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Utah Travel Headlines

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Fish For Free On June 6

Utah will hold Free Fishing day on Saturday, June 6. On that day only, anyone can fish in Utah waters without a license. All other regulations will be enforced.

See our fishing report for ideas about where to fish.

Read more about Free Fishing Day, including clinics and events where you can learn to fish.

During the late spring/early summer, fishing is usually very good at most Utah reservoirs and streams.

Children under age 12 do not need a license to fish in Utah waters. Everyone age 12 and over must have a license to fish, except on Free Fishing Day.

Buy a Utah fishing license.

Learn about Utah fishing regulations.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Wet and Wild in Zion Park

It's time to get wet in Zion Park.

Some of the park's most popular hikes involve wading or swimming through streams and potholes, and that kind of activity is most pleasant when air temperatures are warm and stream flows are down. Those conditions are developing right now. We're on the front end of Zion's peak hiking season.

I hiked in Zion last weekend and had a great time. Conditions were perfect.

The park was crowded - standing room only on the shuttle - but that is to be expected over a holiday weekend. The air temperature pushed into the low 90s. That's warm enough to make the water attractive, but not nearly as hot as it will be in July. We were able to hike sunny trails in relative comfort.

Stream flows have been high, but they are now coming down rapidly. The water is still cold but that is also moderating. It is now enjoyable to hike in the Narrows. The Subway and other famous "wet hikes" will be very attractive during the next several weeks.

My daughter recently became engaged and her fiancé had never been to southern Utah. Our mission was to show him some of the best of the best (as much as you can fit into a quick weekend trip.)

Where do you go, with so many great options? Zion has long been my favorite and we decided to do Angels Landing, because it offers a bit of adventure while providing a grand overview of Zion Canyon.

Our friend assured us there are mountains and canyons in his home state of Virginia. Yeah, right...

He found the view to be overwhelming, as he gazed across the saddle and up the hogsback. It took a little time before he could make his feet climb those rocks, his hands grasp those chains, but he made it to the top.

He passed the test - barely. I guess we can let him join the family.

To cool off, we played in the pools along lower Pine Creek, below the waterfall. It was great fun.

- Dave Webb

Friday, May 22, 2009

Utah's scenic calendar wins top national prize

The Utah Office of Tourism's official 2009 scenic calendar won the best national calendar award recently in the Calendar Marketing Association's annual competition, the Salt Lake Tribune reports.

The state's calendar won seven gold and one silver awards in several categories, the golds for best scenic photography, most informative and best graphic design.

Designed by graphic artist Scott Hardy, the calendar was printed at Rastar in West Valley City.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Uinta-Wasatch-Cache is Second-Most Popular Forest in the US

Some 8.9 million people visit the Uinta-Wasatch-Cache National Forest every year, making it the second-most popular forest in the US.

The Daily Herald has this article about the forest. Below are excerpts.

A year after the Uinta and Wasatch-Cache national forests were combined, officials have announced the forest is the second-most visited in the nation.

The two forests were combined to save an estimated $2 million a year in administrative expenses.

With the economy as it is, the increasing popularity of the forest may be because more people are looking for recreation opportunities closer to home, said Lorraine Januzelli, spokeswoman for the forest. Surveys show that just over half of all visitors here live within 25 miles of the forest, just over 90 percent live within 100 miles of the forest, and just 9 percent live farther away.

"Forty-two percent come to hike, and then the next-biggest group is people who come to view nature," she said.

The sheer number of visitors means that it becomes everyone's job to help protect the forest for future generations, both Januzelli and Velarde said.

"Obviously that is a huge impact for us," said Velarde of the number of visitors. "First and foremost, we are there to protect the forest."

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Landscape Arch Named Longest In World

Landscape ArchThere has been a long-standing debate, whether Landscape Arch (in Arches National Park) or Kolob Arch (in Zion National Park) is the world's biggest.

In this AP article, researchers say they have an answer. Below are excerpts.

Utah state geologists and a group of intrepid volunteers say they've finally answered a nagging geological question: What's the longest natural arch in the world?

The answer, they say, is Landscape Arch in Arches National Park in southeastern Utah.

Of course, it all depends on how you measure it. But members of the all-volunteer Natural Arch and Bridge Society spent years developing a standardized measurement that looks at the widest horizontal opening in each arch — not the arch itself.

Using that yardstick, they found that Landscape Arch spanned about 290 feet. Kolob Arch in Zion National Park came in at 3 feet shorter.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Moab Arts Festival

The annual Moab Arts Festival is held every Memorial Day Weekend. This year it will run Saturday from 10 am to 8 pm and Sunday from 10 am to 6 pm.

The festival offers artistic on display and for sale including jewelry, pottery, wood, sculpture, clothing, fine art and photography.

There will also be a kid-o-rama, music, entertainment, taiko drummers and a food court.

Events will be held in Swanny City Park, 400 North 100 West, in Moab.

See the festival website or call 435-259-2742 for more information.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Memorial Day Preview

Memorial Day is a low-keyed holiday in Utah. There will be several events hosted by communities and organizations, and plenty of family picnics, campouts and recreational activities.

This is a popular family holiday. Memorial Day marks the unofficial start of summer and many people will be fishing, boating, hiking, camping and engaging in other outdoor sports.

Popular campgrounds will fill up early. Many campgrounds are first-come, first-served and they will start filling on Thursday afternoon. Arrive early if you hope to get a site. Campgrounds that accept reservations may have some openings, if you book immediately.

Low-elevation areas in southern Utah will have summer-like temperatures. In northern Utah the weather will still be spring-like, with chilly nights, so be prepared.

Boat ramps will be busy at our popular reservoirs, including Lake Powell, Strawberry, Jordanelle, Deer Creek and Otter Creek.

Lake Powell is an attractive destination, even through the marinas will be crowded. It is a huge reservoir and you can always boat away from the crowds. Arrive early, if you can.

At Powell, the upper lake won't be as crowded and it offers some of the best fishing. The Colorado River is pumping muddy water into the lake, and muddy conditions may extend downloake almost to Good Hope Bay. But the fishing will be great in the area where muddy river water gives way to clear lake water.

The official launch ramp at Hite is still not usable but it is possible to launch on an old roadbed near the old marina. However, there is considerable floating debris in the area and so boating is difficult.

Here are some great places that won't be as crowded.
Flaming Gorge
Bear Lake
Red Fleet
Anywhere in Utah's west desert

Boulder Mountain is starting to open up. Lakes on the side of the mountain should be accessible and ice-free. Boulder Top is still not accessible.

Uinta Mountain high lakes are not accessible but lower-elevation lakes usually start to open up about this time of year.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Grand Canyon North Rim Will Open Friday

The National Park Service will open facilities at Grand Canyon North Rim on May 15. Below are excerpts from this press release, provided by the Park Service.

The Arizona Department of Transportation will open Highway 67 to the North Rim of Grand Canyon National Park on Friday, May 15 by 7:00 a.m. Grand Canyon Lodge North Rim, a Forever Resorts property and Grand Canyon Trail Rides will also commence their season operations on May 15, continuing through noon on October 16, 2009. Grand Canyon Lodge North Rim operations include lodging, camper services, food services, groceries and a service station. All concessions facilities will open at 10:00 a.m. with the exception of the dining room which will open at 11:30 a.m. for lunch. Lodge check-in will commence at 4:00 p.m.

All services provided by the National Park Service including the Visitor Center, Grand Canyon Association bookstore, backcountry permit reservations, and campground will be available on May 15th at 8:00 a.m. The first evening program offered by the National Park Service will be on May 15, at 8:00 p.m. in the Auditorium. The first scheduled daily program, on the California condor, will be on the back porch of the Grand Canyon Lodge at 4:00 p.m. All ranger programs will be listed in “The Guide” (the North Rim: 2009 Season), a free publication distributed at the North Entrance Station, North Rim Visitor Center and other contact stations in the park.

Read the complete press release.

Monday, May 11, 2009

The Best of Lake Powell

I just returned from a great weekend trip to Lake Powell. The weather was perfect, conditions at the lake are superb and we had an enjoyable time.

My group included 3 people who had never been to the lake and so we did some sight seeing, trying to show them highlights. We went out of Bullfrog and boated uplake one day, then downlake the next. I pulled people on play tubes and we enjoyed frolicking in the water.

So, here’s my question: Where are the most scenic spots on the lake?

I wanted to show these people the best of Lake Powell and so we hit some of my favorites (my list is below). The lake is huge and you can never see it all in one trip. I bought a season pass and so I'll be going back.

I'm curious to hear about other people's favorite places on the lake. Join the discussion by submitting a comment.

Dave's Lake Powell favorites:
- Most awe-inspiring: Rainbow Bridge
- Most scenic on the entire lake: Padre Bay
- Second most scenic on the lake: Escalante arm
- Most scenic near Wahweap: Navajo Canyon
- Most scenic near Bullfrog: Lost Eden Canyon
- Best hike: West Canyon
- Best fishing: canyons on the San Juan arm
- Second best fishing: Good Hope Bay area

Best camping: That varies from trip to trip, depending on the lake's level.

Thursday, May 07, 2009

Great Salt Lake Bird Festival

The Great Salt Lake Bird Festival will run May 14-18 this year. It includes workshops, field trips, presentations, food, games, and fun for the entire family. Events are held at various locations around the Great Salt Lake and Antelope Island. This year's keynote speaker is Scott Weidensaul.

The festival is centered in Farmington, Utah, at the Davis County Events Center (151 South 1100 West). Workshops and many activities will be held there. Field trips take people to prime spots to observe birds and other wildlife (some of which are not open to the general public).

The festival includes many activities geared specifically for kids, with plenty of opportunity for hands-on learning.

See the festival website for details.

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Fishing Heats Up Now That The Weather Is Nice

Fishing is becoming very good at several Utah waters, now that temperatures have warmed and the rain has stopped (at least for a few days).

Ice has pulled back at Strawberry and Scofield reservoirs and people are fishing the resulting open water. "Ice-off" is considered one of the best times to fish those two reservoirs. Big trout cruise along the edges of ice sheets and readily take baits or lures.

The ice will be completely gone from both reservoirs within a few days.

Lake Powell is red hot right now for smallmouth bass fishing. The bass are in shallow, spawning areas so they are easy to find. The are aggressive and hit jigs or lures. Smallmouth can be found in spots where broken rock comes down into the water. Largemouth bass are found near brush.

Fish are running bigger at Powell this year. It looks like success will be a little slower, but fish will be fat and healthy. A new Utah-record crappie was caught there recently.

A "little slower" at Lake Powell still means fishing will be great. Instead of catching 70 stripers during an afternoon, you may only catch 50.

Our streams are now running high from spring snowmelt. Streams are dangerous at this time of year, so take care. Most streams are fishable but the high water has displaced bugs that are normally found on or near the surface. Talk to the guys in the fly shops for the latest information on water flows and patterns.

Me, I'm heading to Powell for a long weekend. Conditions look perfect. I'll be sending trip updates via Twitter while I'm down there. Follow me on Twitter.

- Dave

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Golden Spike Anniversary Celebration

May 10 will mark the 140th anniversary of the driving of the last spike, completing the first transcontinental railroad. The completion of the railroad effectively ended the Old West period in American history and opened up the continent for expansion.

The annual anniversary celebration will be held on May 10 at Golden Spike National Historic Site, Promontory, Utah. Events will be run from 9 am to 5 pm.

There will be several demonstration runs by the historic steam locomotives, two historically correct reenactments of the last spike ceremony, a community band and several other events. The featured speaker will be the Hon. Michael Kwan of the American Chinese Community, from Taylorsville, UT. Catering is being offered by Culinary Concepts.

Monday, May 04, 2009

Utah's Camping Season

Hwy 163 in Monument Valley

Here are more question and comments, submitted by visitors to our website.

Question: I would like to know when the state park opens for camping for the season.
- Suzanne

Answer: Most Utah state park campgrounds are open year-round. They become very busy at this time of year and so advanced reservations are encouraged. To reserve a site, call 800-322-3770 toll free from outside the Salt Lake area, or (801) 322-3770 from the Salt Lake area.

Many Forest Service campgrounds are located at higher elevations where snow prevents access during winter. Many such campgrounds are open from mid- or late-May through September. Check our website for details about specific campgrounds.

Question: In the movie, Forrest Gump, I saw a scenic road in Utah where Gump was walking on it with people following him. Can you tell me the name and location of that place please?. Thanks.
- Isam

Answer: Gump is running along Hwy 163 in Monument Valley when he decides to end his cross-country trek. He stops, turns to the group following him and says he is tired and has decided to go home.

Hwy 163 showcases our classic western landscape. It has appeared in countless Hollywood moves and TV shows.

Comment: We would like to say how great the Park rangers at Goblin Valley State Park are. We had a hospital emergency and cell phone wouldn't work in the area. The rangers were willing to locate our family members and get them to a phone to use. We were so greatful for them and the service they gave to us.
- Gary

Friday, May 01, 2009

Zion Narrows Reopens To Kayaking

During spring runoff, some kayakers run the Virgin River through the Narrows in Zion Park. Last week the area was closed because multiple groups encountered trouble making the run.

Now the National Park Service is reopening the gorge, but giving serious warnings about safety. Here's the Park Service news release:

April 30, 2009
For Immediate Release

During the weekend of April 24 and 25, five parties attempted to complete a whitewater kayaking trip through the Zion Narrows. Four of the groups had difficulties which caused them to spend the night. Two groups lost boats and required rescue. As a result of these incidents, the National Park Service temporarily closed the Narrows to kayaking. On Friday, May 1st, the area will re-open.

Several factors contributed to last weekend's incidents. Several groups underestimated the difficulty associated with the trip. The Narrows is a class V route and boaters should possess class V, or expert, whitewater paddling skills to attempt the trip. At some flows, the rapids may qualify for an easier classification, but the consequences of any issue including becoming separated from your boat are severe.

The river flow through the first third of the trip is minimal and the length of time required to reach the junction with Deep Creek can be another difficulty. Kayak parties are encouraged to bring the equipment to camp overnight in the Narrows, if necessary. To complete the trip in one day, parties should launch from Chamberlain's Ranch before 8 am.

The Zion Narrows is an incredibly remote area during any time of year. High water makes the canyon even more difficult to access. If a rescue is possible, it will not occur quickly. Kayakers should be prepared to survive without assistance for a minimum of 48 hours.

Zion National Park Superintendent Jock Whitworth stresses that all individuals choosing to enter Zion's backcountry are responsible for their own safety and kayakers must possess good preparedness, planning and skill sets to be able to safely enjoy the Zion Narrows.

If additional groups encounter significant difficulties, the Narrows will be closed for the remainder of the spring kayaking season and the park will re-consider how the activity is managed.

Primitive Camping In Utah

We receive many interesting questions through our website, including this one:

There used to be places near Upper Provo River, in Logan Canyon and in the Bear Lake Valley where you go off the road aways and camp rustically to avoid the crowds of established campgrounds. Could you tell me if there is anyplace like that in Northern Utah anymore?

- Kathleen

Answer: Yes, there are many such places. Much of northern Utah is National Forest land and is open to camping.

In heavily used areas, camping is restricted to developed campgrounds. That is the case along Hwy 150 in the Uintas and Hwy 89 in Logan Canyon, and other popular areas. But if you drive the backroads away from the developed areas, you will find many spots where you can camp away from it all.

The same is true on the Forest Service and BLM land in southern Utah. If you drive dirt roads, you will almost always come to spots where you are free to camp. There won't be any facilities, no toilets or drinking water, so you need to be self-sufficient. But that is part of the fun.

In much of Utah you can backpack away from the roads, and camp on public land along the way.

Private land is usually closed to camping.

It is important to find out about the areas you plan to visit. Who owns the land (is it private or is it Forest Service or BLM)? Are there special regulations? Most regulations are posted on roadside signs, so pay attention as you travel. Stop at area visitor centers and learn about the popular spots, and the backcountry, and about special regulations.

Camping is extremely popular in Utah. It is inexpensive and can be very enjoyable. It's great fun to escape the crowds and enjoy the backcountry.
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