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Utah Travel Headlines

Tuesday, October 05, 2010

Beat the Heat in Utah's Desert

Summer-like temperatures lingered long in Utah this year. Just last week, temperatures in the St George/Zion Park area were pushing into the upper 90s F. But that changed over the weekend and we are now enjoying a distinctive fall weather pattern. It is perfect – still warm but not oppressively hot.

The Denver Post noticed the change. It has this article about fall hiking and recreation. Below are excerpts.

It's cool now to enjoy canyon country

The good news, as anyone who has savored the desert's autumn splendor can attest, is October marks the annual grand reopening of canyon country. The oppressive reign of the flaming globe has ended, its intense grip across the black void of 93 million miles softened by the angles of the Earth.

As temperatures creep back below the 80-degree mark, the season to beat the heat in the desert southwest is upon us. Hikes that formerly sucked the salt through your skin in a mile or less are once again back on the menu.

The mountain biking that made Moab so famous is available at almost any hour of the day. Meanwhile, what water there is remains warm enough to swim in on a sunny afternoon.

Among the coolest — literally and figuratively — is the (Zion Park) Narrows hike up the North Fork of the Virgin River. With soaring walls, sandstone grottos, natural springs and hanging gardens, the 16-mile hike within a canyon up to 2,000 feet deep and at times only 20 feet wide is an unforgettable experience.

For do-it-yourself river runners or first-timers with friends in the know, Westwater Canyon of the Colorado River is a dream destination. Sandwiched between Colorado's quiet western border and the bustle of Moab, Westwater qualifies as one of the truly classic intermediate whitewater rafting runs in the West.

Spectacular scenery, quality side hikes and playful whitewater combine to create an idyllic 17-mile canyon cruise with enough variety to keep almost any boater entertained all year long.
It's autumn when Westwater truly shines. The water remains reasonably warm and commercial operations all but cease, releasing multiple launch permits to the paying public interested in a paddling trip.

Over the course of 16 years, the 24 Hours of Moab mountain bike race has had an impact on the sport like no other. Scheduled for Saturday and Sunday, the annual event includes a homegrown city of more than 4,000 racers, support crews and spectators that pop out of the desert south of town.

The 15-mile Behind-the-Rocks race course isn't the best riding in the area, but it offers some gnarly downhill and 1,360 vertical feet of climbing on every lap.

Perhaps best of all for those not interested in rubbing elbows with the racing crowd, the race pulls plenty of riders away from the Moab classics like Slickrock Trail and the Porcupine Rim. Just don't be surprised if you can't find a table at the brew pub after your ride.

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