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Utah Travel Headlines

Friday, December 31, 2010

Happy New Year

The new year will bring new opportunities - we hope you use them in ways that enrich your lives.

Below we list a few events that you may find interesting during the next several weeks.

Sundance Film Festival will be January 20-30 in Park City, Salt Lake City and surrounding communities. Come enjoy the screenings, parties, and celeb-watching.

The annual Cisco Disco will be Jan 22 at Bear Lake. It offers fishing, ice skating, a Polar Plunge, food and hot chocolate and other attractions.

The St George Winter Bird Festival will be Jan 27-30 in St George and surrounding area. Escape the snow and ice and enjoy learning about and viewing birds in scenic areas.

Bryce Canyon Winter Festival will be Feb 19-21, at Ruby's Inn, Bryce Canyon and surrounding area. It offers cross country skiing, snowshoe hikes, photography clinics, kids events and other activities, set against the splendor of Bryce Canyon National Park.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Snowshoe Hikes Will Begin Jan 2 At Bryce Canyon

The Bryce Canyon National Park Visitor Center will be closed on Saturday, New Years Day. The remainder of the park will be open.

Guided snowshoe hikes will begin on Jan 2. People interested in participating should register at the Visitor Center.

Unlike Utah’s other national parks, Bryce Canyon is located at a high elevation and it receives deep winter snow. Snow sports are popular in the park, including snowshoeing and cross country skiing. Snowmobiling is not allowed in the park but is popular in the nearby area.

Bryce Canyon is the venue for a popular winter festival in February, over President’s Day Weekend. It offers cross country ski races, archery clinics, archery biathlon competitions, free snowshoe tours, free clinics in photography, snow sculpture, kids' events, entertainment and more.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Snow And Cold For New Years Eve

Travel will be difficult because of heavy snow today and tomorrow, then very cold temperatures will settle in for New Years Eve.

The latest forecast says Friday night temperatures may drop down near 0F in Salt Lake City. That’s mighty cold and so revelers need to dress accordingly. Many of the activities in Salt Lake will be indoors, and that will help people stay safe.

Snow is falling now and is expected to continue through today and Thursday. Before the storm ends, northern Utah valleys may get up to 8 inches of new snow. Mountain areas could get 3 or more feet. The Alta/Snowbird and Solitude/Brighton areas could get up to 4 feet of new snow.

Snow conditions will be good but temperatures will be frigid.

Road crews will be out in force but mountain passes will be treacherous. Take care if you are driving.

The Salt Lake Tribune has this news article about the storm.

This blog has info about New Years Eve festivities around Utah.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Navajos Propose Large 'Conservation Area' In SE Utah

The battle over wilderness in Utah is heating up again, with two significant new developments.

1) The federal BLM is expected to aggressively push for wilderness protection for more federal land, now that the agency has overturned a Bush-era moratorium.

2) The Navajo Nation, for the first time, is entering the controversy and is proposing the establishment of a "conservation" area in San Juan County, outside of the Navajo Reservation.

The New York Times has this article on the BLM decision. Below are experpts.

Conservation groups for years have lobbied Interior to overturn the Norton settlement -- known as the "no more wilderness" policy -- arguing that it blocked the agency from its statutory duty to protect pristine landscapes in its resource management plans.

The new policy would be a crucial tool for BLM to protect the ecological and recreational values of lands in the face of proposed oil and gas development or off-highway vehicle use, proponents say. Wilderness management bars the use of machines, including bicycles and off-road vehicles, and is opposed by many people in the West who claim it stifles economic development.

The Salt Lake Tribune has this article about the Navajo initiative. Below are excerpts.

The Utah Navajo will propose a San Juan National Conservation Area that would cover large tracts of land outside their reservation administered by the federal Bureau of Land Management and the U.S. Forest Service.

Their involvement would be a stark departure from the past when Navajo voices, for any number of reasons, have been muted in the debate over public lands in the West.

But there are numerous sites on public land outside the Navajo Reservation in San Juan County that are sacred to Navajo. And the Dineh, as they call themselves, are hesitant to identify those sites to non-Navajos for fear they’ll be ravaged.

Monday, December 27, 2010

New Years Eve Events In Town And On The Slopes

Salt Lake City has a big "EVE" celebration planned, with live music, dancing and ski and snowboard action sports competitions. This news release describes activities. Below are excerpts.

EVE, Salt Lake’s New Year’s Eve event, will be a gigantic street party downtown on Dec. 29, 30 and 31. Tens of thousands of people will gather for celebrations taking place on West Temple between 100 and 200 South and in the Calvin Rampton Salt Palace Convention Center. There will be plenty of places to chill down and warm up and a thousand ways to celebrate. Hours are 6-10 p.m. on the 29th and 30th and 6 p.m.-midnight on the 31st.

EVE will include, live local music, dance parties, ski and snowboard action sports competitions, DJs, fine art performances, film screenings, laser shows, art installations, activities for kids, interactive resolutions, fire dancers and a spectacular midnight fireworks show on Dec. 31st.

Provo City offers First Night and this website has details. Below is an excerpt.

Come and celebrate this New Year's Eve at the Provo Towne Centre. First Night activities will include First Night Star Singing Competition, live bands, Big Band Dance, Top 40's Dance, food court, inflatable games, crafts, professional face painters, games, balloon artists, performers, karaoke, entertainment and fireworks.

There will be activities in many Utah communities and visitors are always welcome.

Our ski resorts will also offer celebrations and special events. This Salt Lake Tribune article provides details. Below are excerpts.

While New Year’s Eve parties tend to have a reputation for being wild, events at Utah’s ski resorts don’t often live up to that reputation.

In fact, they tend to be earlier in the evening, family-oriented and can even occur a night early on Dec. 30.

“A lot of spectators and guests enjoy watching the torchlight parades,” said Jessica Kunzer of Ski Utah. “They are visually stunning. We have holiday visitors that come out between Dec. 26 and Jan. 2 and it’s fun for them to participate as well. You get a good mix of locals and visitors staying at the resorts.”

Friday, December 24, 2010

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas from

We hope this special season brings you peace, happiness and joy.

There are plenty of activities to help you celebrate this Christmas season. Santa will be on the slopes this afternoon at many Utah ski resorts, and there will be torchlight parades at some resorts this evening.

There will be Christmas lights and music at Temple Square and many event venues, and sign-along ceremonies at some churches, and visitors are always welcome to participate.

Tomorrow, Christmas Day, will be low-keyed. Motels, restaurants, convenience stores and other service-oriented businesses will be open but many other businesses will be closed.

The coming week will also be low-keyed, with many people enjoying vacations and family time.

New Years Eve will see big celebrations in communities throughout Utah.

Search for events
in the areas you will be visiting.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Zion Park Reopens After Flooding

Below are updates from this Salt Lake Tribune Article:

Southwestern Utah’s Zion National Park reopened its popular Zion Canyon site on Thursday, though some of the area’s trails were restricted while rangers assessed damage from recent storms and made repairs.

NPS spokesman Ron Terry said the Zion Canyon Scenic Drive also was open once more, although a short stretch of the road was limited to one lane of travel just south of the Court of the Patriarchs.

Park officials also reopened Watchman Campground and the Zion Lodge, Terry said.

Zion Park Reopens After Flooding

The massive storm that caused widespread flooding in SW Utah has ended and water levels are dropping. Damage appears to have been minimal and facilities are now reopening.

Zion National Park was closed Tuesday because of fears that flood waters would damage roads and other infrastructure. The park visitor center reopened Wednesday. It is expected that Zion Canyon will be reopened today (Thursday).

Road damage on the east side of the park may limit access from that direction.

People evacuated from several southern Utah communities during the storm are now being allowed to return to their homes. There was concern that a dam would fail on the East Fork the Virgin River, above the town of Rockville, but it now looks like the dam will hold. Several bridges were endangered but most held and are usable.

A bridge washed away near the town of Gunlock, west of St George, and so access to that community is difficult (via a rough 4X4 road). The tiny community of Motoqua, on the Utah/Nevada border, has been isolated because the storm washed out the access road.

In New Harmony, officials feared a bridge would fail, cutting off access to a residential development, but the bridge held. It appears to be stable and is being used.

Homes were washed away in Arizona, just across the border, in the small communities of Beaver Dam and Littlefield.

Water levels were higher in this flood than they were during the destructive flood of 2005, but Utah communities fared better this time because of recent flood control work.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Utah Parks Win National Transportation Grants

Federal grants will fund transportation improvements at Utah National Parks, and in other public areas, according to this Salt Lake Tribune article. Below are excerpts.

Six projects in Utah will split $5.45 million in “Paul S. Sarbanes Transit in Parks” grants for work ranging from buying new Utah Transit Authority buses for Big and Little Cottonwood canyons to developing new transportation plans for Arches and Bryce Canyon national parks.

“While making federal lands more accessible, it will also conserve energy and natural resources,” said Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood, who had visited Utah in October.

Among the grants is $1.12 million for Utah Transit Authority to replace ski buses and repair the Cottonwood Canyons park-and-ride lot, designed to serve the Wasatch-Cache National Forest.

Grand County received $2.9 million to extend the “Colorado Riverway” multi-use pathway along SR-128 adjacent to the Colorado River and Arches National Park. It is designed to enhance safety for bicyclists and other non-motorized users along the scenic route.

Arches National Park received $180,000 for an alternative transportation feasibility study. Similarly, Bryce Canyon National Park received $400,000 to develop “an integrated, multi-modal park transportation plan.”

Zion National Park received two grants. One, for $600,000, is to “study the effects of the current park transportation system [which uses shuttle buses to transport visitors to most sites in Zion Canyon] on park resources and the experience of park visitors.”

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Zion Park Closed By Flooding; Storm Causes Evacuations

Here's an update from this Salt Lake Tribune Article. Below are Excerpts.

The town Rockville was told to evacuate Tuesday afternoon because of fears the Trees Ranch Dam could fail, sending a deluge downstream toward it.

"The imminent failure of the Trees Ranch Dam on the East fork of the Virgin River in Washington County was reported by Washington County Sheriff’s Department," the weather service said.

As of noon, homes south of State Road 9 in the town of Rockville were being evacuated. Residents were told to head down river and gather at the Hurricane City Community Center at 50 S. 100 West. Trees Ranch in Virgin also was being evacuated, and the Valley View bridge on Valley View Drive was closed.

Floodwaters already had washed out a bridge on Gunlock Road, Washington County sheriff’s dispatchers confirmed — and in the southwestern Utah town of Enterprise, portions of Highway 18 were covered with water. Flooding along SR-9 also forced closure of Zions National Park along with evacuation of the Zion Lodge and Watchman Campground in Zion Canyon.

The tiny town of Gunlock is nearly isolated as the approach road is washed out leading to bridges north and south of town.

"There is significant erosion of the road at both ends of town," he said.

Mortensen said the only way into Gunlock is on the Sand Cove Road that is dirt and requires a four-wheel drive vehicle.

"We’re asking that people stay off all dirt roads," he said.

Travel problems are reported throughout Utah, as a major storm continues to dump rain and snow on our state. This KSL TV article provides details. Below are excerpts.

The mayors of St. George and Rockville, near Zion National Park, have declared their cities to be under states of emergency Tuesday morning.

A number of streets and bridges are closed, as well as Zion National Park. Zion Lodge was being evacuated Tuesday morning.

A flood warning remains in effect for southern Utah as heavy rain continues to pound the region.

The Washington County Sheriffs Office confirms it is heading to a possible bridge collapse in Gunlock due to flooding.

Iron County dispatch has confirmed at least one bridge has been breached near Enterprise and others have water near the road level.

There are also reports that the town of Beaver Dam (Arizona), north of Mesquite has been evacuated due to the flooding.

Here are links to help travelers:
- Utah regional weather forecasts
- Utah road conditions
- Utah Avalanche Center

Hwy 9 In Zion Park Closed Because Of Flooding

Heavy rain in SW Utah has caused flooding that is affecting travel. Hwy 9 in Zion Park has been closed east of the Canyon Junction because flooding caused road damage.

The Virgin River and Santa Clara River are running at flood levels. A bridge over the Santa Clara near Gunlock State Park has been washed out. Roads and homes in that area are threatened.

Snow has been heavy in mountain areas throughout Utah. Major roads are being plowed and are in generally good conditions, but may have snowpack or ice in some areas.

Roads to ski resorts are open but chains or 4-wheel drive is needed to reach most resorts. Solitude has received 50 inches of snow during the past 48 hours.

Avalanche danger is high in backcountry areas. Avalanche control work is done routinely at developed ski resorts. Out-of-bounds areas and backcountry areas are hazardous.

Here are links to help travelers:
- Utah regional weather forecasts
- Utah road conditions
- Utah Avalanche Center

Monday, December 20, 2010

Big Snow, Just In Time For The Holidays

A huge storm is now working its way across Utah, dumping heavy snow in mountain areas. It is producing excellent ski conditions, backcountry avalanche danger, traffic problems and flooding in some areas. This Salt Lake Tribune article gives an overview of the storm to date.

Many mountain areas have received 1-3 feet of snow, and more is expected tomorrow and Wednesday. Avalanche conditions are high to extreme in backcountry areas. Monitor updates from the Utah Avalanche Center and use extreme caution when venturing into the backcountry.

Many valley locations have received sleet or rain. In southwestern Utah the Virgin and Santa Clara Rivers are running at flood levels. At this time no road closures have been reported but that could change so check with local authorities in the areas where you plan to travel.

Here are some 48-hour new snow totals for our ski resorts:
Solitude - 38 inches
Eagle Point - 36 inches
Sundance - 34 inches
Alta - 28 inches
Park City - 27 inches
Powder Mountain - 27 inches
Deer Valley - 25 inches
Snowbird - 25
Brighton - 24 inches
Snowbasin - 24 inches

This year we have enjoyed some of the best best early-season skiing every and the holiday period looks like it should continue the trend.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Eagle Point Ski Resort Gets Positive Reviews

Eagle Point is open for skiing, and is getting positive reviews. Located in the mountains east of Beaver, in southern Utah, Eagle Point is Utah's 14th ski resort. (Here's info about all Utah resorts." Eagle Point offers a unique experience, laid back and family friendly, with good snow and plenty of backcuntry.

Avid skiers Jill Adler wrote this article about the resort for Salt Lake Magazine. The article includes photos of the resort. Below are excerpts.

I couldn’t miss the (re)opening of Eagle Point – formerly known as Elk Meadows in Beaver, Utah. It’s been 8 years since the ski area has seen any action and so, without pretense or pomp, the newly recertified lifts cranked around the bullwheel and signaled the beginning of something that could quite possibly be one of the best reasons I’ve seen to get out of town in the winter.

Speaking of bars, there’s a full bar there. In fact, there’s a sit-down gourmet restaurant run by a celebrity chef that will leave Beaver residents scratching their heads.

Yes, fine dining in Beaver! And a classy bar.

At Eagle Point you can get a midweek, one-bedroom condo and two lift tickets for $125. Kids under six ski free so a whole (young) family can take a two-day ski jaunt for $250. Not per person. The whole fam- $250.

Ticket window prices are $45/day and as soon as there’s more snow, everyone can go tubing on four lanes for $15. The restaurant prices are fair too- $10 for a third-pound burger.

We boarded the beginner Skyline Chair after making first tracks on the flat terrain. Some people turned. I made 11s. I wondered if it might be too flat for even beginners but groomed it’s probably ideal for them.

We rode another chair then boarded a Polaris ATV with tracks instead of tires. It pulled 11 riders up a ridge and deposited us on top of expert trails with Native American names.

People in Utah don’t normally understand the concept of ski roadtrips. That’s for Californians and Vermonters. The most we ever drive is an hour.

But it’s worth taking the 202-mile drive south. You’ll feel like you’re going on a real ski vacation; without the pricetag, the questionable snow and TSA patdowns.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Eight New Dinosaur Species Have Been Discovered In Utah During 2010

Scientists announced the discovery of two new dinosaur species last month. In all, fossils from eight new species have been found in Utah this year. The latest find comes from a dinosaur that had a huge brain, according to this new article. Below we give excerpts from the article.

Our website has detailed information about places to view dinosaur fossils and learn about the fascinating creatures.

Latest Utah dinosaur is record-breaking eighth new species of 2010

“Its skull is six times larger than other dinosaurs’,” said Scott Foss, regional paleontologist with the Bureau of Land Management.

But Geminiraptor suarezarum’s large brain case is not its only unique feature. It had an inflatable upper jaw bone and feathers on its arms and legs, and, as Utah’s eighth new dinosaur species of the year, it’s a record breaker, too, for the number of Utah-native species named in one year.

“One [find] is unusual, eight is outstanding,” said Scott Foss, regional paleontologist with the Bureau of Land Management, of the newest creature featured in a paper published Wednesday in the online journal PLoS ONE.

“This string of dinosaur descriptions means that a full 1 percent of all known dinosaur species were described from lands in Utah during 2010,” said Foss. “That’s what’s interesting and fun about this.”

Seven of the new species were found on BLM land and one in Dinosaur National Monument.

The unique fossil was discovered by Celina and Marina Suarez, twin sisters from Temple University who were investigating the site with Kirkland and the Utah Geological Survey while working on their master’s degrees in geology.

Opening Day at Eagle Point Ski Resort

It was a very snowy day for the Grand Opening of Eagle Point Ski Resort in Beaver Canyon in central Utah yesterday.  It's been 8 years since this area was open for skiing and snowboarding.  As you can see from the photo, the snow was coming down up on top.  We caught a few powder runs and then went in for the ribbon cutting.  This makes 14 ski resort now open in Utah. 

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Robert Redford, Bryce Canyon and Debate About A Coal Mine

Development of a coal mine in the community of Alton is stirring considerable debate on the internet, with some saying it will destroy the environment around Bryce Canyon National Park.

Robert Redford wrote this article for Below is the headline and an excerpt.

Utah Approves a Mine Next to Bryce Canyon for Coal America Doesn't Need

Imagine: A massive open-pit coal mine next to a wilderness jewel. A scenario like that might have been routine in the past, but this is the 21st century, when many cleaner, more sustainable ways to power our economy abound. We no longer have to sacrifice an iconic landscape in order to burn some dirty rocks.

AWR Hawkins countered with this blog. Below is the headline and an excerpt.

Someone Tell Robert Redford ‘Green’ Wind Turbines Are Uglier than Coal Mines

For example, in the Huffington Post his opening argument is that coal mining is an outdated mode of getting energy because “many cleaner, more sustainable ways to power our economy abound.”

Where are these cleaner, more sustainable ways Mr. Redford? And do they exist apart from government subsidies or are they wholly dependent on taxpayer funds for their continuance? (If the latter, then the “sustainable ways” Redford peddles are actually nothing more than taxpayer-sponsored green jobs that the market won’t support.)

This blog is calling for people to send messages to our governor asking that the state reconsider allowing the mine. Below is an excerpt.

But you can help! Environmental groups have filed with the Utah Supreme Court to block the mine, including The Sierra Club, Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance, Natural Resources Defense Council and National Parks Conservation Association. Post your message online and your comment will be sent to Governor Herbert, asking him to reconsider.

We are not taking sides in the debate, but would like offer a little clarity. It sounds like none of the debaters have ever been to the town of Alton. It is indeed close to Bryce Canyon, as the crow flies, but the Paunsaugunt Plateau lies between them. Alton cannot be seen from the park. The Paunsaugunt is crisscrossed by many roads and ATV trails. It's environment is not even close to wilderness.

- Dave Webb

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Wildlife Sleigh Rides Set To Begin

Hardware Ranch Wildlife Management Area offers winter sleigh rides into a meadow where riders can easily see hundreds of wild elk. This season rides will begin on Dec. 17.

The ranch is located SE of Logan in northern Utah. It serves as a wintering area for a large elk herd, and numerous other kinds of wildlife.

Utah’s Division of Wildlife Resources offers this information about Hardware Ranch and the sleigh rides. Below are excerpts.

You can take a sleigh ride that gets you close to as many as 600 wild elk. The rides are available four days a week at the Hardware Ranch Wildlife Management Area.

Hardware Ranch is 17 miles east of Hyrum. Its winter elk viewing season begins Dec. 17, 2010. The WMA offers the following during its winter season:

The sleigh rides last 20 to 30 minutes. They wind through the center of the elk herd and make occasional stops so you can get a perfect photograph.

During the rides, the sleigh drivers share the history of the ranch and explain why the elk behave like they do. They're also happy to answer questions you have.

The sleighs are pulled by a team of large-breed draft horses. If snow conditions get poor, the sleighs can be converted into wagons.

The WMA's winter season should run until Feb. 28, 2011. The sleighs are running and the visitor center is open during the following days and times:
Friday – noon to 5 p.m.
Saturday – 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Sunday – 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Monday – noon to 5 p.m.
Hardware Ranch WMA will be closed on Dec. 25, 2010.

If you want to take a ride through the elk herd, you must buy a ticket at the visitor center before 4:30 p.m. The last sleigh ride leaves at 4:30 p.m.

The sleigh rides cost $5 for those nine years of age and older, and $3 for those four to eight years old. Children three years of age and younger can ride for free.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Have An Artful Encounter in Kayenta, Utah

The title of today's blog comes from this article in Sunset Magazine. The article describes the art community that has grown up in Kayenta, near St George. Below we give the sub-head., and then excerpts.

Galleries abound in this southern Utah desert oasis

Where it is: Within the town of Ivins, 7 miles northwest of St. George. Average March temp: 67°

Dress code: Sandals, shorts, and a hat to ward off the sun. Pack a fleece jacket for chilly evenings.

First stop: Coyote Gulch Art Village, a cluster of galleries, shops, and a cafe with a backdrop of red rock mountains and desert gardens.

History lesson: Mormon pioneers established a cotton-growing colony in the St. George area, which is why it’s often called Dixie.

And while you’re in the area …
Go for a hike: Snow Canyon State Park, between St. George and Kayenta, is a day-hiker’s paradise. Check out the steep but short Cinder Cone Trail (1.5 miles round-trip) or the moderate Whiterocks Trail (3.75 miles round-trip), with stunning views at the edge of the red rock can-yon.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Lake Powell Ferry To Close For Repairs

The ferry which carries automobiles across Bullfrog Bay at Lake Powell will be closed for repairs from January through March, 2011.

Utah Highway 276 provides access to the Bullfrog area on the north side of the lake. The highway continues on the south side, with cars, trucks, boat trailers, RVs and other vehicles crossing the reservoir on the ferry.

Hwy 276 drops down from Hwy 95 south of Hanksville. It loops through the Bullfrog/Halls Crossing area and then reconnects with Hwy 95 near Natural Bridges National Monument. Travelers will still be able to access all areas served by Hwy 276, they just won't be able to follow it across the lake.

The Salt Lake Tribune has this article about the Ferry closing. Below are excerpts.

The good news is that Utah’s lone ferry — which operates between Hall’s Crossing and Bullfrog marinas on Lake Powell — won a $300,000 federal grant for maintenance on its engines and hull and rehabilitation of its docks.

The bad news is that Utah Department of Transportation officials say the ferry will likely close at the end of December until April to allow the work.

(UDOT Executive Director John) Njord also said the state is looking to cut back ferry operations during winter in future years to save on costs.

The ferry charges $25 for vehicles less than 20 feet in length but may save hundreds of miles in driving, depending on the destination.

Thursday, December 09, 2010

Watch Meteor Shower, Eclipse Under Bryce Canyon's Dark Sky

The Geminid meteor shower will light up our sky the nights of Dec. 13 and 14, and a rare total lunar eclipse will happen on the night of Dec. 20. (The most dramatic point of the eclipse will occur at 1:17 a.m. on Dec 21, Mountain Standard Time.)

Bryce Canyon National Park will be one of the best places in the world to watch these celestial light shows (weather permitting). Bryce Canyon has been recognized for its "dark sky" - light and air pollution are minimal there and so the park offers a remarkably clear view of the night sky. (Here's more info about the park's dark sky.) provides this information about the meteor shower and eclipse. Below are excerpts.

Skywatchers, grab your blankets. December's night sky spectacular will feature the best meteor shower of 2010 as well as the only total lunar eclipse of the year -- sights that should outshine any New Year's Eve fireworks display in terms of sheer wonder.

The massive Geminid meteor shower returns every year, so you'll have more chances if the cold proves too daunting on the night of Dec. 13. But anyone in North America who skips the total lunar eclipse on the night of Dec. 20 will be missing what promises to be the best lunar eclipse show until April 2014.

Like most meteor showers, the Geminids will be at their best after midnight (early on the morning of Dec. 14), when the Earth is heading directly into the meteoroid stream. But some will be visible earlier in the night, on the evening of Dec. 13, because the meteors' radiant (where they appear to originate) is nearly circumpolar, so they will stay in view above the horizon all night.

NASA provides this info about the lunar eclipse. Below are excerpts.

The last lunar eclipse of 2010 is especially well placed for observers throughout North America. The eclipse occurs at the Moon's descending node in eastern Taurus, four days before perigee.

At the instant of greatest eclipse (08:17 UT) the Moon lies near the zenith for observers in southern California and Baja Mexico.

The entire event is visible from North America and western South America. Observers along South America's east coast miss the late stages of the eclipse because they occur after moonset. Likewise much of Europe and Africa experience moonset while the eclipse is in progress. Only northern Scandinavians can catch the entire event from Europe. For observers in eastern Asia the Moon rises in eclipse. None of the eclipse is visible from south and east Africa, the Middle East or South Asia.

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

Zion's Secret Rock Art

I enjoyed hiking in Zion National Park over the weekend. The weather was perfect - mostly sunny and delightfully warm. Winter is a great time to explore some areas in the park.

I just did easy hikes, searching out some of the park's little-know ancient Native American rock art. I found some, including the images you see in my photos here. Searching out rock art is one of my serious hobbies. Zion has some good ones and I really enjoy finding them. I also enjoy searching for Anasazi ruins.

Zion is not known for its ancient Native American art or ruins, and that is on purpose. Excellent examples of both can be found in the park, but the Park Service does not identify them on maps. If you ask at a ranger desk, they will tell you where to find some rock art images, but they won't mention some of the best spots, and they won't say a thing about the ruins.

There is a "scientifically significant" Anasazi ruin complex located in Parunuweap Canyon, but it is not shown on maps and the canyon is totally closed to hiking. I've asked several park personnel about the site, trying to find out why it is so well protected. What is so special about this ruin complex? It is a public resource on public land, and yet the public is not given any info about it. I'd at least like a description of the ruin and an explanation as to why it is totally off limits to the public.

Interestingly, there is an impressive waterfall located in Parunuweap Canyon, some distance above the Anasazi ruins, but the park service seems to be totally unaware of its existence. Old timers describe the waterfall as one of the most impressive in the American Southwest. It is high and carries a powerful stream of water, but it is well hidden in an extremely rugged canyon. I've asked park rangers and officials about it but they all say they have no knowledge of the waterfall's existence.

If hikers were allowed to come into the canyon from the bottom, they would be able to see the waterfall as the climax of a strenuous hike. Few people venture into the canyon above the waterfall because that requires a long hike into an extremely rugged area. I have talked to a few hikers who have defied the "closed" designation and ventured down the canyon to the waterfall. They describe it as an amazing trek - one of the best in the park.

I'm told there is no way to get a good photo of the waterfall from the top, because the narrow canyon has sheer walls. The East Fork of the Virgin River covers the entire bottom of the slot, and the entire canyon floor falls away at the waterfall. The canyon turns a bit right there and so those who peer over the top only see small slice of the natural wonder.

I understand the need to protect sensitive places and I understand that publishing info about fragile resources can encourage uncaring individuals to cause serious damage. But I'd love to see a photo and description of that waterfall. I really suspect it would rank among the top 5 waterfalls in the region.

So to recap, I enjoyed a great hike in Zion Park. I'm not telling you where I went because Zion's rock art is "top secret." And I'm frustrated because there are no photos or descriptions of two scenic wonders hidden in the park, one a complex of Anasazi ruins and one a majestic waterfall.

Public lands, hidden from the public.

- Dave Webb

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

Wall Street Journal Explains Why Utah Is Attractive To Business

The Wall Street Journal has this interesting article describing Utah and its business climate, and why we are weathering the recession better than many states.

The article also looks at why so many companies are relocating to Utah. Below are excerpts.

"Utah's leaders understand a simple truth: As businesses go, so goes Utah," said Brad Rencher, general manager of Adobe's Omniture unit, which is undergoing the expansion in Lehi for a variety of other reasons and is currently located in Orem.

Mr. Herbert said the state seeks to attract businesses by offering money incentives and better support from local universities. The University of Utah, for instance, a year ago put in five new engineering master's programs to help meet demand for workers in Utah's growing industry for medical devices, said Taylor Randall, dean of its business school.

The initiatives are helping to fuel the state's job growth. In October, Utah gained 16,500 jobs, up 1.4% from a year earlier and its third straight month of year-over-year gains, according to Bureau of Labor Statistics data. That outpaces the rest of the nation, where job growth averaged 0.5% in October. Indeed, Utah was the fastest-growing state in job growth across the Intermountain West, which excludes West Coast states, Alaska and Hawaii. Utah also is among the fastest nationally, trailing only a few states such as New Hampshire and Texas, according to BLS figures.

Economists say Utah's performance will likely help the Intermountain West region regain its standing as one of the nation's fastest-growing areas. "If you look at the next 10 years, the mountain West will very likely be a leader in employment and population growth," said Jeff Thredgold, economic consultant to Salt Lake City's Zions Bancorporation.

Still, out-of-state employers said they are impressed by the state's pro-business strategy. "Utah is one of the most aggressive states in working with the business community to understand what matters to them," said Keyvan Esfarjani, co-executive officer of IM Flash. The company has grown its work force in the state to 1,500 since opening a fabrication plant in Lehi five years ago; it plans to hire at least 250 more in the fiscal year that ends next August.

"More so than any incentives," Mr. Esfarjani added, "what makes Utah attractive to business is the state's stable, predictable regulatory and tax environment."

Monday, December 06, 2010

Salt Lake International Airport Ranked 3rd Best in US

Travel guide publisher Zagat has ranked the best and worst airports in the US, based on input from frequent fliers. Salt Lake International Airport came in at number 3, behind airports in Portland and Tampa Bay.

The Salt Lake Tribune has this article about the ranking. Below are excerpts.

The New York-based Zagat publishes travel, restaurant and hotel guides, and posts rankings on Each year it also conducts a survey on airlines, and as part of that ranks the nation’s 30 largest airports.

Salt Lake City International jumped from a mediocre No. 18 last year to a lofty No. 3 this year.

"It is an efficient hub airport, and almost 50 percent of the traffic here does connect to another flight. So maybe making an efficient connection is in the forefront of people’s minds," Gann said.

"It’s also convenient and accessible" to downtown Salt Lake City, whereas many airports are far from or require expensive commutes to the cities that they serve. Gann adds that the Salt Lake City airport also has high ratings for on-time performance compared to most cities.

The survey also ranked 90 international airlines. Continental Airlines won the top overall ranking for large, domestic premium class airlines. Delta Air Lines, which has a hub in Salt Lake City, was ranked third.

For domestic economy class airlines, JetBlue (which houses many of its administrative functions in Salt Lake City) won top ranking and Southwest (which has extensive flight service in Salt Lake City) was second.

On the other end of the spectrum, 8,000 frequent fliers polled by the annual Zagat Airline Survey rank New York City’s LaGuardia Airport as the worst, followed closely by Miami and Los Angeles international airports.

Friday, December 03, 2010

Impulse Traveler Describes Park City On A Whim

Washington Post’s Impulse Traveler column features Park City, providing all the information you need for a spur-of-the-moment trip to Park City.

Here are excerpts from the column.

Delta has nonstop flights from Washington Dulles to Salt Lake City for $494. Park City is about 40 miles southeast of the airport.

St. Regis Deer Valley: Opened last November, this posh resort offers ski-in/ski-out access to Deer Valley Resort's nearly 2,000 acres. Rooms from $475.

Wasatch Brew Pub: There's indoor and patio seating at this brew pub. Sandwiches, salads and pizza $8 to $13.

Park City Mountain Resort: Features more than 3,000 acres for both skiers and snowboarders. Single-day lift ticket $89.

Read the entire column.

Thursday, December 02, 2010

Moab Bike Event Dates For 2011

2011 dates for bike events in and around Moab are given in this news release. The release also gives info about trail expansions and improvements. Below are excerpts.

The bike news for Moab! An October 2010 ribbon cutting ceremony celebrated another piece of the North Moab Recreation Areas Alternative Transportation Plan with the completion of the paved Moab Canyon pathway. The trail stretches north from the Colorado River, passing Arches National Park, to exit at Hwy 313.

Other new trail routes are being hand built by volunteers to further expand the non-motorized Bar M Mountain Bike Focus Area. Moab City is building the Pipe Dream Trail upon town's west valley wall above the utility corridor. And the Department of Energy announced willingness to add a future non-motorized trail on the Uranium Tailing property from Courthouse Wash, along the Colorado River bank to reach Hwy 279, a.k.a., Potash Road.

The 2011 Year at a glance for bikes in Moab Utah:
March 4 & 5 2011 - Yeti Thaw
March 11-14 2011 - Skinny Tire
March 26 2011 - Adventure Xtreme
May 7 2011 - Gran Fondo
May 14-15 2011 - Moab Triathlon Festival (NEW)
June 10-11, 2011 - Rockwell Relay
Oct 5 - 9 2011 - OuterBike
Oct 8-9 2011 - 24 hours of Moab mtn bike race
Oct 27-30 2011 - Moab ho down
Oct 27 & 28 - Mtn Bike Film Festival

The news release give details about each event.

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

Sundance Film Festival Announces 2011 Lineup

The Sundance Film Festival will run Jan , in Park City, Salt Lake City and other venues around northern Utah.

The festival has just announced its film lineup. Below are details from this news release.

For the 2011 Sundance Film Festival, 115 feature-length films were selected, representing 28 countries by 40 first-time filmmakers, including 25 in competition. These films were selected from 3,812 feature-length film submissions composed of 1,943 U.S. and 1,869 international feature-length films. 92 films at the Festival will be world premieres.

With more than 10,000 films submitted this year, we have had to make some very tough choices. Yet in the end, I’m excited about the way the program has come together. It’s an incredible honor to introduce these films and filmmaker…these are the stories that will define not only our Festival, but also the cultural year ahead.
—John Cooper, director of Sundance Film Festival

Entertainment Weekly has this article about the announcement. Below we give the headline and then a quote.

Sundance 2011: Vera Farmiga, Emma Roberts, and Elmo among the films in competition

In a break with tradition, there will be no opening night film; instead one narrative and documentary film from the U.S. and World competitions will each screen on the first night. Highlights from the 16 films in the U.S. dramatic competition, culled from 1,102.
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