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Utah Travel Headlines

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Moab Featured On International Bucket List has this interesting bucket list, featuring 101 things to do around the world. Many are quite exotic:
  • Walk with lions in Zimbabwe
  • Scuba dive in the Great Barrier Reef
  • Walk the length of the Great Wall of China
Some are impossible, or nearly so:
  • Become a space tourist
  • Climb one of the world’s seven summits
Number 101 on the list is right up our alley:
  • Take an active holiday in Moab, Utah
That one links to this blog post about Moab adventures, written by an Australian writer Kellie Parry. She does a pretty good job of describing the Maob scene. Here are excerpts:
Driving into Moab, Utah makes you truly feel like you are in the Wild West. Looking up at the giant rocky escarpments you half expect to see smoke signals from the army of Indians waiting to attack the cowboys meandering by below. The land is dry and the sun is hot and the red colour of the landscape is amazing. Surrounded by canyons, ridges and mind blowing rock formations, Moab is the gateway to some of Americas prettiest landscapes.

But you cannot go to Moab without visiting one of the beautiful national parks. Arches National Park is a short 8 kilometres (5 miles) from Moab and consists of over 2,000 natural sandstone arches. Delicate Arch is probably the most famous natural span in the world... There’s also Landscape Arch which is the longest natural arch in the world with it’s length spanning longer than a football field.
The blog post includes some decent photos of the Moab area, plus one of Horseshoe Bend on the Colorado River in Arizona, just southwest of Page.

Others of regional interest include:
  • Go horse riding in Red Rock Canyon (near Las Vegas)
  • Experience the views from the Grand Canyon Skywalk
Those are all great ideas but, in my opinion, no better than a dozen other Utah adventures. The list could easily have included canyoneering in Zion Park, wandering remote parts of Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument and whitewater rafting the Colorado River.

- Dave Webb

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Ski the Salt Lake Area Resorts

The ski season in Utah is just around the corner and Salt Lake’s 7 resorts are considered among the best in the world. Each resort carefully prepares for the season by improving and expanding the terrain. We’re praying for early snowfall this year to have us skiing by mid-November. By Christmas, the ski season will be in full swing.

Within an hour of landing at Salt Lake International airport, you could be skiing at one of the seven world-class ski resorts or participating in several other winter activities available in the Salt Lake area.

Some resorts may open earlier than normal this year because we've already had cold storms that dropped snow in the high country. If visiting the resorts early in the season is an option for you, look for discounted lift tickets. Many of the resorts offer discounts during the early part of the season.

Ski Magazine conducts an annual survey of its readers to rank ski resorts, and Utah resorts always place well. The survey measures quality in various categories. The numbers below show how we fare for key factors:

1. Alta, Utah
2. Powder Mountain, Utah
4. Solitude, Utah
5. Snowbird, Utah
6. Brighton, Utah
10. Deer Valley, Utah

2. Powder Mountain, Utah
3. Alta, Utah
5. Brighton, Utah
6. Solitude, Utah

1. Solitude, Utah
2. Alta, Utah
3. Deer Valley, Utah
4. Powder Mountain, Utah
8. Park City Mtn. Resort, Utah
9. Snowbird, Utah
10. Snowbasin, Utah

1. Park City Mtn. Resort, Utah
2. Deer Valley, Utah
4. The Canyons, Utah
5. Snowbird, Utah
7. Alta, Utah
8. Solitude, Utah
9. Brighton, Utah

The numbers show that Salt Lake area resorts excel in the things needed for a great ski trip. We have the best quality snow – we dub it the "Greatest Snow On Earth”, and we have the easiest access. We also have the best weather and offer some of the best values, based on reports from skiers themselves.

Deer Valley ranked #1 overall in the Ski Magazine survey for five consecutive years. All three Park City area resorts rank in the top 10 overall, again this year.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

National Parks In The Off-Season Plus Best Wellness Resorts

Which national parks offer a great experience during the "off-season." This article in recommends Zion, Yellowstone and Olympic National Park. Here are a couple excerpts:

Want a national park all to yourself? Cooler weather signals the best time of year for quiet views and wide-open trails at three off-peak favorites.

(Zion:) The easy Riverside Walk follows the bank of the Virgin River for a mile into the narrowing canyon beyond the end of the road. Here cottonwoods and bigtooth maples flicker with autumn colors that almost match the hues of lichens on the sheer sandstone walls.

(Yellowstone:) By mid-December, snowmobiles and snow coaches return to other roads in the park, including the sections that connect West Yellowstone, Mont., and Mammoth Hot Springs to Old Faithful. Visitors quickly discover that Yellowstone is very much alive as winter sets in. Eagles and ravens ride the air, and wolf packs prowl.

In my opinion, "off-season" is not an accurate label for the coming season. I love fall and winter in the parks. For many activities, these are the best seasons.

More Accolades For Red Mountain Resort
Last week we reported that Red Mountain Resort made a key list of "most relaxing" resorts. Now puts Red Mountain on its list of the 12 best wellness resorts in the world. That's right, in the world!

The 12 resorts on the list include:
  • Ananda in the Himalayas - India
  • Miraval Resort - Tucson
  • COMO Shambhala Estate - Bali
  • Kalon Surf School - Dominical, Osa Peninsula, Costa Rica
  • Canyon Ranch Resort - Tucson
  • Mountain Trek Fitness Retreat & Health Spa - Ainsworth Hot Springs, British Columbia
  • Red Mountain Resort - Ivins, Utah
  • Omega Institute - Rhinebeck, N.Y.
  • Rancho La Puerta - Tecate, Mexico
  • Spirit Rock - Woodacre, Calif
  • Maya Tulum - Tulum, Mexico
  • Tenya Lodge Yosemite - Fish Camp, Calif.
- Dave Webb

Monday, October 28, 2013

Halloween Utah Style

Utah's National Parks and State Parks will be open and very appealing during the Halloween holiday. Some will offer special activities.

Goblin Valley State Park is often included on lists of great places to celebrate Halloween, mostly for its name-sake hoodoos and other rock structures. Fall is a delightful time to visit the park because temperatures are pleasant – not too hot or too cold. The park is perfect under a bright moon.

The same is true of Dead Horse Point State Park, which also has a name with a little ghoul appeal.

There will be special activities in many of our communities. A popular one is the Witchstock Festival held on Historic 25th Street in Ogden. It runs through Oct. 31 and offers a Window Decorating Contest, Witch Shop, Witches Tea Party, Zombie Crawl, Kids Spooktacular Carnival, Freaker's Ball, Creepy Cowboy Country Dance, Trick or Treat Street and much more.

The Utah Symphony will present SUPERHERO HALLOWEEN on October 29, with theme music from favorite superhero classics, including Batman, X-Men, Superman and Spiderman.

See our events database for info on events where you will be traveling.

Oak Jacked Imperial Pumpkin Beer has this article featuring the "best beers for Halloween." Utah's Uinta Brewing Company has a product on list, a "special, seasonal blend of pumpkin beer aged in oak barrels, elevating a regular pumpkin beer to something that could be tasted out of a brandy snifter."


Friday, October 25, 2013

Urban Students Invade Zion National Park

Concrete To Canyons: Kids Experience Zion National Park For The First Time
The phrase above serves as the title of this interesting article, published on The article describes a program that brings inner-city kids to national parks to participate in educational and educational activities. It is a great program that deserves publicity and support.

In this case, kids from Las Vegas had the chance to visit Zion National Park. It was the first time in the park for everyone in the group – actually the first time in any national park for many participants. Below are excerpts from the article.
Through a progressive series of activities, the “Concrete to Canyons” project introduced participants to camping, wilderness hiking, outdoor education, and stewardship of natural resources...

To kick-off the program, NPS rangers conducted curriculum-based classroom activities covering wilderness and stewardship concepts, followed by an outdoor event at a local park in Las Vegas to teach camping skills including hiking safety, campsite construction, food planning and preparation, and “Leave No Trace” concepts. Next, a learning day was conducted at Lake Mead NRA where students experienced and reflected on the meaning of wilderness in their lives and the impact of humans on wild lands. The culminating event was a three-day camping experience in Zion NP that made quite an impression.

...Everything about this experience was new for the youth – squirrels, hurricane beetles, mountains, camping, hiking, drinking lots of water all day long, bighorn sheep, learning in an outdoor setting, seeing the planet Venus, swimming and hiking in a river, and eating s’mores!

One student remarked, “I want to be a park ranger when I grow up ‘cause they are fun and happy and get to discover stuff they never knew - like more about plants and animals.” Through three days of interactive exploration and learning, these students experienced a once-in-a-lifetime adventure amongst the beauty and wild of our national parks.
We encourage you to support this program, and other efforts to bring kids into our parks.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Fall Colors Will Soon Peak In Low Elevation National Parks

Photo courtesy Zion National Park
Fall colors are now peaking in of our low-elevation national parks. In Arches, Canyonlands and Capitol Reef, colors are impressive right now. In Zion Canyon, the peak will occur within a couple weeks. (Bryce Canyon is located at a high elevation and colors have already peaked.)

Zion National Park has launched this Facebook page showing photos of fall in the park. The images are spectacular. We are showing one here, but it is well worth clicking to the page to see them all. The accompanying comments are also worth reading. Below we give the page introduction and two comments.
It's the most colorful time of the year! Temperatures are pleasant and the canyons and plateaus burst with color. Leaves typically peak in Zion Canyon in early to mid-November.
  • Awesome! 11 More days until my first trip to Zion!
  • Fell seriously in love with Zion couple of weeks ago, please beam me up...
Bryce Closes Connector Trail

Bryce Canyon National Park issued this statement:

Bryce Point connector trail is closed due to rock slides. All other trails are open for your enjoyment.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Most Relaxing Resorts In The United States

CBS-New York has this interesting report listing what it calls “five of the most relaxing resorts in the United States.”

Which Utah resort do you think made the list? We've got some good ones, including renowned properties in Park City/Deer Valley and the incredible Amangiri near Lake Powell.

But it was Red Mountain Resort near St. George that made the list. Below are excerpts from the article.

Not only is taking time away from the daily grinds essential to maintain one’s physical and emotional health, it may also increase job performance after the vacation is over. One of the best ways to get away from it all is to embark upon a relaxing trip away from crowds and heavy traffic and into calmer, more peaceful destinations.

Amid mountains of contrasting Earth colors just outside of Snow Canyon Park in southern Utah lies the incomparable Red Mountain Resort... Red Mountain offers a number of fitness and wellness programs, like fitness workshops, cardio workouts, yoga and flexibility classes, and a dazzling outdoor lap pool. The resort’s award-winning Sagestone Spa and Salon provides a variety of services, such as massages, body treatments, in-room treatments and skin care.

Other resorts on the list include:
  • Lake Austin Spa Resort, Austin, TX
  • Ocean House. Watch Hill, RI
  • Sea Island, Sea Island, GA
  • Travaasa Hana, Hana, HI

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

A New Utah Dinosaur Plus Fun In The Sun In St. George

Introducing "Dinosaur Joe," a baby duck-bill discovered in Grand Staircase-Escalante by a high school student on a paleontology field trip.

Grand Staircase is one of several great dinosaur spots in Utah. Lately that area has been a hotbed for fossil hunters, yielding new specimens and species on a regular basis.

Joe's story was told today in new outlets around the world. Below are excerpts from this article about the find, as published on
A dinosaur skeleton discovered by an eagle-eyed high-school studentturns out to be the smallest, youngest and most complete duck-billed dinosaur of its kind ever found.

(Student Kevin) Terris spotted a little sliver of bone sticking out from under a boulder and alerted (paleontologist) Farke, who thought it looked like a piece of dinosaur rib — nice, but not really worth the trouble of excavating.

"We were going to try to see if we could get something better," Farke told LiveScience.

He walked around the other side of the boulder and picked up what looked like a large cobblestone, turning it over in his hands. A dinosaur skull stared back at him.

In light of the skull, Farke thought it wise to go re-check Terris' discovery. A closer look revealed it to be a string of toe bones.

"We have the skull on one side of this boulder and the toes on the other side. That means the whole dinosaur skeleton has to be in between," Farke said. "So we got pretty excited."
Fun In The St. George Sun has this interesting article abut activities in St. George:

6 fun things to do in St. George this weekend

The article provides information about these activities:
  • St. George Art Museum
  • Snow Canyon
  • Historic District
  • Pickleball
  • Southwest Symphony
  • Tuacahn

Monday, October 21, 2013

View And Photography Utah's Wildlife

Utah's Division of Wildlife Resources has kicked off a photo contest and is calling for entries. Winners will receive gift certificates to camera stores.

Photos for the contest should depict either wildlife found in Utah, or people involved in activities in Utah that relate to wildlife.

See the Division website for complete details. Here are excerpts:
Because we're lucky enough to live in a state with an array of wildlife active during each of our stunning seasons, the contest will feature four seasonal themes. You'll submit your photos during the appropriate entry period:
  • Fall: October 1 to December 31, 2013
  • Winter: January 1 to March 31, 2014
  • Spring: April 1 to June 31, 2014
  • Summer: July 1 to September 31, 2014
Contest rules
  • You may submit three entries (photographs) per category, per each seasonal theme.
  • Photos must be sent over digitally as jpg files no larger than 3 megabytes.
  • Each photo entry should represent a single event in time (no montages).
  • Each photograph submitted (wildlife or recreation) must have been captured in Utah.
  • The animals in the photographs must be of wildlife found legally in Utah.
  • Photos must be submitted during the entry period for each seasonal theme (dates outlined in the table above).
Visit Zion Park To See Wild Turkeys has this interesting article on places to spend the Thanksgiving holiday. It mentions the obvious choices (Plymouth for an authentic reenactment, NYC for the biggest parade...) and then recommends Zion National Park as a great place to see turkeys in the wild. Here is an excerpt.
Largest Gathering of Turkeys: Zion National Park
Now that the national parks are open again, there may be no better place to soak up our nation’s purple-mountain-majesty splendor—and see wild turkeys exercising their own freedom—than at Utah’s Zion National Park. Zion Lodge, which is known for live turkeys wandering its grounds, does an all-day Thanksgiving Buffet and offers plenty of easy access to fabulous ways to walk off the pie and rolls, such as the easy Pa’rus Trail, the popular Emerald Pools hike and the more challenging Angels Landing.
It's true, I often see wild turkeys in Zion Canyon and it would not be surprising for the birds to be seen right at the Lodge. I've seen large flocks along the North Fork Road, on the eastern edge of the park.

-- Dave Webb

Friday, October 18, 2013

Capitol Reef Is Beautiful, But Does It Offer Good Fishing?

The varied terrain in Capitol Reef National Park is captured in photos published in this blog. The images really show off the beauty of the area.

Captions give information about each photo.

The post is worth viewing - the photos are great and the captions interesting. I do want to clarify information from one caption:

Maybe one of the only things that isn’t red in Capitol Reef National Park! Sulphur Creek which runs into Fremont River. Fremont River spans a 95 mile distance and is full of fish! This river is a revered flying fishing spot…anyone like fresh rainbow trout?

The accompanying photo shows Sulphur Creek above the Fremont.

The Fremont does offer good trout fishing on its upper end. It's tributaries flow out of the mountains around Fish Lake and the river offers good fishing in the high country, and also through the farmland around Bicknell and Torrey.

The water quality deteriorates as the stream plunges into the Capitol Reef desert country. Trout fishing extends a short ways into the park, when we have good water years, but trout cannot range very far past the park boundary. As the Fremont exits the park and flows toward Hanksville, it is is joined by Muddy Creek and re-branded as the Dirty Devil River, and it lives up to that name.

So, the upper Fremont offers good fishing, mostly above the park. Only a few of the stream's 95 miles support trout.

National Park Ambassador

The Utah Office of Tourism is inviting people to become ambassadors for our Mighty 5™ National Parks. The idea is to visit all 5 Utah parks, and post photos to the Visit Utah Facebook page.

The first 100 people to complete the challenge will receive an official certificate from Governor Gary R. Herbert and Mighty 5 t-shirts for their entire families.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Utah State Parks Break Visitation Records During Shutdown

Utah's state parks were the place to be when U.S. National Parks were shut down. Many of our parks saw a dramatic jump in visitation. Even when Utah provided funds so our 5 national parks could re-open, our state parks stayed busy.

That's not surprising, since our state parks offer scenery and adventure activities that rival that found in the nearby national parks.

KSL has this report about state park visitation. Below are excerpts.

If there was one positive thing from the National Park shutdown, it's that a lot of people learned more about and made the effort to visit our state parks.

Most of the increases in visitation happened in southern Utah near the National Parks, but even state parks, like Antelope Island, saw a lot more visitors than usual.

"Tour bus guides were screaming for us to do tours for people to see bison and deer and things like that," said John Sullivan, assistant park manager at Antelope Island.

Utah State Parks honored federal national park passes during the shutdown, and that cost Utah some revenue, but officials say it was worth it.

Swalberg said that the shutdown cost the state parks about $7,000 is lost revenue, but he feels it is a small price to pay to help visitors have positive memories of Utah.

Goblin Valley Vandalism
Meanwhile, two men are facing potential felony charges after toppling a hoodoo in Goblin Valley State Park. They had great fun, as you can see in the Youtube video below. Now authorities are looking for them, and they may face charges.

We invite you to have fun in our parks, but please don't damage the resources, intentionally or unintentionally.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Free Family Fun Weekend At Fremont Indian State Park

Fremont Indian Rock Art - photo by Dave Webb
Fremont Indian State Park is one of the great places in Utah to view Native American rock art and learn about the ancient Fremont culture. The park also offers great picnic facilities, a nearby campground and special activities. It is located along the famous Paiute ATV Trail.

The park is offering free admission and camping this weekend, as part of its Family Fun Weekend.

The park provided the information below:

October 17-20 Fremont Indian State Park is offering free day-use, camping and activities.

The park is filming a new orientation video and invites you to play a starring role. Bring your family, friends, neighbors, Boy/Girl Scout troop, 4-H club, or just come alone. There will be activities ranging from children's crafts to geocaching to a pottery workshop.

First come, first served for camping, but please no holding sites.

Want more information? Call 435-527-4631

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Utah Will Spend More, If Needed, To Keep National Parks Open

A Utah lawmaker is sponsoring a bill that will provide funding to keep Utah's 5 national parks open into December, should Congress fail to get the federal government going again.

The bill would also provide funding for Glen Canyon/Lake Powell, and for Cedar Breaks and Natural Bridges national monuments – all of the federal properties we are now funding.

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

"We need to send a message to those who want to come to the state that we are open for business," said Senate Majority Whip Stuart Adams.

The state sent the Department of the Interior $1.7 million on Friday to reopen Utah's five national parks, Cedar Breaks and Natural Bridges national monuments, and Lake Powell through Oct. 20. Visitors to the sites last weekend and businesses in tourist-starved gateway communities praised the agreement.

Lake Powell
Thanks to funding from Utah, Lake Powell is open and offering very good recreational opportunities. The water temperature is now 66-70 F. It will cool steadily now as fall progresses, but enthusiasts are still enjoying most water sports. (We will soon be to the point that wet suites and other equipment will come in handy.)

Fishing picks up in the fall is now very good for striped bass and smallmouth bass. Utah biologist Wayne Gustaveson publishes a weekly fishing report, you can see it here.

Monument Valley
The Navajo Nation is smart enough to keep its attractions open, and this is perhaps the best time of year to visit Monument Valley.

These blog posts (part one and part two) offer good info and stunning photos of the valley's iconic landscape.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Utah's Rifle Deer Hunt Begins Saturday

Outdoor enthusiasts need to be aware that Utah's rifle deer hunt begins Saturday. (The season runs Oct. 19-27.) It is Utah's most popular hunting season and there will be thousands of hunters tramping around our mountains and forested areas.

Hunters need to be aware that Forest Service campgrounds are still closed, as of this writing. Today's news says negations are underway and the government shutdown may end soon. Watch the news for the latest details.

Non-hunters need to be aware the mountain roads will be busy in popular hunting areas. If you are hiking or fishing in mountain areas, were orange and pay attention to stay safe.

Our National Parks and State Parks are closed to hunting. Few deer live around our low-elevation desert playgrounds and so they do not attract many hunters.

Hunters and non-hunters alike should not hesitate to get out and the outdoors during the coming weeks. Just be courteous, ethical and follow safety rules.

Utah's Division of Wildlife Resources offers these tips for deer hunters. Hunters should also read up on big game hunting rules.

Everyone should watch the weather. We're already had cold storms that have dumped snow at higher elevations, and the weather looks to be unsettled later this week.

Friday, October 11, 2013

Utah National Parks Will Reopen Saturday

Utah's 5 national parks and 3 other federal properties will reopen on Saturday, with the state paying to fund operations. That comes after Governor Gary Herbert struck a deal with U.S. Department of the Interior Secretary Sally Jewell.

Properties that will reopen are: and many other news outlets have reports on this development. Here are excerpts from the article.

"Utah agrees to pay the National Park Service (NPS) up to $1.67 million— $166,572 per day—to re-open eight national sites in Utah for up to 10 days. If the federal government shutdown ends before then, the State will receive a refund of unused monies" an official press statement explained.

"Utah's national parks are the backbone of many rural economies and hard-working Utahns are paying a heavy price for this shutdown," Herbert said in the released statement. "I commend Secretary Jewell for being open to Utah's solution, and the world should know Utah is open for business and visitors are welcome."

In the event that the federal government shutdown drags on longer than the 10 days that have been accounted for, the state of Utah insists it would be able to make additional payments to keep the parks operational.
-- Dave Webb

Thursday, October 10, 2013

National Parks In Utah May Re-Open Within 24 Hours

Governor Gary Herbert says the Federal Department of Interior has been receptive to Utah's offer to take over temporary operation of our five national parks. The Feds have encouraged Utah's lawyers to drop up papers and Herbert says the deal could be done within 24 hours.

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

The Obama administration said Thursday it will allow states to use their own money to reopen some national parks. Governors in four states, including Utah, asked for that authority because of the impact the closures are having on the local economy...

The governor's office didn't immediately know how much money the state would front or which parks would reopen, though Herbert said Jewell told him the parks could be open within 24 hours. The state is gathering information on daily operating costs, he said...

Zion National Park lost 72,876 visitors in the first 10 days of the shutdown, costing local communities $3.5 million, according to the Coalition of National Park Service Retirees...

Here's hoping it happens quickly.

Utah's Fall Colors

The Utah Office of Tourism has produced the video below, showing off some colors now popping around the state. Many can be seen from our scenic byways. which are great options at any time but expecially now with the national parks closed.

Wednesday, October 09, 2013

Utah State Parks Will Honor National Park Passes

Utah is taking steps to make sure travelers here have a good experience. Our Governor has told State Parks to honor federal National Park passes. Our parks will waive entrance fees for people holding those passes. Camping and activity fees will still apply.

Our State Parks have been busy since the federal shutdown but they have capacity to handle more visitors. We have parks located near each of our National Parks. Many of our State Parks have scenic values comparable to those found in the National Parks, as you can see from the photo of Kodachrome Basin, above.

Our Governor is talking with the Feds and has offered to fund National Park operations during the shutdown. So far the Feds have declined.

Some public figures living near our National Parks have suggested that sheriffs' deputies tear down barricades blocking entrance, and that we should forcibly reopen roads and trails. Some individuals have defied the closures, but so far there has been no organized effort. Hopefully, the shutdown will end soon and such effort will not be needed.

Until then, visit State Parks, attractions on Native American land and backcountry areas that are still open.

Tuesday, October 08, 2013

Antelope Island Bison Roundup And Other Events

The annual Antelope Island Bison Roundup will take place Oct. 25-26. It is a very popular event that allows enthusiasts to ride horseback and help herd bison toward holding pens where they are given a health evaluation and other care. People who want to ride need to per-register and provide their own horses.

Others watch the roundup from viewpoints along the route.

Many people camp on the island during the weekend of the roundup. (The island is a Utah State Park and is open during the federal government shutdown.)

We give basic info below and then offer a video clip showing the action. See the roundup web page for more details.
  • Main park gate opens at 6:00 a.m.
  • Range ride starts 9:00 a.m.
  • Mandatory ride orientation starts at 8:00 a.m. both mornings at the Fielding Garr Ranch. All riders must attend the orientation(s) in order to ride and be assigned to a group.
There will be several other fun activities on the island during the next few weeks including:
  • October 12 - Mushroom Springs hike
  • October 12 - Star Party
  • October 18 - Full Moon Kayak Tour
  • October 19 - Halloween Program
  • October 26 - Junior Ranger Program: Bison of Antelope Island
  • October 26 - Guided Ranch Tours
  • November 1 - Working of the Bison - Guided Tours

Monday, October 07, 2013

More Alternatives To National Parks; Things You Never Knew About Utah has this article featuring state parks and local attractions that are good alternatives to the closed national parks. The article is illustrated by a photo of Goblin Valley, and includes a good section on Utah attractions.

The Utah section includes a description of Navajo Nation parks and attractions, given below, all of which are open.
All Navajo Nation Tribal Parks are currently open as well, including Little Colorado River Navajo Tribal Park, Lake Powell Navajo Tribal Park, Monument Valley Navajo Tribal Park, Four Corners Monument, Bowl Canyon Recreation Area, and Window Rock Navajo Tribal Park.

They are all good options, but most are not located in Utah.

The article's Utah section links to information on viable options close to each of our national parks. It is worth reading.

10 Things You Never Knew About UTAH

National Geographic's Digital Nomad has this interesting article with the title above. Only some of the facts are travel-related, but all are interesting. Here's a sample:
Last year, 6.6 million people visited Utah’s National Parks. Aside from North Americans, most of these tourists were French.

More than two-thirds of Utah’s land is owned by the Federal Government.

Friday, October 04, 2013

Utah Sponsors Wildlife Photography Contest

Utah's Division of Wildlife Resources is sponsoring a wildlife photography contest, offering hundreds of dollars worth of prizes.

Utah has long been known as a great place to view, photography and hunt wildlife, and is a common destination for people seeking trophy animals. The state's Division of Wildlife Resources is charged with managing that wildlife, and working to educate residents and visitors. This contest is part of that effort. The agency provided the information below:

Mountain goatsWildlife through your eyes

Calling all photographers! We're excited to announce DWR's first digital photography contest. Pack up the camera, head outdoors, watch some wildlife and win some prizes.

Seasonal themes

Because we're lucky enough to live in a state with an array of wildlife active during each of our stunning seasons, the contest will feature four seasonal themes. You'll submit your photos during the appropriate entry period:
  • Fall: October 1 to December 31, 2013
  • Winter: January 1 to March 31, 2014
  • Spring: April 1 to June 31, 2014
  • Summer: July 1 to September 31, 2014

Photograph categories

There are two category options, or types of photographs, that you can submit within each seasonal theme:
  1. Wildlife. We want to see animals! Submit wildlife photographs that were captured in the state of Utah, including non-domesticated animals, invertebrates and vertebrates, found legally in the state. This category includes macro images.
  2. Wildlife recreation. We want to see people enjoying wildlife! Submit photographs of people interacting with Utah's wildlife, including, but not limited to fishing, hunting, watching and photographing.
Be creative. Show us what you've got. We can't wait to see how you'll tell stories of Utah's animals and recreational traditions through photographs.


Who doesn't love a good gift certificate? By entering your best shots in this unique contest, you'll have a chance to win money to Clik Elite — an online store chockfull of high-performance gear for adventure photographers, and money to Pictureline — a local, top-of-the-line camera store.
We will award a $40 Clik Elite gift certificate, as well as a $40 Pictureline gift certificate, to one winning photographer per category, in each seasonal theme.
Among the eight winning entries awarded throughout the year, we will select one grand prize winner who will be awarded an additional $180 to Clik Elite as well as an additional $180 to Pictureline. Imagine the escapades you'll capture with that lens you've always wanted.
Each of the winners will be announced on Clik Elite's website, Pictureline's website and the Division of Wildlife Resources website. The winning photos will also be displayed on KSL Outdoors with Adam Eakle.


With the exception of those employed by sponsoring organizations — and their immediate families — this contest is open to everybody. Each image must be the original work of the photographer submitting the entry.

Contest rules

  • You may submit three entries (photographs) per category, per each seasonal theme.
  • Photos must be sent over digitally as jpg files no larger than 3 megabytes.
  • Each photo entry should represent a single event in time (no montages).
  • Each photograph submitted (wildlife or recreation) must have been captured in Utah.
  • The animals in the photographs must be of wildlife found legally in Utah.
  • Photos must be submitted during the entry period for each seasonal theme (dates outlined in the table above).

Submitting a photo

Submit your photograph entries by emailing them to
Mule deerRemember, the files must be digital jpg, no larger than 3 megabytes. Include the category name (wildlife or wildlife recreation) in the subject line.

Judging process and announcement of winners

We will select one first-prize winner from each category in each seasonal theme, for a total of eight winners. At the end of the summer theme entry period, we will select a grand prize winner from all themes and categories combined. We will announce that winner concurrently with the summer theme winners.
A panel of judges from sponsoring organizations will judge the photos based on the following criteria:
  • Photographic quality
  • Composition
  • General appeal
  • Adherence to the theme and category
We will notify the winning photographers via email. Winners will then be announced onClik Elite's website, Pictureline's website and the Division of Wildlife Resources websiteon or before the following dates:
  • Fall 2013 theme — January 16, 2014
  • Winter 2014 theme —April 10, 2014
  • Spring 2014 theme —July 10, 2014
  • Summer 2014 theme —October 9, 2014
The winning photos will also be displayed on KSL Outdoors with Adam Eakle, on the episode following the date of the announcement.

Rights and permissions

Contestants retain copyright to images they submit. We will delete all entries after final judging is completed (unless we make arrangements with the photographer for the use of images by sponsoring organizations). By submitting images, entrants are agreeing to allow DWR to display winning photographs as part of contest promotion. Promotion of the contest will take place via sponsoring organizations' websites, DWR's social media channels and press releases.

Thursday, October 03, 2013

Prime Colors In Foliage And Desert

Kanarra Creek - Photo Courtesy Grand Circle Association
Utah's fall colors are peaking right now in northern Utah, and are coming on strong in southern Utah. The canyons in northern Utah are spectacular right now. Our scenicbyways are impressive, and are good options for people locked out of our national parks.

I hiked in Kanarra Creek Canyon last weekend and the colors were just starting there. Kanarra Creek is great non-technical slot just south of Cedar City, near Kolob Canyons section of Zion Park. To hike it you have to wade in a small stream and the water was cold, but we had a great hike.

We are approaching the end of the season for water hikes. Soon you will need wet suites and cold weather great to hike comfortable in the water. Some people brave the cold and hike the wet canyons year-round but I prefer to wait for next season. Maybe the parks will be open by then.

The World's Most Awe-Inspiring Desert Destinations

We take the heading above from this interesting article, which attempts to identify and list the most impressive desert travel destinations. Here is a blurb about their methodology:

To find the world's most incredible deserts, we've gone through the experiences and recommendations of thousands of travelers on minube to find the most otherworldly and captivating stretches of sand our planet has to offer. From the bubbling basins of Ethiopia to the monumental landscapes of the American southwest, here are the world's most awe-inspiring desert destinations.

And the winners are...
  • Dallol, Ethiopia
  • Salvador Dali Desert, Bolivia
  • Monument Valley, USA
  • Erg Chebbi, Morocco
  • Namib Desert, Namibia
  • Atacama Desert, Chile
  • Wadi Rum, Jordan
  • White Sands National Monument, USA
  • White Desert, Egypt
  • The Pinnacles, Australia

Many people think Monument Valley is a U.S. National Park, but they are wrong. It is a Navajo Nation park and it is open for business. The article makes the point that visitors can drive the scenic route through Monument Valley, but:

Most travelers agree, though, that hiring a local Navajo guide is the best option as they often show travelers sections of the park not usually open to the public.

Wednesday, October 02, 2013

My Favorite Places Not Shut Down By The Government

Tear Drop Arch In Monument Valley - by Dave Webb
With our national parks and other federal properties closed, many people are offering ideas about alternate attractions. Below I provide links to a few notable suggestions and then I list some of my favorite spots.

Campgrounds Open During The Shutdown – This is an interactive map that shows state and private campgrounds in Utah and surrounding states.

50 Awesome Alternatives to Utah's National Park – The Utah Office of Tourism is updating a travel advisory page with information on the government shutdown. In addition, the office is proposing good alternatives to the national parks:
My Picks

I'm planning my weekend and I'm considering these options:

Drive All American Road Hwy 12 and play at the three excellent state parks along the way.
Calf Creek Falls recreation area is located along Hwy 12. The campground and trail to the lower falls is closed but I suspect the trail to the upper waterfall is still open. It is a fun hike into the backcountry.

Boat Sand Hollow State Park. Since Lake Powell is closed, Sand Hollow is my next best choice. It is smaller, of course, but very fun, with plenty of sand, sun and good fishing. In NE Utah, Starvation State Park offers great boating and fishing with sandy beaches.

Monument Valley is a Navajo Nation Park, every bit as spectacular as any U.S. national park. The Navajo Nation is smart enough to stay open for business. Stay at Gouldings or The View and tour the valley with native guides. Ride horseback between the towering rocks.

Also consider driving over to Four Corners Monument, which is also on Native American land.

Up north, consider stopping by Temple Square in Salt Lake City. Temple Square is actually Utah's most visited attraction. This weekend the LDS Church will hold its semi-annual General Conference, so the Square will be bustling with people from all around the world. Most Conference activities are open to the public. (Some require a free ticket.)

Tuesday, October 01, 2013

What To See While The National Parks Are Shut Down

As of today, the U.S. government is being partially shut down and that includes our national parks, national monument and national recreation areas. These properties will not offer any services. In addition, BLM and Forest Service properties are closed.

Campgrounds and patrolled trails are also closed.

Much of the land managed by BLM and the Forest Service is backcountry and we assume there is no restriction on people recreating and camping there.

How long with the shutdown last? Nobody knows, but it probably won't be very long. There is already a bill making its way through Congress that would allow the parks to reopen, even while our elected leaders haggle about other aspects of the budget.

Nevertheless, there is plenty to do and see in Utah even with our parks closed. Adjacent towns will still offer full services.

Here are some ideas:

Drive highways near or through national parks.

Major roads that cross national park land will remain open. Spur roads inside the parks will be closed. So you will be able to enjoy national park scenery but you are asked not to stop inside the parks
Enjoy activities and scenery just outside of the parks.

The good stuff doesn't stop at the park boundary. In many areas, scenery just outside the park is every bit as dynamic as that found inside. There are campgrounds, hiking trails, scenic overlooks and other attractions just outside of all of our parks.

The entire town of Springdale, just outside Zion Park, offers national park-like scenery in every direction.

In the Moab area, attractions outside park boundaries are just as popular as those inside the parks. There are countless roads, trails and vistas to explore. BLM facilities are closed by there is still plenty of area to play.

Visit Utah State Parks

Our state parks will not be affected by the federal government shutdown - they are open and accommodating. They offer scenery and adventure that compares with that found inside the more famous national parks. Some would undoubtedly be national parks, were they located in any state other than Utah.

Explore Indian Country
Monument Valley, Four Corners and other spots owned by Native American tribes will be open as usual. They offer

Other Playgrounds
Since Utah is mostly federal ground, the shutdown is affecting many areas in our state. But there are backcountry roads and trails in many spots where you can still find room to roam. Some good options include:

The list could go on and on. Don't hesitate, get out and explore.
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