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Utah Travel Headlines

Monday, November 30, 2009

Moab Rock Art and Dinosaur Tracks

Moab Rock Art
Rock Art along Hwy 279

Corona Arch
Scenic Corona Arch
On Black Friday, my goal was to get as far away from the malls as possible and so I headed for Moab - to hunt for rock art and dinosaur tracks.

We enjoyed a great hike in mild sunshine. The weather nice. We wore light jackets early in the day but soon shed them. This is the perfect season to hike, bike, jeep and explore the southern Utah red rock country.

There are many rock art sites in the Moab area, some easy to find and some more challenging. We opted for easy on this trip, to accommodate guests who are not into long treks into rugged backcountry. We simply drove down Scenic Byway 129, stopping at pullouts and looking for art on the many vertical rock panels.

Many of the best sites are identified by road signs and so they are easy to find.

At one site, about 6 miles down the road, we found several panels interesting rock art and also some dinosaur footprint fossils, as you can see from the photos at right.

This particular site is adjacent to the Poison Spider Trailhead. If you look carefully, you can see some rock art from the trailhead. Hike to it and then follow that contour and you will come to more rock art, and also a beautiful, unmarked dinosaur track. Other dinosaur tracks are marked so they are more visible and are located on a contour a little lower down the cliff.

Continuing down the road, we did the short, moderate hike to Bowtie and Corona arches. These are very scenic formations along a well-marked trail.

Moab is a popular destination during the fall, but visitation is now starting to fall off. Many motels offer reduced rates for stays during the winter. Nights are getting chilly now but it is still pleasant to camp if you have good equipment.

This is a great time to play in the Moab area.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Turkey Dinners and Holiday Lights

Happy Thanksgiving, from all of us at We hope you have plenty to be thankful for.

The "Lights On" program in downtown Salt Lake City will be held Friday evening, Nov 27. At about 5:25 pm, Christmas lights will go be turned on throughout the downtown area. The accumulative effect is spectacular, as more than a million bulbs come to life to usher in the Christmas season.

An official ceremony will be held at Gallivan Center, 239 S. Main.

The Grand America Hotel, the new 222 Main high-rise tower and other Salt Lake buildings will host activities and lighting displays.

At nearby Temple Square, the Christmas lights will also go on Friday evening at dusk. They provide a very popular display attracting visitors and residents alike.

This Deseret News article provides details about these events.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Real Salt Lake Takes MLS Title

Utah is celebrating today, after the Real Salt Lake Major League Soccer Team won the league championship yesterday in Seattle.

Below are excerpts from this ESPN report on the game.

But it all worked out splendidly for Real Salt Lake, which took down the glamour guys from the Galaxy in the second MLS Cup final decided by penalty kicks.

The overachievers from one of the league's smallest markets overcame ample hardship thanks to superior fitness and, even more, to a goalkeeper who specializes in turning away spot shots. The Utah side also had just enough shooters able to be calm under pressure, as a blue-collar club with no real front-line international stars claimed a 5-4 edge in a tiebreaker that went seven shooters deep.

This Salt Lake Tribune article gives a local angle. Below are excerpts.

When Russell fired home the penalty kick that delivered Real Salt Lake its first Major League Soccer championship on Sunday night, he spun around and saw five years of faith and perseverance charging right at him -- in the form of three dozen joyous coaches and teammates roaring in celebration of a shootout victory over the star-studded Los Angeles Galaxy that a month ago nobody could have seen coming.

"Nothing in the world can describe it," Russell recalled. "There are no words that can describe it. It's just utter elation. Just pure ... you turn around and you see those guys running at you ... there's just no way to describe it."

Friday, November 20, 2009

Snowbird Is Open, Park City and Brian Head Open Tomorrow

Snowbird Ski and Summer Resort opened for skiing and boarding today. Solitude, Brighton and Wolf Creek Utah are already open. Other resorts will open as follows.

Park City Mountain Resort - Nov 21
Brian Head Resort - Nov 21
Snowbasin - Nov 26
The Canyons - Nov 27
Powder Mountain - Nov 29
Deer Valley - Dec 5
Sundance - Dec 11
Alta Ski Area - TBA
Beaver Mountain - TBA

Below are excerpts from a news release provided by Snowbird.

Snowbird will open at 9 a.m. with the Gadzoom chairlift accessing intermediate and advanced terrain and Chickadee accessing beginner slopes; additional terrain will be evaluated as weather conditions permit.

A series of storms are forecasted into next week along with cold temperatures that should accommodate snowmaking. Last year, Snowbird received 621 inches of The Greatest Snow on Earth® and had a 195-day season with skiing and riding from Nov. 7 to May 31, the longest in Utah.

Snowbird is offering an early season ticket price of $52. Early-season lodging and lift packages are currently available starting at $99/person through much of December by calling (800) 232-9542 or visiting

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Spectacular Lightshow As Meteor Hits Utah

A large meteor exploded over Utah early Wednesday morning, creating a fireball and light plumes that were seen from many points around the Western US.

After exploding, the fragments produced intense light as they burned while coming through earth's atmosphere. Apparently one or more fragments hit ground in Utah's west desert - probably on military land in Dugway Proving Grounds.

Many news articles have been published about the meteor. KSL has photos and a video, along with text descriptions. Below are excerpts.

At exactly 12:07, people from all over the western United States watched as the bolide meteor crashed into Earth's atmosphere. In some areas, the flash of light was so bright it caused light-sensor street lamps to shut off.

"I'm currently driving, but I just saw a giant blue flash in the sky, and it came down into the city," a caller from Ogden said.

A caller in Bountiful told dispatchers, "It flashed from the west, and it lit up the whole freakin' neighborhood."

Don White was in Wyoming and told KSL Newsradio for a moment he suspected a nuclear strike. "With something that brilliant and that fast, it was like, whoa, did we just get hit or something? It would have been some bigger noise I guess if a nuclear device had gone off," he said.

When a meteor enters the atmosphere, it gives off a lot of heat and light. Folks at the Clark Planetarium say this rock was big--between the size of a microwave and washer-dryer unit.

The Deseret News has this report. Below are excepts.

Patrick Wiggins, NASA Ambassador to Utah, said a seismologist has contacted him and believes the meteor impacted Utah's west desert.

The seismologist said he triangulated the terminal burst location based on seven Utah seismic stations, and his calculations put it in the general vicinity of Granite Peak in Tooele County, about 30 miles southwest of Dugway.

"Unfortunately, that puts it on Dugway Proving Grounds, so I doubt anyone will be doing a search there anytime soon, though one person said he's going to see if permission for an expedition could be arranged."

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Biggest Loser Returns to Utah Ranch

The Biggest Loser Resort at Fitness Ridge is getting lots of press lately, as the associated popular TV show heads toward its season finale. The resort is located near St George, in southern Utah. reports:

"Biggest Loser returns to its Utah Ranch tonight again, the Biggest Loser Resort at Fitness Ridge. The Biggest Loser Resort at Fitness Ridge is a stunning Utah Ranch that joined the TV series in 2009."

"[T]he company received international recognition naming "Fitness Ridge Resort & Spa" as one of the top 10 spas in the world. It wasn’t long before the producers of NBC’s hit television show, “TheBiggest Loser ” took notice, too. After offering several contestant prize giveaways on the show, Fitness Ridge entered a marketing and license agreement with NBC."

Thaindian News reports:

"This resort is aimed for providing show competitors and other clients with some of the best weight losing facilities to be known. They also want to ensure that the competitors of the ‘Biggest Loser’ show and the clients who come to the resort receive equal treatment. People who want to lose weight by following the crash diets adopted by the show yet do not want to get captured on the camera, can come to this resort. It is certainly a great news and people are searching the internet wildly to check the photographs of the resort and know more about it."

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Explore the Moon House Ruin

moon house ruinHiking conditions are great right now in the low-elevation deserts of southern Utah. Mountain areas throughout Utah picked up snow last week, and will pick up more this weekend as another storm approaches, but deserts around Zion Park, Capitol Reef, Grand Staircase and Moab are dry and pleasant.

I hiked in the Monument Valley area last weekend and enjoyed a great trip. We pushed into a remote area on the edge of Cedar Mesa, to an interesting Anasazi (Ancient Puebloan) ruin complex. As you can see from my photos, the ruins are spectacular. Many of the structures are well-preserved and show how these ancient Native Americans used local stone, motor and timber to create large buildings housing several families.

The Anasazi people thrived for hundreds of years in the rugged canyons of the Four Corners area. The canyons here are so remote and rugged, modern man finds the area inhospitable. Today people like to explore the canyons using 4X4 vehicles, technical climbing gear and the latest backpacking equipment. We play here but we don't live here. Hundreds of thousands of acres of remote canyon country in SE Utah is totally uninhabited by modern man.

I am fascinated by the ancient ruins, the rock art, and by the people who created it. Why did they choose to live in this harsh environment? How did they raise families on the edge of sheer cliffs? Why did they migrate away from this area, simply walking away from their homes and belongings?

There are hundreds of fascinating ruins and rock art sites in this area. As a hobby, I seek them out and photograph them. I'm getting quite a collection.

People occasionally ask me to publish exact directions so they can find these sites. Some request GPS coordinates. I'm not going to post specific directions on this website but I'm happy to share information with people who convince me they will be responsible when they visit these areas.

Many of these ruins have stood for over 1,000 years. Sadly, many are now being destroyed by enthusiasts who "love them to death." It is important for people to learn about the rules and regulations governing these priceless relics. Visitors are not allowed to climb into the structures or to touch rock art. Some enthusiasts have damaged ancient rock art as they try to make rubbings, to duplicate the image on paper they can take home. The rule is look, take photos but don't touch.

A group of individuals were recently arrested and charged with plundering artifacts from this area. Their cases are now progressing through the court system. Removing artifacts, even simply taking pottery shards, is a serious crime.

These ruins represent a significant part of America's heritage and culture. Many are located in remote backcountry spots where there are no rangers on patrol. It is up to us to protect them. The best way to do that is by educating people who want to explore here. See these pages for more information.

Ruins and Rock Art in the Monument Valley/SE Utah Area
Searching For The Wolf Man (Rock Art)
Cedar Mesa Backcountry Permit Information

Monday, November 16, 2009

Utah Leads US In Happiness Study

People in Utah are the happiest in the US, according to a new study. USA Today has this article about the study. Below are excerpts.

Looking for happiness -- it's family-friendly communities for some, tropical paradise or the rugged West for others. A survey of Americans' well-being, conducted by Gallup in partnership with Healthways and America's Health Insurance Plans, gives high marks to Utah, which boasts lots of outdoor recreation for its youthful population.

Speaking of outdoor recreation, the islands of Hawaii took second place and Wyoming was third in the poll that rated such variables as mental, physical and economic health.

"It's not just about physical health," said Eric Nielsen, a spokesman for Gallup. "It's about their ability to contribute at work and be more productive, and it's about feeling engaged in a community and wanting to improve that community."

The massive survey involved more than 350,000 interviews. Examples of the questions include: Did you smile or laugh a lot yesterday? Are you satisfied or dissatisfied with your job or the work you do? Did you eat healthy all day yesterday? Do you feel safe walking alone at night in the city or area where you live?

In general, highest well-being scores came from states in the West while the lowest were concentrated in the South. The happiest congressional districts were some of the wealthiest, while the lowest scores came in some of the poorest.

But Harter said that he believed geographic divides could be overstated and even the states with the highest scores had significant work to do to improve certain aspects of their residents' health and happiness.

Oakley's Road Island Diner

This was sent to us by a reader, Keith W. We found it interesting and decided to publish it. - Dave

Are you aware that Oakley's ROAD ISLAND DINER is Utah's only Diner/Restaurant listed on the National U.S. Park Service Registry of Historic Places? It is the only authentic vintage Art-Deco Pre-War streamlined diner west of the Mississippi!

Our neighbor, Wyoming's Tourism Website is showcasing their "Moondance Diner" which is not on the National Registry and is not an authentic diner in the true sense of the word. We truly have a unique roadside attraction in this Diner and I think you'll agree it deserves javascript:void(0)a listing/article on the Utah State Tourism site. Please visit the website to see the history and significance of this Diner and call me for more specifics.


Thursday, November 12, 2009

This Has Been A Great Open Water Fishing Season In Utah

Here in Utah we've enjoyed great, mild fall weather, but that is about to change with a cold storm approaching. I've spent many days out hiking and fishing, really enjoying the season.

My most recent trip was to Strawberry Reservoir, where we enjoyed catching big cutthroat and rainbow trout. Strawberry is one of Utah's best fisheries and it is particularly good during the fall. The photo at right shows one fish we caught. To see more watch the new video clip I just put at the top of our Strawberry Reservoir page.

Fishing has been very good this season at many Utah waters. Strawberry - well, I think it is fishing as good or better than it ever has. Lake Powell was better this year than it has been for years, and will probably be improve more next year. Striped bass are in great shape at Powell and now it looks like the walleye are making a comeback.

The Green and Provo rivers have both offered excellent fly fishing this season.

The approaching storm will drop snow on the boat ramp at Strawberry, and along the banks of our trout streams. Lake Powell probably won't get snow but the cold weather will slow fishing success for most species. Our open-water season is coming to a close.

Ice fishing is just a few weeks away now and it should also be good this year.

- Dave Webb

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

View Wild Bighorn Sheep

The Utah Division of Wildlife Resources is sponsoring a Bighorn Sheep Festival, Nov 20-21 in the Moab area. The wildlife management agency provided this information. (Photo courtesy of Brent Stettler.)

November is the best time of the year to see desert bighorn sheep. It's their breeding season, and the time of year when rams engage in head-butting and other rituals to attract the attention of the ladies (female sheep called ewes).
"The way the rams act this time of the year is fun and exciting to watch," says Brent Stettler, regional conservation outreach manager for the Division of Wildlife Resources.

That's why Stettler and other DWR staff have chosen Nov. 20 and 21 as the dates for the 2009 Bighorn Sheep Watch.

The festival will be held in and near Moab in sunny southeastern Utah.
The event is free. Stettler encourages everyone to attend.

What to bring
When you come to the event, bring a pair of binoculars or a spotting scope along with snacks, drinks and a camera.

DWR biologists will watch the sheep before the event. They'll guide you to locations where they've observed bighorns recently.

If you don't have your own binoculars or a spotting scope, don't worry: the biologists have extra spotting scopes and binoculars you can use.

Nov. 20 — learn about the sheep
The festival begins on Friday evening, Nov. 20, at the Moab Information Center. The center is at the corner of Center and Main streets in Moab.

At 7 p.m., Justin Shannon, regional wildlife manager for the DWR, will present a PowerPoint program about bighorn sheep ecology and their life history. Shannon did his graduate thesis on this very topic.

Shannon will also have bighorn sheep skulls and horns you can see and handle, and he'll be available to answer your questions.

Nov. 21 — see the sheep!
The fun really gets rolling on the morning of Nov. 21.

At 8 a.m., DWR biologists and festivalgoers will meet again at the Moab information Center. Biologists will divide everyone into groups. Then the groups will travel to various areas near Moab in search of desert bighorn sheep.

If you bring your own vehicle, you can leave the group at any time. If you ride in a vehicle with one of the DWR biologists, plan on the field trip ending by noon or early afternoon. "You can almost always see bighorn from asphalt roads in Moab Canyon and along the Colorado River, so don't worry about your vehicle's off-road capability," Stettler says.

Because bighorn sheep are wild and unpredictable, the DWR can't guarantee that sheep will be seen at close range, or even at all. "We almost always see sheep," Stettler says. "But even if we don't, you can still enjoy the unmatched beauty of the Colorado River Scenic Byway."

For more information, contact Stettler at 435-613-3707 or

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Take A Dive At Bonneville Seabase

Writing in Sunset Magazine, Peter Fish observes: "What Utah does not have ― and you may have noticed this if you've ever visited here ― is an ocean. An ocean of any kind. Which is why (Linda) Nelson and her husband and dive-shop partner George Sanders had to create a substitute."

Fish wrote this article about Bonneville Seabase, a series of naturally warm, deep pools just south of the Great Salt Lake. The water's chemistry is similar to ocean water and the pools have been stocked with a large number of ocean fish. Below are excerpts from Fish's article.

What Nelson was looking for was a place to teach scuba diving. Once an exotic, expensive sport, diving has become a mainstream pastime in the United States, with more than 3 million adherents. And Utah is a scuba center: By some estimates, it ranks as one of the top 15 states with the highest percentage of divers per capita in the nation. "We have a lot of outdoorsy people," Nelson explains.

Seabase has four main dive areas: White Rocks Bay, Habitat Bay, Bubbling Sands, and the Abyss. White Rocks Bay is roofed so divers can use it during winter months when the air temperature hovers at zero. Habitat Bay teems with pompano and puffers and angelfish, many of which are rescued fish ― some, for example, retirees from the flashy aquariums at Las Vegas casinos. There are also two nurse sharks.

Read the entire article.

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Solitude Will Open For Skiing On Friday

Solitude Ski Resort gave its pass holders a sneak preview of the upcoming season by opening its lifts on Halloween. The resort has moved up its opening day, which is now officially set for Nov 6. It will be the first Utah resort to open for the season.

Skiers showed up in customs to ski on Halloween. KSL TV was there and shot video you can see on this page.

Recent storms have dropped some snow in the Cottonwood Canyons, and Solitude is making snow to add to that base. The Nov 6 opening will be one of the earliest in Utah ski history.

Below are the latest opening dates for other resorts, as reported by Ski Utah.

Alta Ski Area - Nov 20
Beaver Mountain Resort - TBA
Brian Head Resort - Nov 21
Brighton Ski Resort - Open
The Canyons - Nov 27
Deer Valley Resort - Dec 5
Park City Mountain Resort - Nov 21
Powder Mountain - Nov 28
Snowbasin, A Sun Valley Resort - Nov 26
Snowbird Ski and Summer Resort - Nov 21
Solitude Mountain Resort - Open
Sundance Resort - Dec 11
Wolf Creek Utah Resort - TBA

Monday, November 02, 2009

Extreme Sunshine Forecast For Utah This Week

Utah will enjoy beautiful Indian Summer weather this week, making it ideal for all kinds of outdoor activities - from biking and hiking to golf and fishing.

Southern Utah will be particularly nice. In the St George/Zion Park area temperatures are expected to reach into the mid-80s during the early part of the week and cool slightly to the upper 70s later. There will be nary a cloud until Friday night.

Moab temperatures will push into the mid-70s.

Northern Utah will also be very nice with highs around 70 early on and then cooling to the mid-60s. Showers may move in by Saturday night, but things look awful good until then.

I can't decide - should I go fishing or hiking? Either way, I'm doing something. Got to get out and enjoy this weather because the snows of winter aren't far away.

- Dave
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