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Utah Travel Headlines

Thursday, January 31, 2013

Best Hotels In Utah

US News and World Report is out with its annual “best of” lists and we were particularly interested in its list of best hotels in Utah. See the lists here. The magazine gave this overview of its methodology:

Our editors analyzed recommendations from many sources, comparing reviews, accolades, and ratings for nearly 2,000 luxury hotels throughout the United States. Using this unbiased methodology, we found the hotels that consistently come out on top—those are the properties that have earned places on the U.S. News 2013 Best Hotels in the USA rankings.

Below is their list, which includes some you may not have thought about.

1 - Stein Eriksen Lodge (Deer Valley)
2 - Amangiri (Utah/Arizona border near Lake Powell)
4 - The Grand America Hotel (Salt Lake City)
6 - Goldener Hirsch Inn (Deer Valley)
7 - The Sky Lodge (Park City)
11 - Hotel Monaco Salt Lake City
12 - Red Mountain Resort (St. George)
13 - The Chateaux, Deer Valley
16 - Little America Hotel (Salt Lake City)
17 - Red Cliffs Lodge (Moab)
19 - Green Valley Spa and Hotel (St. George)
20 - Salt Lake City Marriott City Center

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Winter Boat, Sports and Travel Shows

During late winter, several consumer trade shows take place the Salt Lake City area, giving people a chance to learn about, test and buy the latest products related to outdoor recreation, leisure living and adventure travel. Here's a list of some of the major upcoming shows. All will be held at South Towne Expo Center, 9575 S. State Street, Sandy.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Big Snow And Safer Ice Climbing Venue

Heavy snow has fallen over much of Utah during the past two days. The town of Liberty (in Ogden Valley east of the city of Ogden) reports more than two feet. Show showers will taper off overnight but pick up again tomorrow. Another foot could fall in favored locations.

Needless to say, our ski resorts have absolutely fabulous conditions. If you love powder skiing, get here now.

Snow will continue to affect travel throughout Utah. Crews are working around the clock but there may be snowpack on major highways and secondary roads at times. Roads to ski resorts may be closed for short periods to accommodate avalanche control work.

Ice Climbing
Utah offers several spots that are considered world class for ice climbing. With this cold winter, climbing conditions have never been better.

Ice climbing carried inherent risks. Last week a Park City woman died from injuries sustained while ice climbing at Bridal Veil Falls in Provo Canyon.

Now a climbing venue has opened near Heber City where a man-made ice climbing tower affords a safer, controlled experience. has this report about the facility. Below are excerpts.

The man-made tower of ice is located at 800 South and Main Street in Midway. Nearly 7 feet thick in some places, the ice captures the beauty of Mother Nature as it sits and waits to be conquered by climbers.

Ice climber John Powers, was at the ice tower Tuesday, anxious to conquer it for a third time. He's an avid rock climber but a beginner when it comes to ice climbing.

"There's a little more skill to it than just normal rock climbing," Powers said. "You have a lot more muscle that you're using to hold onto your ice axes, and actually climbing the wall itself."

Visit for more information.

Monday, January 28, 2013

Free Snowshoe Walks And Other Activities At Cedar Breaks

Join park rangers at for free guided snowshoe walks on Saturdays through the end of February. Snowshoes will be provided for those that need them. The park is located in the tops of the mountains east of Cedar City. It provided these details:

Meet at the Iron County/Cedar City Visitor Center (581 North Main Street, Cedar City) at 9:30 am or in Brian Head at 10:15 am at Brian Head Town Hall. Registration is required; call 435-586-9451 to register and reserve snowshoes (no cost) for the walk. Click here to view the poster. NOTE: This event is dependent upon good weather!

Cedar Breaks is located at a high elevation and gets heavy snowfall. If offers an enjoyable winter season full of activities that usually stretch into mid-March. The park provided these details about its regular winter schedule:

Visit spectacular Cedar Breaks National Monument in winter by snowmobile, cross country skis or snowshoes. Stop by the Winter Ranger Station on Saturdays and Sundays throughout the winter. Enjoy a cup of hot chocolate, learn about the park from friendly park rangers and volunteer staff, and experience the amazing solitude and supreme winter landscape. Note that winter season opening and closing, as well as Winter Ranger Station staffing dates, may be slightly earlier or later and are subject to favorable weather conditions. For more information, call 435-586-9451.

The park has released information about upcoming summer activities:

May 24, 2013: Cedar Breaks National Monument Summer Season Opens
Visitor facilities open and scheduled interpretive activities begin, including Ranger-led hikes, geology programs, special events, and much more! Call 435-586-9451, 435-586-0787 to verify opening dates and for more detailed information.

June 7, 2013:Cedar Breaks National Monument Campground Opens
Enjoy spectacular camping at 10,000 feet elevation. Our 26-site campground offers tent and RV camping, restrooms, and showers. Certain sites are "first come, first served" while others may be reserved online at Reservations may be made up to six months in advance with the last date available for reservation being August 31, 2013. Note the opening date for the campground is weather-dependent. Call 435-586-0787 for more details and to confirm opening dates and campfire program information.

Saturday Nights, July 6 - August 31, 2013: Cedar Breaks National Monument Star Parties
To celebrate and share the beauty of our dark night skies, Cedar Breaks will be hosting a series of Star Parties. Star Parties will be held at the Point Supreme Overlook on Saturday nights beginning July 6 through August 31. A constellation tour and telescope viewing through several large telescopes will be facilitated by park staff and astronomy volunteers. Visitors who have their own telescopes are invited to bring them to the Star Party.

In addition to the Saturday night events, Full Moon Star Parties will occur on June 23, July 22, and August 21. A night hike will be offered in addition to the regular Star Party activities. The spectacular annual Perseids meteor shower will also be highlighted with Star Party activities on August 12. Activities will begin at 9:30 pm in June and July and 9 pm during August. Call 435-586-0787 for more detailed dates and information. NOTE: These events are dependent upon good weather!

Summary of Star Party Dates:
June 23 (Full Moon)
July 6, 13, 20, 22 (Full Moon), 27
August 3, 10, 12 (Perseids), 17, 21 (Full Moon), 24, 31
July 6 - July 21, 2013: Cedar Breaks National Monument 7th Annual Wildflower Festival
The park's meadows explode with color as a diversity of high country wildflowers burst into full bloom. Wildflower specialists and volunteers will lead daily guided walks during the festival at 10 am and 1 pm. Festival highlights include special activities and workshops on weekends and Zion Canyon Field Institute Classes. Call 435-586-0787 for more detailed information.

August 22-25, 2013: Cedar Breaks National Monument Stories of the Past Festival and Park Anniversary Celebration
This year's events will focus on indigenous cultures, including the Southern Paiutes, and their history and connection to the park and the region. Go on a self-guided walk along the campground trail and view interpretive signs to learn more about this important story. At 12 pm, Sunday, August 25, the park's 80th anniversary will be celebrated with birthday cake and a reading of the proclamation that created Cedar Breaks National Monument. Call 435-586-0787 for more detailed information.

September 28-29, 2013: Cedar Breaks National Monument Fall Nature Festival
The fall season brings bursts of color and energy to the high mountain country. USA Today described Cedar Breaks National Monument and the surrounding area as "one of the top ten places to experience fall colors" in the United States. Special events include activities, workshops, and more. We will also celebrate National Public Lands Day, a fee-free day, on Saturday, September 28, with a volunteer service opportunity. Call 435-586-0787 for more detailed information.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Ski Photography Workshop At Snowbasin

The unique challenges of action photography against a white background will be discussed at a Ski Photography Workshop to be held March 15-16 at Snowbaisn Ski Resort in Ogden Valley. The event features Ryan Thompson of RLT Photography and Faceshots! Photography. It is being sponsored by the Ogden Valley Business Association, Snowbasin Resort and Nichols Photo Lab.

The OVBA has provided this comprehensive description of the event. Below are excerpts.

This in-depth photography workshop of indoor and outdoor sessions will take your winter sports photography to the next level, with skills applicable to all types of adventure photography. Ryan Thompson will conduct this workshop, meeting indoors for the afternoon of March 15th (dinner included), and outdoors on March 16th on the slopes of Snowbasin Resort (lift ticket included), followed by additional classwork and critique of your photographs.

Attendees of all skill levels are welcome to attend. The workshop will be geared toward the level of attendees. It is recommended that you own and have at least a basic working knowledge of a digital SLR camera, and be able to ski or snowboard a variety of terrain at Snowbasin Resort. Read more about Ryan (lower on this page), and join us for this adventure in photography.

Ryan Thompson has been training and teaching photographers of every skill level for more than eight years. He worked at Snowbird and trained photographers there for five years. He has been working at Snowbasin for the past three years, training photographers and shooting photography for all of Snowbasin’s promotional materials, flyers, brochures, trail maps, newspaper articles and more. He typically mentors other photographers while doing so.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Zion's Ice Castles And Winter Wildlife

During winter, icicles form under seeps that trickle down the cliffs in Zion National Park. Many winter days are mild and bring warm, pleasant temperatures where ice melts. At other times cold temps allow icicles to grow into fanciful shapes - intricate castles made from smooth stalagmites and stalactites.

January temperatures have been particularly cold in Utah and so I spent some time in the park looking for opportunities to photograph the beautiful structures. But alas, weather in the St. George/Zion Park area has been super wonderfully nice during the past several days. I found myself hiking in warm sunshine, with few icicles to be found.

It was quite a change from the foggy, smoggy frigid conditions found in northern Utah, where we were flirting with all time cold temps. For several days in a row the thermometer was stuck in the low teens (F) even for daytime highs.

St George and Zion received quite a lot of snow earlier this month, and temperatures were quite cold there a week ago, but conditions were delightful during my visit. Virtually all of the snow has melted out of Zion Canyon. There is ice is some shady areas, but not as much as I expected to find. Hiking conditions were very pleasant and I really enjoyed my trip.

I did find some ice castles, as you can see from my photos. I had expected to find large daggers hanging from Weeping Rock, but I was a week late. There was a massive pile of broken ice beneath the overhang, where large icicles had softened and fallen. Even while I was there I saw several small icicles break away and fall from the cliff face. The trail was blocked to keep people from approaching too closely, because of the danger created by falling ice.

I also expected to find large stalagmites and stalactites under the waterfalls at Lower Emerald Pools. There was more ice in that area, including some photogenic flows.

I was surprised by the number of mule deer I saw in Zion Canyon. I counted two dozen, including many that were easily visible right along the road. If you drive through Zion Canyon between sunset and dark, and you keep your eyes open, you will undoubtedly see impressive animals.

I was fortunate to get photos and video of a large buck just across the river from Zion Lodge. He was feeding in thick brush and basically ignored me as I shot photos. He had 4 points on one side and 3 on the other.

I also saw a fox, two eagles and numerous other brids.

It was a fun trip.

- Dave Webb

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

St. George Winter Bird Festival Runs Jan 24-26

The 10th annual St. George Winter Bird Festival is about to begin in sunny St. George. It runs Jan. 24-26, with workshops, field trips, a banquet and other activities in and around St. George. It provides a great opportunity to learn about birds while enjoying the warm weather and great recreational activities in Utah's Dixie.

This year's keynote speaker: Christopher Balmer, a well known and nationally published nature photographer.

The festival provided the information below. See the official website for schedules and complete details, or download this pdf brochure.

Southwest Utah habitats can attract over 375 species of birds during the year. The habitats range from desert, forest, and riparian. During the St. George winter months many waterfowl migrate through and stop at our lakes and reservoirs. Raptors especially, find this region an ideal location for the cold months. Whether you are a beginner or longtime birder, you will find many attendees that are eager to share their experiences and enthusiasm for birding.

Participants can attend any of the Festival’s multiple presentations, workshops or field trips for a minimal $5.00 - 3 day general admission pass per person (children 17 & under are free). All the activities, except for the evening presentations, are based at Tonaquint Park and Nature Center. In between all the activities, guests can browse through the Dixie Arizona Strip Interpretive Association’s bookstore, grab a snack or hot drink, or purchase a 2013 St. George Winter Bird Festival collectible event t-shirt or hat at the Red Cliffs Audubon Society’s booth.

Outdoor Retailers Show Begins Tomorrow, Will Stay In Salt Lake City

The annual Winter Outdoor Retailers show will run Jan. 23-26 in Salt Lake City. The huge winter and summer outdoor industry trade shows are held in the Salt Palace Convention Center in the downtown area. The shows are not open to the general public, but they generate considerable buzz around the city.

Parking will be difficult in the downtown area. People are encouraged to ride public transit into the city.

Outdoor Retailers announced today that the shows will stay in Utah at least through 2016. The association has been in negotiations with the city and state for some months, with many Utah leaders working hard to keep the shows. The show is growing rapidly and some industry leaders worried it would out grow the Salt Palace space, and also overwhelm lodging in the city.

Some leaders in outdoor industries have also been trying to pressure Utah politicians to seek more wilderness protection for federal lands in southern Utah. Some people in Utah have been trying to get state control of the lands in question, seeking to open them up to motor vehicle travel and potential energy development. Outdoor industry leaders threatened to pull the shows from Salt Lake unless the state backs away from that effort.

Outdoor Retailers provided the news release below.

Outdoor Retailer Winter and Summer Market Tradeshows to Remain in Salt Lake City through 2016

Outdoor Retailer (OR) organizers, backed by the unanimous support of the Outdoor Industry Association (OIA) board of directors, has decided that the Winter and Summer Market tradeshows will continue at the Salt Palace Convention Center in Salt Lake City, Utah, through the end of 2016.

Outdoor Retailer began hosting the tradeshow in Salt Lake City in 1996 and was previously contracted with Salt Lake through 2014.

"Outdoor Retailer is grateful to be able to remain in Salt Lake City for the next three years," said Kenji Haroutunian, Nielsen Expo Outdoor Group vice president and OR show director. "The industry has a collective affection for this town; the shared outdoor passions, cost efficiency of doing business, and the partnership of regional and state officials have all directly contributed to the current vibrancy and success of the show."

The contract extension comes after 18 months of vigorous work with Salt Lake City to answer concerns about inadequate housing and infrastructure for the OR Winter and Summer Market shows, two of the fastest growing shows in the country. Tradeshow organizers have also initiated discussions with more than 3,000 tradeshow stakeholders regarding the growth trajectory of the show through surveys, advisory boards, one-on-one conversations, and through the Collective Voice website, an online sounding board and information site dedicated to the future venue question.

For the next three years, show participants now have the option to utilize the infrastructure solutions put in place to accommodate the Olympics in 2002 and/or the improved transportation infrastructure that now exists for hotels not in the immediate downtown area.

The longer-term growth trajectory and 'needs list' of the show remain a discussion between the outdoor industry and viable venues throughout the country. In the short term, the Summer Market show will continue to utilize a further expanded outdoor structure space, adjacent to the convention center.

In the last four years, the Outdoor Retailer Summer Market show has seen a 13 percent average growth in overall attendance and an average 11 percent growth for the Winter Market show, with both shows experiencing double digit percentage growth in the number of attending stores over those same four years. The show matched attendee growth with an increase in net-sold square feet, seven percent for Summer Market and six percent for Winter Market.
"Discussions about longer term solutions beyond 2016 are still ongoing with Salt Lake and other potential host cities," continued Haroutunian. "We understand everyone is anxious for a longer-term decision, but making sure the show has a home that fits the needs of the industry is hugely important. The extension period will help us make sure we get it right."
The two year extension comes with the support of the OIA who has been a partner in the process of collecting industry feedback, and in providing solid intelligence and insight into the concerns, needs and preferences of their members.

"Outdoor Retailer is a great partner. We've been working very closely with them every step of the way and are confident in their efforts to meet the needs of the industry and the show," said OIA's President and CEO Frank Hugelmeyer.

Future dates for the outdoor industry tradeshow and demo events are available online at

In the last 16 years, Outdoor Retailer has grown to be the iconic tradeshow for the outdoor industry, driving more than $40 million annually into the Salt Lake City community. While this growth has been positive for the market, the tradeshow now requires more floor space, hotel rooms, rental cars and cabs than the city has to offer.

In early 2012, Outdoor Retailer and OIA initiated an industry-wide discussion on the direction and location of the semi-annual tradeshow within the "Collective Voice" website, a destination to learn about the event's history, discuss growth trajectory, and examine the pros and cons for a small list of potential venues that could host the show.

By summer it was clear that many in the industry had strong opinions on the venue question, but no clear consensus on any alternate location or interest in severely limiting the show's growth in an expanding market.

Following hundreds of face-to-face and phone conversations leading into the Summer Market tradeshow, Outdoor Retailer rolled out a formal survey to bring quantitative validation to growing industry sentiment. Salt Lake City was constantly ranked a top choice of both retailers and exhibitors - if expanded exhibit space and hotel rooms could be provided. Key findings of that survey are available here.

In January 2013, Salt Lake City brings to the table creative and viable short term solutions to the outstanding housing situation. Outdoor Retailer signs a two-year extension to its contract with Salt Lake, while continuing to pursue longer term solutions with Salt Lake and a handful of alternate host cities.

More information can be found in the FAQ section of the Collective Voice website.

About Outdoor Retailer
Outdoor Retailer (OR) brings together retailers, manufacturers, industry advocates and media to conduct the business of outdoor recreation through tradeshows, product demo events and web-based business solutions. Produced by Nielsen Expositions and based in San Juan Capistrano, California, Outdoor Retailer also provides and promotes retailer education, advocacy, responsibility and critical face-to-face business initiatives within the outdoor industry.
Recently named among Trade Show News Network's 25 fastest-growing tradeshows by attendance, Outdoor Retailer ( connects approximately 46,000 attendees on a semi-annual basis for its Summer and Winter Market shows, and thousands more through its year-round online resources and platforms.

About Outdoor Industry Association
Based in Boulder, Colo., Outdoor Industry Association (OIA) is the leading trade association for the outdoor industry and the title sponsor of Outdoor Retailer. OIA supports the growth and success of more than 4,000 manufacturers, distributors, suppliers, sales representatives, and retailers of outdoor recreation apparel, footwear, equipment, and services. For more information, go to or call 303.444.3353.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Seven Reasons To Raft The Grand Canyon

The Grand Canyon is one of the most popular destinations in the world yet few people invest the time and energy needed to experience its real majesty. Most visitors casually gaze down at the canyon from one of the rims, or probe small areas by day hiking on easy trails, never getting far from the tour bus stops.

The Grand Canyon is huge. To really experience it you need to ride the Colorado River rapids or backpack into remote regions. You need to spend some time and cover some miles.

Steven Law is a science writer and former Grand Canyon river guide. He talks about the joy of exploring the canyon in this article, published on Below we give the headline and some excerpts.

7 reasons to explore Grand Canyon by raft

1. Apollo’s Temple
Your river trip will actually begin in Marble Canyon. And this is fortunate, for when you find yourself waking up inside Marble Canyon, pause a minute and look around, for you have awakened inside a temple — a temple dedicated to the perfect presentation of light.

2. Exploring the many side canyons
To be disappointingly honest, there are simply too many beautiful side sights to see during your trip, but your guide will give you a tour of the best of the best.

3. One thousand Veronicas
All day long you’ll summit the top wave in a rapid, then lose your breath as the raft pitches downward like a bull lowering its head as it charges the matador, and the wave will sweep over the boat, and everyone on it, like a matador’s cape performing a Veronica (a bull charging through a matador’s cape is a Veronica).

4. The food
And river guides feed you like kings.

5. Unplug
Your day will be filled with hikes and swims, but the afternoon and evening are yours.

6. The night sky

7. Canyon Magic

Read the entire article.

Friday, January 18, 2013

New Interactive Utah Snowmobile Map

Utah State Parks has published a new interactive snowmobile map for the state, you can see it here.

The map shows the location of snowmobile areas, trailheads and the basic route followed by some trains. You can zoom the map in and out to get a detailed view.

Click on a trailhead icon and you will get basic information about the trail plus a link to the latest grooming report (if one is available).

The map just shows groomed trails. It does not show other routes that are open to snowmobiling, or backcountry play areas.

It is striking to see how many groomed trails we have scattered around the state.

The map also give you the capacity to change measurement units and to change the background base map. The background basemap options include a highway map and a topographical map.

There are other basemap options but they don't appear to be working correctly. I tried a couple and found myself in Algeria.

Overall, the map is interesting and useful.

- Dave Webb

Thursday, January 17, 2013

See 100 Years Of History At Utah Sate Capitol

The Utah State Capitol building in Salt Lake City is celebrating its centennial. A new Visitor Center exhibit will open on Jan. 24, using photos to showcase the rich history of the building. Other artifacts and exhibits can also be seen in the building and on the adjacent grounds. It is a great spot to visit if you would enjoy learning about Utah's unique history and diverse culture.

Utah Capitol Visitor Services provided the news release below.

State Capitol Visitors Center Unveils New Exhibit

Photo courtesy of the Utah State Historical Society
SALT LAKE CITY—One hundred years ago, a lumbering steam shovel bit into winter-cold soil on a hill just north of Salt Lake City. It was December 26, 1912, and Utah’s state capitol was finally being built—65 years after the arrival of the first pioneers and 16 years after Utah attained statehood. 

To commemorate the 100th anniversary of the construction of the Utah State Capitol, the Capitol Preservation Board is pleased to present a new Visitors Center exhibit, Step Back in Time: A Centennial Celebration of the Capitol Construction. Using a collection of striking historic photographs, this new exhibit breathes life into the fascinating stories behind the planning and construction of the Capitol.

“We are thrilled to provide a unique and educational opportunity for all Capitol visitors to experience the vibrant history of this wonderful building,” said Allyson Gamble, executive director of the Capitol Preservation Board.

The exhibit opens on January 24, and will be on view weekdays from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. On January 24, at 10:30 a.m., a special presentation will formally welcome the public to the exhibit.

Admission to Step Back in Time is free. Digital images used in the reproduction of the exhibit’s historical photographs were provided courtesy of the University of Utah J. Willard Marriott Library, the Utah State Archives and Records Service, the Utah State Historical Society, and the Territorial Statehouse State Park Museum.

For more information, please contact 801-538-1800 or showard [at] utah [dot] gov.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

The Many Faces Of Sundance

The annual Sundance Film Festival begins tomorrow (it runs Jan 17-27). As a result, Park City will be a zoo, crowded, busy, people everywhere chasing celebrities and looking for parties. If you like that kind of atmosphere, this is a wonderful time to be in town. Even if you don't have tickets, because there are always ways to get involved at the last minute.

Don't try to drive into town. You won't even get close. Ride the shuttles.

If you don't have accommodations in Park City, look for lodging in Salt Lake City. (Many festival activities are available in Salt Lake, and it is an easy commute up to PC for others.)

If you aren't even in Utah, you can participate via the Internet. The Sundance website has details.

If you are coming into town, the Sundance site has great info to help you with your trip.

Sundance is always a unique experience, never the same from year to year. There is always something for everyone, as shown by the two news stories referenced below. We give the headlines and then a couple excerpts.

From the NY Times:

The Sundance Film Festival has long had a dual personality. The atmosphere is typically fun and fizzy — Stars! Swag! Hot tub hopping! — while the films are dark and depressing, sometimes to the point of self-parody.

Reflecting shifts in the independent film world — both in terms of how festivals are programmed and what kinds of movies budding directors are putting forth — Sundance, which begins Thursday in Park City, Utah, will play 14 comedies and comedic dramas in its three most prominent sections. That may not sound like many until you look back at the 2010 Sundance schedule, which featured just five comedic movies in those divisions.

From USA Today:

Sexual themes ranging from kinky to creepy spice up the slate of 119 feature films and documentaries at the annual Sundance Film Festival, which opens its 11-day run Thursday in Park City, Utah.

More than a dozen movies take on intimate human interaction, a number that's "part circumstance, part coincidence," says festival director John Cooper. "But it's an in-depth exploration of the subject of sexual relationships — how they are all part of our basic human need. This hasn't been explored as deeply as we seem to be exploring it now."

There is something for everyone. Come on up and join the fun.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Greater Canyonlands Monument Proposal Stirs Debate

The proposal to create a new national monument from areas surrounding Canyonlands National Park has stirred considerable debate, and this article on adds to the agitation. The article is obviously slanted in favor of the monument. Many, many comments appended to the article obviously favor one side or the other.

Even though they are not objective, the article and comments are worth reading. They do provide some insights into the issues, and show some of the emotion surrounding the proposal, which is just one battle in the long-standing hot war over management of federal land in southern Utah.

This new monument proposal is noteworthy because it is being promoted by a group of business leaders, in addition to the customary environmental organizations. But many Utah political leaders, and people living in adjacent areas, oppose more federal control over our lands.

Here are just a few excerpts from the article:

...The Outdoor Industry Association and more than 100 recreation-oriented businesses from across the world last fall reached out to President Obama to use his powers under the Antiquities Act to create a 1.4-million-acre Greater Canyonlands National Monument.

Ashely Korenblat, who owns Western Spirit Cycling, a Moab, Utah, bike shop, said that under the proposal no Jeep routes or mountain bike trails would be closed. While the proposal envisions a ban on energy development, it also sees a sprawling national monument that would lure outdoor recreationalists of many stripes to southern Utah.

And some comments:

Designation under the antiquities act is usually a political act, vis a vis Grand Staircase. Recall that when President Clinton designated that NM, the ceremony where designation was celebrated had to be held in Arizona because the locals in Utah were so incensed at the lack of local involvement in his action.

I was in Canyonlands, Arches and Zion most recently over Christmas and New Years, just past. It's fabulous. It's also the home of local Utahans who have a right to be part of the process, not steam rolled by greenies and enviros who think they know better.

Likewise, unless you've lived in Utah and personally experienced some of the practices produced by obedience to Utah's environmental motto (Multiply, multiply and pillage the Earth), you can have little concept of the way things are. It would be very difficult for anyone with even a little knowledge to miss seeing the effects of overgrazing of private lands (and public in some cases) that mark far too much of Utah's beef and sheep industries. Pollution of water sources and riparian areas are also causes for great concern.

Look at the GSENM (Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument) as an example. Little has changed since designation. Use hasn't substantially increased, the area is still simply a viewshed for most Americans. The Powerplant site was locked up and maybe that's a good thing. Mineral development may have been impeded but maybe not. The area is so rough that development here is likely a difficult and expensive task. The BLM has constructed four (I think) visitor centers for the area so administrative costs have probably increased substantially. I think most visitation to the GSENM is limited to the visitor centers as tourists stop, look at displays and continue down the highway.

Monday, January 14, 2013

National Park Service Announces Fee Free Days For 2013

Arches National Park provided this news release, announcing it will join other National Park Service properties and not charge entrance fees on certain dates in 2013.

If you are looking for a deal, plan to visit our parks on those days. (I choose to purchase an annual pass, so I get into any park on any date for one price. If you visit parks more than 3 times in a year, the annual pass is a good investment. Note, the annual National Parks Pass and the free entrance days do not apply to Utah State Parks.)

National Parks Fee Free Days Announced for 2013

The Southeast Utah Group of the National Park Service (Arches and Canyonlands National Parks and Hovenweep and Natural Bridges National Monuments) is joining all national parks across the country in waiving entrance fees several days in 2013 as a way to encourage people to get outdoors and spend time with their friends and family in the national parks this year.

Up-coming fee free days this year will be:
  • Martin Luther King, Jr. Day (January 21)
  • National Park Week (April 22-26)
  • National Park Service Birthday (August 26)
  • National Public Lands Day (September 28)
  • Veterans Day weekend (November 9-11)

Park visitors are reminded that the fee free designation applies to entrance fees only and does not affect fees for camping, reservations, tours or other special uses. Park entrance stations will have Interagency Senior and Annual Passes available for those who wish to purchase them.

- Dave Webb

Friday, January 11, 2013

Big Snow Snarls Traffic, Results In Great Photos

Photo provided by Zion National Park
A winter storm warning remains in effect for most of Utah; it will expire at noon on Saturday.

The storm has dumped heavy snow - some communities just north of Salt Lake City have received more than 18 inches and snow will continue tonight and tomorrow morning.

Skiers are delighted, if they can get to our resorts. Roads through canyons will be closed at times for avalanche control. In the ski canyons vehicle travel may be restricted to vehicles with chains or 4X4.

Avalanche control work produces a safe zone around ski resorts and developed highways, but avalanche danger will be high in backcountry areas.

This Deseret News article describs the storm and its effects throughout the state. It includes some impressive photos.

Zion Park posted some magnificent photos on Facebook, you can see them here. Zion has received more snow already this year and any other in my recent memory. We are using one of the park photos to illustrate this blog post.

Photos of the American Southwest
Speaking of impressive photos, has this impressive gallery showing 29 dramatic photos of the American Southwest. Images from our area include:
The gallery deserves a look.

- Dave Webb

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Unique Art Projects Open for Community Participation In Unique Exhibit

People from the Provo/Salt Lake City area and from around the country are invited to participate in a unique community art project at Brigham Young University with artist Marie Watt. The "Shaping America" exhibit will show wool blankets, and showcase stories and memories associated with those blankets.

The project caught my attention because it seeks to tie in blanks and stories from Native American cultures, the pioneer era and modern America. It should be very interesting.

The museum, of course, has many exhibits and programs that are open to the public. Some give patrons the opportunity to get involved in the art. It is worth visiting the museum, which is located on the BYU campus in Provo.

Meanwhile, at the  Natural History Museum of Utah an exhibit will open Saturday featuring contemporary Navajo baskets, created by a small group reviving the traditional art of basket making. That museum is on the University of Utah campus in Salt Lake City. See details about that exhibit.

The BYU museum provided the information below.

Dear Museum Patron,

I invite you to join in the creation of a community art installation that will be displayed at the Brigham Young University Museum of Art (MOA).

The MOA and artist Marie Watt would like your wool blankets and their stories. Your blankets will become part of a blanket sculpture featured in the Shaping America exhibition, opening March 2013.

Marie is interested in the stories and memories often held by blankets and humble pieces of cloth. Blankets hold a deep personal meaning for her, as a member of the Seneca Nation of Indians. In the Seneca community, as with other indigenous groups, blankets are given to honor those who witness important life events. This connection between blankets and community inspires much of Marie’s artwork.

To celebrate our local community, we, and Marie, ask you to share your blankets and their stories. We welcome all wool blankets even if they are frayed or have holes. Blanket donations may be delivered to the MOA Information Desk located inside the east entrance of the museum before February 2, 2013. If you choose to share your blanket’s story, you may do so by writing it on a tag provided upon delivering your blanket to the MOA. The tags will be attached to each blanket in the blanket sculpture. As a participant, you will receive a small silkscreen print by the artist in exchange for your blanket contribution. Together, our blankets will be folded and stacked to create a skyward-reaching column and welcoming tower.

How to participate:
• Bring a blanket to the museum’s information desk by Feb. 2, 2013.
• If you would like, fill out a tag that shares something about your blanket’s story.
• In exchange for participating, receive a small silkscreen print by the artist.

You can download the Call_For_Blankets flyer for more information.

Thank you for supporting the Museum and its programs.

Best wishes,

Marian Wardle
Curator of American Art, BYU Museum of Art
North Campus Drive, Provo, UT 84602-1400

Wednesday, January 09, 2013

Ski Vacations At The Sky Lodge

The Sky Lodge, an exclusive property in Park City, has just announced some interesting ski package deals. The Lodge is already one of Utah's most impressive lodging properties. With these deals it is hard to resist. Below are highlights.

Mancation Getaway
(Two night stay, based on double occupancy in a two bedroom Sky Suite)
An epic guys’ ski trip getaway centers around Utah’s Sin City with Historic Main Street’s bustling restaurant and nightlife scene and three world-class ski areas – Park City Mountain Resort, Deer Valley Resort and Canyons – at the doorstep of Park City’s hippest and most stylish boutique hotel.

Couples Ski Retreat
(Two night stay in a one bedroom residence)
Celebrate your relationship and enjoy some memorable alone time in the winter wonderland of Historic Main Street with dining, shopping and nightlife at the doorstep of Park City’s most luxurious and stylish boutique hotel. Skiing and snowboarding at Park City Mountain Resort is just one block away via the Town Lift.

Family Fun Winter Getaway
(Based on a three night stay for a family of four in a two bedroom Sky Suite)
The Sky Lodge eliminates the planning from your family ski vacation, so you can focus on building the ultimate winter memories. We place you in the heart of Park City’s Main Street, one block from Park City Mountain Resort’s Town Lift. Our resort amenities provide extra convenience for families, including complimentary shuttle service to the ski areas.

Powder Play in the Heart of Historic Park City
Get spoiled by Utah’s Greatest Snow on Earth with Park City Mountain Resort’s Town Lift within easy walking while being pampered at The Sky Lodge, a luxury, all suite, boutique hotel in the center of Park City’s Main Street, one block from Park City Mountain Resort’s Town Lift. Guests of The Sky Lodge enjoy five star service and resort amenities, including dining, bars and spa with Park City’s restaurants, nightlife, shops and galleries at our doorstep.

Tuesday, January 08, 2013

Insider's Guide To The Sundance Film Festival has this ambitious article claiming to offer an insider's guide to the fabulous Sundance Film Festival, which runs July 17-27 in Park City, Salt Lake City and surrounding areas.

The article presents decent basic information. Below are excerpts, then I add a few comments.

Skip the rental car; festival shuttle buses connect all Park City venues, and the town’s free bus system will ferry you from the event’s downtown hub to area hotels and ski resorts.

...Purchase tickets online, at least 36 hours before showtime, between Jan. 15 and 25 (or at the main box office between Jan. 15 and 27). You can also buy day-of-show tickets, available in limited amounts at 8 a.m. daily, at the main box office. The last option is to go directly to a theater two hours before a screening and get on a waitlist...

There’s no question the slopes rival the arts scene for fun during the festival. Park City Mountain, Canyons and Deer Valley resorts all boast serious mountains accessible from downtown, so follow the A-listers to their favorites and discover why Utah claims to have “the greatest snow on earth.”

I'm having a hard time with that last paragraph. Park City Mountain Resorts offers the "Town Lift," which allows skiers to climb aboard right from downtown. But it takes a short drive or shuttle ride to get to lifts that serve Canyons or Deer Valley.

Where to Party: ...Nikki Beach-which has permanent clubs in 10 cities-will make its Sundance debut with a beach-meets-snow pop-up club in The Sky Lodge’s rooftop lounge during opening weekend.

Where to Stay: ...Montage Deer Valley-a quick ride from downtown Park City-is no stranger to throwing Sundance parties. The real reason to stay at the slopeside resort, though, is to enjoy a luxe respite from hobnobbing crowds.

Park City area resorts and motels regularly sell out during Sundance. If anyone tells you they have a killer deal, don't believe it. Whether you are booking for Sundance or for a ski trip, deal with reputable businesses. Park City police report two recent lodging scams, where people have wired money to someone who claims to offer lodging at Park City condos. Beware. Read details.

- Dave Webb

Monday, January 07, 2013

Zion Canyon Field Institute Announces 2013 Classes and Programs

The Zion Canyon Field Institute is a non-profit organization working in partnership with Zion National Park. The Institute's mission is to help educate people about the natural wonders found in the park, and help people learn to enjoy the park in responsible ways.

Towards that end, the park offers educational materials, workshops, programs, guided hikes and programs that generally fit under these headings:
  • Winter 2013 Classes
  • Spring 2013 ZCFI Classes
  • Summer 2013 ZCFI Classes
  • Fall 2013 ZCFI Classes
  • Photography Workshops
  • Wildflower Field Classes
  • Thomas Moran Painting Workshops
  • Lecture Series
The Institute provided this overview of its programs:
Imagine hiking with a wildlife biologist, working on a service project in the Zion Narrows, or discovering the past on an Archaeology Road Trip.

See the Institute website for detailed information about these activities.

2013 Schedule Of Classes For Zion Canyon Field Institute

Feb 9 - Native Plant Seed Propagation
Mar 22 - Poetry in the Park
Mar 28 - Thursday Trek
Apr 6 - Zion Geology
Apr 8 - Mojave Wildflowers
Apr 11 - Thursday Trek
Apr 15 - Navajo Medicinal Plant Usage
Apr 17 - Outside Looking In
Apr 19-21 - Zion Through the Lens
Apr 22 - Zion’s Low Desert Wildflowers
Apr 27 - Zion Canyon Riparian Ecosystem
Apr 29 - Navajo Medicinal Plant Usage
May 2 - Thursday Trek
May 3 - Outside Looking In
May 5 - Zion 101
May 10 - Rim to Floor or Rim and Back
May 13 - Basin to Plateau
May 14 - Kolob Geology
May 18 - Rim to Floor or Rim and Back
May 20 - Navajo Medicinal Plant Usage
June 6 - Thursday Trek
June 8 - The Hanging Gardens of Zion
June 12 - Narrows Service Project
June 16 - Narrows Service Project
June 19 - Narrows Service Project
June 30 - Narrows Service Project
July 3 - Narrows Service Project
July 7-10 - Great Basin National Park Exploratory
July 12 - Cedar Mountain Wildflowers
July 15 - Wildflower Photography at Cedar Breaks
July 15 - Wildflower Journaling at Cedar Breaks
July 27 - Cedar Breaks Geology
Aug 18 - Narrows Service Project
Aug 21 - Narrows Service Project
Aug 25 - Narrows Service Project
Sep 4 - Narrows Service Project
Sep 8 - Narrows Service Project
Sep 14 - Fall Wildflowers
Sep 19 - Thursday Trek
Sep 25 - Outside Looking In
Sep 27 - The Mammals of Zion
Sep 28-29 - Grand Staircase Geology
Oct 12 - The Ferns of Zion
Oct 13 - Rim to Floor or Rim and Back
Oct 17 - Thursday Trek
Oct 18 - Rim to Floor or Rim and Back
Oct 19 - The Mammals of Zion
Oct 26 - Fall Journaling at Zion
Oct 26-28 - Fall Foliage Photography
Oct 29-30 - Archaeology Service Project
Nov 7 - Thursday Trek
Nov 9 - Zion Geology
Nov 16 - Outside Looking In
Dec 5 - Thursday Trek
Dec 7 & 8 - Winter Photography

Friday, January 04, 2013

Fodors Lists Bryce Canyon As One Of Best Parks To Visit In Winter has this interesting blog post listings top national parks to visit during winter. Bryce Canyon and Yellowstone are on the list.

Bryce is located on top of a mountain where snowfall is heavy. During winter it offers the chance for snow sports amid spectacular scenery. offers this introduction:

Winter is, of course, the perfect time to avoid the crowds which means greater access for you to landmarks and wildlife viewing. But which parks are still worth a visit when the temperatures drop? Here are our top five picks...

Interestingly, the blog only discusses 4 parks, not 5. And the included photo of Bryce is not a winter scene - no snow to be seen. But the post is still worth reading.

Here are quotes about Bryce Canyon:

Winter brings free, ranger-led guided snowshoe hikes, some by the light of the full moon. Otherwise you can bring or rent your own snowshoes or cross-country skis; stop by a visitor's center to get the scoop on best places for snowy treks. And if you plan to hike, bring along some traction devices to attach to your boots so you don't slip on icy trails. Another popular winter activity: free evening astronomy programs. The dry, crisp winter air makes for especially good stargazing.

And about Yellowstone:

A snowy winter wonderland awaits in Yellowstone National Park between December and March; the steamy geysers and bubbling hot pots paint an otherworldly scene against stark white snow. Plus, it's sometimes easier to spot wildlife—black bears, red foxes, and grey wolves—in their winter habitat. Note that only the north and northeast entrances to the 3,500-square-mile park are open to car traffic...

The other parks mentioned on the list include:
  • Everglades
  • Death Valley

Thursday, January 03, 2013

Enjoy Winter Tails Day At Utah Locations

Winter Trails Day is Jan. 12, 2013, and events will be held at many locations around the country. Check here to find events where you will be visiting.

In Utah, events will be held at these locations:

2002 Soldier Hollow Lane
Midway, UT 84049
(435) 654-2002
Soldier Hollow will be offering free trail passes, equipment, and mini lessons to all first time skiers.

Ogden Nordic Winter Trails
NORTH FORK PARK - South Gate Parking Lot
Liberty, UT
(801) 399-7275
Winter Trails Day 2013 will feature great ski and snow shoe tours, cross country ski clinics, and lots of great DEMO gear. Thanks to Weber County, Weber Pathways, and our local sponsors who come out to support our premier winter event.

Sinks Winter Trail Head
29.8 miles from the Ranger Station at the mouth of Logan Canyon (Hwy 89)
Near Bear Lake, UT
(801) 690-4287
Please join us for a fun filled day for the whole family. Snow shoe and x-country skis will be onsite and available to the public, free of charge.

The Utah Office of Tourism provided this information below about the Soldier Hollow event:

Winter Trails Day at Soldier Hollow

Soldier Hollow will be offering free trail passes, equipment, and mini lessons to all first time skiers. You will have the opportunity to ski on 33 kilometers of groomed trails that offer every skier ample choices. As Outside Magazine said" You'll find trails for everyone..." A first time skier will have a great time peacefully gliding right from the lodge to our beginner trail "City Slicker".

After cruising the trails one can settle in at the lodge for hot cocoa and a warm fireplace. Soldier Hollow will also be offering free snowshoeing on marked and mapped trails that are gentle and exhilarating. Schedule: 12:30- 4:00 Cross Country Ski Lessons: 1:00-3:30, starting every half hour on the half hour. (example: 1:00, 1:30, ect.)

Soldier Hollow is named one of the top four Nordic ski resorts in America, by Outside Magazine, and features premier cross country facilities including the award winning Olympic Lodge.

January 12, 2013 - January 12, 2013
Location: Soldier Hollow
Address: 2002 Soldier Hollow Ln, Midway, Utah 84049
Times: 12:30 - 4:00 pm
Admission: Free

Wednesday, January 02, 2013

Utah Resorts Featured On January Covers Of Powder Magazine, Skiing Magazine and Ski Magazine

As we enter the peak of the ski season, magazines are rolling out issues full of action photos showing great skiing at all the best locations. Some of Utah's best locations, that is.

Utah resorts are featured on the January covers of Powder magazine, Skiing magazine and SKI magazine, as reported in this blog post on

The featured resorts are:
Below is a quote from the post:

January is arguably the height of the ski season, with winter's most anticipated magazines (Photo Annuals) hitting the shelves. All eyes are on January, and this month, Utah pulled off a hat trick of sorts and landed the cover for Powder, SKI and Skiing Magazines. No need for sexy poses here or bright lipstick, just Utah's insanely deep, dry powder.

December snowfall was incredible and has propelled us into a season which may go down as Utah's best yet.

Now's the time to hit the slopes.

- Dave Webb
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