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Utah Travel Headlines

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Visit The Biggest Loser Resort At Fitness Ridge

The TV program, The Biggest Loser, has become incredibly popular as people work to lose weight and build fitness. But not everyone can be included on the show. People who will never have their face on TV are flocking to a fitness resort in southern Utah that partners with the show.

The Biggest Loser Resort At Fitness Ridge has become a phenomenon itself. It is located just outside of St. George, close to Snow Canyon State Park and Tuacahn Amphitheatre.

The resort has an interesting history. Lee Benson describes it in this Deseret News article. Below are excerpts:

Every Sunday, they walk in the lobby of The Biggest Loser Resort at Fitness Ridge, say goodbye to their last Big Mac, and register of their own free will for a daily regimen of pain, sweat, six hours of exercise, a two-and-a-half hour hike every morning (through the redrock), chef-cooked meals that will not exceed 1,500 calories — all three of them — and nightly lectures...

And by the way, the title of the facility is not a cheap ripoff of the hit NBC TV show by the same name. They are in fact one and the same, joined at the hip as it were. Three and a half years ago, NBC singled out the Utah workout spa in the shadow of the red hills to be its official weight-loss farm, the only resort on Earth that could legally call itself The Biggest Loser.

“We couldn’t answer the phone fast enough,” recalls Nancy Molitor, the resort’s reservations manager. “All that publicity from TV and the name change. It crashed the website. The floodgates opened.”

Fitness Ridge had a waiting list that ranged from four months to 10 months until NBC finally opened additional The Biggest Loser Resorts, first in Malibu and then at Niagara Falls in New York. A fourth is scheduled to open this summer in Chicago.

Now, there’s no waiting list in Ivins but occupancy remains high, with many weeks still sold out.

Read the entire article.

Tour Utah's 'Mighty Five' National Parks

The Utah Office of Tourism has launched its spring/summer advertising campaign, which encourages people to visit the five southern Utah national parks.

The campaign features TV commercials that will air in Los Angeles, Denver, Phoenix, Portland, San Francisco and Seattle along, along with outdoor “wallscapes” on buildings. It will also include social media activities. You can see the TV commercial here.

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

"Everybody knows Utah has the greatest snow on earth," said Vicki Varela, managing director of the Utah Office of Tourism. "Now we're putting out the story far and wide that we also have the greatest parks on earth."

Varela said advertising the parks after the federal government budget cuts known as sequestration will help would-be tourists understand "our parks are wide open for business."

About the sequestration, Denis Davis, the Utah state coordinator for the National Park Service, said: "The impact is real, but most of the impacts won't be noticed by our visitors. And that's fortunate... I think the more typical things that people will see is that restrooms won't be as clean. There won't be as many ranger-guided programs and activities. And there won't be the same level of law enforcement activity."

The TV commercial features Robb Baumann and his family hiking, rafting and biking through each of the five parks. Baumann, who first lived in Utah as a college student, recently returned because he missed the outdoor activities.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Google Maps Show Live Updates For Salt Lake-Area Public Transportation

Google has just launched a service that makes it easier to use public transportation to get around the Salt Lake metro area (which extends from Ogden down past Provo). The service not only suggests routes and identifies stops, it also shows real-time information on schedules and delays.

Google has launched the new service in New York City, Washington, D.C., and the Salt Lake area. It is a slick service that should help residents and tourists alike.

I tested it today and I'm impressed. Go to and click on Get Directions. Type in your starting address and your destination address and click the “get directions” button. A map will load showing the recommended route using public transportation. If options are available, they will also be shown.

Click on one of the marked stops and a window will open showing information about that stop. The service defaults to “leave now” but also allows you to choose a later departure time. If you choose a later time, the service will show when you need to be at the stop, along with information about any delays along the route.

Google has long put information about bus routes and stops on its maps. This new service is an expansion, adding real-time schedule and delay information.

The Utah Transit Authority has been aggressive about using technology to make public transportation more convenient and usable. Apparently, the Salt Lake area was chosen for the service because schedule information was already available digitally and could be easily incorporated into the system.

The Salt Lake Tribune has this article with more information about the service.

- Dave Webb

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Holi Festival of Colors This Weekend In Spanish Fork

The annual Holi Festival of Colors at the Krishna Temple in Spanish Fork has become a bid deal, attracting visitors from around the Intermountain Region and beyond. Hordes of people will descend on the Temple, and that is part of the fun.

Traffic will be congested on Main Street on the south side of Spanish Fork, which is located just south of Provo. There will not be any parking spaces anywhere close to the Temple.

The festival hours are 10 am – 8 pm on March 30 and 11 am – 4 pm on March 31.

Shuttle buses will run from parking areas at the Spanish Fork Fairgrounds, Sports Complex and Salem Hills High School to the Temple. People are encouraged to ride the shuttle.

Attendance has grown every year. College students from around the region have put the festival on their circuit and many will show up. It is a great opportunity for members of the public to have fun, learn about Krishna, enjoy ethnic food and culture, and throw colors at each other.

The video below shows some of the fun from recent festivals.

A similar festival will be held April 20 in Salt Lake City. The website has more details.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Shuttle System Resumes Operation in Zion National Park

Zion Park Shuttle - courtesy Zion NP
The shuttle system to stops in Zion Canyon, Zion National Park, has been a great success. It provides easy access to trailheads and other destinations in the canyon while keeping vehicle traffic low. Without the shuttle it would be nearly impossible to get a parking space anywhere close to popular trailheads. With the shuttle you can hop off right at your destination. Shuttles come along every few minutes – they are very convenient.

I remember well the years just before the shuttle began operating, and at first I resisted the mandatory nature of the service. But it didn't take me long to become a convert. I appreciate the convenience - and the cleaner air.

- Dave Webb

The park provided this news release about the shuttle system:

Shuttle System Resumes Operation in Zion National Park

The Zion National Park Transportation System will begin shuttle operations on Sunday, March 24, 2013 and provide daily service through Sunday, October 28, 2012, with service on weekends only during the month of November. This marks the fourteenth year of operation for the shuttle system in Zion National Park and Springdale, Utah. The shuttle system is supported by park entrance fees and all shuttles are fare-free. Parks Transportation, Inc., a subsidiary of McDonald Transit of Fort Worth, Texas, operates the shuttle service.

The shuttle system services nine shuttle stops in the town of Springdale and nine shuttle stops inside the park. The Zion Canyon Shuttle provides improved access to points of interest, trailheads, the Zion Canyon Scenic Drive, and facilities such as the Zion Lodge and Zion Human History Museum. While the shuttle system is in operation, the Zion Canyon Scenic Drive is closed to private vehicles. Confirmed guests at the Zion Lodge may drive to the lodge, but cannot travel past the lodge or make any stops along the way. All other roads in the park are open to private vehicles, including the Zion-Mount Carmel Highway which connects to State Route 9 at the south and east entrances of the park.

This spring, daily shuttle operations begin with a shuttle departing from the Majestic View Shuttle Stop in Springdale at 6:40 am. Shuttle service in Zion Canyon starts at 7:00 am from the Zion Canyon Visitor Center Shuttle Stop. The last shuttle traveling up canyon from the visitor center will depart at 8:45 pm and the last shuttle traveling into town will depart from the Zion Canyon Theatre Shuttle Stop at 8:45 pm. Hours of operation will expand starting Sunday, May 20, 2012. Shuttles depart from designated stops every seven to ten minutes during the middle of the day and approximately every 15 to 30 minutes in the early morning and late evening.

Visitors are encouraged to park in designated parking areas in Springdale and ride the Springdale Shuttle to the park’s Pedestrian Entrance. Visitors can board the Zion Canyon Shuttle at the Zion Canyon Visitor Center Shuttle Stop. Open daily, the Zion Canyon Visitor Center offers park information, backcountry permits, reservations for the Zion Lodge, and a bookstore which sells maps, books, and other items that may enhance a visit to the park.

Friday, March 22, 2013

Easter Weekend Will Bring Crowds To St. George Area, Little Sahara Dunes

St. George is known as “Utah's Dixie” because of its mild climate. Over the years it has evolved to become Utah's premier “spring break” destination. Thousands of visitors will be in the St. George area over Easter weekend, taking advantage of the sunshine, warm temperatures and plentiful recreational opportunities.

Motels and campgrounds in the area may be booked solid. St. George City is the center of spring break activities but plenty of people will be exploring the nearby national and state parks. It will be the busiest weekend so far this year in Zion Park, with plenty of people riding the shuttle and hiking thetrails.

Zion is prepared for crowds so don't let that keep you from exploring the park. Even with spring breakers in the area, Zion will not be as crowded as it gets on summer holidays. But motels in the gateway cities may be full, even as far away as Hurricane.

Little Sahara Sand Dunes
The Little Sahara Sand Dunes in CentralUtah are also a busy place on Easter Weekend. The Dunes are managed by BLM and include campgrounds and areas where dune buggies, ATVs and dirt bikes can operate. The campgrounds will be full and the dunes will be busy.

The Sand Dunes attract a lot of families and also some party animal types. Sheriff's deputies step up patrols to keep alcohol levels down and noise under control.

If the weather is nice, other parks, recreation areas and campgrounds will also be busy.

BLM provided this news release about Easter Weekend at Little Sahara:

BLM Preparing for Easter Weekend at Little Sahara Recreation Area

Fillmore, Utah—Bureau of Land Management (BLM) staff and federal and state agencies are preparing for thousands of visitors at Little Sahara Recreation Area (LSRA) for the first big recreation weekend of the year. The water supply will be turned back on by Easter weekend weather permitting.
The Willard R. Fullmer Visitor Center hours are as follows:

Regular Business Hours:
Sunday: 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.
Monday: 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.
Tuesday: Closed
Wednesday: Closed
Thursday: 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.
Friday: 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.
Saturday: 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.

The visitor center will be open extended hours during the Easter weekend.

The 2013 annual passes for LSRA are on sale. Annual passes are good for 12 months from the date of purchase and the cost of the first vehicle pass is $120. The second vehicle pass is available for $65. Passes may be purchased at the LSRA Visitor Center and two other locations between 8:00 am to 4:00 pm: the BLM Fillmore Field Office and BLM Salt Lake Field Office. Gift certificates are also available.

Fillmore Field Office
95 East 500 North
Fillmore, Utah 84631
(435) 743-3100

Salt Lake Field Office
2370 South 2300 West
Salt Lake City, UT 84119
(801) 977-4300
LSRA Visitor Center
27020 W Sand Mountain
Nephi, UT 84648
(435) 433-5960

For more information about Little Sahara Recreation Area, call 435-743-3100 or visit

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Apply For Zion Park Backcountry Permits; Comment On Proposed OHV Trail Near Price

Zion Narrows - photo by Dave Webb
Zion National Park has fine tuned its backcountry permit application process and developed a new section on its website to give people information about popular backcountry areas that require permits.

These areas include The Narrows. (Permits are not needed to hike upstream into The Narrows from Temple of Sinawava, but you do need a permit to hike the entire canyon top to bottom.)

Permits are needed for all technical slot canyon hikes including Mystery Canyon and The Subway. These canyons are very popular and so the park restricts the size and number of groups allowed to enter each day. If you are interested in these adventures, study the permit system and apply in advance as much as possible.

See the Park website's wilderness section for more information.

Proposed OHV Trail Near Price
The BLM is seeking public comment on a proposed new OHV trail in eastern Utah near Price. BLM provided this news release, which gives details about the proposal and explains the comment process.

BLM Seeks Public Comment on Proposed OHV Trail in eastern Utah

Price, Utah—The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) Price Field Office is now seeking public comment on the Geezer Backbone Trail environmental assessment, (EA) which analyzes the potential impacts of Carbon County’s proposal to designate and maintain an existing OHV trail in Carbon County.

The BLM is considering granting a right-of-way (ROW) for this proposal. All activities associated with the trail would occur within the authorized limits of the ROW. Any future realignment, reconstruction, or maintenance outside of the approved area can only be authorized through a ROW amendment.

Additional information about this project is included in the EA, which is now available for public review and comment. An electronic copy of the EA can be found on the BLM’s Environmental Notification Bulletin Board at: A hard copy can be obtained in person at the Price Field Office, 125 South 600 West, Price, Utah or requested by calling (435)636-3600.
The public review and comment period for this EA is open until April 25, 2013. Please note that the most useful comments are those that identify issues relevant to the proposed action or contain new technical or scientific information. Comments which contain only opinions or preferences will not receive a formal response, but may be considered in the BLM decision-making process.
Please reference “Geezer Backbone Trail EA” when submitting comments. Written comments should be mailed to:
Bureau of Land Management
Price Field Office
Attn: Ahmed Mohsen
125 South 600 West
Price, Utah 84501
Written comments may also be submitted via email to:

Before including your address, phone number, email address, or other personal identifying information in your comment, you should be aware that your entire comment – including your personal identifying information – may be made publicly available at any time. While you can ask us in your comment to withhold your personal identifying information from public review, we cannot guarantee that we will be able to do so. BLM will not consider anonymous comments. All submissions from organizations and businesses, and from individuals identifying themselves as representatives or officials of organizations or businesses, will be available for public inspection in their entirety.

For further information concerning the document, please contact Ahmed Mohsen, Associate Field Manager, at (435)636-3600. Persons who use a telecommunications device for the deaf (TDD) may call the Federal Information Relay Service (FIRS) at 1-800-877-8339 to contact the above individual during normal business hours. The FIRS is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, to leave a message or question with the above individual. You will receive a reply during normal business hours.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Lake Powell Boating Season Begins, Invasive Species Prompts Warnings

LakePowell - photo by Dave Webb
The water is starting to warm at Lake Powell and so boating activity is picking up. The water is still too cold for skiing or other water sports but this is an ideal time to explore the lake and enjoy the scenery, in relative solitude.

People do ski and wakeboard at the lake during spring but most wear wet or dry suites. It will be late My or June before most people are comfortable spending much time in the water wearing just swim suites.

Memorial Day Weekend kicks off the tourist season. On that weekend the major marinas will be zoos, with heavy traffic on the launch ramps, in the nearby bays and the lake's channel. If you plan to boat at that time you should launch early and get away from the marinas as quickly as possible.

Fishing is picking up right now. Action for striped bass, smallmouth bass and largemouth bass will become good in early April and will be red hot in May.

Quagga mussel larva have been found at various spots around the lake and they are a big concern to water managers. Boats that operate at the lake need to be inspected, cleaned and dried.

Utah's Division of Wildlife Resources provided this news release about the mussels.

Microscopic Invasive Mussels Found at Lake Powell
Boaters must be more diligent in decontaminating their boats.

In 2012, the National Park Service collected water samples from multiple locations in Lake
Powell. A few of those samples tested positive for the presence of microscopic, larval-stage quagga
mussels (called veligers). No adult mussels have been found in the lake. This discovery prompted
the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources (DWR) to change Lake Powell’s mussel status from
Undetected to Detected.

Individuals who boat at Lake Powell often travel to other Utah water bodies. Boaters need to be exceptionally careful in decontaminating their boats after they visit the lake.

What this means for boaters
If you are a boater who likes to visit Lake Powell, this means you will need to be more diligent in
cleaning, draining and drying your boat, especially if you plan to boat in other Utah waters.

What this doesn’t mean for boaters
While unfortunate, this news does not necessarily mean that Lake Powell has an established
population of quagga mussels. It does not mean that you shouldn’t boat in Lake Powell. We
encourage you to boat at Lake Powell — it is a wonderful place!

What you need to do
1. Enjoy Lake Powell!

2. After removing your boat from the lake, pull out the drain plug and pump out your ballast
tanks/livewells. Lake Powell’s water is now a serious threat to other Utah waterbodies.
Removing this water greatly reduces the threat.

3. Wipe down the outside of your boat.

4. When you arrive home, spread out all equipment and toys that were in the water and allow
them to dry for seven days. This includes skis, wakeboards, life vests, anchors, ropes and
water toys. Open all compartments to allow your boat to dry out. The veligers found in Lake
Powell cannot survive without water for seven days in the summer.

5. If you plan on boating before your seven-day dry time has expired, contact your nearest
DWR regional office and ask for a professional decontamination. Employees will be happy to
help you. If you delay professional decontamination until you arrive at the ramp of your next
water, there might be a long wait before you can decontaminate and launch.

6. If you are traveling on I-15 or across U.S. Highway 6, you can arrange decontamination at
the DWR’s Cedar City office (435-865-6100) or Price office (435-613-3700) on your way

Why is decontamination a priority?
It is critically important to protect all Utah waterbodies from invasive species. If our recreation
areas become infested, access to your favorite lake or reservoir could be severely restricted. We
don’t want to see this happen, so we want to work with you — the boaters — to help keep Utah’s
waters clean and open for everyone.

For more information on invasive mussel monitoring at Lake Powell, visit

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Willard Bay North Recreation Area Closed Because Of Diesel Spill

The North Marina and associated recreation area at Willard Bay State Park are closed indefinitely as crews clean up diesel fuel from a spill in Willard Creek and a retention pond above the reservoir. The South Marina area was not affected and will be opened as soon as crews can get facilities ready.

Apparently a metal pipe broke and allowed the fuel to spill. A beaver dam on the small stream is credited with blocking the fuel flow and apparently none entered the reservoir and surrounding wetlands.

The bay is a popular spot for boating, camping, fishing and other recreational activities. The bay and surrounding wetlands provide important habitat for birds and many animal species. The bay is located on the east edge of the Great Salt Lake, just north of Ogden.

The Deseret News has this article about the spill and resulting closure. Below are excerpts.

The park's North Marina and campground were closed indefinitely as a result of the leak, said Deena Loyola of Utah State Parks and Recreation. All campers were evacuated Monday evening, and park employees were working Tuesday to de-winterize the South Marina.

"At this point in time, there is no indication" that anything leaked into Willard Bay, (Greg) Hardy said. Chevron is now working to identify where the leak was, what may have caused it and how much diesel was released. (Hardy is state government affairs representative at Chevron.)

Two beavers were contaminated in the fuel spill and were "pretty saturated," said Phil Douglass, regional outreach manager for the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources. They were taken to the Wildlife Rehabilitation Center of Northern Utah, where firefighters used hazardous materials equipment to try and soak up as much fuel as possible.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Shafer Trail Opens, Moab Enduro Race Scheduled

Shafer Trail - photo by Dave Webb
Canyonlands National Park reports that the Shafer Trail is now open for vehicle travel – another sign that spring is here and the parks are launching their seasonal activities.

The trail is shown at right. It consists of a series of switchbacks that fall off Island In the Sky Mesa near Dead Horse Point, down to the White Rum Trail. It is an extremely scenic route that can be driven in a high clearance vehicle. Four-wheel drive is not usually needed.

New Enduro Cup at Magnificent 7, Moab, UT Announced

(This is a news release provided by the Enduro Cup.)

SALT LAKE CITY, UTAH (March 18, 2013) - Renowned cyclocross and enduro racer Ali Goulet has teamed up with Salt Lake City-based event marketing agency Mountain Sports International to create the new Enduro Cup series. Enduro is the most progressive form of mountain bike racing which is hugely popular in Europe and gaining incredible interest in the United States. Inspired by rally car and motorbike enduro racing, enduro mountain bike racing is an all mountain stage race where riders compete to gain the lowest cumulative time from several downhill sections of the course.

Inspired by the great enthusiasm spurred by the 2012 Bell Wasatch Enduro at Canyons Resort in Park City, the new Enduro Cup provides more opportunities for racers to compete in the state. The first event of the 2013 Enduro Cup will be held in Moab, UT at the Magnificent 7 trail area.

Registration for the Enduro Cup in Moab is open now on Participation cost is $80 for adults and juniors.

Friday, March 15, 2013

Road Construction Restricts Access To Snow Canyon

Snow Canyon State Park © Dave Webb
Snow Canon State Park, located near St. George, is delightful right now, with mild spring temperatures. This is the perfect time to hike, bike and explore the park and surrounding area.

Travelers need to know that road construction will sometimes delay traffic coming to the park's south entrance through April. The road will be open through the period but delays are likely.

People are advised to use the park's north entrance.

This article has details. Below are excerpts.

“And with the Ironman St. George route being changed to include this section of roadway, the city (recognized) the priority of the reconstruction plans,” city Engineer Chuck Gillette said.

The project timeline puts completion at the end of April, though it may be finished sooner. The road and adjacent walking trail will remain open during the project, but park visitors should expect delays and hazardous driving conditions and are encouraged to use the park’s north entrance as a better alternative.

Snow Canyon is one of our most popular state parks. Many activities are offered during the spring, including ranger-led hikes into Johnson Canyon and Paradise Canyon. See park event information.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Spring Ski Special & Luxury Ski Lodging

Alta Ski Resort is offering this interesting spring special:

Spring special for Season Pass holders from ski areas around the world
  • Requires a 2012-2013 season pass(with photo) & photo ID from any ski area around the world!
  • $55/day
  • Valid April 1-14, 2013
Luxury Ski Lodging has just released a survey showing the most expensive ski hotels in the world. Our own St. Regis Deer Valley is ranked as the most expensive in the US, and the 3rd most expensive in the world. Montage Deer Valley comes in at #12 world-wide.

The Top 20 are shown below. See the full report.

1. Aurelio Lech, Lech am Arlberg, Austria
2. Les Suites de la Potinière, Courchevel, France

3. St. Regis Deer Valley, Park City, United States

4. Almhof Schneider, Lech am Arlberg, Austria

5. The Ritz-Carlton Residences, Vail, United States

6. La Palace des Neiges, Courchevel, France

7. Amangani, Jackson, United States

8. La Sivoliere, Courchevel, France
9. Le Melezin, Courchevel, France

10. The Little Nell, Aspen, United States
11. The St. Regis Aspen, Aspen, United States
12. Montage Deer Valley, Park City, United States

13. Carlton Hotel, St. Moritz, Switzerland
14. Suvretta House, St. Moritz, Switzerland
16. Gasthof Post, Lech-Arlberg, Austria
15. Kulm Hotel, St. Moritz, Switzerland
17. Saint Joseph, Courchevel, France
19. Kempinski Grand Hotel, St. Moritz, Switzerland
18. Le Chabichou, Courchevel, France
20. Badrutts Palace, St. Moritz, Switzerland

The creative numbering comes right from the survey report. I just print em as I see em.

It is interesting that Stein Eriksen Lodge is not on the expensive list, but it ranks as Utah's best (only 5-Star) lodging property in many surveys. I'm glad there is a wide variety of Park City lodging options, including many that are quite affordable.

- Dave Webb

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Guided Hikes and Kayak Tours On Great Salt Lake/Antelope Island

The Great Salt Lake is a popular attractions for locals and tourists alike and Antelope Island is the most popular destination on the lake. It is a great place to walk on the beach, swim in the famously salty water (in summer), hike, bike, observe wildlife and camp.

Antelope Island State Park holds guided adventure treks on a regular basis to help people safely enjoy the island and surrounding lake. Coming up is a guided kayak tour of Egg Island, where thousands of birds nest and rest. The tour will be a bird watcher's dream and will provide a great opportunity to see a unique part of the lake.

Utah State Parks provided the information below about upcoming events. See the park website for more details:

Predators of the Sky
16 Mar 2013
Location: Antelope Island State Park. Birds of prey have many specific and unique adaptations that translate into powerful and efficient hunters. Come meet two birds of prey and discover what makes them so unique and intriguing. Program begins at 4 pm in the visitor center. Entrance fees apply. For more information call (801) 721-9569.

Bird Tour: Wear Green, Celebrate Spring!
17 Mar 2013
Location: Antelope Island State Park. Join us at 9 am at the visitor center to celebrate the coming of spring as we look for and learn about some of the many birds living here. At 10 am we will caravan down to the ranch (weather permitting) which is a wonderful bird oasis. Dress to spend time outside. Entrance fees apply. For more information call (801) 721-9569.

Kayak Tour: Egg Island
19 Mar 2013
Location: Antelope Island State Park. Experience the sounds and sights of a ground nesting colony of Great Blue Herons, Double-crested Cormorants and California Gulls. This tour will provide a unique opportunity to see birds nesting on the Great Salt Lake and experience the beauty and solitude of the Great Salt Lake from a kayak/canoe. Meet at 8:45 am at the Antelope Island Marina for a 9:00 am to 12:00 pm guided tour. Space is limited (10) and registration is required. For more information call Wendy at (801) 721-9569. Entrance fees apply.

Kayak Tour: Egg Island
21 Mar 2013
Location: Antelope Island State Park. Experience the sounds and sights of a ground nesting colony of Great Blue Herons, Double-crested Cormorants and California Gulls. This tour will provide a unique opportunity to see birds nesting on the Great Salt Lake and experience the beauty and solitude of the Great Salt Lake from a kayak/canoe. Meet at 4:45 pm at the Antelope Island Marina for a 5:00 pm to dark guided tour. Space is limited (10) and registration is required. For more information call Wendy at (801) 721-9569. Entrance fees apply.

Kayak Tour: Egg Island
28 Mar 2013
Location: Antelope Island State Park. Experience the sounds and sights of a ground nesting colony of Great Blue Herons, Double-crested Cormorants and California Gulls. This tour will provide a unique opportunity to see birds nesting on the Great Salt Lake and experience the beauty and solitude of the Great Salt Lake from a kayak/canoe. Meet at 4:45 pm at the Antelope Island Marina for a 5:00 pm to dark guided tour. Space is limited (10) and registration is required. For more information call Wendy at (801) 721-9569. Entrance fees apply.

Guided Hike: Life and Times of Great Salt Lake
30 Mar 2013
Location: Antelope Island State Park. The story of how, when and why Great Salt formed is rich in geologic history – and that story continues today. Join the Park Naturalist at 3:00 pm for a 5 ½ mile round-trip hike along the Shoreline Trail as we discuss the intriguing past of this ancient lake. The Shoreline Trail starts near campsite #8 in Bridger Bay Campground. Entrance fees apply. For more information call (801) 721-9569.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Striking Photos From The Mars Colony In Utah's Desert

Some desert areas in Utah look like the could be from another planet and, indeed, our terrain has stood in for alien landscape in many moves – from the Planet Vulcan to John Carter's Mars to the Planet of the Apes.

Some areas have also been used in scientific research exploring what it might be light to colonize other planets. An ongoing project has volunteers living in a simulated Mars colony in the desert outside of Hanksville, near Lake Powell in southern Utah.

The simulation has made news and been featured in this blog before and probably will be again. We're drawing your attention to in now because they have released a bunch of striking photos showing activity as the crew lives in the “space colony” and explores the nearby alien terrain.

Many newspapers and magazines are publishing articles that include the photos. The UK's Daily Mail has this article, which includes more photos than any other I perused. The photos are worth viewing.

Below are excerpts from the article. The comments at the end of the article are also worth reading.

The project is called the Mars Desert Research Station (MDRS), a simulated off-world habitat that serves as a test site for field operations in preparation for future human missions to Mars.

All outdoor exploration is done wearing simulated spacesuits and carrying air supply packs and crews live together in a small communication base with carefully rationed essentials - everything needed to survive must be produced, fixed and replaced on-site.

Each crew spends between two weeks and a month living in a habitat unit, performing the kind of work astronauts will be expected to carry out on Mars, such as collecting rock samples from the surface and examining them back in the habitat, conducting life science experiments and studying the local geology and geomorphology.

The Utah site is one of two operated by the Mars Society as part of its Mars Analog Research Station (MARS) project. The other site is located in the Canadian Arctic, with two more planned for the Australian outback and Iceland.

These locations were chosen because some environmental conditions, geologic features or biological attributes may be similar to those thought to be encountered on Mars.

The MDRS website says: “'Offering profound enlightenment to our science, inspiration and purpose to our youth, and a potentially unbounded future for our posterity, the challenge of Mars is one that we must embrace.”

Monday, March 11, 2013

Utah State Parks Photo And Video Contests

Spring is a wonderful time to explore Utah's state parks. All of the parks hold special events and learning activities to help engage the public. Many of the activities are designed for families and children. We thought these two activities merited special mention.

Wasatch Mountain State Park Photo Contest

Wasatch Mountain has a photo contest currently underway; you can see details here.

The theme is “Showcasing the Park.” Categories: Scenery, Recreation, Plants and Animals

Prizes will be announced on the park's Facebook page and Website.

Winning photos will be displayed in the Park Visitor Center

Entry deadline for the current contest is April 15.

The park will then launch a new round of the contest which will run

Ride On! Youth Video Contest

The information below was provided by Utah State parks:

Check out RideOn! Youth Ambassador Jessica Rhodes' video on how to enter (shown below).
She's a two-time cash prize winner!

Grab your riding gear, your friends and your camera, and create your own off-highway vehicle safety video. You, your teacher, and your school could each win up to $900 in cash and gift certificates! *No taxpayer money is used for prizes.

Utah State Parks and Recreation, Utah School and Institutional Trust Lands Administration (SITLA), and the Larry H. Miller Group co-sponsor the RIDE ON! Video Contest.

Your winning videos will be used by Utah State Parks and SITLA to share safe
OHV riding messages, and communicate the importance of protecting and
respecting SITLA land.

Here's the Ride-On how-to video:

Friday, March 08, 2013

Should Point of the Mountain Be Preserved For Hang Gliding/Paragliding?

The air currents at Point of the Mountain, between Salt Lake City and Provo, are ideal for hang gliding
and paragliding. So perfect that “The Point” is known to gliding enthusiasts from around the world. People come from all over to ride the air waves.

Some of the land there has been designated Flight Park State Recreation Area. It is jointly managed by Utah State Parks and the Hang Gliding and Paragliding Association.

The ridge in that area has unique characteristic making it an exceptional spot. In the morning, as the sun warms the land, air currents follow the contours and provide the lift needed for great flights. Then in the afternoon, cooling changes the air flows and enthusiasts move to the other side of the ridge. People can launch and fly from either direction.

White the land on top of the ridge is reserved for the sport, areas around the base are not and are subject to development. Large sand and gravel pits are located in the area and continually push into the ridge.

Now gliding enthusiasts are concerned that enlarging the gravel operations will change the land contours, which will alter the air flow and destroy the prime updrafts. has this interesting news report about the issue. Below are excerpts.

The Point of the Mountain has been excavated for freeways and construction for the past couple decades, leaving large gravel pits and mounds. Many paragliders have used the mountains for paragliding, and it's become a common sight to see them floating in the sky at the Point of the Mountain.

However, Geneva Rock has started expanding its mining operation and has begun excavating a slope of the mountain. Many paragliders are afraid the construction will change the wind flow.

Paraglider pilot Milly Wallace explained that the wind will follow the path of the hill.

"That is where we are catching our lift, is right there," she said. "Anything that disturbs that is going to change the flow of that wind."

However, Geneva Rock owns the rights to the land at the Point of the Mountain to use for excavation. Spokesman Jake White said that Geneva Rock supports the paragliders and even traded some of its property so the south paragliding park could be built a few years prior.

The gliders say they appreciate Geneva Rock's cooperation in the past and they know the company has the legal right to expand its pit. They hope to work out some kind of arrangement to have the expansion go a different direction to preserve the air flow.

We encourage the public to learn about this issue and voice opinions.

Thursday, March 07, 2013

Ogden Named "Top Emerging Ski Town"

National Geographic Adventure is out with this list of up and coming ski towns, and Ogden, Utah, tops the list. The magazine concludes Ogden's resorts have quality skiing comparable with other, more famous, Utah resorts, without the crowds.

Here are excerpts from the article:

These are the local’s favorites, the up-and-comers. They’re real towns, often cheaper and friendlier than the big dogs—at least for now. If you’re on the hunt for great skiing without the crowds and glitz, read on.

Ogden sits only 40 miles north of Salt Lake City’s international airport and its two primary mountains—Snowbasin and Powder Mountain—have the same ethereal powder as the heralded resorts in Cottonwood Canyon without the pesky crowds...

Snowbasin underwent major renovation for the 2002 Winter Olympics and features elegant base lodges with state-of-the-art lifts, including a tram and two gondolas. Powder Mountain is a throwback hill, with very non-high-speed chairlifts, simple lodges, and cheaper lift tickets.

Snowbasin, which has expert terrain rivaling anything in Utah, has the superior steeps. While Powder Mountain, with its sprawling layout (7,000 acres) and abundant snow (500 inches a year), is an intermediate powder skier's dream...

The article gives tips on best runs along with info on where to stay and eat, and what to do off the slopes.

Other towns on the up and coming list include:
  • Reno, Nevada
  • Revelstoke, British Columbia
  • Nelson, British Columbia
  • Sandpoint, Idaho
  • Grand Targhee, Wyoming
  • Mammoth, California
  • Red Lodge, Montana
  • Durango, Colorado

Wednesday, March 06, 2013

Stunningly Beautiful Photos Of Zion Park's Subway

Zion's Subway - Photo by Dave Webb
The Daily Mail out of the UK has this photo essay with amazing images of The Subway in Zion National Park.

The tabloid did not send a photographer/reporter team to hike and photograph the amazing natural feature. Rather, their editors searched existing photos and published the best of the best. That's the sure way to get great photos.

It is a difficult task to take a world-class photos in The Subway. I know because I've tried it. My photos are pretty good, but are not even close to the quality of the images in this essay. To get superb images you have to be in just the right place at just the right time, to capture the subject in the best light. And that golden moment light is tricky in narrow canyons with dancing shadows.

I usually hike with impatient campaigns who, for some strange reason, want to be out of the canyon before dark. So we move rapidly, close to the end of our trek during the magic few minutes when the canyon glows like you see in the essay photos.

So, I appreciate this collection. My hat goes off to the photographers.

One of my humble offerings illustrates this blog post. See more of them here. I wish I could have used one of the photos from the essay, but I don't want to infringe on copyright. I did shoot a fun video in the canyon. You can see it here.

The canyon is so popular, only 80 people are allowed to descend it a day. Permits are difficult to come by. But I'm making plans to hike it during July, after runoff ends and the water warms a bit. Maybe on this trip I'll stumble into a magic light moment.

- Dave Webb

Tuesday, March 05, 2013

Ancient Landscape, Modern Living - This Is The 'New Utah' has this fun article with this title:

Ancient Landscape, Modern Living - From Salt Lake City
To Soaring Peaks This Is The New Utah

The article's premise: What's changed in Salt Lake City since the world visited during the 2002 Winter Olympics. Much has changed, and for the better, the article says. Here are a few excerpts:

City Creek Center: “Running through the heart of the casually walkable environment is a 365-metre-long recreation of historic City Creek that once flowed through downtown and provided early settlers with water. Complementing the creek are two 5.5-metre waterfalls cascading over Utah sandstone boulders...”

Restaurants and bars: “A host of high-design, high-concept eateries have recently opened their doors in the heart of Salt Lake offering a range of American and international cuisine and making this city the hottest dining destination in the West.”

Cultural attractions are the third pillar of a thriving urban environment and Salt Lake City offers some impressive options including the stunning angularity of Abravanel Hall, located next to City Creek Centre and home of the Utah Symphony and Opera. Also situated in the downtown core and new in 2012, the visionary Leonardo museum takes an interactive approach to science, art and technology.”

Annual multi-cultural events and festivals include:
  • Pioneer Days
  • A massive three-day Pride Festival
  • Greek Festival
  • Cinco de Mayo
  • Various Pacific Island celebrations
Natural history: “This rich heritage is now showcased in another Salt Lake City landmark, the stunning Natural History Museum of Utah. Opened in 2012, the Rio Tinto Center at the University of Utah is clad in 3,900 square metres of copper, echoing the colour of the landscape into which it blends so easily with rooflines that follow the silhouette of the foothills.”

“Clustered in the southern half of the state are the national parks:”
  • Arches
  • Bryce Canyon
  • Canyonlands
  • Capital Reef
  • Zion
  • Monument Valley Navajo Tribal Park
  • The best access to the North Rim of the Grand Canyon is through southern Utah
  • Mesa Verde National Park lies just over the border in Colorado
The article overlooked Great Basin National Park, which is virtually on the Utah/Nevada border.

It's a good article. We're pleased that the world sees Salt Lake as a maturing, multicultural destination with much to offer.

Read the entire article.

- Dave Webb

Monday, March 04, 2013

Highway 89 Closed Indefinitely South Of Lake Powell

A section of US Highway 89 that buckled and collapsed about 25 miles south of Page, Arizona, remains closed to traffic in both directions and officials now say it may be months before the road is repaired and reopened.

Hwy 89 is a major north/south artery running through Utah and northern Arizona. It is the primary highway providing access to the Wahweap area on Lake Powell. If you are coming to the lake from Utah there is no problem because the road damage is south of the lake. If you are trying to reach the lake from the south, you will need to detour around the damage and that will add about 45 minutes to your drive time.

If you are not heading to the lake but just need to travel 89 north or south, you will need to use Hwy 89A (over Lees Ferry and the Kaibab).

This news article has details about the road damage, and a map showing the detours. Here's a quote:

In the early morning hours of Feb. 20, an apparent landslide ripped through a section of US 89 along a mountain slope about 25 miles south of Page, buckling more than 150 feet of the roadway and tearing the pavement up in six-foot-high sections.

The significant roadway damage forced the Arizona Department of Transportation to immediately close a 23-mile stretch of the highway (mileposts 523-546) between the US 89A junction near Bitter Springs to the State Route 98 junction.

Don't cancel any Lake Powell plans. Just avoid the damaged roadway.

Friday, March 01, 2013

Spring Events Kick Off At Some Utah National Parks

Ok, Bryce Canyon still has snow, cold and winter conditions but spring activities are starting at other Utah national parks.

Zion Park workers posted this on the park Facebook page:
It’s 73 degrees, birds are singing, and tomorrow the South Campground & the Zion Human History Museum open for the season! Must be spring!

From now until March 23, you can drive and park in Zion Canyon. From March 24, 2013 through October 27, access to the canyon will be by park shuttle only (except for guests staying at Zion Lodge).

The Zion Canyon area is located at a low elevation where spring comes early. Elevations are higher in other parts of the park and many areas are still closed by snowpack.

At Arches National Park, ranger-led Fiery Furnace hikes begin on March 2. The three-hour, ranger-led tour is a real adventure! We have video of the hike – see it here. Other ranger-led events will begin during the next several weeks.

All trails in Arches are open but some have ice right now. That will change quickly as temperatures warm during the next couple weeks.

Similar conditions exist in Canyonlands and Capitol Reef national parks. Areas that get sunshine are dry and in excellent condition. Shady spots may have ice right now.

Today I explored canyons in the Moab area and saw considerable snow on north slopes, but had no trouble driving and hiking. It is apparent that snow and ice is melting fast, with tiny streamlets trickling down adjacent hillsides.

Snow and ice patches are visibly smaller from day to day and will soon be completely gone.

March is a great time to explore and hike in these areas.

- Dave Webb
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