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Friday, January 29, 2010

Travelocity Pits Utah Against Tahoe

Travelocity has an interesting promotion going, asking viewers to help its "Roaming Gnome" decide where to go to cure cabin fever.

The Gnome is debating whether to ski in Utah or Tahoe. Travelocity is asking fans to become a Facebook friend of the Gnome and vote for their favorite destination. One lucky voter will win a ski trip for two. Go here to friend the Gnome and vote.

Ski Utah is encouraging its fans to get out and vote. Local newspapers are also on the stump. Below are just a few of the many headlines being generated:

First Tracks! Online Ski Magazine has this more balanced report. Below are excerpts.

"Winning this competition could mean great things for Utah and its wonderful ski resorts," says Jessica Kunzer, Director of Communications for Ski Utah. "Please vote today!"

"There really is no comparison," adds Shawn Stinson of the Salt Lake Convention & Visitors Bureau. "Taking into account Salt Lake City International Airport’s accessibility, skiing and/or snowboarding on 'The Greatest Snow On Earth', and the ability to experience a truly unique après-ski experience in Salt Lake City -- excellent dining and nightlife, fabulous cultural arts, pro sporting events, etc. -- the choice is quite simple: a Ski Utah vacation wins hands-down."

The folks marketing Lake Tahoe skiing have come out swinging as well.

"We are asking for the public to help vote for Lake Tahoe and steer the Roaming Gnome in the right direction towards a totally unique and diverse destination that offers a ski vacation experience he'll never forget," said John Wagnon, president of Ski Lake Tahoe. "Given his rock star lifestyle and taste for the finer things in life, we think the Roaming Gnome would prefer to relish in Lake Tahoe's head-high powder, experience the late nights at our 24/7 casinos and night clubs and work on a sunny California goggle tan after some bluebird powder days."

Thursday, January 28, 2010

The Little-Known Little Arch In Red Cliffs Reserve

Red Cliffs Reserve Arch
Red Cliffs Reserve Arch 2
Red Cliffs Reserve Arch 3
Utah is famous for its natural arches - gravity-defying spans of stone that arc above a gapping void where rock has eroded away.

I find them fascinating. They are always beautiful and I enjoy hunting them down.

I was a bit surprised when I stumbled upon the little-know beauty shown the photos that illustrate this blog. It is located in the Red Cliffs Desert Reserve, near St George, in a region where there aren't many arches.

Arches National Park has the largest concentration of natural arches in the world. There are also a few well-known arches scattered through Canyonlands, Capitol Reef, Grand Staircase, Glen Canyon and the San Rafael Swell. But Southwestern Utah has only a few, including massive Kolob Arch in Zion Park. Kolob Arch was long thought to be the largest arch in the world, until careful measurements showed it is slightly smaller than delicate Landscape Arch.

The Red Cliffs Reserve includes an area south of I-15, east of St George. It is protected because it contains critical habitat for the desert tortoise and other species.

The arch is located in an area of sand and sandstone, east of what is called the Babylon Road (east of the town of Leeds). A primitive camping area has been designated up against the red rock. From the camping area a trail drops south down to the Virgin River. The trail cuts between sandstone fins and other features.

If you follow that trail you will go right under the arch. The trail is obvious and easy to follow. It involves some mild scrambling. It is only about 1/2 mile to the arch.

This is a great area for winter hikes. It's also popular for riding horses. Access road is sandy. You need a high clearance vehicle to drive close to the campground. Depending on conditions, you may need a 4X4 to get right up to the campground.

I took these photos in mid-January and conditions were great for hiking. Summer temperatures get very hot.

Sheriff 's deputies patrol the area occasionally. They come in on horseback - that's the most efficient means of locomotion in the sand and rock.

It's a fun spot worth exploring.

- Dave

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Utah Blaze Are Back

The Utah Blaze are back and will begin playing arena football on April 9th.

The Blaze will play in the Arena Football One league. The E Center is their home. The team is coached by Ernesto Purnsley and is owned by Dave Affleck.

ABC4 has this news story about the team. Below are excerpts.

The Utah Blaze played three seasons under different ownership in the Arena Football League (AFL) before the league ceased operations in December 2008. Now the team, under new ownership, is back as a member of the newly formed Arena Football One.

“We have a lot to live up to. The Blaze was a great team and a great organization and they were one of the most thought of organizations in the AFL. We’re working to do our best to do everything that the Blaze stood for,” Affleck said.

Arena Football One, which was organized by the people who originally established the AFL 23 years ago, bid for the assets of the AFL, including trademarks and logos, and in December 2009 won the bid, paving the way for the use of the Blaze name.

See the team website for the schedule and other information.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Still Time For A Sundance Experience

The Sundance Film Festival is generating plenty of hype - from star sightings to movie finds. The festival runs through Jan 31, so there is still time to get in on the fun.

See the festival website for schedules and tips on how to do Sundance.

The LA Times has this interesting collection of photos from the festival.

Countless news articles are being published daily giving Sundance glitz and gossip.

Below are some of my favorite headlines:

- Bill Gates spotted table-dancing at Sundance party?
- Sundance Films Turn Cameras on the Paparazzi
- Jon Gosselin displays diva tendencies at Sundance
- Fergie and Josh Duhamel: Sundance Bound

Monday, January 25, 2010

New Snow Creates Great Ski Conditions, High Avalanche Danger

Ski conditions are great at all of our resorts, after massive snowfall last week. Many resorts received 2 or 3 or 4 feet of new snow. Fresh powder fell virtually every day last week. Another storm is expected to move in tomorrow and Wednesday. See our snow report for the latest totals.

Avalanche danger is high on steep slopes in backcountry areas all around the state. A man died in an avalanche yesterday while skiing out of bounds near Snowbasin. Read details.

Avalanche control work is performed regularly at developed ski resorts and along major roadways, so danger is minimal in those locations. In other areas danger is high. See the Utah Avalanche Center website for info and tips on how to stay safe in the backcountry.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Monster Storm Dumps on Southern Utah

Monticello Utah with snowSchools were closed in southeastern Utah today because of heavy snow. Susan Taylor sent us the photo at right, which shows the view from the Courthouse window in Monticello. She said there was about 3 feet on the ground and more coming. See more of her photos.

Heavy snow is expected through Saturday in mountain areas throughout Utah. Valleys could also receive heavy snow. The St George area has received heavy rain.

A winter storm warning is in effect until 8 am Saturday for SE Utah. Other storm warnings are in effect for other areas of Utah. Check weather conditions before traveling.

Brian Head Resort near Cedar City picked up 22 inches of snow during a 48-hour period. Solitude, near Salt Lake City, picked up 25 inches during that period, with more coming.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Desert Pearl Inn Named Best in US for Families has released its 2010 Travelers' Choice Awards, listing top properties in a number of categories based on millions of real and unbiased reviews and opinions from travelers posted on its website.

The Desert Pearl Inn, located just outside Zion National Park, was named the 2nd best family hotel in the world and the top family hotel in the US.

The top family hotel in the world is the Sirkeci Konak Hotel in Turkey, according to the website.

We congratulate the Desert Pearl and its staff.

See the full listings.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Toroweap In Winter

Toroweap in Grand CanyonI like winter - I like snow and snow sports. But this winter has been exceptionally cold. In northern Utah the skies have long been grey from storm and smog.

I've been itching to get away, to take a timeout from winter. So we loaded the Jeep and headed south, to a remote area called Toroweap, in the backcountry in Grand Canyon National Park. We drove backroads, hiked, enjoyed amazing views and soaked up the sunshine. It was a great trip over the long holiday weekend.

Toroweap is one of Grand Canyon's most dramatic viewpoints because the cliffs are sheer, almost completely vertical, falling some 3,000 feet to the Colorado River. In most other areas the canyon is wide and it stairsteps to the bottom. For example, at the famous South Rim, the canyon is about 10 miles wide and it falls off a series of terraces before reaching the river.

At Toroweap the canyon is only 1 mile wide and there are no stairsteps. It's pretty much straight down. There are no guardrails and standing on the edge is a dizzying experience. People who are afraid of heights stand way back.

At an elevation of about 4,540 feet, Toroweap is one of the lowest viewpoints at Grand Canyon. The North Rim visitor area elevation is 8,220 feet and it is closed during winter because of heavy snow. The popular South Rim has an elevation of about 7,040 feet. It gets considerable snow but is open year-round.

Toroweap in Grand CanyonToroweap seldom gets snow. Roads and trails are open year-round, except possibly during and immediately after severe storms. It is a great destination for winter hikes. We were there during the middle of January and daytime temperatures were very pleasant. We quickly shed our sweatshirts as the temperature climbed into the mid-50s.

Some winter days there are colder - you've got to watch the weather and hike during mild periods. But the area is often dry and mild when northern Utah is frigid or stormy.

Summers get very hot. Spring and fall are ideal times to hike.

We chose to stay in Kanab and make a day trip to Toroweap. We also made day trips to explore other areas. Kanab makes a great base camp to explore area national parks, monuments and recreation areas.

There is a nice primitive campground at Toroweap. Nicer that I expected. It offers camp sites, picnic tables and pit toilets, but no water or other facilities. There is a group site that can be reserved; other sites are available on a first-come basis, with no fee charged.

We hiked the Tuckup Trail, searching for a unique panel of ancient rock art. Called the Sharman Panel, the rock art is difficult to find. We tried and failed, running out of daylight before we had a chance to do an extensive search. With these short days, we just didn't have time.

So now I want to go back. On my next trip I'll camp at Toroweap so I have plenty of time to explore. I'll find the rock art and also make the steep hike down the rim to Lava Falls on the mighty Colorado River.

We never saw another person during our trip. Not another vehicle. As we hiked away from the overlook, all footprints faded. We hiked miles of trail where there were deer tracks but no human footprints.

It's a great area - I can't wait to get back down there.

- Dave Webb

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

The St. Regis Deer Crest Resort Opens At Deer Valley

The new St. Regis Deer Crest Resort is in full operation at Deer Valley - the newest luxury resort in that exclusive community.

St. Regis provided the information below. Visit the resort website for more information.

Nestled within the majestic solitude of a mountain’s beauty lives a world where unmatched amenities and gracious hospitality are rivaled only by nature’s cobalt skies and perfectly powdered ski slopes. St. Regis is proud to announce the debut of The St. Regis Deer Crest Resort, the newest address in a family of iconic destinations. Join the privileged few and be amongst the first to witness this extraordinary new chapter in the remarkable St. Regis legacy.

The resort is situated slope-side to Deer Valley’s breathtaking 2,026 acres of skiing paradise. While in residence, guests may access the resort by skis, car, or by the state-of-the-art European-crafted funicular tram. At The St. Regis Deer Crest, no detail has been overlooked. Even mountainside, guests will find a thoughtful atmosphere and impeccable service. The St. Regis butler will be present at all times, catering to each individual wish.

Monday, January 18, 2010

The Stars Come Out For Sundance

The Sundance Film Festival begins this week with activities in Park City and other communities. It runs Jan 21-31.

Over the years, the festival has attracted many notable movies and stars. The Deseret News has this article about the history of the festival and the people who make it successful. Below are excerpts.

Ground zero for star central.

That's how one Deseret News reporter referred to the streets and sidewalks of Park City for the 10 days each January when the Sundance Film Festival captures the attention of the film world.

For more than a quarter of a century, independent filmmakers have been coming to Sundance seeking an audience.

Just last year, festival organizers expressed dismay about "the celebrity- and paparazzi-laden sideshow that's become a real distraction from the Sundance Film Festival," wrote Deseret News film critic Jeff Vice.

"In fact, Redford calls such behavior 'sad and unfortunate,' insisting that it detracts from the festival's true artistic intentions.

"But despite their best efforts, the so-called star-gazing continues to remain as big a presence as the films themselves."

Read the entire article.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Lake Powell Promotion Offers Best-Ever Houseboat Rates

If you are looking for a great summer vacation deal, consider booking now for a Lake Powell Houseboat.

You can save 50% off houseboat rentals when you book now through Lake Powell Resorts and Marinas.

LA Times Travel blogger Susan Derby posted this information about the promotion. Here are excerpts:

These rates represent, according to a company statement, “the best houseboating rates ever offered at Lake Powell.” In addition, lake levels are currently high, said Cathy McKeever, director of sales and marketing for ARAMARK Parks and Destinations. The promotion code for this deal is “TAKE50.”

When: Book your boat by Jan. 18, for travel between March 12 and Oct. 12

Tested: I found the online reservations system a little unwieldy, so I called in for reservations help. For five days and four nights in late April, I was told a 46-foot Voyager (sleeps up to eight) would cost $1,429, and a 53-foot Adventurer (sleeps up to 12) would cost $1,787. These prices include taxes.

See the Lake Powell Resorts and Marinas specials page for details.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Utah Office Of Tourism Launches Winter TV Ad Campaign

Utah's Office of Tourism has launched a 20-day national cable advertising campaign highlighting winter tourism. The 30-second commercial spots, created by Struck/Axiom, star the reoccurring “snowflake characters” who are deemed worthy to fall on Utah slopes by a humorous snow judge.

"With the media turning its attention to winter sports and the upcoming Olympic Winter Games in Vancouver, Utah’s own Olympic legacy is being remembered. Now is the perfect time to promote the strengths of Utah's ski product," said Spencer Eccles, executive director of the Governor’s Office of Economic Development.

The television ads are airing on eight cable networks, including Fox News, History, Bravo, Food Network, A&E, ESPN, Travel Channel, and MSNBC. These ads are part of an overall $1.2 million campaign, which includes an online effort that began in November. The online ads also bring attention to the dining, shopping, nightlife, and family fun available during the winter season – all elements of the Utah Life Elevated® brand.

More details

View some of the Snowflake Ads

Monday, January 11, 2010

Sundance Resort Named Top Celebrity-Owned Hotel in the World

Utah's Sundance Resort tops the list of the top 10 celebrity-owned hotels in the world, as determined by TripAdvisor editors and travelers. See the rankings here.

About Sundance, TripAdvisor says:

Recommended by TripAdvisor travelers for: Romantic Retreat, Honeymoon

Situated at the base of Mount Timpanogos on 6,000 acres of rolling hills and babbling brooks, the Sundance Kid's retreat has TripAdvisor travelers raving about the resort's rustic beauty, excellent service, and outdoor activities. "Robert Redford did us all a favor by opening this resort, remaining loyal to nature, and preserving the beauty of the canyon," noted one TripAdvisor traveler.

Robert de Niro's Greenwich Hotel in NYC came in second. Olivia Newton-John's Gaia Retreat & Spa, located in Australia, placed third.

Friday, January 08, 2010

Visa Freestyle International World Cup Comes To Deer Valley

The 2010 Visa Freestyle International World Cup will be held at Deer Valley Resort next weekend, January 14-16.

Deer Valley has this information about the event.

The Ski Channel has this report. Below are excerpts.

More than 300 freestyle athletes will be descending onto Deer Valley Resort next weekend, as the ski resort will host the 2010 Visa Freestyle International World Cup, from Thursday, January 14-Saturday, January 16. The event is the second-to-last stop for athletes before the Olympic Games, and will take place on Deer Valley's lower Bald Eagle Mountain, above the Snow Park Lodge.

An evening celebration will begin (Jan 14) at 7 pm on Park City's Historic Main Street, including live entertainment by The Bravery followed by fireworks. Free parking will be available Deer Valley Resort. Please utilize the free Park City bus transportation to and from Main Street.

All events are free to the public. For those guests looking for an enhanced spectator experience, Freestyle Feast tickets are still available for Thursday's moguls competition for $65.

Thursday, January 07, 2010

Historic Agreement Protects Nine Mile Canyon Rock Art, Allows Nearby Natural Gas Development

A truce has been called in the long battle over development in the Nine Mile Canyon area, with the various participants agreeing to specific measures to protect the canyon's ancient rock art while still allowing natural gas development nearby.

The agreement is highly significant for that particular canyon, and may also signify various interest groups are willing to negotiate and compromise about other sensitive areas -- an attitude that has been lacking in the all-or-nothing war over environmental protection for vast amounts of land in southern Utah.

The agreement generated news stories carried by various media around the world. Utah's Deseret News has this comprehensive article. Below are excerpts.

With much fanfare, back-slapping and congratulatory smiles, an agreement loftily described by many as historic, precedent-setting and landmark was signed by a multitude of people with vested interests in Nine Mile Canyon.

With its 50 miles of prehistoric rock art and its proximity to natural gas fields, the canyon has for years been at the center of a tug-of-war between cultural resource preservationists and those who seek to tap the adjacent land rich with energy resources.

"It's a diverse group who was able to reach a consensus in a relatively short period of time," said the Bureau of Land Management's Mike Stiewig, who oversees the agency's office in Vernal. Gesturing toward the room full of people that included energy company executives, archaeologists and representatives from the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance, Stiewig said the diversity of attendees — and agreement supporters — underscored a milestone achievement in collaboration.

"This is a beautiful example of how it should be done," she said. "The law is for the public because these resources belong to the public."

Under the agreement, Barrett must embrace an aggressive dust-suppression plan and require its 35 employees in that area, as well as subcontractors, to be schooled in mitigating any impacts to cultural resources as a result of their activities. Additionally, the corporation will fund a cultural resource inventory of the area and participate in the creation of a visitor interpretation site featuring walking paths and informational kiosks.

For some, the agreement is a bittersweet compromise that nevertheless gives them voice and a chance to weigh in on concerns as they may arise.

Wednesday, January 06, 2010

See the Dew Tour At Snowbasin Ski Resort

The popular Winter Dew Tour competition will come to Snowbasin Jan 15-17. Spectators can witness the action free of charge. A premium viewing area is available for a limited number of people willing to pay for admission.

This web page has a schedule of events and information for spectators.

Ogden's has this article about the competition. Below are excerpts.

Eight years after the 2002 Winter Olympics, Snowbasin will again be in the national and international spotlight when the prestigious Winter Dew Tour comes to town this month for a four-day ski and snowboard competition featuring some of the biggest airs and most technical tricks being performed today.

In just its second season this year, the Winter Dew Tour is already recognized as one of the more elite competitions outside the Olympics and X Games.

The Showboat run, which is being used for the slopestyle competition, will be off-limits to regular visitors for the weekend. But overall, disruptions should be minimal, Andrus said.

Tuesday, January 05, 2010

Ski Park City During Sundance

The Sundance Film Festival will be held Jan 21-31. Centered in Park City, this year's festival will include parties and screenings at various places around northern Utah and also screenings at a few other US cities.

The Dallas Morning News has this article describing how to do Sundance. The article also describes how to enjoy Park City's great skiing during the crazy festival days. Below are excerpts.

This star-trolling duo has ventured to Park City for the Sundance Film Festival. Clad in designer fashions, not ski togs, they epitomize why festival days have become an ideal time for skiers. The town is packed with stargazers, not slope sliders.

I catch an early flight Wednesday morning, and because I pre-registered for Park City's Quick Start program, I receive a free, arrival-day lift ticket by flashing my boarding pass and out-of-state I.D. Two hours after leaving baggage claim, I'm at the Canyons, carving turns.

A mini-mansion subdivision with ski runs, Deer Valley features star-worthy homes at base and midmountain levels. Surely if I'm going to sight a celebrity on the slopes, it will be here. But I spot nary a one. In fact, I see very few folks at all.

"Where is everyone?" I ask.

"They're watching movies," Voelker says. "If you want to ski and you're a big moviegoer, this is a perfect time to come."

Open tickets may be purchased starting Jan. 18 online or in town at the main box office. Day-of-the-show tickets are available each morning starting at 8 a.m. Depending on the number of no-shows, seats to sold-out shows may be available to wait-list patrons at the theater. Contact: Sundance Ticketing Hotline, 435-776-7878;

Monday, January 04, 2010

Splitboarding is Catching On in Utah's Backcountry

The New York Times has this interesting article about splitboarding. The article describes a splitboarding trip through Utah backcountry, and gives tips for people interested in getting into the sport. Below are excerpts.

For snowboarders without the budget or inclination to use a snowmobile or helicopter, and in places where motorized vehicles are prohibited, splitboarding has exploded as the best way to ride beyond a resort’s boundaries.

Splitboards are specialized snowboards that separate into a pair of mountain touring skis; they are equipped with a mounting kit that allows standard bindings to switch from a sideways snowboard stance to a forward-facing, free-heeled touring-ski operation. Add collapsible ski poles and climbing skins (a fabric attached to the touring skis to give traction as you ascend steep slopes), and the splitboard gives snowboarders the freedom to travel anywhere that a backcountry skier can.

Mount Tuscarora was my first splitboard experience. At the base of the climb in Little Cottonwood Canyon, Mr. Coulter demonstrated how to split the board in half, fasten the bindings in ski mode and attach the climbing skins. Two hours later we reached the summit. (I’d hiked the same route by foot earlier in the winter, and it had taken almost twice as long.)

We completed the tour by riding down the Big Cottonwood side, returning to Salt Lake City on the No. 960 bus, part of a municipal system that serves the area. It was about a 20-minute ride.

“There’s this whole loop you can do with the bus system that’s amazing,” said Mr. Downing, who described busing up one canyon, touring over and catching the bus back down the other canyon at the end of the day. “You never have to ride at a ski resort if you don’t want to, or you can go to a resort, take one lift up and access all that backcountry.”

Note: Avalance danger is high right now in Utah's backcountry. Check here for current information and avalanche advisories.
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