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Utah Travel Headlines

Friday, December 30, 2011

Happy New Year

We at wish all of you a happy new year!

Celebrations and special activities will be held in communities and resorts all around the state and travelers are always welcome to participate.

Salt Lake City festivities: Details

Provo festivities: Details

There will be festivities at each of our ski resorts and in most communities.

The Utah Transit Authority has extended the hours for public transportation, to provide rides for revelers. Details.

The Utah Highway Patrol and local police departments will be running extra patrols to encourage people to drive safely and obey laws. More details.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

EVE 2012 Celebration Underway In Salt Lake City

A wide variety of festivities are being held in Salt Lake City, as we ring out the old and celebrate the new year.

The Salt Lake Downtown Alliance and other groups are sponsoring a gala celebration with food, music and many other kinds of activities. The alliance provided the details below.

Ring in the New Year with three nights of revelry at EVE (Dec. 29, 30 and 31, 6 p.m.-midnight). Celebrations take place on West Temple between 100 and 200 South, in the Salt Palace Convention Center and throughout downtown at community partner locations (Temple Square, Clark Planetarium, Salt Lake Film Society at Broadway Centre Cinemas and Off Broadway Theatre).

EVE passes can be purchased in advance at Harmons and Maverik locations or at Tickets will also be available at the door. $12 in advance and $15 at the door (for all three nights), kids 10 and under are free with a paid adult. Downtown hotels are offering EVE packages and special pricing.

In addition to live music, dance parties, DJs, karaoke, art installations, activities for kids, film screenings, comedy and a spectacular midnight fireworks show on Dec. 31, EVE will include signature events such as:

Temple of Boom: an electronic music installation with a 40-foot Mayan Temple built on West Temple with fire that shoots 30 feet in the air.
Bouncetown: kids can jump around a gigantic town of inflatable playgrounds that stretch from wall-to-wall and ceiling-to-floor (about two dozen of them).
Ballroom: a playground for all ages with 2012 beach balls ranging from 1 foot to 7 feet, DJs, dancing and light shows.
Ice Sculpture Garden: the south plaza will be ablaze with ice sculptures.
Reggae Snowsplash: warm up with island rhythms and live reggae bands.

EVE by the numbers:
  • 229 musicians
  • 2012 beach balls
  • 2880 minutes of live music
  • 1 reggae festival and 11 consonants in "Reggae Snowsplash"
  • 1 hip hop festival
  • 1 Temple of Boom
  • 1 30-foot flame
  • Ump-teen thousand watts of power
  • 2160 Minutes of film/movies
  • 18 Fear No Film shorts from around the world
  • 3 beavers
  • 5 wonderful content partners
  • 24 Inflatable playgrounds towering 30-feet high
  • 3 YouTube videos featuring Coach Whitt and stEVE
  • 7 fire pits to keep everyone warm
  • 40 tickets given away to random creative followers on Twitter and Facebook
  • 100 EVE posters up on the U of U campus
  • 150 giant foam building blocks
  • 300 lights
  • 500 power cables
  • 1 ticket… 3 glorious nights… countless fun!
There are plenty of places to chill down and warm up at this indoor/outdoor extravaganza…and a thousand ways to celebrate. More information at

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

The Pine Valley Checkerboard Arch

Utah is famous for its natural stone arches – we have an entire national park devoted to them (Arches National Park, or course.)

Arches are fairly common in southeastern and south-central Utah, but much less common in southwestern Utah. Zion National Park offers the famous Kolob Arch, which was long regarded as the largest arch in the world but is now officially listed in second place after Landscape Arch. Zion has a handful of other arches and they are smaller and relatively insignificant. In the greater St George area I only knew of a couple other arches. Until today that is. Today we stumbled upon a beautiful, graceful rock span halfway up Pine Valley Mountain.

I was surprised to find an arch in that area, and even more surprised that I have never heard of it before. I was born in the shadow of that mountain and I’ve spent my entire life hiking and exploring its many trails. It is a favorite play area.

I now live in the Provo area and only get down to Pine Valley a few times a year. One of my sisters lives in the town of Leeds, just east of St George, and she spends countless hours jogging and hiking the mountain’s trails and backroads. She told us of a scenic area on the mountain that resembles Checkerboard Mesa in Zion Park. We had some time today and decided to go check it out.

A rough dirt road cuts across the south slope of Pine Valley Mountain. Above the road you find steep mountain ridges that are heavily forested. Below the road there is a maze of very deep, narrow canyons and then a ring of red Navajo sandstone (the Navajo sandstone is easily visible as you drive I-15 south toward St George. To reach the checkboard area we drove the dirt road east from St George. The road eventually terminates at the Oak Grove road, which extends north from Leeds. (We could just as easily come in from the Leeds side.)

An old ranch, we call it the Danish Ranch, serves as a prominent landmark along the road. About one mile west of the Danish Ranch a spur road, Forest Road 905, drops south on a ridge above a deep canyon. The spur road dead ends just above a bowl that is filled with sandstone etched with a checkerboard pattern – much like the famous mesa in Zion Park. We had great fun hiking over the sandstone and exploring the bowl.

The bowl slopes downward and then ends with sheer cliffs that drop down into a deep canyon. As we explored the area near the cliffs, we looked up canyon and noticed the arch, perched high on the canyon wall. The arch looks frail, looks like it could collapse sometime soon. But now, while it is standing, it is an impressive sight.

It is strange that I’ve never head of the arch before. The area is remote and access is rough, but the area has obviously been thoroughly explored. I suppose it is another example of a spectacular sight in a state where spectacular is commonplace. In any other state the scenic slickrock bowl and impressive arch would be a popular attraction. In Utah, they are all but unknown and forgotten.

Together, they gave us a very enjoyable afternoon of adventure.

(Note: The dirt access road was dry when we visited on Dec 27, but many years it is snowcovered by that date. So far, this winter has been dry. Snow will eventually come and will cover the road for a couple months, making access difficult. This area is best explored during spring, summer and fall.)

A Winter Hike In Sunny Snow Canyon

It is becoming a habit – between Christmas and New Year's Day I take a “working vacation” and head for St George, where I spend my days exploring the red rock while enjoying the mild temperatures.

Today we did two short hikes on the edge of Snow Canyon State Park, crossing sand dunes and washes as we searched cliff faces for ancient Native American rock art. Both were enjoyable, relatively easy outings suitable for all ages including younger kids.

The weather was perfect. The sun felt warm and we quickly shed jackets. The temperature pushed up into the low 50s F while we were hiking.

We say many other people out riding bikes. We also saw a surprising number of people out riding horses on trails just east of St George.

And, or course, there were people out golfing - St George is famous for its golf courses. The links were not crowded but golfing conditions were good and we could see several people testing their skills as we drove past area golf course.

Did we find rock art? Yes, we found very interesting old figures in a little-known slot on the east edge of Snow Canyon. You can see the slot and some of the figures in my photos here.

We drive up Hwy 18, heading north from St George, and then turned west onto 4200 North just before we reached The Ledges golf course. 4200 North is a dirt street that dead ends after a short distance. We parked at the dead end and followed a narrow trail access right of way between two houses and then west into the state park.

To find the rock art we just walked into the prominent wash that is visible from the fence that marks the state park boundary. As you descend into the wash you will see rock cairns in several spots. There is no official trail to the slot where the rock art is found. Rather, cairns mark several possible approaches. We just choose a path that seemed easiest for our group.

If you pay attention you will notice a couple trail marker signs placed by the park service to identify the slot. They warm that it is illegal to deface the rock art, which is considered a valuable cultural resource.

Notice I’m not giving precise directions or GPS coordinates. Part of the fun is exploring and searching. I find it very rewarding to search and find rock art.

Ancient figures can be found on both walls in the slot. They are faint – you have to pay attention to see them. They are petroglyphs, etched into the rock face. The rock’s surface is dark, covered with a patina. The dark patina also covers the images, making them hard to distinguish in the shadowy slot. The patina is an indication that the figures are relatively old.

The figures themselves show animals (many sheep) and other forms. By themselves, they are not remarkable. There are hundreds of rock art panels in southern Utah and these are similar to many images found elsewhere. But the art in its context in the narrow slot, surrounded by Snow Canyon’s marvelous scenery, made the hike was very enjoyable.

It was great to escape into the warm sunshine of Utah’s Dixie.

- Dave Webb

Monday, December 26, 2011

Winter Is A Great Time To View Utah's Wildlife

If you pay attention while driving Utah’s backroads you will see big game animals and other wild creatures. Mule deer and elk are often seen year-round, but they are particularly visible during the winter when then migrate to lower elevations where it is easier to find forage.

Many people enjoy viewing animals during winter. It can be great fun if you do it in a responsible way so you do not disturb or stress the animals. I often drive through Spanish Fork Canyon and on virtually every trip I see deer and/or elk. Today I drove I-15 from Provo to St George and saw mule deer in a couple different areas.

If there are farm fields close to mountainous areas, you may see deer feeding in them during the hours just before dusk.

Hardware Ranch in northern Utah is a great place to view wild elk. The ranch is located in the mountains east of Hyrum, near Logan. Utah wildlife officials feed wild elk on the ranch to keep them in the mountains where they do not destroy farmers’ crops. A huge herd of elk congregates at the ranch every winter, including several large bulls. The ranch offers horse-drawn sleigh rides out into the herd. You can often get quite close to the animals. I enjoy photographing them or shooting video.

Hardware Ranch has now opened for the winter season. This news release provides more details.

Utah wildlife officials have launched a massive effort to reduce big game poaching this winter. Poaching has been a problem at this time of year because the animals are easier to find while they are on winter ranges. See this news release for details about that effort.

- Dave Webb

Friday, December 23, 2011

Wishing You A Safe And Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas, from all of us at We hope you find peace and joy during this wonderful season.

Travel conditions should be good this weekend. The weather is expected to be clear and cold, with no precipitation in the forecast. Salt Lake International Airport should be operating at full schedule. Utah highways should be clear and dry and no problems are anticipated.

The Utah Highway Patrol will have extra officers on duty, attempting to dissuade people from drinking and driving, and engaging in other dangerous activities. The officers are also charged with helping those who have mechanical problems or other trouble while traveling. The Deseret News carried this news release from the patrol. Below is an excerpt.

"The past two years we have not had a traffic related fatality during the Christmas holiday weekend," the new release states. "Our number one mission is to continue that success for a third consecutive year."

Temple Square and other popular venues are ablaze with lights and offer music, nativities and other festivities.

Santa will be skiing at our ski resorts. Mrs. Clause will make an appearance at on some slopes. Most resorts received new snow a couple days ago.

Me, I'm heading to St George, where the temperature is expected to push into the mid 50s under sunny skies. I don't get all that excited about a white Christmas. My tradition is to hike in the red rock.

Merry Christmas!

Thursday, December 22, 2011

EVE 2012 Offers 3 Days Of Revelry In Salt Lake City

Salt Lake City has long offered a popular New Years Eve celebration called First Night. Now, building on the success of that event, a community partnership is expanding the festivities to run over 3 days (Dec. 29, 30 and 31, 6 p.m. through midnight).

This news release has details about the celebration. Below are excerpts. See the official website for more details, including a schedule of events, photos and hot deals.

EVE is a community celebration with live music, dance parties, DJs, art installations, activities for kids, film screenings, a spectacular midnight fireworks show on Dec. 31 and much, much more.

Temple Square will have multiple free concerts (country to classics to pop), a Broadway Show Tunes Sing-along and family activities including scavenger hunts, souvenir photos and handprint family trees. Clark Planetarium will offer cosmic star shows. The Utah Museum of Contemporary Art (formerly Salt Lake Art Center) will offer artist-made karaoke, Utah Arts Festival Fear No Film film shorts and other artsy projects. Off Broadway Theatre will perform improv comedy. The Salt Lake Film Society at Broadway Center Cinemas will show U of U and BYU student made films and other award winning shorts.

One ticket gets you three nights of revelry. EVE passes can be purchased in advance at Harmons and Maverik locations or at Tickets will also be available at the door. $12 in advance and $15 at the door (for all three nights), kids 10 and under are free. Downtown hotels are offering EVE packages and special pricing.

Celebrations take place on West Temple between 100 and 200 South, in the Salt Palace Convention Center and throughout downtown at community partner locations. There are plenty of places to chill down and warm up at this indoor/outdoor extravaganza...and a thousand ways to celebrate.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Snowshoe Utah's Uinta Mountains

The Uinta Mountain Range includes Utah’s highest peaks, which are surrounded by hundreds of square miles of roadless wilderness. During warm weather the mountains are a playground for hikers, backpackers, photographers, hunters and fishermen.

During the winter, deep snow covers the mountains making them all but inaccessible. A few roads approach the mountains, and some are open for snowmobile travel. But snowmobiles are prohibited on most roads and in the entire wilderness area.

A few people venture into the mountains on cross country skies and snowshoes. has this article that features snowshoe trails off Hwy 150 east of Kamas. It describes these trails:
  • Pine Valley Trail
  • Pine Valley Trail
  • Norway Flat Road
  • Mine Trail
  • Taylor Fork and Plantation Trails Loop
The article provides extensive information about snow shoeing in the area, along with general tips. Below are excerpts.

The western side of this range is just 30 minutes from downtown Park City and an hour from Salt Lake City, but it’s a veritable world apart from these metropolises. A few miles beyond Kamas, the Uinta Mountains become service-less, uninhabited, and quiet. A day or more of snowshoeing here is what I call walking on the wild side.

he Beaver Creek Trail is groomed for both cross-country skiers and snowshoers. Please respect all users by walking on the outer edge of the groomed track. Some of the ungroomed trails are used by skiers as well. If you encounter a ski track on an ungroomed trail, kindly snowshoe to one side of it.

If you wish to tackle the wild side of the Uinta Mountains with a guide, hire one in Park City, Utah.

Be sure to check avalanche danger if you head into this wild country.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Christmas Meals And Events

Many Utah restaurants will be open on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. The Salt Lake Tribune has this article listing them, along with info on menus and prices.

There will be many Christmas-related musical and dramatic events around Utah during the next few days. Our events section offers listings that can be sorted by destination and type. Below we list some of the highlights. Go to our website for details.

A Christmas Carol is being performed in Centerville, Orem, West Valley City and other areas.

A Dickens of a Tales, Dec 23 in Provo

Mannheim Steamroller, Dec 23 in Salt Lake City

North Pole Express Christmas Train Ride, through Dec 23 in Heber City.

Tuacahn Christmas in the Canyon & Live Nativity, through Dec 23 in Ivins

Christmas Eve Multi-Denomination Service in St. George

Christmas Carol Service on Christmas Even in Salt Lake City

All of our ski resorts will host events on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, including music and bon fires and Santa Clauses.

See our events listing for dozens of others.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Utah Cities Rank High For Business Environments

The Milken Institute has released a study ranking US cities for business conditions and Salt Lake, Provo, Ogden and Logan all show strongly.

This article summarizes the Milken report. Below are excerpts.

The Milken Institute today announced that three of Utah’s large metro cities — Salt Lake City (#6), Provo (#9) and Ogden (#15) — all ranked among the nation’s top 25 locations for business. Among small cities Logan, Utah ranked #1.

In unveiling the annual “Best Performing Cities” report, the Milken Institute recognized that Utah was the only state in the nation to double its export volume over the past five years. On last year’s report, only one Utah city broke into the top 25. This year, Salt Lake City jumped 49 spots to reach #6. The #1 spot in large metro cities was captured by San Antonio, Texas. Recently, Salt Lake City, along with San Antonio, was recognized in Fortune Magazine as two of the 15 most business friendly cities in the world, interestingly enough, they were the only two U.S. cities so recognized by the leading financial publication.

Salt Lake City Mayor, Ralph Becker noted, “This report, which evaluates our City’s performance on a basis of job growth, wages and GDP, corroborates what we’ve known for some time: Salt Lake City is securing its position as a regional powerhouse. Milken’s findings, combined with outstanding efforts at the state level and our ongoing work to establish sustainable communities; the best public transit in the country; and a one-of-a-kind neo-urban lifestyle, reflect a Capital City on the move now, and into the future.

Friday, December 16, 2011

New Ski Resort Proposed For Northern Utah

Developers have proposed putting a new small ski resort in northern Utah near the Idaho border, in a canyon just north of Logan. The resort will also offer summer activities. It would be one of the smallest of Utah's ski resorts.

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

The proposed site for the Cherry Peak Ski Area is located approximately three miles east of Richmond in Cherry Creek Canyon. The resort would offer 203 acres of recreational skiing and other winter sports activities and would include development of a ski resort base area and mid-mountain facilities, including four ski lifts, a terrain park, a zip line, three water storage reservoirs and one cable tow for the tubing hill.

According to Ski Utah spokeswoman Jessica Kunzer, Wolf Mountain located in Eden is probably the most similar resort, in terms of size and scale, to the Cheery Creek proposal — which targets a different audience than most larger resorts.

The article also mentions that Salt Lake City was recently named the most affordable ski destination in the nation by TripAdvisor.

"Affordability is a key consideration for many families choosing a vacation destination this winter," Kunzer said. "Salt Lake City's close proximity to 11 ski and snowboard resorts gives it a unique ability to provide more low cost lodging and dining options than many other competing winter vacation destinations."

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Salt Lake Enjoys Cosmopolitan Face-Lift

Salt Lake City has matured considerably during the past few years, and travel writers are taking notice. AAA's Via magazine has this interesting article about our new "Bohemian" city. Below we give the article's title, subtitle and then excerpts.

Salt Lake City's Bohemian Rhapsody

Salt Lake City sings with a cosmopolitan face-lift, a hip arts scene, and trendy restaurants

Welcome to Saturday night in Salt Lake City—the new Salt Lake City. Not since the 2002 Winter Olympics has the state capital flared with such civic excitement. Downtown is in the midst of a $2 billion redevelopment project, and beneath the scaffolding and hard hats, streets are thrumming with activity that belies some of the city’s oldest stereotypes. Chain restaurants? They’re still here, but so are a growing number of bistros and high-concept kitchens. Megamalls? You could just as easily stroll through a dozen art galleries and mid-century furniture shops. Sleepy nightlife? In 2009 the state relaxed its liquor laws, giving rise to a host of new cocktail bars and brewpubs.

“People sometimes have this false perception of us as a bedroom community,” says Jason Mathis, director of the Salt Lake City Downtown Alliance. Mathis is among the new guard of bright-eyed hopefuls promoting the idea of Salt Lake as cosmopolitan, diverse, caffeinated. “Did you know we were rated one of the top 10 most bohemian cities in North America?”

I hadn’t. But sure enough, Salt Lake City is the seventh most bohemian metro area in the United States—one spot behind Nashville, two ahead of San Francisco—according to Richard Florida, author of The Rise of the Creative Class.

The article mentions several bistros, pubs and galleries that have impressed the writer. We encourage you to read the entire article.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

New Year's Day Hikes At Utah State Parks

Several Utah state parks are offering guided hikes on New Year's Day, as part of America's State Parks First Day Hike Program. Below is information provided by Utah State Parks.

Happy New Year!!

Looking for a fun and healthy way to welcome in the New Year? Join us January 1, 2012 at participating state parks for guided hikes as part of the America's State Parks First Day Hike Program.

Bring your friends and family and welcome the New Year rejuvenating and connecting with the outdoors. First Day Hikes offer a great way to get outside, exercise, enjoy nature and visit a state park.

2012 First Day Hikes Schedule:

Antelope Island State Park - Syracuse
Join Park Naturalist Wendy Wilson at 1:30 p.m. at the visitor center for an easy to moderate 2.5-mile hike. This hike is for everyone ages six and older. Dogs are welcome, but must be on a leash. This hike is free with your paid $9 day-use fee (up to eight people in one vehicle). Dress in layers, wear waterproof boots, and bring water and snacks. 801-721-9569

Coral Pink Sand Dunes State Park - Kanab
Join Ranger Dean Anderson at 1 p.m. at the parking lot for this three-mile hike in the shifting sand dunes. Hike is free with $6 day-use fee. Bring water, warm clothes and a GPS unit if you have one. 435-648-2800

Dead Horse Point State Park - Moab
Join Crystal Carpenter at the Neck (inquire at the visitor center for directions) at 1 p.m. for an easy two-mile hike. Bring water, a warm hat, gloves, coat, waterproof boots, and binoculars if you have them. This hike is for everyone ages five years and older. Dogs are welcome, but must be leashed. 435-259-2614

Snow Canyon State Park - Ivins
Join Park Naturalist Jenny Dawn Stucki for a two-mile hike beginning at 10 a.m. Everyone is welcome, however children 16 years and younger must be accompanied by an adult. Participants should bring water and wear sturdy shoes. No dogs or strollers allowed. Space is limited and registration is required two days prior to the event. 435-628-2255

Starvation State Park - Duchesne
Hike with Ranger Trampas Williams on this 1.5-mile, flat trip to the sand dunes. (But be prepared for snow!) All abilities and ages welcome. Meet at noon at Knight Hollow Campground. 435-738-2326

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

America's 5 Weirdest Natural Formations

Wanderlust, a popular blog on, has this interesting post entitle: Top 5 weirdest natural formations. Two of their weird spots are located in our back yard, and they are definitely unusual and worth visiting. The post includes fun video showing the formations.

Here's their list:
5. Bryce Canyon National Park in southern Utah, where hoodoos resemble people and animals frozen in stone.

4. Ringing Rocks Park in Pennsylvania, where boulder resonate with a musical sounds when struck with a hammer.

3. Petrified Forest National Park in Arizona, where you find large petrified trees and many plant and animal fossils.

2. Chimney Rock in western Nebraska, which served as an important landmark for pioneer wagon trains.

1. Antelope Canyon, on the edge of Lake Powell in extreme northern Arizona. Antelope is perhaps the world's most photographed slot canyon, and it is certainly one of the most beautiful. It is located just outside of the town of Page, near Wahweep Marina.

Many other spots could have easily made the list, including any of our national parks. Goblin Valley Utah State Park would be a natural for the list, along with The Wave in the Paria Canyon area on the Utah/Arizona border.

These are all enchanted spots that are fun to see and explore.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Burl Ives Lives On At Utah's Big Rock Candy Mountain

There is a unique little mountain in south-central Utah that does indeed look like it is made of of candy - salt water taffy to be exact.

The mountain shares the name of a famous Burl Ives song, "Big Rock Candy Mountain." The two have long been associated together and local legend makes it unclear which inspired which.

Long ago a small resort was created at the mountain and today it is owned and operated by a Burl Ives look-alike, a displaced jazz singer who had never heard of the song. The resort features an excellent restaurant - one of the best in southern Utah. If you are traveling down historic Hwy 89, we recommend you stop in and sample the fare, and enjoy the atmosphere.

The Deseret News has this article about the mountain, its history and its current custodian. Below are excerpts.

"The Big Rock Candy Mountain" was written in 1928 by a man named Harry McClintock, better known as Haywire Mack. As the legend goes, McClintock was a brakeman on the railroad that used to run through central Utah past a mountain so brightly colored it looks like it's made out of candy (but is really the creation of a long-ago volcanic uprising).

He wrote his song, a hobo anthem that fantasizes of a place where, among other things, "the handouts grow on bushes," and "the hens lay soft-boiled eggs" and "there's a lake of stew, and ginger ale too, and you can paddle all around it in a big canoe."

But nobody covered it quite like Burl Ives, the singer and movie actor with the distinctive white goatee, who recorded "Big Rock Candy Mountain" in 1949 and turned it into a chart-topping hit in the 1950s.

Where the story gets bizarre, if not borderline unbelievable, is that before Terry Briggs took over operation of The Big Rock Candy Mountain Resort, he'd never heard of the song, let alone the fact that his look-alike Burl Ives made it famous.

...And he's accepted his unexpected dual identity, cheerfully enduring the people who walk through the door, gasp at seeing Burl Ives in the flesh, and exclaim, "I love all your movies!"

Read the entire article. The News also has this embedded youtube video that shows photos of Ives while the song plays in the background.

Friday, December 09, 2011

Canyons Resort Impresses New York Times Writer

Tim Neville was a little skeptical when he set out to explore Canyons Resort, to see how it compares with Deer Valley and Park City Mountain Resort, and other famous Utah resorts. Well, after challenging the runs, relaxing in the rooms and soaking in the heated outdoor pool, he became a convert.

Neville penned this article for the NY Times. He describes changes at the resort:

In 2010, virtually the entire resort village was razed and rebuilt as workers rerouted a gondola and added restaurants and a sunbathing area where you can listen to music and have a beer. That old, slow lift from the 1960s was replaced with North America’s first heated chairlift, a high-speed quad.

And he talks about his experience skiing the huge resort:

We clicked into our skis at the top of an intermediate run called Chicane and pushed off. The storm had left the groomed slopes buried under five inches of fluff, with a hint of firmness below, like a memory-foam mattress. I skied it fast and hard, arriving at the bottom with my legs on fire.

By the time the day was done I’d skied nearly seven full hours before finally collapsing in a lounge chair at the Beach, the sunbathing area at the base. I didn’t really need a tan or the Grateful Dead that blared from outdoor speakers, but a local Squatters ale and the festive vibe was a fine way to call it a day.

And concludes:

Before my last run down, I paused and looked around. I was alone in the woods, far from the new restaurants and spas. The music from the village base had been drowned in the silence of a pale Utah sky. It struck me that even a heated chairlift was just a faster, more comfortable means to this: the chance to discover and claim my own powder kingdom where I could hoot and holler and ski as I please. There were probably hundreds of these pockets tucked among the firs that I had missed. Oh well. I shoved off and settled into my turns, happy to save them for another time.

Read the entire article.

Thursday, December 08, 2011

Burr Trail Switchbacks Could Be Paved Under Proposed Funds Deal

The famous switchbacks on the Burr Trail could be paved if Garfield County gets its way and completes a controversial funds swap with the Utah Transportation Commission.

The Burr Trail runs through Capitol Reef National Park and Grand Staircase National Monument, from the town of Boulder down to Bullfrog on Lake Powell. It has been described as "the most beautiful backroad on earth."

A portion of the trail has been paved, but the switchbacks and the portion inside the national park are still dirt.

Garfield County has long pushed to pave the entire roadway, saying that would help open up many square miles of very scenic country. Environmental groups have opposed paving any portion of the road, and are expected to fight vigorously if the deal goes through.

Under the deal, the county would trade federal funding for state funding, thinking that might make it easier to push the project through.

The Salt Lake Tribune has this article on the proposal. Here are excerpts.

Garfield County offered to swap $250,000 in federal funding available to it for design of Burr Trail switchback improvements for $212,000 in state funding instead — essentially swapping away its federal funding to the state for 85 cents on the dollar.

“Federal dollars just have so many requirements that they are more difficult to use” than state funds, Garfield County Engineer Brian B. Bremner said in a telephone interview. He said federal money would require a small entity like his to use outside consultants to comply with all rules.

“An upgrade would probably include some kind of surfacing. A minimum-level surfacing would be a paving. A possibly more artistic surfacing could include some colored concrete that would blend into the natural rock,” he (Garfield County Engineer Brian B. Bremner) said.

Stephen Bloch, an attorney for the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance, said SUWA is concerned that paving could “change the backcountry nature of that area by allowing people to drive at higher speeds,” and adds that the beauty of the area puts it “on our priority list.” Bloch added that his group does not know enough about the financial swap between the county and state to comment about it.

Wednesday, December 07, 2011

Sundance Festival Releases Films Lists

The annual Sundance Film Festival is coming up quickly now – it is scheduled for Jan 19-29 in Park City, Salt Lake City and surrounding communities.

The promo machine is churning now, with almost daily news articles previewing the festival. Recently the festival released lists of films for the Premier and Shorts categories. A few famous names are showing up in film credits, both for acting and directing. publishes articles predicting where members of the public are likely to encounter film stars, and Sundance is an obvious choice. That website offers this article listing films associated with famous names.

The LA Times has this article describing films in the short film category. Here’s a quote:

Getting a short film into the Sundance Film Festival is harder than getting accepted to Harvard, Yale or UC Berkeley with a C average.

The statistics are spectacularly daunting. For January’s festival, 4,083 American shorts were submitted for 32 narrative, documentary and animated slots, with 3,592 international films were submitted for 26 narrative, documentary and animated openings, according to the list of accepted shorts released Tuesday.

If you’re doing the math, that’s 58 out of 7,675 — about 0.75%.

There is still time to get make reservations to participate in screenings and other activities at Sundance. But slots will fill up fast so act now if you want to join the fun. The festival website has good information about “How to Sundance.”

Tuesday, December 06, 2011

Dinosaur National Monument Rates Five Stars

The New Zealand Herald has published this article about Dinosaur National Monument. Reporter Brandon Loomis obviously did his homework and has crafted an article that is accurate and interesting. That's a nice change - so many travel pieces are fluffy and full of inaccuracies.

Below we give the article headline and then excerpts.

Utah: Jurassic park sequel a five star hit

It's a one-of-a-kind place where researchers have exposed, but not removed, a 15m x 61m wall of bones.

"Having that magic moment of seeing these dinosaur remains where they were buried is one of the things that is special about this place," says park palaeontologist Dan Chure.

Even hardened scientists stand in awe when they first arrive.

Over the years, until the government decided to preserve the rest of the fossils for viewing, universities and museums removed the bones of more than 600 creatures from either side of the remaining wall. Besides 10 species of dinosaurs, the quarry has yielded a crocodile, two turtles, a lizard, tens of thousands of freshwater clams and carbonised plant remains.

At least 100 individual dinosaurs remain exposed and the profile skull of a plant-eating Camarasaurus is prominent.

Of course, there is more to the monument than bones. The park also offers whitewater rafting and scenic drives or hikes into canyon country. There's riverside desert camping among tiny, scurrying lizards, and recently hundreds of sandhill cranes flapped in the Green River on a migratory stopover, their croaks a reminder of the march of time and biology since the Jurassic Period.

Read the entire article.

- Dave Webb

Monday, December 05, 2011

Nordic Skiing Offer Nice Escape From Lift Lines

Most people come to Utah to ski our developed resorts, which feature exciting runs, high-capacity lifts and crowds of people.

A growing number of people understand that our great snow extends beyond the resorts and can be enjoyed by participating in the quite sport of Nordic skiing. We have excellent cross country ski courses, that compare with the best in the world. Some are free of charge, some require the purchase of a low-cost pass.

The Salt Lake Tribune has this article about Nordic skiing. Below are excerpts.

“Nordic skiing has really been growing in recent years and not just locally, but also around the country,” said Richard Hodges, president of The Utah Nordic Alliance (TUNA). “It is a low-cost and healthy family activity.”

TUNA volunteers have groomed tracks for traditional cross country and skate skiing for years at Mountain Dell Golf Course. The grooming was expanded to nearby State Road 65, also known as the Big Mountain or East Canyon Road, two years ago.

There is a $5 daily fee to ski the track at Mountain Dell, but skiing the 5 miles of trail to the Salt Lake/Morgan county line is free.

In addition to providing a place to ski, TUNA also provides lessons, training and competitions.

Read the entire article for more information.

Friday, December 02, 2011

Which Resort Has The 'Greatest Snow In Utah'

Utah proudly claims to have the "greatest snow on earth," and many skiers agree. Our resorts are consistently at the top of surveys ranking snow conditions. For example, this year the readers of Ski Magazine named Deer Valley the overall best resort in all of North American, and listed Utah resorts at the top of virtually of every category related to snow quality.

But, among Utah resorts, which has the best snow? Deborah Garrett deals with that question in this article carried by In summary, she says the quality of snow at the resorts varies from day to day, and that Utahn are lucky because we can watch the storms and ski whichever resort picks up the most power. She concludes that the best snow is the snow you happen to be on.

Did she cop out by raising an interesting question and not providing a definitive answer? Read the article and decide for yourself. It is also interesting to read comments made by people who read the article. Below are excerpts from the article. See comments here.

While the snow is not the driest nor the deepest, Utah’s topography and location provide a uniquely consistent and abundant blend of snow. The trend is to have high density snow under low density powder to create an environment perfect for that “floating” feeling for which many ski and snowboard enthusiast yearn.

Within an hour and a half of my house I can reach eight of Utah’s resorts. It’s great to wake up and choose where I will ski that day based on who received the most snow the night before. Skiing is a one day vacation from everyday life; a boost for mental, physical, and social well being. It spans the ages and includes all skill levels. It’s just being there that matters.

As I stand at the top of a long glade of trees a path opens before me. Large snowflakes fall threatening to encumber my view. One turn, then two and I’m free embraced by invigoration, solitude and more open turns to go. I my opinion, the greatest snow in Utah is found under my skis.

It’s the one you’re on today.

Thursday, December 01, 2011

10 Years After The Games, Utah Still Enjoys Bump From Olympics

It has been 10 years since Utah hosted the 2002 Winter Olympic Games. Since then, our ski resorts have enjoyed banner years - and they continue to grow more popular ever season.

The Deseret News carried this article describing how the games helped put Utah on the ski map, and how the resorts have continued to improve and expand since them. Below are excerpts.

Before the buildup for the Olympics 10 years ago, Snowbasin in Utah was little more than a mom-and-pop operation, with aging lifts and amenities and offices in a single-wide trailer.

Now even its bathrooms are turning heads, with the Italian marble day lodge restrooms recently voted top five in the U.S.

The state's 14 resorts have undergone roughly a billion dollars in improvements, from high-speed lifts and bubble chairs to the construction of high-end global hotels such as the Montage Deer Valley and Waldorf Astoria Park City.

Overall skier visits have increased 42 percent to 4.2 million, skiable acres are up 26 percent, and a trend of late has been multi-generational vacations — grandparents on the slopes with their children and grandchildren.

He (Bill Malone) said the Olympics also provided a giant "Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval," reflected in places such as Deer Valley being voted North America's No. 1 overall ski area for the fifth straight year by Ski Magazine readers. Before the Olympics, Park City had one five-star resort; now it has five.

The U.S. Ski and Snowboard Association is based in Park City and Olympic hopefuls now train at the 85,000-square-foot Center of Excellence, which opened in 2009 and offers programs in everything from cardio to sports physiology and nutrition.

Since the closing ceremonies ended, there have been dozens of international competitions in Utah. World Cup events have been held in bobsledding, skeleton, luge and speedskating and world championships in freestyle skiing. The U.S. Snowboarding Grand Prix is set for Canyons Resort again in February, and the 2012 Freestyle World Cup is headed to Deer Valley.

Read the entire article.
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