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Utah Travel Headlines

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Mountain Meadows Designated A National Historic Landmark

Mountain Meadows, a beautiful little valley in southern Utah southwest of Cedar City, has been declared a national historic landmark.

The valley was the site of one of the saddest events in Utah history. On Sept. 11, 1857, a group of Mormon militiamen slaughtered 120 men, women and children, totally destroying the Fancher-Baker wagon train, which was passing through the area while headed to California. All adults and older children were killed. Seventeen young children were spared.

A monument marks the spot where the massacre occurred. A group representing the descendents of those children has pushed to have the monument recognized for its national historic significant. Leaders from Utah and the Mormon Church have supported the designation.

I have watched with interest, from a different perspective. I happen to be a direct descendant of John D Lee, one of the militia leaders who carried out the massacre. Lee was the only man convicted of a crime associated with the massacre. He was returned to the site and executed.

It is difficult for us to understand how the massacre could have happen. Stories handed down in my family point out some of the context, noting that Mormons had been driven from their homes in Missouri and Illinois, many injured or killed, persecuted to the point that they actually fled from the United States. Shortly after becoming established in the Utah Territory, the US government sent an army to quash them. The settlers were on edge.

I am not trying to defend the massacre. Lee and others involved made a terrible decision, with tragic consequences. I'm pleased the the monument has won national recognition.

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

"Utahns already know of the site’s historic significance," Rep. Jim Matheson, D-Utah, said in a statement."Now, because of this designation, it will become better known to the rest of the country."

"The designation means the United States has recognized that this site is among the most important in U.S. history," said Lysa Wegman-French, a historian with the Intermountain regional office of the National Park Service. "I like to compare it to the Emmy or Oscar awards for actors. This is public recognition of the importance of the site to the nation."

Patty Norris, whose great-great-great grandfather and seven other relatives were murdered at Mountain Meadows more than 150 years ago, was overcome with emotion at Thursday’s news that the southwestern Utah site has been designated a national historic landmark.

"I’m ecstatic and excited. It’s overwhelming," Norris said from her northern Arkansas home. "I’m sure that all those who died out there that day would be extremely proud and grateful for those who have worked on this for so long."

"This is the culmination of a multiyear collaboration between the church as landowner, victim groups and the federal government," Richard Turley, assistant LDS Church historian, said Thursday. "We are grateful that so many people came together to make this a reality."

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints will continue to manage the part of the site it owns, while the U.S. Forest Service will oversee its portion of the property 35 miles southwest of Cedar City.

Utah July 4th Celebrations

There will be celebrations in communities all around Utah on Monday, as our nation celebrations Independents Day. There will be pancake breakfasts, parades, 10k runs, pageants, fireworks and other activities.

Travelers are always welcome to join the festivities. Below we list some of the bigger celebrations. Check our events listings, local newspapers and chamber of commerce websites for details about other holiday happenings.

America’s Freedom Festival at Provo, with its Stadium of Fire, is one of the largest Independence Day celebrations in the US. Brad Paisley and David Archuleta will perform at Stadium of Fire, which also features a massive fireworks demonstration.

In Salt Lake City, fireworks and festivities will be held in several locations including Jordan Park, Sugarhouse Park, Liberty Park and the Gallivan Center.

At Snowbird, people will be snow skiing in shorts and swimming suits. There will be fireworks and other festivities.

Park City will have festivities over several days, and a big fireworks display on July 4th.

Ogden holds its annual Hot Rock’n 4th – the largest celebration in northern Utah.

There will also be celebrations in St George and Moab and many other communities.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

US National Parks Face Serious Threats

The National Parks Conservation Association has completed a comprehensive assessment of the health of US national parks, and concluded that our parks face grave threats that need to be addressed now.

Utah's National Parks scored better than average in most respects, but the report pinpointed many substantial problems.

The Deseret News has this article about the report. Below are excerpts.

"This is the most comprehensive effort ever undertaken in assessing the health of our national parks," Tom Kiernan, president of the conservation association, said in a teleconference. "Our parks are not in the best of health."

Among those studied are four of Utah's national parks, including Zion, Canyonlands, Capitol Reef and Bryce. Both Bryce and Zion received "good" overall scores in terms of natural resources but were dinged for protection of cultural resources, scoring "poor."

Capital Reef scored "fair" in both categories, while Canyonlands scored fair in natural resources but poor in its documentation and assessment of cultural resources.

Overall, the report noted that as of fiscal year 2010, the National Park Service had an annual operating shortfall of more than $600 million and a backlog of maintenance projects totaling nearly $11 billion.

Not a single park, for example, had cultural resources that were graded in "excellent" condition, with the report underscoring that there are millions of artifacts left uncatalogued and few parks have even taken steps to conduct a park-wide study of what treasures may exist.

Such was the case with Canyonlands National Park, which the report noted has many known prehistoric sites such as Barrier Canyon rock art, but lacked an assessment nevertheless.

In contrast, Capitol Reef National Park has the staff to conduct annual monitoring of the park's 25 historic structures and the data is kept up to date, the report said. Comprehensive condition assessments are performed every five years, and all structures have been evaluated for listing on the National Register for Historic Places.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Utah Touted For Outdoor Fitness Vacations

Utah's incredible outdoor playgrounds are famous adventure destinations. Now, more and more people are coming here on vacations that combine adventure with fitness training and conditioning programs. Throw in Zion Park-like scenery and you have a combination that is receiving national press.

The San Francisco Chronicle published this press release about a partnership between two interesting companies. I enjoyed reading the news release, but some portions didn't see to flow smoothly. I've included excerpts below, reordered so they are more readable (in my opinion).

Take your fitness to the next level with the latest in home training programs and exclusive outdoor fitness vacations to Utah, "The State of Sport."

Both named to Outside Magazine's 2011 Travel Hot List, two seasoned fitness experts have teamed up to provide the tools and training grounds to make this your most fit summer yet.

Melanie Webb of Sol Fitness Adventures, a one-on-one fitness specialist whose clients include a veteran motocross rider and a novice outdoors woman training to hike Mt. Kilimanjaro, hosts fitness vacations at two locations in Utah. Zion Outskirts treks thrill-seeking explorers through a remote slot canyon, while Alpine Fitness Retreat at Sundance Resort combines the luxury of resort accommodations with outdoor hikes and bike rides.

Based in Atlanta, Georgia, (Marcus) Shapiro has trained clients for 17 years and established Fit for Trips in 2009.

Shapiro says of the partnership: "Melanie and I share a common goal: to ensure that adventure travelers have the best possible experience and memories to share. Melanie is a brilliant fitness coach and adventure guide. Fit for Trips' objective is to get travelers prepared for any Sol Fitness Adventure experience. Our online fitness programs are completely customized to the activities in each Sol itinerary. And they are accessible from any computer, anywhere. During the pre-departure training phase, each Sol traveler will get the support needed via virtual meetings, phone, and email."

Melanie says: "Marcus and I see how our specialties compliment one another. Marcus has developed state-of-the-art technology that enables a person to receive professional guidance while training on their own time. Sol's fitness vacations to Utah require a certain level of conditioning from travelers. This partnership with Fit for Trips allows me to provide remote clients with the same level of professionalism and care that I am able to give to private training clients."

Outside Magazine's 2011 Travel Hot List featured Webb and Shapiro for their innovative approaches to training travelers for their adventures. The two fitness professionals met while attending the Adventure Travel Trade Association Summit in Aviemore, Scotland in September 2010.

- Dave Webb

Friday, June 24, 2011

Utah Shakespearean Festival Opens 50th Season

The Tony Award-winning Utah Shakespeare Festival has just kicked off its golden anniversary season. The summer schedule includes six plays, with two more commencing in late September.

The festival makes its home in Cedar City, not far from Zion and Bryce Canyon national parks, Cedar Breaks National Monument and many state parks and recreation areas. It is great fun take in a festival play or two while visiting the areas parks and other playgrounds.

The Las Vegas Review Journal has this article about the new season.

The festival itself provided the information below. In addition, many special events will be held this year. See the festival website for details.

June 23 through September 3
  • A Midsummer Night's Dream
  • Richard III
  • Romeo and Juliet
June 27 through September 3
  • The Music Man
  • The Glass Menagerie
June 28 through October 21
  • Noises Off!
September 22 through October 22
  • The Winter's Tale
  • Dial M for Murder

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Report Shows Benefits From Promoting Recreation, Tourism

Much of rural Utah is composed of public land controlled by the federal government - including some of our most popular parks and recreation areas.

People from around the world come here to enjoy those lands, and that gives rural economies a real boost. Now a new federal report shows just how big of an impact tourism has. And it underscores the need to continue to promote and develop recreation and tourism.

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

Almost 15,000 rural Utahns — and 20,319 people statewide — can attribute their jobs to tourism-related activities fostered by the Interior Department. Those activities attracted more than 21 million visitors last year, generating $1.7 billion in economic output.

In releasing the report, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar said it affirms his agency "creates and supports private-sector jobs and economic growth in Utah and all the states."

In addition, he said, the figures "underscore how investing in areas such as recreation, conservation and energy development can play an important role in getting our economy moving again."

The Interior report said the National Park Service attracted 8.7 million visitors last year, employing 8,619 people and generating an economic output of $597 million.

Bodies of water managed by the Bureau of Reclamation were visited by another 6.1 million guests, supporting 6,146 jobs and $557 million in economic activity. Bureau of Land Management lands also drew 6.1 million visitors, leading to 5,486 jobs and economic output of $512 million.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Daily Air Service Begins Between Provo, Denver

Today Frontier Airlines began regularly scheduled flights between Provo, Utah, and Denver, Colorado.

The Provo/Utah Valley community has grown rapidly during the past few years and officials say the area is ready for expanding air service. The Salt Lake Tribune has this article about the development. Below are excerpts.

Joel Racker, president and chief executive of the Utah Valley Visitors and Convention Bureau, sees it as a "game-changer" for Utahns living south of Provo, allowing them to shave an hour or more off a trip to the airport.

So how did Provo land Frontier?

The city hired a firm to see how many Utah County residents were flying — and where — by checking bookings with online travel sites. City officials then started courting airlines. Frontier bit.

The city also worked with MillionAir, a charter airline, to construct a security-screening and gate area for the Frontier flight.

Well, Provo scores another bragging point, especially as the city and Utah County prepare to open a new convention center in spring 2012.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Grand Opening Set For New Quarry At Dinosaur National Monument

The quarry at Dinosaur National Monument has traditionally been the key visitor attraction, but it has been closed for the past couple years because the old building that housed it was deemed unsafe.

Now, a new visitor center and exhibit hall are being built at the quarry and are scheduled to open to the public with a big cerement on Oct. 4, 2011. They will provide an outstanding opportunity to see dinosaur bones and other fossils exposed in native rock.

Visitors will once again be able to see the classic cliff face where hundreds of bones are clearly visible - the sight that made the quarry famous and drew visitors from around the world.

The National Monument provided the news release below.

Grand Opening Scheduled for new Quarry Visitor Center and Quarry Exhibit Hall

"On October 4, 2011, staff at Dinosaur National Monument invite the public to celebrate the Grand Opening of our new Quarry Visitor Center and Quarry Exhibit Hall," stated Superintendent Mary Risser. "October 4th will be the 96th anniversary of the creation of the original 80-acre Dinosaur National Monument. Hosting a grand opening of our new buildings is an exciting way to celebrate our Founders Day."

The Quarry Visitor Center will provide information to visitors through new exhibits, an auditorium where visitors can view movies about the monument, and staff who can answer questions about the Monument and surrounding area. Exhibits in the new visitor center will introduce visitors to natural resources, homesteading history, petroglyphs, geology, paleontology, and the rivers of Dinosaur National Monument. They are designed to stimulate visitors' interest and encourage visitors to get out and discover Dinosaur National Monument on their own. Interpretive and educational sales items will be available in the Intermountain Natural History Association's bookstore.

Located over the site of the world famous Carnegie Dinosaur Quarry, the new Quarry Exhibit Hall will provide public access to the 1,500 dinosaur bones found on the cliff face as they were deposited approximately 149 million years ago. The exhibit hall will also feature exhibits and displays about the Jurassic environment and its inhabitants.

"The American Rehabilitation and Recovery Act provided the funding for these buildings. As soon as we learned that we had the money for the project, we began the contracting process," stated Risser. "Because of the complexity of this project, the contract was issued for an 18-month construction period. Advanced Solution Group out of Kaysville, Utah received the notice to proceed with the project the middle of March 2010. Eighteen months takes us into September, when we anticipate that construction will be finished."

"Although the grand opening is planned for October, once both buildings are finished and the exhibits are installed, we will open them to the public as soon as possible. This will allow us to start up operations and learn the intricacies of the buildings," continued Risser. "We are in the initial stages of planning for the Grand Opening celebration. Uintah County and the Intermountain Natural History Association are partnering with us to plan the day's activities." More information about the Grand Opening will be provided as it becomes available on a special webpage. You can also find us on facebook or follow DinosaurNPS on twitter for updates.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Free Admission To National Parks On June 21

The first day of summer is Tuesday, June 21, and US national parks will celebrate by offering free admission.

The National Park Service is offering several fee-free days to encourage people to visit these incredible places. Other fee-free days remaining this year are Sept. 24, which is called Public Lands Day, and Nov. 11-13, Veterans Day weekend.

A complete list of national parks covered by the free entrance offer can be found here. The list includes many of the system's best-known parks, including Arches, Canyonlands, Capitol Reef, Bryce and Zion in Utah.

Some national monuments and other national recreational areas will also offer free admission.

Some park concessions offer deals on fee-free days. You can find details here.

On a related note, Cedar Breaks National Monument opened for the season today, after being delayed for weeks because of deep snowdrifts. Details.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Understanding Utah’s New Fireworks Laws

Utah’s fireworks laws were liberalized during the last Legislative session. In the past, laws were quite restrictive. Many people traveled out of state to buy fireworks and then smuggled them back. Now, more popular kinds of fireworks can be sold and used here.

The Legislature also extended the length of time during which fireworks are legal, so the period now runs from continuously through the Forth of July and 24th of July holiday season.

Since this spring has been so wet, thick grass covers foothills adjacent to many cities. That grass will soon dry and will be a significant fire hazard. People using fireworks need to be careful to keep fireworks out of these areas. It is also illegal to use fireworks in National Forests, National Parks and many other recreational areas.

This pdf document summarizes the new fireworks laws. Below are excerpts.

Fireworks in Utah - 2011

There have been some significant changes in the Utah fireworks laws that go into effect this firework season. We are asking for your help to keep your community safe this year by sharing these talking points. You may contact the Office of the State Fire Marshal at 801-284-6350.
You may now purchase and use lawful fireworks from June 26 – July 26. (The dates for sale and use of fireworks for New Year and Chinese’s New Year celebrations remains the same.)

Still not allowed: firecrackers, M-80, cherry bombs, bottle rockets, Roman candles, single or reloadable mortars, and ground salutes.

Fireworks need space from trees, carports, structures, or other obstacles. Aerial or “cake” fireworks need at least a 30 foot bubble of clearance around on the ground and above in the air. Some need as much as 150 feet clearance in the air.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Utah Arts Festival Will Be June 23-26

The 35th annual Utah Arts Festival will run June 23-26, at Library Square in downtown Salt Lake City.

The event has grown to be a major regional festival, attracting visual and performing artists from all around the United States. This year there will be 159 visual artists, more than 100 performing arts groups, a film program, literary program, children's art yard, plus food and many kinds of activities.

The festival provided the information below. City Weekly has this interesting article about the history of the event.

Welcome from the Executive Director

Welcome to the 35th Anniversary of the Utah Arts Festival! From its first days on Main Street to its permanent home at Library Square, the Festival was always meant to be a gathering spot each summer to celebrate the arts and bring the community together. With initial funding from a Bicentennial Grant to celebrate the country's 100th birthday, and the enthusiasm of some talented individuals from the Salt Lake City Arts Council, the 1st Salt Lake City Festival of the Arts graced three blocks of Main Street in 1977.

Back then, 55 visual artists, 43 performing arts groups and 8 food artists participated in the Festival and the budget was $38,000. In 2011, 159 visual artists, more than 100 performing arts groups, a film program, literary program, children's art yard, demonstrating arts, commissions and awards make up the Festival. Oh, and the budget is now $1.6 million. Amazing what can happen in 35 years! I often think about the creators of this grand institution and wonder, "did they ever think the idea they had back in the 70s would turn into what it is today?" As the current stewards the Utah Arts Festial, the staff and board of directors look to continue the eff orts of our forefathers for many years to come! Enjoy.

Lisa Sewell
Executive Director

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

High Runoff Is Now Peaking, Conditions Should Soon Improve

Warm temperatures during the next few days will probably bring peak streamflows around Utah. Some streams may have already peaked. Within a few days, flows should start to recede and conditions will slowly improve.

Runoff has been at record levels this year – the highest ever recorded on some streams. Flooding has occurred in spots and it has affected travel and recreation. But, overall, Utah has had relatively few problems, considering the amount of water that has and still is cascading down our mountains.

Major highways have not been affected in Utah, but I-70 has seen lane restrictions because of flooding just across the border in Colorado. Some secondary roads have been impacted.

Flood watches continue in several areas. This Salt Lake Tribune article gives a summary.

Freemont Indian State Park’s day use area has recently been flooded. The YouTube video below shows the impressive flow inundating the area from normally tiny Clear Creek.

Our photo above shows standing water on the White Rim Trail, in Canyonlands National Park near Moab.

Always check locally to learn about current conditions before you head into Utah’s backcountry.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Freedom Festival Events Set To Begin In Provo

America's Freedom Festival at Provo is billed as one of the largest patriotic festivals in America. Events begin tomorrow and culminate with the massive Stadium of Fire celebration on July 2 and the Grand Parade on July 4.

The popular Stadium of Fire will feature music by Brad Paisley and David Archuleta. This year's celebration also includes a talent search, with the top 3 performers appearing at the event and competing for a $10,000 prize.

The Stadium of Fire also includes dancers and other performers and ends with a massive fireworks display.

There are still plenty of opportunities to get involved in the festivities.

The festival website has this complete list of events.

The Provo Herald has this article describing festival events that take place during June.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Snowbasin Has Reopened For Weekend Skiing/Snowboarding

For the first time ever, Snowbasin Ski Resort has reopened for summer skiing and boarding.

With a base of over 100 inches of snow remaining at mid-mountain, resort officials say they will offer skiing as long as conditions allow. Snowbird also offers summer skiing and plans to remain open through July 4th.

Below are details about Snowbasin reopening.

Snowbasin to Re-Open for Weekend Skiing/Snowboarding Starting June 11th

Due to popular demand and a 100 inch base, for the 1st time ever Snowbasin Resort will be re-opening for weekends beginning June 11th and will remain open for as long as snow conditions allow. Skiers and Riders will be able to upload and download on Needles Gondola to access multiple runs off intermediate terrain off of Middle Bowl Triple from 8 am to 2 pm. Snowbasin’s General Manager said, “Maintenance scheduled for Needles Gondola has been recently completed which will allow access to the Middle Bowl Triple. Cool temperatures and a significant amount of late season snow has kept our base over 100 inches deep at mid mountain so it only seems natural for Snowbasin to re-open on weekends.”

Season passes for the 2011/2012 winter season can be purchased starting this Saturday, giving those dedicated snow enthusiasts access to skiing and snowboarding earlier than ever. Single day lift tickets are selling for $35. Passes from the past 2010-2011 season will not be honored. Barbeque food will be available. For any other information please call 801.620.1000.

See the resort website for more information.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Zion National Park Seeks Volunteers

Zion National Park has started a "drop-in" program where volunteers can just show up and help with a variety of tasks to protect and improve park resources. Advanced scheduling is not needed. Just show up on a Friday morning and they will put you to work.

In addition, the park need regular volunteers on a scheduled basis. The park provided the info below that describes the two volunteer programs. More information.

Zion National Park Weekly Drop-in Volunteer Program
The weekly drop-in volunteer program at Zion National Park is being offered every Friday through the end of November. This program allows visitors and local residents the chance to lend a hand with much needed projects that help keep the park clean and beautiful. It’s a great way to help preserve Zion National Park, as well as have a fun and worthwhile experience.

Interested volunteers should gather at the Zion Canyon Visitor Center Shuttle Stop at 9:00 a.m. Projects last two to three hours and require no prior knowledge or training. Possible projects include litter removal, minor trail maintenance, and the management of invasive plants.

Participants should bring water, a hat, sunscreen, and good walking shoes. Gloves and tools will be supplied.

Everyone is welcome. No registration is required for individuals. Groups larger than 10 people are required to pre-register. Minors under the age of 18 must be joined by an adult. Please contact the volunteer coordinator at 435-772-0184 for more information or to pre-register a group.

Volunteers in Parks (VIP) program
VIP’s are an integral part of the staff at Zion, and perform a wide variety of duties including (but not limited to):
  • Campground hosts for South and Watchman Campgrounds

  • Interpretation: includes staffing the information desk 3-4 hrs/day, guided walks, talks, roving interpretation, Junior Ranger Program assistants, and other activities.
    Office and library work: includes a wide assortment of routine work and special project oriented work.

  • Museum and photo/slide collection cataloging.

  • Resource management assistance: wildlife inventory and monitoring, native plant nursery, alien plant eradication and archeological surveys.

  • Maintenance work.

  • Housing in the park is generally limited for volunteers between April and October. From November through March, dorm spaces or shared housing may be available. Campground spaces are available for campground hosts. To qualify for housing, when available, an individual would need to volunteer a minimum of 32 hours per week.

Thursday, June 09, 2011

Great Salt Lake Level Is Rising, Benefiting Wildlife & Recreationists

The Great Salt Lake is expected to rise about 5.7 feet this year, the result of heavy runoff from above-normal mountain snowfall. It will be the most the lake has ever risen in one year. But the lake level has been low and so the increase will bring it up to its historic average.

The land around the lake is relatively flat and so a small rise in the lake's level will send water over a large area, recharging wetlands that are important for migrating birds and other wildlife. The lake's surface area is expected to expand almost 40 percent.

The lake is a popular spot for sailboats, and it will become even more attractive as the water rises.

The lake also offers a number of sandy beaches and people enjoy splashing in its famously salty water. Those beaches will be more accessible and pleasant because of the higher water.

The Salt Lake Tribune has this article about the lake's rising water level. Below are excerpts.

As of June 7, the lake had come up to 4,198.1 feet and is expected to hit 4,200 feet or more by the end of the snowmelt. A 5.5- to 5.7-foot gain would be the biggest in one year since records have been kept, according to Dave Shearer, the harbor master at the Great Salt Lake State Marina.

But the water has been so low that this year’s huge runoff will bring it only to its historic average. The lake would have to come up another 6 to 8 feet before the pumps on its west shores, installed by Gov. Norm Bangerter in 1987, could be turned on, said Todd Adams of the state Division of Water Resources.

“We are almost going to recoup from our 11-year drought in one winter,” said Shearer. “The last few years has sucked the life out of the marina. But it’s coming back to life. This has bought us a couple of years of sailing.”

The rising water also is good for wildlife, particularly bird populations that nest or molt on the lake’s shores. The Great Salt Lake is part of both the Pacific and Central North American flyways and hosts hundreds of bird species and populations that number in the millions, said John Luft of the state Division of Wildlife Resources.

Wednesday, June 08, 2011

Tokyo To Salt Lake Flight Expected To Bring More Tour Groups

Delta Air Lines has resumed five-days-a-week flights between Salt Lake City International Airport and Tokyo’s Narita Airport, and Utah tourism officials hope tour companies will use the flights to bring more groups to Utah.

Utah officials have been in Los Angeles this week pitching the state to tour operators. They have also been touting Utah location to TV and movie production companies.

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

One prong targeted tour operators who bring bus-sized groups to the United States, many from Asia.

“This market is extremely important to the year-round health of the lodging industry. International visitation sustains us, so having this flight re-launched is great for business in Utah,” said Lance Syrett, general manager of Ruby’s Inn near Bryce Canyon National Park, in a news release from the Utah Office of Tourism.

The Tourism Office’s promotion was reinforced by Spencer Eccles, executive director of the Governor’s Office of Economic Development, who also helped lead a state effort to impress the motion picture industry.

Eccles supported Utah Film Commission members who were touting new incentives that the state’s Motion Picture Incentive Programs offer to encourage film companies to shoot movies, television shows and commercials in the Beehive State.

“This event lets Hollywood know — studio executives, independent producers and decision makers — that our locations can’t be beat, and that filming in Utah is now even more competitive. We want Utah to always be on their short lists,” said Film Commission Chairman Marshall Moore, adding that more than 800 skilled crew members live in the state, whose colleges and universities also offer degrees in film and digital media.

Tuesday, June 07, 2011

Some Seasonal Roads Are Set To Open

High elevation roads that lead to popular attractions and recreation areas are usually open by now, but are slow this year because of lingering snowpack.

The Visitor Center at Cedar Breaks is scheduled to open this weekend, after crews push snowdrifts off of the access road.

The Alpine Loop Scenic Byway will probably open in mid-June.

Hwy 150 in the Uintas and Hwy 39 (the Monte Cristo road) will probably not open until late June.

Below is information from the Utah Department of Transportation, detailing expected openings for seasonal roads.

Updated June 7, 2011

This list is limited to UDOT’s numbered State Routes, and does not include local county or forest roads.

Note: This report does not include temporary incident road closures.
Check the “Emergency Alerts” and “Road Conditions Alerts” links on the CommuterLink home page for active temporary road closures.

SR 35 Wolf Creek Pass - (Large sinkhole on north end of pass with ramps to make the road passable) OPEN Francis to Hanna – Milepost 12 to 37

SR 39 Monte Cristo - Anticipated Opening End of June CLOSED
East of Ogden – Milepost 37 to 55.5

SR 65 East Canyon - Anticipated Opening End of June CLOSED
Northeast of Salt Lake City – Milepost 3 to 13.2

SR 92 American Fork Canyon / Alpine Loop - Anticipated Opening Mid-June CLOSED Milepost 14 to 22.5

SR 148 Cedar Breaks - Anticipated Opening Mid-June East of Cedar City – Milepost 0.2 to 19 CLOSED

SR 150 Mirror Lake Highway - Anticipated Opening Late-June CLOSED
Kamas to Wyoming Border – Milepost 14.6 to 48

SR 153 Mount Holly Junction Anticipated Opening Mid-June
East of Beaver – Milepost 23 to 35 CLOSED

SR 190 Guardsman Pass Anticipated Opening Late June
Big Cottonwood Canyon (SR-190/Brighton) to Park City (Junction with SR 224) CLOSED

SR 224 Guardsman Pass Anticipated Opening Late June
Park City to Midway CLOSED

Monday, June 06, 2011

Days of the Old West Rodeo Will Be June 9-11

The annual Days of the Old West Rodeo will be held June 9-11 in Delta, in Central Utah.

Delta is a small town, but this is a big event. It is a colorful PRCA event with all of the festivities. Top contestants will compete in steer wrestling, team roping, saddle bronc riding, WPRA Barrel Racing, tie-down roping, and everyone's favorite--bull riding.

Ticket Prices are: $12.00 for Adults (13 years old and up) and $6.00 for children. Children under 3 are free.

Phone: 435-864-7763

Location: Millard County Fairgrounds

Address: 187 South Manzanita Ave, Delta

More information.

Friday, June 03, 2011

Photographing Utah's Raging Waterfalls

Runoff in Utah's rivers and streams will peak during the next few days. Right now most streams are raging, with very high water, and that has created an unusual opportunity to view and photograph waterfalls.

The number of waterfalls is way up right now, since many washes and ravines that are usually dry now have flowing streams. If you pay attention while you drive up Provo Canyon, you can see several waterfalls bonus from the highway. Normally, you can only see majestic Bridal Veil Falls and a couple others, but right now you may see 8 or more, depending on the snow melt that day.

The same is true in Zion Park, and other canyons throughout Utah. There are waterfalls all over the place.

The all will diminish in magnitude in a couple weeks, as runoff ends. By the end of summer, many will dry up completely. But right now they are putting on quite a show.

Yesterday I photographed a series of 3 little-known waterfalls along Fifth Water Creek, which is a tributary to Diamond Fork, located east of the town of Spanish Fork. The stream is normally small and the waterfalls display tranquil beauty. But not on this trip. The stream was gushing and the waterfalls were thundering.

My photos illustrate the change in mood. The top photo shows the middle waterfall along Fifth Water, during a normal year when the stream is tranquil. The bottom photo shows the same waterfall as it looked yesterday, raging and powerful. You can see more photos on my website.

If you like waterfalls, now's the time to see and photograph them. They are impressive.

Thursday, June 02, 2011

Interpretative Panels Provide Info On Great Salt Lake and Salt Flats

5 interpretative panels have been placed at a popular stopping spot along I-80, on the southern end of the Great Salt Lake. The provide travelers with info on the lake and the adjacent Bonneville Salt Flats – two attractions that are of interest to many people traveling through Utah.

The panels are in the Lee Creek area, near the old Saltair complex, just west of Salt Lake City.

The Deseret News has this article about the panels. Below are excerpts.

The panels depict the unique nature of salt-living plants, the diversity of migratory waterfowl and the array of geologic forces over billions of years that have given rise to the area.

"The saline flats and adjacent uplands are the ultimate stereotype for barrenness," said Ella Sorensen of the National Audubon Society. "Conventional wisdom declares them worthless and dead, boring and dull."

"These lands and adjacent waters are not barren, nor are they dead, boring or dull," she said, adding that their simplicity masks incredible complexity.

How to get there:
Take 1-80 west toward Wendover, get off exit at 7200 West, turn right at the stop sign and then immediately turn left onto the frontage road that parallels the interstate. Drive west to a small parking area to the north of the road. This area is the closest point of access to the Great Salt Lake for people in the Salt Lake Valley.

Wednesday, June 01, 2011

Pony Express Re-Enactment Postponed Until August

Pony Express enthusiasts were scheduled to thunder across Utah's desert in a couple of weeks, as part of a re-enactment of the famous relay ride, but the event has been postponed until August.

One of the most difficult and dangerous parts of the old Pony Express trail was the stretch of desert west from Salt Lake City to the Nevada state line. Water was scarce and riders faced countless challenges, including hostile natives.

Now the route is designated a backcountry byway and some way stations are been restored. Utah's Camp Floyd / Stagecoach Inn State Park marks a key stop along the route.

Details of the postponement are given in this news article. Below are excerpts.

For the first time in its 32-year history, the National Pony Express Association is postponing its annual reenactment of the famous ride from St. Joseph, Mo., to Sacramento this summer due to an outbreak of the equine herpes virus EHV-1.

Organizers are banking on the likelihood the virus will have run its course by the time the rescheduled dates come around. Riders will leave St. Joseph on Aug. 17 and arrive in Sacramento on Aug. 27 with letters in their leather mail pouches purchased by trail enthusiasts celebrating its 151st anniversary.

"Those letters will be delayed, but they are going to be delivered," Swigart said. "That's the important part."

The route west out of St. Joseph mostly followed the Oregon Trail from Kansas through what is now Nebraska and Wyoming. From there, it largely followed what is now U.S. Interstate 80 into Utah before veering south toward U.S. Highway 50 into Nevada and on to Sacramento.
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