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Utah Travel Headlines

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Festival Of Trees Opens To Public

The annual Festival Of Trees charity event opened today and will run through Saturday, Dec. 3, at the South Towne Expo Center, 9575 S. State Street in Sandy (Salt Lake area). Hours are 10 a.m. to 10 p.m.

The festival benefits Primary Children's Medical Center. Individuals and families and organizations donate decorated Christmas trees, which are then sold at the event. Over the years it has become popular and attracts many participants. Many people come just because they enjoy viewing the beautiful trees.

KSL TV has this report about the festival. Below are excerpts.

The Festival of Trees, a tradition that began 41 years ago with a display of 60 trees, will open to the public Wednesday with more than 700 trees decorated and donated by individuals, families, church groups and community organizations.

The trees will be sold through an invitation-only silent auction Tuesday night. Any tree not sold will be available for purchase during the festival itself.

The Salt Lake Tribune has this article. Here are excerpts.

According to festival organizers, 100 percent of the money raised benefits Primary Children’s Medical Center. Last year, the festival raised just over $1.5 million; more than $29.3 million has been raised since the event was launched in 1971.

For the kids, there is Santa Land, featuring Old St. Nick himself; face painting, bubbles and other activities; a playhouse plaza filled with child-sized dream houses, gazebos, doll houses, and children’s furniture; and items priced for a child’s budget.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Utah's Top Draws For Tourists

Utah Utah Governor’s Office of Planning and Budget has just released a new report that shows growth in our tourism industry. Numbers for 2010 show an increase of 4.7% over 2009. Visitation to our national and state parks was strong, despite the down economy.

The report also shed light on some of the reasons for the increase - reasons more people are traveling to Utah. The Salt Lake Tribune has this article about the report. Below are excerpts.

"We are getting more repeat customers. All the studies show that, post 9-11, people want an authentic vacation they can enjoy with their family. They want to feel comfortable with where they are going and get good value. Utah has that." (Quote from Leigh von der Esch, managing director of the Utah Office of Tourism.)

She said another key factor is the state’s high-end hotel properties, many in Park City, which have been built in recent years and made Utah a destination for luxury travelers.

In Tuesday’s report, longtime attractions such as Utah’s national and state parks recorded increased visits in 2010, with the former’s count up 1.2 percent, to 6 million in 2010, and the latter up 1.3 percent, 4.8 million.

Von der Esch also predicted that the newly opened Natural History Museum of Utah will be a solid draw for tourists and residents alike. And the huge City Creek Center in downtown Salt Lake City should also attract good numbers of people. The Center is scheduled to open in spring of 2012 and will "feature myriad dining and shopping options."

Many events are planned next year for the 10th anniversary celebration of the 2002 Salt Lake City Winter Olympics, and officials expect it to bring in some tourists.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Coral Pink Sand Dunes Spotlighted In Las Vegas Review Journal

Much of southern Utah is closer to Las Vegas than to Salt Lake City, and so it is natural that Vegas area residents will occasionally trek on over into Utah territory. The Las Vegas Review Journal often carries articles describing Utah attractions and adventures.

In a recent edition, the Vegas paper published this article about Utah's Coral Pink Sand Dunes State Park, giving it a glowing recommendation. Here are excerpts.

A four-season recreation area, Utah's Coral Pink Sand Dunes State Park frequently offers winter visitors the rare experience of playing in sand and snow at the same time. This unique park, located at 6,000 feet elevation, features deep orange-red sand dunes accented by tall Ponderosa pine trees, pinyons and junipers.

Popular with off-roaders, horseback riders, hikers, campers, wildlife watchers and photographers, the park attracted 56,000 visitors last year. It remains open daily all year with no holiday closures.

Near the main park entrance, a tree-shaded area with picnic facilities and a boardwalk trail over the sand invite exploration. Closed to off-road vehicles, this is part of 256 acres set aside for walkers and visitors playing in the sand. Bring the kinds of buckets and spades you would take for the children to play on ocean beaches. In winter, bring along slick-bottomed sliders like toboggans to glide over snow-covered sand hills.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Meet Santa Aboard The ‘North Pole Express’ Heber Valley Railroad

The historic Heber Valley Railroad is offering a “North Pole Express” train ride that has strong family appeal.

For many years the railroad offered a train ride themed around the “Polar Express” story. That tradition has ended, but the new ride is providing comparable entertainment.

The event focuses on children. They are encouraged to wear pajamas. Along the way they receive treats and gifts and eventually meet Santa, as the train makes its way along the historic route.

The Daily Herald has this new article describing the train ride. Below are excerpts.

As we arrived at the “North Pole” we spotted Santa waving from a picturesque scene of lit Christmas trees. Santa then boarded the train and paid a visit with each child. Santa took his time with each child, posing for photos and making sure everyone was being good and listening to their mothers. All the tiny tots aboard our train car definitely had eyes all aglow as Santa made his way through. It’s moments like these that help you understand what they’re talking about in those Christmas songs.

This year, passengers are serenaded by local choirs. The night we rode the train, we were entertained by small groupings from the Wasatch High School Choir all wearing red scarves and gloves, singing silly songs like “I’m Gettin’ Nuttin’ for Christmas” and kid-friendly songs like “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer,” plus traditional songs like “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen,” “Angels We Have Heard on High,” and “Carol of the Bells.”

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Utah Tops Forbes List Of Best States For Business

Forbes Magazine is out with its annual list of the best states for business and Utah is at the top, for the second year in a row.

The magazine says Utah ranks high because of business-friendly laws and tax rates, low energy costs, a strong workforce and an outstanding quality of life. See the magazine’s summary for details.

Local newspapers are playing up the Forbes study. See these reports:
-- Salt Lake Tribune
-- Deseret News

Here are excerpts from the Forbes article.

Utah repeats this year as Forbes Best State for Business and Careers in our sixth annual look at the business climates of the 50 states. No state can match the consistent performance of Utah. It is the only state that ranks among the top 15 states in each of the six main categories we rate the states on.

Technology companies particularly have had Utah on their radar as an affordable alternative to California with overall business costs in Utah 10% below the national average. Adobe Systems, eBay, Electronic Arts and Oracle have all expanded in Utah in recent years.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving

We hope you all enjoy a wonderful Thanksgiving season.

Many Utah businesses will be closed Thursday for the holiday. Most travel-related businesses will be open and many will offer specials for holiday travelers.

Many restaurants, particularly those associated with hotels, will offer Thanksgiving dinners. Gas stations and convenience stores will be open, but most other businesses will be closed.

On Friday, Utah will kick off the Christmas season with "Black Friday" sales and other activities.

The Salt Lake City Downtown Alliance will present its annual Lights On! celebration at Gallivan Plaza Friday evening from 4:45-6 p.m. At dusk, the downtown area will come alive with Christmas lights.

Nearby, Temple Square offers one of the most famous Christmas lights displays in the U.S., featuring more than a million bulbs. The lights attract large numbers of visitors and so traffic will be heavy around the Square throughout the Christmas season.

The Desert News has this interesting article about the history of Christmas lights at Temple Square.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Celebrate The Holidays In A National Park

Utah's national parks are extremely popular during the warm weather seasons. Far fewer people visit during the dead of winter, but those who do often say winter is their favorite time to explore the parks. People often say they prefer winter because it offers more serenity, no congestion, and room to breath.

The scenery is often spectacular during winter. A skiff of snow makes the red rock look stunning.

The National Park Foundation is encouraging people to visit U.S. parks during the holiday season. It has compiled a list of festivities being held in parks around the country. In Utah, the foundation lists this item:

Utah - Golden Spoke National Historic Site - From December 28 - 30, visitors can take part in the annual Winter Steam Festival and watch one of their locomotives in action, as well as at rest in the same spot where the transcontinental railroad was completed over 142 years ago.

See the entire list.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Hospitality Industry Chooses Utah's 'Top Chef' And Industry Stars

The Utah Hotel & Lodging Association recently held its annual association meeting in Salt Lake City. During the event, some association members were honored for providing exceptional service. Below are highlights.

For more information, read this news release provided by the association.

2011 Top Chef was awarded to Chef Peter Hodgson from the University Park Marriott

2nd place was awarded to Chef Shawn Armstrong from the Montage Deer Valley

3rd place was awarded to Chef Enrique Yescas from the Hilton Garden Inn/Davis Conference Center

Michael Storm, from Swank Audio Visual received the Allied Member of the Year award for his ongoing dedication to provide excellent customer service.

Johanna Jones, from The Residences at The Chateaux received the Concierge/Bellman of the Year award for her untouched “generosity of spirit”.

Billy Cruz, from The Residences at The Chateaux received the Food and Beverage Employee of the Year award for going “above and beyond the scope of his job duties to assist guests with any type of request”.

Scott Lunt, from Davis Conference Center/Hilton Garden Inn received the General Manager of the Year award for his leadership, exemplary character, and willingness to take on difficult tasks and see them through to successful completion.

Juan Payan, from Stein Eriksen Lodge received the Housekeeper of the Year award for being a “true team player” and his example to co-wrokers.

Mark Campbell, from Stein Eriksen Lodge received the Lodging Employee of the Year award for his focus on guest satisfaction by providing informative and professional service to all.

Simon Prado, from Stein Eriksen Lodge received the Maintenance/Engineering Employee of the Year award for his “willingness to learn and positive attitude”.

Connie Harmston, from Davis Conference Center/Hilton Garden Inn received the Outstanding Manager of the Year award for her unmatched knowledge of the industry and dedication to her team that lovingly refer to her as “Mama Harmston”.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Utah's Natural History Museum Is A Big Hit

The Utah Natural History Museum, at the University of Utah in Salt Lake City, moved to a much-needed new facility recently and has now reopened to the public. So far, the reviews are great, from scientists and casual visitors alike.

The Salt Lake Tribune has this article about the reopening. Below is the headline and then excerpts.

Crowds amazed, awed by natural history museum

Cuddling the ancient creatures on display at the new Natural History Museum of Utah was perhaps one of the only things children and other visitors weren’t allowed to do at the museum’s grand opening Friday. The $102 million museum, which opened about a year after the old museum closed, features interactive displays and exhibits at every turn, in addition to the towering dinos Utahns have come to expect.

Children weren’t the only ones amazed. Adults marveled at a dozen huge horned dinosaur heads hanging from a wall like works of art. They halted in front of a wall of skulls tracing human evolution. And they ascended to the Sky Terrace, where views of the Great Salt Lake, downtown Salt Lake City and the snowy Wasatch Mountains extended before them.

"This is spectacular," said Valerie Henderson who visited the museum Friday with her husband and two-month-old daughter, leaving her toddler with a friend so she could fully take it all in. She said she’s eager to return with her toddler and excited to show it off to friends from out-of-town. "We’re so excited this museum has opened because now when the weather is bad we have the most amazing place to take them."

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Plan Unveiled That Would Connect Canyons And Solitude Ski Resorts Via Gondola

A plan was formally unveiled today that would put a gondola over the Wasatch Mountains, connecting Canyons and Solitude ski resorts. Proponents say it would increase skiing opportunities, reduce traffic and make Utah a much more attractive ski destination.

Four members of Utah's Congressional delegation today unveiled legislation to facilitate the project.

Opponents are concerned it could negatively impact Salt Lake City's water supply and cause other environmental damages. has this report about the proposal. Below are excerpts.

“SkiLink creates a game-changing advantage for Utah and for the U.S. snow sport industry,” said Mike Goar, managing director of Canyons, a Talisker Mountain Inc. resort. “It would establish Utah as the most interesting and convenient mountain destination in the U.S. and will positively benefit our local economies."

Goar said the eight-passenger SkiLink gondola will have the capacity to transport 1,000 people per hour each way and is projected to transport skiers between Canyons and Solitude Mountain Resort in just 11 minutes.

"This is short-sighted and being done to circumvent the existing planning processes," said Jeff Niermeyer, Salt Lake City's point man for watershed protection.

Niermeyer, the city's director of public utilities, said he believes Canyons' traffic analysis is flawed, adding that the gondola is masquerading as a transportation solution when it is "really about ski area expansion."

Read the entire report.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Alta Offers Unique 2-Hour Ski Pass

Alta Ski Area opens for the winter season on Friday (Nov. 18). This year the resort will offer a unique 2-hour lift pass, allowing access to the entire mountain from 2:30- 4:30 pm. The pass costs $30 (or just $25 if you are reloading an Alta Card). See the resort's website for more details.

Alta's Ski Free After 3! program has proven that some people have real interest in skiing for a short time period during the day. That program allows skiers to use the Sunnyside Lift and enjoy the gentle slopes in Albion Basin, from 3 pm until closing.

We think the two programs are well suited for people who want to learn to ski - who want to try the sport without having to buy a pricy day-pass. After two hours working new muscles and learning to fall gracefully, many novice skiers are ready to call it a day. And, because the price is low, many will be anxious to return for more punishment.

The 2-hour pass is also appealing to busy folks who can't break away for a full day, but want to get in a few runs after business meetings.

Alta is about 30 miles from downtown Salt Lake City. Drive time is usually only about 45 minutes. Another option is to ride a UTA Ski Bus. You can jump onto a ski bus in downtown Salt Lake, or at many points along the route.

We salute Alta for providing this innovative program to make it easy for people who want to learn to enjoy skiing. With the low price and convenient access, we expect the program to be a winner.

- Dave Webb

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Interior Secretary Recommends More Wilderness In Utah

The battle rages over where federally-protected wilderness should be designated in Utah's backcountry.

US Interior Secretary Ken Salazar has issued a recommendation to Congress calling for the establishment of 18 new wilderness areas. Three are in Utah and are listed below:

- Desolation Canyon (Castle Country area)
- Westwater Canyon (Moab area)
- Mill Creek Canyon (Moab area)

Salazar noted that the Grand County Council favors the wilderness designation. However, other Utah governmental officials are not happy with the move. KSL has this report about the recommendations. Below is an excerpt.

Rep. Jim Matheson, D-Utah, quickly denounced the report.

"I am deeply disappointed that Interior Secretary Salazar continues to be tone deaf about public lands issues in Utah," Matheson said. "As our success in Washington County shows, wilderness proposals must be the result of a grassroots, stakeholder-driven process, rather than a top-down decree. This is not the way to make progress on public lands decisions and it only ensures that we won’t see a successful outcome on the ground here."

On another front, the state of Utah and several counties are battling for control of many backcountry roads out of fear that the federal government will close them to vehicle travel. The disputed roads are on federal land and some are in remote areas.

The Deseret News has this article about the debate over roads. Below is an excerpt.

The fight over who has ultimate control over the destiny of these roads has expanded to include Carbon County, which filed a lawsuit Monday. Gov. Gary Herbert's office and the Utah Attorney General's Office announced this week that lawsuits have been filed on behalf of Garfield County, which is seeking title to 94 disputed road segments within its boundaries and Kane County, which filed Nov. 10 over 710 disputed road segments.

Access — through such action like granting title — has turned into a politically polarizing fight because some of the roads in Kane County traverse wilderness areas or are within the geographical boundaries of the Grand Staircase Escalante Monument or Glen Canyon National Recreation Area. Critics of the counties' claims to roads say getting access is just an excuse to open up more lands to natural resource development.

Monday, November 14, 2011

More Utah Ski Resorts Set To Open This Week

Solitude and Brighton opened for skiing last week and more resorts are scheduled to open during the next few weeks. Here are the scheduled dates:

Nov 18 - Alta
Nov 19 - Park City, Snowbird, Brian Head
Nov 24 - Snow Basin, Powder Mountain
Nov 25 - Canyons
Dec 3 - Deer Valley
Dec 9 - Sundance

Other Utah resorts have not yet announced firm opening dates.

A big storm is expected this weekend and it should greatly improve ski conditions.

We've also had a deadly reminder that avalanche season is starting in our mountains. Yesterday a professional skier triggered an avalanche and was swept over a cliff. He died at the scene. USA Today has this report about the incident.

The accident occurred at Snowbird. That resort was not yet open for skiing and had not started avalanche control work. Officials warn outdoor enthusiasts to use extreme caution when skiing, snowmobiling and engaging in other sports in areas not subject to avalanche control.

During the ski season, the developed ski resorts do routine avalanche control and seldom have slides. Avalanche control work is also routine above highways and other areas people frequent.

People skiing "out of bounds" from the resorts, and those going into the backcountry need to understand avalanche safety and carry emergency equipment.

See the Utah Avalanche Center website for current information on danger levels, and also for safety tips.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Utah Natural History Museum Plans Nov 17 Opening

The Natural History Museum of Utah has successfully moved into its stunning new building, the Rio Tinto Center, and will host a gala grand opening on Nov 17.

Located at the University of Utah in Salt Lake City, the museum has long been a popular attraction for Utah residents and visitors alike. It offers extensive displays covering topics ranging from the earth sciences to paleontology and archaeology. It hosts hands-on learning activities for people of all ages.

The museum's website has information about the Grand Opening Community Gala.

The museum will open to the public the next day. The Salt Lake Convention and Visitor Bureau provided this news release about the events:

Natural History Museum of Utah to Open New Building in Salt Lake City on November 18, 2011

September 26, 2011 (Salt Lake City, UT) – The Natural History Museum of Utah, located at the University of Utah, will reopen to the public on November 18, 2011 in a stunning new building situated in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains, overlooking Salt Lake City and inspired by the diverse landscape of Utah. The $103 million Rio Tinto Center, funded by a public and private partnership, is deeply rooted in place and infused with multiple features that embrace both traditional and new media techniques – a new Museum that sets a new standard for a Natural History Museum of the 21st Century.

For over four decades, the Natural History Museum of Utah has connected Utah residents and tourists alike with the natural wonders and native cultures that define Utah. As an active research institution with a remarkable and growing collection of more than 1.2 million specimens and objects, the Museum is an extraordinary cultural and educational asset for understanding the world. Over the years, the Museum has garnered the respect and affection of visitors, state and local leaders, scientists and museum professionals through programs of sustained excellence in the areas of public education, scientific research, collections preservation and environmental stewardship.

Expected to become a primary tourist destination for children and families, students, natural scientists and visitors to the region from around the world, the new Museum will also provide advanced research facilities and establish a venue for undergraduate and graduate education at the University of Utah.

“We feel Utah residents will be very proud of our new home, which is the product of the work of literally every community in the state and experts from around the world,” said Sarah George, executive director of The Natural History Museum of Utah. “I believe we now offer one of the nation’s great new cultural buildings in which architecture and exhibition content serve and advance science and education while respecting their natural surroundings. We look forward to many years of telling the exciting and important stories of the natural world.”

Rio Tinto Center – Design

The extraordinary new 163,000 square foot Rio Tinto Center, clad in 42,000 square feet of copper, occupies a prominent place at the edge of Salt Lake City and the University of Utah. The facility blends seamlessly into the foothills of the Rocky Mountains, the angles of the roof rising and falling with the slope of the foothills in the background. The design reflects the Museum’s mission to illuminate the natural world through scientific inquiry, educational outreach, mutual cultural experience and human engagement of the past, present and future of the region and the world.

Designed by Todd Schliemann of Ennead Architects, the Museum’s new home overlooks the Salt Lake Valley from its stunning 17-acre site. Leading the project team, in addition to Mr. Schliemann, are Don Weinreich of Ennead Architects, as well as David Brems and John Branson of Salt Lake City’s Gillies Stransky Brems Smith Architects.

Inspired by the region's natural landscape of rock, soil, minerals and vegetation, the Rio Tinto Center rests on a series of terraces that step up the hill and lie along the contours of the site with minimal disruption to the adjacent natural landscape. The new building is located above the shoreline of ancient Lake Bonneville, with the Bonneville Shoreline Trail passing through the property, and provides breathtaking views of the Wasatch Front. Respect for the natural world and human engagement in it is underscored by the design’s “green” initiatives.

With the artful integration of sound principles of sustainability, the design of the Natural History Museum of Utah will play a seminal role in enhancing the public's understanding of the earth's resources and systems and be a model for responsible and environmentally sensitive development. By incorporating the use of recycled materials, local resources, photovoltaic energy, radiant cooling and the implementation of an extensive storm water catchment and management system, the Natural History Museum of Utah is seeking LEED Gold certification, which would make it one of only 18 buildings in Salt Lake City with that distinction.

Inside, the building is divided by a sixty-foot-high central public space, The Canyon, which is the centerpiece of the Museum’s interior. One wing of the stunning new Museum contains long-needed spaces dedicated to the objective understanding of our world – research laboratories, conservation labs, collection storage and administration. The other wing houses public spaces with exhibitions dedicated to the subjective or interpretive aspects of our world so visitors can explore the delicate balance of life on earth and its natural history – galleries and spaces in which to present, interpret and study the Museum’s extraordinary collection of artifacts and exhibits.

Museum Exhibitions

The Natural History Museum of Utah houses the state’s world-class collections in new exhibitions designed by Ralph Appelbaum Associates (RAA) and offers more than 41,300 square feet of gallery and education space, including The Canyon where some Museum theater pieces will be performed. By embracing the tools of modern architecture, exhibition design and media, the re-envisioned Museum presents a fresh, fascinating and immersive journey through the natural formation of life and land around Salt Lake City and throughout the state of Utah.

The Museum’s collections form the basis for all of the Museum's educational functions, from public exhibits and programming to scholarly research and publication. Its systematic collections in the fields of earth sciences, biology and anthropology rank among the largest and most comprehensive in the western United States. While emphasizing the Great Basin and Colorado Plateau, they also include material from throughout the world. Ongoing development of these collections is directed toward strengthening their comprehensive regional coverage and increasing their significance and accessibility to all communities.

The new Museum's exhibitions tap its vast collections in new ways and aim to put more of Utah's treasures on display. This is done in a set of interdisciplinary galleries that explore the diverse ways in which we understand our world. The selection of objects necessitated a careful analysis of the Museum’s existing collections – some of which had never been seen by the public – and a convergence of traditional perspectives to tell a more nuanced story. Nine dedicated, thematic exhibition galleries explore the Sky, Native Voices, Life, Land, First Peoples, Lake (Great Salt Lake), Past Worlds, Our Backyard and Utah's Futures. Each gallery draws from several scientific disciplines and collections as well as from the humanities.

The Rio Tinto Center will offer several free areas in the Museum building: The Canyon, boasting expansive views of the valley; the Museum Store; and the Museum Café, with indoor/outdoor seating and access to the University of Utah’s Wi-Fi network.

About the Natural History Museum of Utah

The Natural History Museum of Utah is one of the leading scientific research and cultural institutions in the country. Established in 1963, the Museum‘s collections contain over 1.2 million objects and offers innovative exhibitions and educational programs to thousands of residents and visitors each year, including traveling and permanent exhibits, special events and other programs. With an expected attendance of 180,000 visitors a year, the Museum also offers a variety of outreach programs to communities and schools throughout Utah, reaching every school district in the state annually. The Museum has an active science program with more than 30 scientists and 10 field exhibitions each year.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Crowds Hit The Slopes For Utah’s Ski Opener

Brighton and Solitude opened for skiing today and good numbers of people showed up to enjoy the early season adventure.

The two resorts were able to open early because of recent snowfall, cool temperatures and snowmaking machines. Many other Utah ski resorts will open during the next couple weeks. By Thanksgiving weekend, most resorts will be open and ski conditions should be very good.

The Salt Lake Tribune has this article about the two resorts opening. The story also includes fun photos taken today. Below are excerpts.

Solitude got the jump on Brighton for first-to-open honors by pushing ahead its start by six minutes, firing up Moonbeam lift early for the dozen or so people in line for the honor of being on the season’s first chair.

Unfazed by coming in second, Brighton spokesman Jared Winkler said "there’s a pretty good crowd of kids up here having fun" on runs off of Majestic and Explorer lifts. "It was a good year for season pass sales so it isn’t surprising we have a lot of people up here now."

"The intrinsic value of early season snowfall is the incredible excitement and buzz it generates. Consumer enthusiasm for skiing and snowboarding is at its peak at the beginning of the season," said Ski Utah spokeswoman Jessica Kunzer.

"Destination visitors, in particular, interpret early openings and snow as the sign of great season conditions to come," Kunzer said. "There is a direct correlation between early season snowfall and vacation bookings throughout the season."

As Ski Utah President Nathan Rafferty observed in a Tuesday news conference, the ski industry contributed almost $1.2 billion to Utah’s economy last year, up 67 percent since Salt Lake City hosted the 2002 Winter Olympics (annual skier visits are up 41 percent in that period).

Wednesday, November 09, 2011

Skiing Begins At Brighton, Solitude

Brighton and Solitude ski resorts will open for the season tomorrow, Nov 10, 2011.

Early snowfall has allowed both Salt Lake-area resorts to open earlier than expected. Other resorts are expected to follow quickly. has this report about the resorts opening. Below are excerpts.

With 36 inches of snowfall thus far this season both Brighton and Solitude will kick things off this week in Big Cottonwood Canyon near Salt Lake City.

“Solitude’s opening day is on Thursday, Nov. 10, with three lifts — Moonbeam, Apex and Link,” says Nick Como, spokesperson for the resort, who adds that snowmakers are trying to get the Eagle Express quad chairlift added for this weekend. “It will be $49, so you’re going to get a pretty good discount of $19 off the normal ticket window rate. Winter is here!”

“We’re looking good, we’re really excited!” adds Jared Winkler of nearby Brighton Resort, which will also open its season on Thursday morning. “We have about 24 inches of snow in our mid-mountain area, so it should be pretty fun. We’re planning on opening the Explorer, Crest and Majestic chairlifts with limited runs off of each.”

Other Utah ski resort opening dates are presently scheduled as follows:

Alta Ski Area: Nov. 18
Beaver Mountain: TBA
Brian Head: Nov. 19
Canyons Resort: Nov. 25
Deer Valley: Dec. 3
Eagle Point: TBA
Park City Mountain: Nov. 19
Powder Mountain: Nov. 24
Snowbasin: Nov. 24
Snowbird: Nov. 19
Sundance: Dec. 9
Wolf Mountain: TBA

Tuesday, November 08, 2011

Bryce Canyon National Park Seeks Public Comment On Transportation Plan

Bryce Canyon National Park has been working to devise a traffic plan to accommodate growing visitation during the coming years .Park officials are now at the point where they are actively seeking public comment about options.

The Park Service provided the news release below.

Bryce Canyon National Park to Initiate the
Public Scoping Process for a Multimodal Transportation Plan

The National Park Service (NPS) is conducting a transportation planning study to evaluate the transportation needs and infrastructure requirements to serve visitors to Bryce Canyon National Park. The public is invited to attend an Open House to identify issues and provide information to the NPS that should be considered in development of the Plan. The Open House will be held on Tuesday, November 15, 2011 from 4:00 - 7:00 pm at the Ruby's Inn Conference Room (26 South Main Street, Bryce Canyon City, UT) located just north of the park. Project representatives will provide a brief presentation at 5:30 pm to explain the need for the plan and its objectives.
(click here for an Invitation Brochure)

Through the course of the planning process, the project team will identify transportation-related issues, gather input from park users and the surrounding community, and recommend solutions to transportation management within the park. The first step in developing the Plan is to gain a clear understanding of existing concerns and issues that should be considered in developing appropriate solutions, the second step. From a set of alternative solutions, park staff can determine where and how to make strategic transportation investments. "We wish to find out what issues are important to local communities and visitors to ensure that they are included in the environmental analysis process," said Superintendent Jeff Bradybaugh.

An open comment period will begin on November 15, 2011. Those wishing to provide comments should submit them in writing as soon as possible, but no later than December 15, 2011 at the Bryce Canyon National Park Planning website:, or e-mail to: Bryce Canyon Information {, or Postal Mail to: Bryce Canyon National Park, P.O. Box 640201, Bryce, Utah 84764.

Respondents should include their name, address and e-mail address to be added to the mailing list for more information about this project. Remember that unless requested otherwise, a list of all those that comment during public review periods, including their addresses, is available upon request.

A second opportunity for public comments will be available after preliminary alternatives have been developed, and a final public comment period will be available when the Multimodal Transportation Plan is released. The Environmental Assessment will analyze multimodal transportation improvement alternatives derived from technical information gathered, engineering, resource management and design considerations, and comments provided by the public.

Monday, November 07, 2011

Park City Designated Gold Ride Center By International Mountain Biking Association

The International Mountain Biking Association has given its highest award to Park City, which has become a major biking center. Below is information provided by the association.

Park City (UT) Gold-level

A few years ago, IMBA was on the lookout for an ideal location to host our World Summit mountain bike gathering — we settled on Park City, Utah, because it offered a successful local mountain bike community, diverse riding opportunities and jaw-dropping natural beauty.

That was 2008, and since then Park City has continued expanding and improving its facilities, so much that IMBA enthusiastically awards our highest designation to this amazing mountain bike destination.

How did Park City become a gold-level Ride Center? "It all stems from a commitment to master planning," says IMBA Regional Director Ryan Schutz. "The sheer miles of trails are fantastic, but what's really important is that they function as a cohesive network, with signage and trail connections that create a model riding area." No location better exemplifies the Ride Center ideal of offering great options for any level of rider and any style of riding. From standout beginner-to-intermediate trails like the Round Valley Trail System and Lost Prospector to technical challenge and expert-only terrain on Dead Tree and Sweeny’s, the options are expansive. You'll also find lift-served downhill runs and top-shelf bike parks.

Of course, Park City offers all the lodging and dining options you'd expect from a world-class resort. At the heart of it all, the IMBA-affiliated Mountain Trails Foundation pulls riders into a true mountain bike community and keeps them energized with new projects. It all works together at Park City and that's what's pushed them to the gold standard.

Friday, November 04, 2011

Homestead Resort To Close 4 Months For Remodeling

The popular Homestead Resort in Midway, Heber Valley, will close in December and is expected to be close for about 4 months. During that time the resort will get an extensive facelift. The resort's championship golf course will also undergo imrovements.

KSL has this report about the remodeling. Below are excerpts.

“We recognized right out of the chutes that many of our guests came to us and said, 'Hey look, can you freshen The Homestead up? We love coming here, we've been coming here for years and years, we have our anniversary here, our reunions here.' We owe it to them," he (owner Steve Eddington) said.

Each of the 121 rooms will get some kind of attention, such as new carpet, new bedding, window treatments and furniture, including flat screen, high def TVs.

The remodeling will be handled to maintain the themes of each building — features that have continued to attract and make memories for guests for years. "We're not just investing in real estate, we're investing in people, we're investing in future memories, and that’s very important and compelling to us,” he said.

Thursday, November 03, 2011

Forbes Labels Ogden The 'Best Kept Secret In Skiing'

Forbes has this interesting article previewing the upcoming ski season. It includes much praise for the ski resorts near Ogden (Powder Mountain and Snowbasin). It calls Ogden the "Best Kept Secret In Skiing." Below are excerpts.

...However, somewhat unfairly, skiing has a perception as an expensive sport: it can be, but it does not have to be. The current economic climate has forced many to cut back on leisure, but skiing still does not have to be the victim of budget cuts.

At the bargain end, Ogden, Utah must be the best-kept secret in skiing. The town is a short drive from Salt Lake City, the same distance from the airport as ultra-popular Park City, yet few know of Ogden’s charms. flanked by two massive ski resorts, Powder Mountain and Snowbasin – which hosted the Downhill, Combined, and Super-G races during the 2002 Winter Olympics. Both are as big as most other major ski resorts and by some definitions, at 7,000-acres Powder is the largest in the United States.

...700-acres are reserved for sno-cat skiing, “poor man’s heli-skiing,” but unlike most sno-cat operations that are quite pricey, here it is just $18 per ride, and accessed from the regular lifts, a great option for someone who has always wanted to try it.

...Then there is Powder Country, a 1200-acre fenced area of backcountry powder skiing. Once you enter the gates, no matter where you go, you end up on a road where you are picked up and returned by resort shuttles to the lifts – entirely for free.

Snowbasin is no slouch either, owned by the same company as upscale Sun Valley, and operated as a fairly luxurious mountain with top shelf facilities and skiing, but no pretension, and $76 a day gives you 3000-acres, great terrain, modern lifts including a tram...

...Since neither resort has any slopeside village and there is virtually no lodging onsite, you don’t miss anything by staying in nearby Ogden – which operates scheduled shuttle buses from every downtown hotel to both resorts. You don’t even need a rental car, and a typical package example is a room with whirlpool tub in a nicer downtown hotel, lift ticket at either resort, breakfast, and shuttle for $139 per night in peak season. That’s hard to beat.

The article also toutes Deer Valley:

Deer Valley is all about pampering, and it is one of the only ski resorts in the world that limits lift ticket sales every day, even when more people are willing to pay, just to keep the experience uncrowded for its high-powered guests. Its slopes are home to three of the most over-the-top luxury ski-in/ski-out hotels in the world, the Montage (pictured here), the Stein Eriksen Lodge, and the St. Regis Deer Crest...

Wednesday, November 02, 2011

Grand Canyon Airport Expansion Planned

The airport serving Grand Canyon National Park would be expanded under a new proposal described in this news article. The airport is located at the canyon's South Rim. Shuttles run between the South Rim and the more remote North Rim and so the expansion would make it much easier to visit both scenic areas.

Here are excerpts from the article.

A proposal to build a much larger terminal at Grand Canyon National Park Airport would allow for commercial passenger flights to the area and could boost the number of visitors to the airport to as many as 1 million each year, an Arizona transportation official said Tuesday.

Visitors from across the country typically take ground transportation into the park or fly into Las Vegas-area airports before boarding smaller planes to the Grand Canyon airport. But the Department of Transportation wants to bring in flights from other major hubs, such as Denver, she said.

Expanding the existing 8,850 square-foot terminal, located just south of the national park, would cost $10 million and could take five years. The project would be paid for with a mix of state, federal and private funding, though the Federal Aviation Administration said the airport has yet to apply for any federal grants.

Park officials said they're concerned a new terminal would mean more noise at a time when they're trying to manage the number of flights over the park and make the environment quieter.

Visitation to the park has remained relatively flat at 4.5 million annually, but parking shuttles from Tusayan are routinely crowded, and the parks' facilities are overwhelmed, park Superintendent Dave Uberuaga said.

Tuesday, November 01, 2011

Moab Folk Festival Runs Nov 4-6

Folk music, and people who appreciate it, will float around Moab this weekend, as the Moab Folk Festival comes to town. Some big name performers will participate.

The festival website has complete details and schedule information. The festival provided the news release below.


A nine-year tradition and fall destination for hundreds of music fans returns Nov. 4-6, 2011, to the unique setting of Moab, in scenic southeastern Utah.

The attraction? The Moab Folk Festival, three days of music, art, education and workshops set in the heart of some of the world’s most spectacular scenery.

The many performances showcase top artists in intimate, up-close venues that engage audiences in a way not to be found in larger auditoriums and arenas.

“We offer stadium-quality artists in a setting akin to house-concert performances,” says Melissa Schmaedick, the festival’s founder and director. “Big-show talent in a private-show venue.”

The scenic setting--with both Arches and Canyonlands national parks nearby—coupled with an array of folk art, music workshops and jam sessions, makes for a unique informality between the performers and their audiences.

“It’s not unusual to be sitting near someone at one of the performances and suddenly realizing that person was performing onstage the night before,” Schmaedick says.

Top artists? This year, the festival welcomes singer-songwriters Karla Bonoff and Michael Martin Murphey as its star attractions.

Bonoff made her reputation as a songwriter for such artists as Linda Ronstadt, Bonnie Raitt and Wynonna Judd. She broke out as a performer with the release of her first album in 1977. Six more albums have followed in the ensuing years, with a two-CD live set released in 2007. At Moab, Bonoff will be appearing with guitarist/producer Nina Gerber, an accomplished session musician who has played with dozens of artists both in the studio and in concert. Gerber can be heard on Bonoff’s 2007 live album.

Murphey’s career spans four decades and has landed him in the Western Music Hall of Fame. As a performer, he has had 30 songs on the country charts in his career, including four at No. 1, starting with “Wildfire” in 1975. As a songwriter, he has penned hits for such artists as John Denver, Kenny Rogers, Lyle Lovett and Bobbie Gentry.

The playlist doesn’t stop there. Festival director Melissa Schmaedick and the Moab Folk Festival Board have assembled a lineup that also includes:
  • Cheryl Wheeler
  • Ferron
  • Steve Forbert
  • Peter Mulvey
  • Karen Savoca with Pete Heitzman
  • Red Rock Rondo
  • Kate MacLeod
  • Antje Duvekot
  • Boris McCutcheon and the Salt Licks
  • Alicia McGovern
  • Waiting on Trial
“We feel that, while signing the latest and greatest ‘up and comer’ can be good and is usually really fun, there is a reverence among dedicated folk music enthusiasts to honor and cherish the performers who have been instrumental in the renaissance and revolution of folk music that started in the 60's and continued through the 70s and early 80s,” says Schmaedick.

Since its debut in 2003 the Moab Folk Festival has embraced a definition of “folk” music that reaches beyond traditional boundaries. The festival's eclectic mix has attracted Bluegrass, indie folk-rock, folk-fringe punk, celtic-folk and modern acoustic artists with past performances by Bruce Cockburn, Eileen Ivers, Tony Furtado, Tish Hinojosa, Laura Love, David Olney, Tim O'Brien, Chris Smither , Eliza Gilkyson, James Keeleghan, Loudon Wainwright III, Patty Larkin and Christine Lavin have given the festival a reputation as one of the country's best showcases.

The Moab Folk Festival has had a community spirit from the beginning. Its education programs are aimed at all ages and it’s not unusual to see performers taking part in music workshops, free community concerts and jam sessions free to the public.
This year’s workshop performers include:
  • Hal Cannon
  • Penny Nichols
  • Phillip Bimstein
  • Alisa Fineman
The festival’s host city was designated the first EPA Green Power Community in the nation, and the festival is a "100% renewable energy" festival, using wind energy supplied by Rocky Mountain Power’s Blue Sky Program to offset all the fuel emissions used to bring the musicians here, as well as to supply power for the festival venues.

For ticket and general festival information call the Moab Folk Festival office at 435-259-3198, email us at, or visit online at
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