued a winter storm warning for snow and blowing snow...which is in effect from 3 am Saturday to 5 pm MST Sunday. The winter storm watch is no longer in effect.

This warning is in effect for the valleys of northwest Utah including the Wasatch Front and all the northern mountains.

Total snowfall accumulations 3 to 6 inches are expected in the valleys with up to 8 inches on the bench areas and higher valleys. Total snowfall accumulations of 12 to 18 inches are expected in the mountains by late Sunday afternoon.

In addition to the heavy snow... Gusty winds are anticipated with this system that will result in areas of blowing snow and local near blizzard conditions. Temperatures will be cold enough that the snow is expected to stick to area roads creating hazardous travel conditions.

Snow will begin early Saturday morning near the Utah Idaho border and spread south into the Salt Lake City area by mid morning. The snow reaches Utah County by mid day Saturday.

A winter storm warning means a mixture of heavy snow and strong winds are expected or occurring. Travel difficulties can be expected as roads will be slick. Slow down and use caution while driving. For winter road conditions from the Utah Department of Transportation visit... or dial 511

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Two Mountain Roads Are Closed For Winter

(Below is a news release from the Utah Department of Transportation.)

The Utah Department of Transportation (UDOT) advises motorists that two frequently used mountain passes in the state's northern region will close for the winter Thursday afternoon.

UDOT will close state Road 65, also known as Big Mountain Pass, from milepost 12.8 south of Morgan, to milepost 2.5 in Salt Lake County's East Canyon. Also closing will be state Road 39, also known as Monte Cristo Pass, from east of Huntsville at milepost 37 to milepost 56 west of Woodruff, Rich County. Both routes will close to all vehicular traffic beginning at 4:30 p.m. on Thursday, December 11. Motorists using these routes are encouraged to have concluded their travel before this time.

Once these routes are closed, gates on both ends at the mileposts noted will be secured and will remain closed through the remainder of the winter.

Information about winter road conditions on all Utah highways, as well as the spring openings of these routes will be announced on the UDOT website at, can be found on the CommuterLink website at, or can be obtained by dialing 511.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

New Luxury Hotels Coming To Park City

The Salt Lake Tribune has this article updating information about Elite Waldorf-Astoria and St. Regis luxury hotels scheduled to open in Park City next spring.

The article includes multimedia. Below are excerpts.

Two luxury hotel brands with time-tested pedigrees -- St. Regis and Waldorf-Astoria -- are poised to enter the market next spring: Waldorf-Astoria through the Dakota Mountain Lodge at The Canyons while the St. Regis Deer Crest is in Deer Valley, on a ridge overlooking Snow Park Lodge.

Farther uphill in Deer Valley's Empire Pass region, foundations also are in place for a Montage hotel. Although Montage does not have the history of St. Regis or Waldorf-Astoria, having been formed in 2002, it just opened a 201-unit luxury hotel Nov. 17 in the heart of Beverly Hills. Montage Deer Valley is set to open in the winter of 2010-2011.

Nearby, East West Partners is developing Flagstaff, a 37-residence condominium, each with more than 5,000 square feet and full membership in the Talisker Club, part of the Canadian company that owns The Canyons.

Read the entire article.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

National Parks Bring Dollars, Jobs To Utah Communities

Utah's National Parks are vitally important to the state's economy, according to a new report by the Park Service and Michigan State University. The Deseret News has this article about the report. Below are excerpts.

Utah is No. 5 among the states and the District of Columbia in the money that it reaps from nonlocal visitors to national park units, according to a study by the National Park Service and Michigan State University.

The report said that nonlocal visitors to Utah's National Park Service units in 2007 spent $484.6 million on food, hotels, souvenirs, gasoline and other items in communities within 50 miles of a park.

The study said that visitor spending supported 10,234 jobs in Utah near its parks. Payrolls from the parks themselves funded another 913 jobs. National park units in Utah supported 11,147 jobs overall in the state.

Read the entire article.

Monday, December 08, 2008

Spanish Fork Festival of Lights

The impressive Spanish Fork Festival of Lights runs through Jan 1. It features light displays located in Canyon View Park, 3300 East Powerhouse Road, Spanish Fork.

You can view the lights from the comfort of your automobile, or you can see them while enjoying a hayride. (Hayrides are available for groups of 20 or more.) Many of the displays are animated and contain motion lights or moving parts. You will see Santa waving, a pink tree, a sea serpent, geese, and much more.

Directions: Take Exit 258 heading East approximately 4.5 miles to Powerhouse Road (corner with Chevron Station); turn right and follow the road to the park, which is located on your right.Event Hours: 6 - 10 pm

Admission: $5 per car, $15 large van and vehicles with trailers, $25 for buses

Friday, December 05, 2008

Sundance Announces Lineup For 2009 Festival

The Sundance Film Festival will be held Jan 15-25, 2009, with screenings and activities at various locations around Park City and Salt Lake City.

The New York Times has this new article about the festival, and its 2009 films. Below are excerpts.

The programmers of the Sundance Film Festival on Wednesday announced a schedule of competition films that in their view, reflect an unusual tilt toward the emotional — maybe even melodramatic — side of independent cinema.

"Audiences this year are going to be surprised," Geoffrey Gilmore, the director of the festival, said this week in a far-ranging discussion of the mood and makeup of the 2009 program. "The range of emotions evoked by the films is going to be greater than in the past."

The festival's flavor is also going to be a bit more international. Submissions from the United States fell, after years of steady increases, to 1,905 feature-length films, from 2,021 in 2008, while foreign submissions rose to 1,756, from 1,603. The 118 features selected (including noncompetition films still to be announced) were chosen from 3,661 submissions, up slightly from 3,624, despite a weakening independent movie market.

Read the entire article.

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Polar Express Christmas Train

The Heber Valley Historic Railroad is once again offering its popular Polar Express Christmas Train. The magic of Christmas comes to life when the historic railroad begins hauling children to the North Pole on this all-time favorite Christmas tradition. Featured is the reading of the "Polar Express," hot chocolate and cookies, served by elves, and a visit from Mr & Mrs Santa Claus!

The Polar Express runs through Dec 23, from Heber City down Provo Canyon to Vivian Park. This activity is accessible to those with disabilities.

The Heber Valley Railroad also offers other themed rides, scheduled at various times throughout the year.

Contact: 435-654-3666
Phone: 435-654-5601
Venue: Heber Valley RailroadLocation: 450 S 600 W, Heber City
Web Address:

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Utah Offers Unprecedented Incentives As More Ski Resorts Open

More Utah Ski Resorts Set To Open

Five more Utah ski resorts are set to open during the next several days, as shown below.
- Dec 5: The Canyons
- Dec 5: Wolf Mountain
- Dec 6: Deer Valley
- Dec 12: Sundance

With that, all Utah resorts will be open except Powder Mountain and Beaver Mountain. They have not yet announced opening dates.

Unprecedented Ski Travel Incentives Being Offered in Utah
(Note: This is a press release provided by

SALT LAKE CITY, UT, December 3, 2008 - It's widely known that Utah has "The Greatest Snow on Earth," yet it's the state's unparalleled access and value that are now grabbing the skiing and riding spotlight.

With rankings from SKI and Skiing magazines showing four Utah resorts in the top 10 for value (more than any other state), as well as seven resorts in the top 10 for access, it's no wonder the Utah tourism industry is working hard to offer incentives this winter to capitalize on the state's celebrated ski assets.

Tourism organizations throughout Utah have developed programs that complement the state's already intrinsic ski value and access offerings.
Discounted or free afternoons on the mountain, impressive lodging discounts, and free transportation are just some of the attractive programs aimed to drive seasonal travel to the state.

Five top incentives for Utah skiers and riders this winter include:

Salt Lake Super Pass
The Salt Lake Super Pass is an interchangeable lift card that skiers and boarders can purchase, redeemable for all-day lift tickets to four different world-class ski properties in the Salt Lake area including Alta, Brighton, Snowbird and Solitude resorts. The pass, a one to six-day lift ticket, includes round-trip travel on ski buses, city buses, and light-rail to any of the four resorts from downtown and suburban Salt Lake.

A value-packed deal, a two-day adult pass is just $114 ($64 for kids) and a five-day is only $280 ($155 kids), the pass can be used within any seven-day period on whichever day travelers want. This allows skiers and boarders the flexibility to be on the slopes one day and relax the following day. The Super Pass is sold through Salt Lake lodging properties at and is typically packaged in conjunction with lodging specials, providing even greater savings and convenience. The Super Pass is also sold online in partnership with Travelocity.

Park City - QuickSTART
Visitors can catch a morning flight from almost anywhere in North America and be on the slopes the same afternoon. The Park City QuickSTART (Ski Today And Ride Today) Vacation lets skiing and riding enthusiasts convert airline boarding passes into a same-day lift ticket at the Park City resort of choice, including The Canyons, Park City Mountain Resort, or Deer Valley.

Participants should bring the completed, required redemption voucher, along with a same-day boarding pass and out-of-state photo I.D. to the resort ticket window in order to receive a same-day lift ticket.

Visitors will discover unbelievable skiing and riding, not to mention the most conveniently located resort town in the West just a mere 35 minutes from Salt Lake City International Airport.

Iron County/Brian Head - BOUNCE BACK
With more travelers concerned about their pocketbooks, southern Utah is a perfect destination for value-conscious winter adventurers. Famous powder coupled with incredible mountain terrain, red rock scenery, and a close proximity to metro Las Vegas, makes the Brian Head and Cedar City area a truly unique winter getaway.

Brian Head Resort, southern Utah's only ski resort, offers the lowest lift prices for a full-service resort in Utah. The Resort is gearing up for a fantastic winter season including a recent expansion that added 35 percent more terrain and two new chairlifts. To entice skiers and boarders to "experience the change," Brian Head is offering a mid-week BOUNCE BACK offer. With the purchase of a regular mid-week lift ticket for only $45, one can bounce back for another day of skiing/boarding for half price. (BOUNCE BACK is not available on weekends or holidays.)

Guests can check out the resort's Web site at for more details.

Heber Valley - Wasatch Winter
The Heber Valley Chamber of Commerce/Convention & Visitors Bureau recently launched its winter marketing campaign, Wasatch Winter, offering value-packed discounts for visitors. Now in its second year, the campaign focuses on the invitation to "Come (to Utah) to Ski, but Stay to Play in Heber Valley" with its numerous winter activities and discounted lodging packages. The activities include snowmobiling, snow tubing, balloon rides, snow shoeing, cross country skiing, ice skating, horse-drawn sleigh rides, ice fishing and more. For more information travelers can call 1-888-WASATCH or visit

Ogden - Shuttle Program
The Ogden/Weber Convention & Visitors Bureau has partnered with its lodging partners to enhance the guest experience by providing convenient (and free) door-to-door shuttle service. Ogden and Ogden Valley Lodging properties now include in their ski packages mini-coach transportation for guests to Snowbasin and Powder Mountain. Reservations can be made through the front desk as late as 10 p.m. the night before. The property provides a round-trip voucher that can be used for the guests' choice of departure and return times.

About Utah
Home to five national parks, 42 state parks, seven national monuments, two national recreation areas and "The Greatest Snow on Earth(r)," Utah represents the best of both the Rocky Mountains and the Desert Southwest. Whether it's heart-thumping downhill skiing, picturesque fly fishing, life-defying rock climbing, serene bird watching, thrill-seeking white water rafting or just communing with nature, Utah has it all - holding true to the state's "Life Elevated" brand.

To contact the Utah Office of Tourism, an agency of the Governor's Office of Economic Development, please visit or call (800) 200-1160 or (801) 538-1900.

Monday, December 01, 2008

Searching For The Wolf Man (Rock Art)

I stumbled upon an interesting guy as I was hiking Saturday. Locals call him the "Wolf Man." He appears to be a humanoid, perhaps a deity of some sort. He is surrounded by fanciful forms that are totally unique - I've never seen rock art images quite like them anywhere else on earth.

Actually, I didn't just stumble upon him. I hunted him down by searching the cliff faces along rugged Comb Ridge, west of the town of Bluff, down near Monument Valley.

I love to view the rock art left by ancient cultures, and the SE corner of Utah offers some of the best. As a hobby, I hike into remote areas to find petroglyph and pictographs - I've viewed and photographed thousands of them. It is always a thrill to find a new site.

Many rock art images seem to relate to daily life: big horn sheep and other animals suggesting a successful hunt, powerful warriors guarding the village, great gods intervening in behalf of the people - that kind of thing.

To me, the wolf man doesn't fit into any of those categories. Who is this guy and what are those strange objects around him? Is that a smiling cat next to the fish skeleton? How about that flying fish? And what is that starburst-thing inside the circle?

I don't have any reference point to provide perspective as I try to understand these interesting images.

Surprisingly different. That's part of the fun of hunting for rock art - you never know what you'll find.

The weather was perfect for hiking over the weekend, with mild sunny days and cold nights, and it looks like that pattern will hold in southern Utah through the next several days.

Right now is a great time to hike our desert canyons. I can't wait to get back down.

- Dave
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