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Utah Travel Headlines

Friday, April 29, 2011

See Life-Size Replicas Of Dinosaurs

Utah is well known for its dinosaur sites, including some of the best places in the world to see fossils and replicas. Prominent sites like Dinosaur National Monument, the Utah Field House of Natural History and Cleveland Lloyd Dinosaur Quarry are spectacular, but are located far from major airports and interstate highways.

Two sites, North American Museum of Ancient Life and the Eccles Dinosaur Park are located along the Wasatch Front where they are easy to get to from Salt Lake City.

The Provo Herald has this article about Eccles Dinosaur Park. Below are excerpts.

The park is situated at the mouth of Ogden Canyon, with the Ogden River and accompanying Ogden River Parkway Trail running along its northern border. Made up of paved walking trails, the park features more than 100 life-sized replicas of dinosaurs on display atop hills, diving for fish and tending their young, among other scenes. Sound effects are heard throughout the park as well.

We saw a Stegosaurus and her baby, a Tyrannosaurus rex baring its teeth over its recently caught prey, Pteranodons, what laypeople might refer to as a Pteradactyl, and lots of other beasts with varying features such as claws, scales, plates, etc.

Most of the park is like an outdoor museum. You can’t touch the dinosaurs, and much to the dismay of my 5-year-old, you certainly can’t climb on them.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Great Salt Lake Bird Festival Runs May 12-16

The annual Great Salt Lake Bird Festival will be held May 12-16. It offers a chance to learn about and see the many kinds of birds that live on the lake's shorelines.

The festival offers workshops, vendors, food, entertainment and field trips. There are also educational activities for children.

This is the 13th year for the popular festival. Bill Thompson III will be the keynote speaker. He is editor of Bird Watcher's Digest, a popular bimonthly magazine that has been published by his family since 1978. He has been an avid bird watcher since the age of eight.

Most activities are centered in the Farmington Bay and Antelope Island areas in Davis County. Some field trips probe areas that are normally closed to the general public.

See the festival website for more information.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Utah Grand Prix Kicks Off Miller Motorsports Park Season

The Larry H. Miller Dealerships Utah Grand Prix will be held this weekend, April 29 – May 1, kicking off the racing season at Miller Motorsports Park.

See the Motorsports Park website for a complete schedule and ticket information.

This article has details about the Utah Grand Prix. Below are excerpts.

The headline series of the weekend will be the NASCAR K&N Pro Series West, which is making its fifth annual appearance at Miller Motorsports Park. Supporting race series include the SCCA Pro Racing Pirelli World Challenge Championships and Trans-Am Championship, plus the IMSA GT3 Cup Challenge by Yokohama and the Pirelli Drivers Cup USA.

Friday’s schedule includes practice and qualifying for all the series except the NASCAR K&N Pro Series West. Admission is free for everyone on Friday. On Saturday, the Pirelli Drivers Cup USA and IMSA GT3 Cup Challenge will each hold the first of their two races, and the SCCA Pro Racing Pirelli World Challenge Championships and the NASCAR K&N Pro Series West will hold their feature races. Sunday’s schedule includes the second races for the Pirelli Drivers Cup USA and IMSA GT3 Cup Challenge and the SCCA Pro Racing Trans-Am Championship feature race.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Exploring Water Canyon Waterfalls

I enjoyed a great hike in Water Canyon over the weekend and got some great photos of impressive waterfalls.

Water Canyon is located just south of Zion Park, on the Utah/Arizona border. It offers Zion-like scenery and incredible hiking opportunities. The canyon includes a nice slot that is a popular place to learn rappelling and canyoneering skills. It provides access to Canaan Mesa, which offers great backpacking in total solitude.

I was there to photograph the waterfalls and I got some great shots. I’m building a gallery that I hope will eventually include all significant waterfalls in Utah. I am making good progress and enjoy the challenge.

I also enjoy canyoneering and so I used this trip to scout the slot. Zion Park canyoneering routes attract enthusiasts from around the world. But guides are not allowed to take people into the park. Many routes are technical and require advanced skills. So that brings the question, how do you acquire the skills needed to tackle advanced routes?

One way is to become friends with experienced canyoneers and hope they invite you on trips. But that doesn’t work for people who live outside of the area. A better way is to go with a professional guide or enroll in a canyoneering class.

Guides and instructors use Water Canyon as a classroom to teach canyoneering skills. The canyon ranks with some of the classic routes in Zion Park, including the opportunity for 200-foot rappels down waterfalls. Since the canyon is not located in the park, permits are not required and guides can operate freely.

Water Canyon is a great destination, whether you want a scenic hike, a long backpack or a canyoneering classic.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Thanksgiving Point Tulip Festival Runs Through May 7

Thanksgiving Point's annual Tulip Festival runs through May 7. It offers the opportunity to see and enjoy all the colors of the rainbow spread throughout nearly 100 different varieties of tulips.

Thanksgiving Point is located just off I-15, about halfway between Salt Lake City and Provo. The information below was provided by Thanksgiving Point.

Tulip Festival

April 15 - May 7, 2011 (closed Sundays)

10 am - 8 pm

Thanksgiving Point Gardens
view property map>>

$6/children (3-11)

*Free for Thanksgiving Point Members

Welcome spring this April and enjoy all the colors of the rainbow spread throughout nearly 100 different varieties of tulips during the annual Thanksgiving Point Tulip Festival. Featuring 250,000 tulips spread throughout the 55-acre Thanksgiving Point Gardens, the Tulip Festival is an awe-inspiring sight that is redesigned each year to create a new display.

In addition to the spectacular tulips, on Fridays and Saturdays the Tulip Festival includes music, vendors, and food. Garden tours and demonstrations run every day. And though there are hundreds of volunteers and staff working behind the scenes to create the festival, make no mistake about it: Mother Nature is in charge of the show. Regular Garden admission fees apply, free admission for Thanksgiving Point members.

April 15- May 7
Tulip Festival Photography Contest, Thanksgiving Point Gardens April 15 - May 7,2011, Show off your photography skills in a gorgeous setting!

Subject Categories
-All Other Plant Life

Age Categories
-Junior (age 11 and under as of April 30, 2011)
-Youth (age 12-17 as of April 30, 2011)
-Adult Amateur

*An entry form must be completed for each photo submitted.

*All photos due by May 7, 2011 to be eligible for judging.

*Winning Photos will be published in the June Gazette.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Baby Animal Days At Salt Lake Heritage Park

It is Baby Animal Days at This Is The Place Heritage Park, located in Salt Lake City. Many kinds of animals are available for kids to see, touch and perhaps even cuddle. Pony rides are also offered.

The event runs through Saturday.

The information below was provided by the park.

City kids will forever remember petting a lamb or holding a fluffy chick. We'll have lots of baby animals, as well as pony rides! Also, enjoy other activities, take-home crafts, and talking with members of the Great Basin Antique Machinery Association (weather permitting)!

The Humane Society also will be here with its Adopt-a-Pet program so if you were thinking of inviting a new pet to live with you, today would be the perfect day to take one home! Visit our gift shop at the Visitors Center and the ZCMI Mercantile where you’ll find museum quality toys; from friendly farm animals to fun ‘farm-themed’ games and toys. And of course, the trains will be running and the tradesmen will be demonstrating life in the 19th Century.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Earth Day Events Abound In Utah

Earth Day is this Sunday and many related events will be held around Utah, although many will be on Saturday instead of Sunday.

This article and this article summarize many events being held around Uah. Below are excerpts.

Earth Jam" is planned for Sunday at Liberty Park, 700 E. 1300 South. The free spring festival will have a "moon stage" and an "earth stage," where artists and musicians will display their talents. The event will be 10 a.m. to 9 p.m.

Hogle Zoo will throw a "Party for the Planet" on Saturday from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., with a talk by Salt Lake City Mayor Rocky Anderson and activities such as recycling paper and learning about hybrid cars. Admission is $1 off that day for anyone bringing in 12 aluminum cans or one no-longer-needed cell phone.

In Richfield, the 10th annual Natural Resources Festival continues today (8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m.) and Saturday (9 a.m. to 2 p.m.) Held in the Snow College Richfield Conference Building, the events include an art show, field trips and a star party.

The Ogden Nature Center has scheduled a celebration featuring "earth-friendly vendors, exhibitors, entertainment, food and activities" on Saturday. The celebration, with trail exploration and visits to a picnic grove and tree house, has admission of $1 per person or free if you ride the bus or bike. Donations will be gratefully accepted. It will take place from noon until 4 p.m.

Zion National Park has teamed up with the community of Springdale for its sixth annual Earth Day celebration. In addition to live music and a farmer's market, numerous vendors and activities will demonstrate the latest in alternative energy, such as solar ovens and other "Leave No Trace" principles. The noon to 6 p.m. Saturday event is at the lawn of the Bit & Spur Restaurant. All proceeds support the town's efforts to convert all public facilities to solar power.

In Moab from noon until 4 p.m. Saturday, "Chalk One Up!" will host a festival at Millcreek Parkway. According to the Earth Day Network, this is a "community celebration encouraging healthy habits and habitats for humans and our animal companions. Event sponsored by Moab Arts Council, city of Moab, Humane Society of Moab Valley and others."

Statewide, the Utah Department of Environmental Quality is encouraging Utahns to take advantage of free disposal of mercury products such as old thermometers, old chemistry sets and thermostats. They can be delivered to local health departments throughout Utah. Check with local health departments for times and locations.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

High Stream Flows Inhabit Some Backcountry Recreation

Winter’s snowpack is now melting quickly in the high country, sending runoff cascading down streams and washes. It is producing flood danger in some areas but no major highways are threatened.

The flood danger is most intense in northern Utah, in the Cache Valley, in Weber Canyon and in some areas in Salt Lake County. No main roads are closed at this time but it is possible some may be closed in the future if water levels increase.

People traveling or recreating in the backcountry need to be aware of the flood danger and take precautions. Some washes that are normally dry are now flooded with high, fast, cold water. Never drive into a flooded area.

Some hiking trails cross streams and washes. Normally that is no big deal but there may be danger in spots until runoff ends. Use common sense.

This news article describes the flood risk to date.

In Zion National Park, a group trying to hike The Subway became stranded because water levels were higher than they could handle. The Subway is a great adventure hike during summer, but extremely dangerous when stream flows are high. The rescue is actually quite an interesting story that generated considerable news coverage. Below is the headline and then excerpts from this article.

Stranded hikers reach safety with help from Air Force

Three stranded hikers in Zion National Park made their way to safety Tuesday with some help from other canyoneering park visitors.

Officials first started a search Sunday for a couple with a permit for a one-day trip whose car was found at a trailhead. A Salt Lake City man who headed out Monday afternoon was also reported missing after he told his wife to alert park officials if she didn't hear from him by 2 a.m.

That man, David Balkcom, 37, had spent Monday night stuck on a ledge in a thunderstorm after trying to rappel down a waterfall, according to BYU student Cliff Chandler, who was part of a group of six hikers that had started the hike Tuesday morning and found Balkcom around noon. Chandler said they reached Balkcom from above, pulled him to safety and brought him with them.

A short time later, the group met the couple, Evgenia Buzulukova, 25, of Roy, and Jonathon Wilson, 28, of Portland, Ore., who Chandler said had built a fire but were stuck in the canyon, out of food and exhausted. With the help of an experienced canyon guide, the group set up rope lines to assist the three less-experienced hikers down the canyon.

Personnel in two Blackhawk helicopters from Nellis Air Force Base in Nevada spotted the group not far from the trailhead with the help of night- vision equipment. Two airmen were lowered down with supplies to assist the group in hiking out, (Zion spokesman David) Eaker said.

"When you go into wilderness, when you go into backcountry, you are saying that you want to accept nature on its own terms," he said. "You need to be ready for the conditions you're going to encounter."

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Into The Fiery Furnace

The Fiery Furnace has been on my "must-hike" list for some years, but one thing or another always kept me from making the trek. Until last Friday, when everything came together and we enjoyed a great hike there.

I was surprised at how much I enjoyed the hike. It is great, I highly recommend it. It is one of the most scenic areas in Arches National Park. And right now is the perfect season to hike there, and in other nearby areas.

You need to go on one of the guided ranger hikes when you do the Fiery Furnace, and that's one reason it took me so long to venture into the area. The hike is popular and in the past it has been hard to get reservations. But the park service has recently started allowing people to reserve permits on-line days in advance, and that is a great improvement. Before, you had to be at the visitor center at just the right time, stand in a line, then come back the next day to make the hike. Now you just click your mouse and show up at the trailhead.

I generally avoid ranger-led hikes because the ranger has to tone things down to accommodate all of the people in the group. Such hikes tend to move slowly and avoid adventurous areas. They can also be noisy.

Our group included a wide cross-section of humanity, from babies in backpacks to young kids to senior citizens. And while we did move slowly and rested frequently, the group was surprisingly well behaved.

On ranger-led hikes, the chosen route usually focuses on highlights of the area, and that can be an advantage. We hiked right to some of the most spectacular points in the Furnace. When I go it on my own I like to wander and I see areas casual visitors might miss, but I also sometimes miss some of the highlights because I don't know where they are, or don't have the time to see everything I want to see.

I was surprised at the number of arches we saw along our route. I figured we would see some but I did not expect so many, and I did not expect them to be so grand.

Our group included kids 6-7 years old and they needed help but did fine. Anyone younger would have needed considerable help. A couple guys carried babies in backpacks and they had a tough time getting through some of the tight spots.

Along the route you scramble up rocks, scurry along narrow shelves, climb down ledges and scoot through narrow passages. I rate it as moderate adventure.

The scenery is fantastic and it was funner than I expected. Now I want to go back and wander around on my own.

- Dave Webb

Monday, April 18, 2011

4 Utah Ski Resorts Remain Open

A huge wet storm is now moving past Utah after having dumped more snow on Utah's mountains, adding to the impressive late-season total at our ski resorts.

Because the snow totals are so good, some resorts have pushed back closing dates. Here are the more recent dates announced by the four resorts that remain open.

Brian Head and Brighton will close after skiing this Sunday.

Alta will also close Sunday but will reopen for the weekend of April 29-May 1.

will stay open at least through Memorial Day weekend. Last year, Snowbird stayed open through Father's Day, and it looks like conditions will allow it to do the same this year. On a few occasions, Snowbird has offered skiing until the 4th of July. If the weather cooperates, that could happen again this year.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Guess Alta's Snow Total, Help Japan Relief Effort

What will this season’s snow total be at Alta Ski Resort? That number will correspond to the amount donated to help the relief effort in Japan, times two.

That amount will be donated by two companies, Ski Utah and Park City-based ski manufacturer Rossignol and Eider, according to this Salt Lake Tribune article. People are being invited to guess the amount. The donation will be made in the name of the person with the closest guess.

Below are excerpts from the article.

So if Alta finishes with 700 inches, Ski Utah, Rossignol and Eider will donate $700 apiece to the relief fund. And whomever comes closest to guessing the right total on the Facebook page of Ski Utah’s mythical Ski Yeti — — will have his or her name attached to that donation.

“This gives us just one more reason to hope for a snowy finish to the season,” (Jessica) Kunzer said, noting that the snowfall total on May 1 will represent the final number. As of 6:28 a.m. Thursday, Alta was reporting that it had received 646 inches of snow this season. All four resorts in Salt Lake County’s Cottonwood canyons already have surpassed the benchmark 600-inch mark, with Snowbird at 639, Solitude at 623 and Brighton at 621.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

No Entrance Fees During National Park Week, April 16-24

Utah’s national parks are open for business as usual, since the much-feared federal government shutdown never materialized.

Many parks will have special events during National Park Week, which runs April 16-24. Entrance fees will be waived at some national park facilities during that period.

Zion Park provided the news release below, explaining its activities.

Zion National Park Celebrates National Park Week

Date: April 14, 2011
Contact: Marc Neidig, 435-772-0164
Contact: David Eaker, 435-772-7811

Zion National Park will join other national parks throughout the country in celebrating National Park Week from Saturday, April 16 to Sunday, April 24. Entrance to all national parks is free during National Park Week.

The growing connection between public lands and public health is the focus of National Park Week in 2011. “National parks have always been great places to go on vacation, have fun, and learn something, but for millions of Americans national parks are also a daily part of a healthy lifestyle,” National Park Service Director Jonathan B. Jarvis said. “If you’ve never thought of your national parks that way, we’d like to invite you to come out to see how parks can help you meet your fitness goals. Getting outside and moving is the first step.”

During the week, Zion National Park invites volunteers to join a roadside and trail clean-up project. Volunteers are asked to gather at the Zion Canyon Visitor Center on Saturday, April 16 at 9:00 a.m. The project will last until 1:00 p.m. Participants should wear clothing appropriate for working outside, including a hat and sturdy shoes or boots. No registration is required. Please contact Zion National Park’s volunteer coordinator at 435-772-0184 for more information.

On Saturday, April 23, children are invited to participate in Junior Ranger Day in Zion Canyon. Park rangers will conduct programs for children and families in the park and will participate in the annual Zion Canyon Earth Day Celebration in Springdale, Utah. For specific information about the ranger-led program offerings, please visit, or inquire at the Zion Canyon Visitor Center.

The Zion Natural History Association will offer discounts on selected items at the bookstores in the park’s visitor centers and museum.

Park visitors are reminded that the fee waiver is valid through Sunday, April 24. Visitors who plan to be in the park beyond this date must pay the regular entrance fee for the remainder of their stay. The fee waiver applies to entrance fees only and does not affect fees for camping, tunnel traffic control, or backcountry permits.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Article Looks At Quirky Utah Place Names

Utah's rugged backcountry includes many spots with interesting names. Some apparently come from historical and cultural references while others are simply quirky.

Mark Milligan, with the Utah Geological Survey, has written an article in this publication that describes interesting Utah place names. The Deseret News has this article about Milligan's article, with this headline: Utah has plenty of 'bars' and more devils than 'hell'.

Below are excerpts from Milligan's article.

• The San Rafael Swell, in Utah, has the company of 12 other
Swell places across the U.S.

• Based on “feature names,” Utah has more Bars (29) than
Arizona (1), Nevada (3), and Wyoming (3). Also based on
“feature names,” the density of Bars is apparently not directly
related to how dry a state is; Florida has 10, while Idaho has
115. But based on “feature class,” Florida, Idaho, and Utah
have 211, 116, and 40 bars, respectively. Note: a bar is an
elongated ridge of sand, gravel, or other sediment that forms
in a river, lake, or ocean.

• Of the 99 U.S. Nipples, nearly one-third (29) are in Utah;
Mollies/Mollys is most common (8).

• The U.S. has 365 Eggs, but only Utah, Virginia, and Texas have

• Utah has only two wives (Wife), but this is one more than any
other state in the nation.

• Devil (U.S.–1,853 and Utah–69) is more common than Hell,
but God and Jesus are omnipresent. Each has “more than
2,000” matches in the U.S. In Utah God has only 37 matches,
while Jesus has 1,126. This is due to the inclusion of church
names in the database (the devil is in the detail).

• Hell on earth (or at least in the U.S.–983 matches, and Utah–
55 matches) is much more common than Heaven (U.S.–327
and Utah–13).

• Utah has a Mitten Canyon in Uintah County, but the famous
Mittens (East and West Mitten Buttes) of the Navajo Nation’s
Monument Valley are on the Arizona side of the border.

• Shite Creek is in Idaho. Shitten Creek is in Oregon.
Shitamaring Creek is in Utah. None of these states contain
one of the nation’s 28 Paddles.

• Scape Ore Swamp in South Carolina has not always been
named such. Feature names can be and are changed for
political correctness and other reasons, but the original name
is maintained in the database. (You will have to look up the
original name yourself.)

• Curiously, Utah contains none of the 104 Strange U.S. names
and not one of the truly Odd (311) U.S. Names.

• While 23 names across the U.S. include Goblin, Utah’s
“Goblin Valley” is unique.

• Unique is not unique (12 in the U.S.), but nothing is Unique
in Utah.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Debate Pits Tar Sand Development Vs Wilderness In Utah

With oil prices surging, there is a huge cry to develop more domestic energy programs. One would extract oil from "tar sands" in eastern Utah's dinosaur country. But some fear the project will destroy the environment, which is home to mule deer, elk and many other kinds of wildlife.

Alberta-based Earth Energy Resources Inc is moving ahead to develop a 62-acre project in that area, and has leases on 7,800 acres. It estimates about 250 million barrels of oil can be recovered.

In the end, the fate of this and similar projects will come down to public sentiment. Do we place the highest value on preserving the recreational and environmental qualities of the land, or do we value the energy potential? Periodic public hearings give interested parties a chance to express their views. We encourage people to attend and participate.

This AP article gives a good overview of the debate. Below are excerpts.

The Bureau of Land Management says Utah has an estimated 12 to 19 billion barrels of oil buried in its tar sands, mostly in the eastern part of the state, though not all of that would be accessible.

Living Rivers is challenging this project's approval and contends it would dig up fragile topsoil, destroy limestone plateaus formed over thousands of years and pollute groundwater downstream that flows into the Colorado River. The group claims the Utah Division of Water Quality didn't accurately assess the potential for widespread environmental damage from the PR Springs mine. A hearing is set for May 25.

While tar sands projects are relatively new in the U.S., Canada has been a major producer for years, and in doing so, has become the No. 1 foreign supplier of oil to America. Alberta's sprawling oil sands deposits are the second largest oil reserves in the world outside of Saudi Arabia. The region produces about 1.2 million barrels of oil a day with an estimated 174 billion barrels in reserve.

Environmentalists in the U.S. say they don't want to see a Canadian-style oil sands industry crop up here, and are concerned that water pollution generated in the process could poison underground aquifers and wildlife in the region.

Earth Energy says it will deploy a "revolutionary" new extraction process in Utah using a citrus-based solvent that "leaves behind no toxic chemicals" or the need for retention ponds, ensuring it doesn't harm wildlife or other natural resources.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Timp Cave Will Not Open For Season Until About May 25

Maintenance work is underway to improve trail access and cave lighting at Timpanogos Cave National Monument. Because of the work, the monument's public opening will be pushed back about a month.

The news release below gives details, provided by the National Park System.

Maintenance Work to Delay Opening of Timpanogos Cave National Monument

Timpanogos Cave National Monument will remain closed to visitors until at least May 25, 2011 as the park completes several maintenance and construction projects. Additional opening delays may be necessary if project completion schedules are not met. The park historically opens on Mother's Day weekend which this year is the first weekend of May.

The delay in opening the park results from critical upgrades to the electrical and lighting systems in the caves. Staff will be installing new electrical grounding connections and repairing other connections that have corroded through the years. The park is also placing temporary barriers along about 300 yards of the cave trail where cliffs along the edge of the trail create a high risk falling hazard. Permanent rock walls or hand rails will be installed at these locations in the future.

"If all the projects conclude on schedule, we should be able to open the park by May 25," said park superintendent Denis Davis. "Our primary concern is for the safety of park visitors and staff."

Additionally, the shelter at the cave exit is being extended to improve visitor safety from falling rock hazards. The only fatality from rock fall in the park's history occurred at the cave exit around 1933. This project has been planned for several years and construction is scheduled to begin August 1. When that project begins, the trail and cave tours will be open to the public Friday through Sunday and holidays. Construction work will require closure of the trail Monday through Thursday to ensure safety.

Davis also advises the public to check the park website ( or to contact the park directly at (801) 756-5238 beginning in mid-May for the exact opening date and to buy tickets for cave tours. The National Park Service wants all visitors to enjoy the caves but must limit numbers to protect delicate, irreplaceable cave features. Each tour has a 20 person limit. To purchase advance tickets please call the park up to 30 days before you plan to visit. Because of construction activities and possibility of schedule changes, it is particularly important this year to make reservations in advance.

The caves at Timpanogos are typically open from May through October. The caves are closed if weather or other factors make hiking conditions difficult or dangerous. The trail up the steep and rugged northern slope of Mt. Timpanogos is physically demanding, but rewarding, with a climb of 1,092 ft in 1½ miles. A typical round trip to and through the caves, and back down takes about 3½ hours. The Timpanogos Cave Visitor Center is located in American Fork Canyon on Utah Highway 92, 10 miles east from Interstate 15, about 30 miles southeast of Salt Lake City.

For more information regarding the opening of the park or tours of the cave please call (801) 756-5238 or visit the park website at

Friday, April 08, 2011

Budget Deal Averts Federal Shutdown That Would Have Impacted Parks

Update: Last Minute Budget Deal Reached to Avert Shutdown

At this writing, there is a last minute budget deal in the works and everyone hopes it will go through, averting a federal government shutdown. We are optimistic.

Since Utah the federal government runs Utah’s national parks and many other popular tourist destinations, a shutdown could have profound impact here. We think it is good to be prepared for any possible outcome.

Sadly, there are few hard answers. People tell us the impact will depend on the length of the shutdown, and that is unknown. Most people think a shutdown, if it comes, will be short and will not have great impact.

KSL has this extensive report describing what might happen under a shutdown.

The Salt Lake Tribune has this headline: S. Utah resort towns fear ‘disaster’ in shutdown

Below are excerpts from the Trib article:

At Zion, spokesman David Eaker said a park closure could furlough 150 workers, though a skeleton staff would remain. Campers would have to leave the park. Shuttle service would stop. About 8,500 visitors a day would be allowed — only to travel on State Route 9, which runs between the two park entrances. Zion’s lost revenue could hit $35,000 a day.

Cook, who manages Zion Park Inn, said even if a closure lasted only a few days, it could take weeks to get visitation back on track. This is the beginning of the busy season, when tourists book up to 95 percent of the rooms.

(Dean) Cook said customers began calling at his 120-room motel Friday to cancel reservations. “Along with rising gas prices, [Washington] doesn’t understand what this does to us guys.”

Thursday, April 07, 2011

How Would A Federal Shutdown Affect Utah Parks

At this writing, politicians are deadlocked and may not pass a stop-gap federal budget bill. We all hope they will find ways to compromise and prevent a government shutdown. But Utah national parks are making contingency plans just in case.

Zion Park posted these messages on Twitter:

In the event of a government shutdown, access to all park facilities, services, and areas will be suspended.

In the event of a government shutdown, the Zion-Mt. Carmel Hwy and Tunnel through the park will remain open to through traffic only.

We don't know details about how the parks would operate during a shutdown. Probably, visitor centers and other facilities would be closed and non-essential services would be eliminated until a new spending bill is passed. Park rangers would probably operate with reduced crews.

Would campgrounds close? At this point we don't know. Would trails close? Probably not.

If a shutdown comes, it will probably be short-lived. Congress is under great pressure to pass a spending bill and so any shutdown will probably last only a few days, at most. Hopefully...

Wednesday, April 06, 2011

Maob Easter Jeep Safari Will Be April 16-24

The annual Easter Jeep Safari will be held April 16-24 in Moab. It is a huge event that attracts enthusiasts from around the world. It is fun for participants and spectators. The town will be crowded; motels and campgrounds will be full.

Main activities involve organized 4X4 tours over 30 scenic trails. The tours are guided and participants are required to stay on designated routes and obey safety rules.

Some people choose to go it on their own, driving area trails without being a formal part of the Safari. People who do that need to take care because many routes are dangerous. People often get in trouble when the underestimate the technical difficulty of trails.

Many vendors will be on hand showing and selling products. Jeep always shows concept vehicles during the show. You can preview vehicles here.

There will be music and food and opportunities for all kinds of recreational activities beyond the 4X4 trails.

The Safari is sponsored by the Red Rock 4-Wheelers. Their website and online newspaper have details about the Safari.

Tuesday, April 05, 2011

Caution Urged As Boating Season Begins In Utah

Ice has melted from many Utah reservoirs and boats are being launched on the open water. Fishermen man many of the boaters and fishing is very good at this time of year. The water is still very cold and so most people are not yet engaging in other water sports.

Officials are urging caution because of the cold water, and because of windy, stormy conditions.

High-elevation reservoirs and still frozen and some mid-elevation waters still have floating ice.

Four boating mishaps have been reported during the past few days. Utah State Parks provided the new release below:


Salt Lake City – Utah State Parks Boating Program Manager Dave Harris
reported warm weather brought many boaters to our waterways this past weekend,
but rapidly changing weather, cold water and unprepared boaters resulted in at
least four incidents where rangers rescued boaters.

The first incident occurred at Utah Lake where rangers responded to two kayakers
who were caught in strong winds and having difficulty returning to shore. Neither
kayaker was wearing a life jacket.

A second incident involved a man who fell overboard into the 40-degree waters of
Deer Creek Reservoir. The victim was rescued by Deer Creek State Park Rangers,
and treated and released by local medical personnel.

The other two incidents occurred on Willard Bay. State Park Rangers responded to
one vessel carrying two adults and two children that had broken down and was
pushed up on the dike by strong winds. The second incident involved a 12-foot boat
that capsized in strong winds tossing three people into the water. Only one had a life
jacket. Fortunately the boat capsized close to the dike and all three were able to
swim to safety.

“You never know when you might end up in the water. Wearing a life jacket not only
keeps you afloat, but provides an extra layer of warmth. The water you are boating
on this time of year was ice or snow just a few short days ago,” said Harris. He
added that average water temperatures in northern Utah are around 40 degrees.
“The combination of additional heat and flotation might mean the difference
between life and death,” reported Harris. “Wearing a life jacket can also aid in self rescue,

providing you with extra time to climb back into your boat.” Harris said
statistics prove the importance of wearing life jackets. Three of four people who
drowned in boating accidents would not have died had they worn a life jacket.
State boating law requires all children 12 years of age and younger to wear a life
jacket while boating and it is recommended that all boaters wear a life jacket at all

For more information or to take a boating safety course, or call
801-538-BOAT. Utah Boaters…WEAR IT!

Monday, April 04, 2011

Waterfall Season In Zion Park

Spring temperatures are rising in Zion National Park, causing snowmelt runoff to cascade down washes and over cliffs, creating dozens of waterfalls. It is a beautiful sight.

I hiked in the park over the weekend and enjoyed the pleasant weather. Daytime temperatures climbed into the low 80s – perfect for all kinds of outdoor recreation. Streams are flowing high and fast and so care is needed to stay safe.

Wildflowers are starting to bloom, and cactus flowers will soon be profuse throughout the lower areas of the park.

I’m fascinated by the waterfalls and enjoy seeking them out. During spring, dozens of waterfalls can be seen from paved roads in the park, and hundreds others can be found in the backcountry. Three easily seen waterfalls are quite spectacular. The one shown in our photo can be seen at Temple of Sinawava, at the end of the road in Zion Canyon.

Another waterfall tumbles off the cliff next to Weeping Rock. (When you are looking at Weeping Rock, the season waterfall is on the left.)

Another plunges into Upper Emerald Pool. This one flows year-round, but is only a trickle during the warm season. In the sprint it is an impressive torrent.

High country snowpack is heavy this year and so runoff will be intense and last for weeks – probably into early June.

I’m working to photograph all major waterfalls in Zion Park. That’s a challenging endeavor, but great fun. Many area located in rugged backcountry where they are very difficult to reach.

Over the weekend I probed an area on North Creek, photographing small waterfalls as I systematically move through the park.

It will take time to complete my project.

- Dave Webb

Friday, April 01, 2011

Park City Extends Its Ski Season

Park City Mountain Resort is extending its ski season by one week. It is now scheduled to be open through April 17. The resort provided the news release below.

On a related issue, Park City was recently named one of the 5 best snowboarding resorts in the US by Details.

Park City Mountain Resort Extends Season - Closing Day Pushed to April 17

Park City, Utah (March 25, 2011) — Park City Mountain Resort today announced it is extending the 2010-11 winter season to April 17, 2011.

“Thanks to a 120-inch settled base depth and an above average snowfall in March, we’ve decided to stay open for an additional week,” said Jenni Smith, president and general manager of Park City Mountain Resort. “With several storms expected through the middle of April, our extended week is another way that we can say thank you to our loyal guests and the Park City community for another great season.”

Lift ticket pricing and terrain openings will be announced at a later date.

Park City Mountain Rentals, ski and snowboard school, Legacy Sports, Alpine Coaster, and several on-mountain restaurants will be operational through April 17.

The extended week of the season brings even more opportunity for a ski or snowboard vacation with big savings.

Spring Powder Package
Get fresh tracks this spring for a fraction of the cost. Save up to 50% with the Spring Powder Package. Starting at just $85 per person/per night you can enjoy the awesome snow conditions and extended season at Park City Mountain Resort. Reserve your spot on the chairlift today!

** $85 pp/per night is based on double occupancy and includes two adult 2-day lift passes to Park City Mountain Resort. Two night minimum stay required.

Available March 25, 2011 through April 17, 2011.

*Prices subject to change and based on availability. Additional nights and lodging options are available. Taxes and fees not included and restrictions apply.

About Park City Mountain Resort

Park City Mountain Resort, named the most accessible mountain resort in North America by the readers of SKI magazine, is located in the heart of Park City, Utah and is only a 40-minute drive from the Salt Lake City International Airport. With 3,300 acres of unspoiled terrain, the Resort offers groomed Signature Runs™, bumps, powder, trees, eight peaks, nine bowls, three terrain parks, and the Eagle Superpipe. Park City Mountain Resort was recently named the most family friendly resort by viewers of and once again ranked a Top-five resort by the readers of SKI and Transworld Snowboarding magazines. For more information, visit or call (800) 222-PARK.
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