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Utah Travel Headlines

Friday, January 31, 2014

Grand Staircase Has Utah's Best Food, Newest Dinosaur

Hells Backbone Grill
Hell's Backbone Grill is Utah's restaurant of the year, according to this article in City Weekly. The grill is located in the town of Boulder, along All American Byway 12, on the edge of Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument.

That monument has recently become famous for its growing herd of exotic dinosaurs and the newest is scheduled to be introduced to the public on Feb 7, according to this news release.

More info on both subjects are given in the article excerpts below.

Located about four hours south of Salt Lake City and enveloped by the grounds of the rustic Boulder Mountain Lodge, Hell’s Backbone Grill is a magical place. In my opinion, it’s Utah’s Chez Panisse, a restaurant where the vast majority of the food comes from Hell’s Backbone’s “no-harm” organic farm, which produces some 12,000 pounds of produce annually, not to mention breakfast eggs from 130 heritage-breed hens, 75 heirloom fruit trees, grass-fed local beef, lamb and more. The organic farm is worked with sustainability in mind, and with what owners Blake Spalding and Jennifer Castle call “Buddhist values of right livelihood.”

And, after all, when all is said and done, it’s the food that makes this my favorite Utah restaurant. The meals I’ve had here were nothing less than exceptional...

From local ranchers to visiting rock stars, everyone gets the same affectionate treatment...

Hells Backbone Grill is open seasonally, from mid-March to early December.

Highway 12 is kept open year-round and winter scenery is spectacular.

Meet Lythronax Argestes

Come join Dr. Alan Titus as he gives a personal introduction of Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument’s newest dinosaur, Friday, February 7, at the Bureau of Land Management’s Kanab Visitor Center starting at 7 p.m. The presentation is free and open to the public.

This newly named animal, Lythronax argestes (Lie-throw-nacks ar-jest-eez), is a tyrannosaur of the same family asT-rex, just 12 million years older! In fact, it is so much older than T-rex that it is the oldest known true tyrannosaur ever named. In keeping with spirit of its descendant’s name, Lythronax‘s name means “southern king of gore.”

Thursday, January 30, 2014

You Can Adopt A Utah Desert Tortoise

The desert tortoise is an interesting species native to the Mojave Desert area around St. George, in southwestern Utah. Sadly, habitat for the creatures has diminished over the years and the tortoise is listed as a threatened.

Recently, large areas have been set aside and are being managed with the specific objective of protecting range used by the tortoise and other native species.

The desert tortoise is a very unusual animal - often growing large and living for decades.

Over the years, some tortoises have been "kidnapped" from their homes and then recovered by wildlife officers. Others have been displaced as development has destroyed habitat. Utah wildlife officials have been caring for many such animals and are now looking for people to adopt some. DWR provided the details below.
Nearly 40 tortoises need homes in Utah
Wouldn't it be fun to have a pet that makes your neighbors "ooh" and "aah"?
Almost 40 desert tortoises are up for adoption in Utah.
Almost 40 desert tortoises are up for adoption in Utah.
Photo courtesy of the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources
As long as you're willing to give up part of your backyard, you can.
Division of Wildlife Resources biologists are putting close to 40 desert tortoises up for adoption.
The tortoises are being held at a facility in Washington County. Some of the tortoises have been at the facility for almost 10 years.
More information about adopting a desert tortoise in Utah is available in the free Desert Tortoise Adoption booklet.
If you'd like to adopt one of the tortoises, or if you have questions, please call Cory Noble, native aquatic species biologist with the DWR, at 801-538-4746.
A unique pet
Listed as threatened on the federal Endangered Species list, most of the tortoises were found after people removed the tortoises from their native homes. (Once a wild tortoise is taken from the wild, it can't be released. Releasing it could introduce diseases into Utah's wild tortoise population.)
Even though desert tortoises require some room, Krissy Wilson says caring for one is easier than caring for other pets. "They don't bark or chase cats," says Wilson, native aquatic species coordinator for the DWR. "Also, they're in hibernation six months out of the year."
To adopt a desert tortoise, you need a fenced area that's at least 15 feet by 10 feet. Tortoises also need burrows, so you'll need to build some. And you'll need to plant dandelions, clover and other plants the tortoise can eat.
Even though it takes work to provide a tortoise with a place to live, Wilson says it's worth it. "Every desert tortoise I've ever seen has had its own unique personality," she says. "You'll notice that after you get your tortoise home."
Wilson says some of the tortoises contracted an upper respiratory tract infection while they were in the wild. She says the infection only affects tortoises. The infection cannot be passed to humans or pets.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Winter Storm Warning Will Affect Travel In Utah

A big, warm, wet, windy storm is expected to hit Utah tonight and Thursday. It will produce considerable rain in many valley locations and may dump up 20 or more inches of snow at higher elevations.

The storm is good news for our ski resorts, where new snow is always welcome, and we certainly need the water it will bring. Travelers need to use caution because roads may become treacherous. People who enjoy snowmobiling or cross country skiing in the backcountry need to be aware that avalanche danger will increase.

(Avalanche control work is done at developed ski resorts and along major roadways and so there is little danger in those areas.)

The National Weather Service has issued a winter storm warning for much of Utah. In addition, the Utah Avalanche Center has issued avalanche watch.


Here are details from the winter storm warning. Read the entire warning.

Timing: snow will redevelop by early evening, becoming heavy and slowly spreading southward through the overnight hours. The snow will continue at times Thursday into Thursday night before tapering off.

Snow levels: near 8000 feet this evening, then falling below 6000 feet from north to south late night through Thursday morning.

Come and play in Utah. Just take care as you travel.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Luxury Lake Yacht Rentals Introduced At Lake Powell

Axiom Star luxury yacht
There is always something new to see and do at Lake Powell. Here's the latest:
"A new level of luxury is coming to the waters of magnificent Lake Powell with the addition of the new Axiom Star fleet, a one-of-a-kind collection of lake yachts. Guests can now book a seven-night summer vacation on one of Lake Powell Resorts & Marinas’ new lavish Axiom Star lake yachts."

That quote comes from this news release provided by Lake Powell Resorts & Marinas. Here's another:

"The 65-foot Axiom Star fleet is available for a minimum seven-day rental during the summer and a minimum five-day rental for the rest of the year. The vessels are designed as an ultimate indulgence with all the amenities of a high-end home. Every Axiom Star lake yacht features four staterooms, sleeping eight for the utmost intimacy. Each room has a queen size bed, flat-screen television and DVD player. The remainder of the boat is comprised of two bathrooms, a sitting room with a tracking satellite TV system and surround music system."

We've pulled a photo of one of yachts to illustrate this post. Read the entire news release.

Castle Rock Cut Is Being Deepened At Powell

Lake Powell's water level has been low for the past few years, and will probably remain low into the near future. The National Park Service is taking advantage of that situation to deepen the "Castle Rock Cut." When the lake begins filling this spring, The Cut should serve as an effective shortcut from Wahweap Bay to uplake areas, saving some 10 miles of boating.

The Deseret News has this article about the work, which is expected to take about 4 months and will lower the elevation of the cut to approximately 3,580 feet (above sea level).

In past years, when the lake level was higher, The Cut was a popular passage that saved boaters time and fuel. The video below shows the experience kayaking through The Cut.

Monday, January 27, 2014

Utah Boat Show, Other Big Outdoor Rec Shows

The annual Utah Boat Show and Watersports Expo will be held Feb. 6-9 in the South Towne Expo Center, in the southern part of the Salt Lake Valley.

It is the first of the big sports expos that attract crowds during late winter. These are all "hands-on" shows. They provide a great opportunity to see, touch and sometimes try out new products. You can buy gear at show prices, learn from experts, meet celebrities and, in general, have a good time.

There are always demonstrations, contests and workshops.

Other shows coming up soon include:
All of these shows are held at the South Towne Expo Center, 9575 S. State Street, Sandy, UT 84070; 385-468-2260

If you participate you can get a jump on the season, get ready for early spring adventure, and learn new skills.

We hope to see you there.

Friday, January 24, 2014

Where To Eat And Have Great Adventures has an interesting blog post:

OARS does adventure trips throughout the world and offers several in the Moab, Utah, area and so it was only natural that the blog recommend an eating establishment there:

Love Muffin Cafe
...Hankering for lunch? You’re covered there, too, with a global array of sandwiches ranging from Banh Mi to Jamaican Jerk Chicken. Parents report even picky kids are happy here, and sub $10 prices seal the deal.

If you are hungry for alternate adventure, try a dog at one recommended in this blog:

...Sometime near the beginning of the 2000s, hot dogs went from being greasy vendor food to gourmet restaurant food. Utah itself is home to a plethora of hip and tasty dog joints, each boasting something unique and original.

Somehow I missed the news that hot dogs are now gourmet, but I like then and the recommended joints sound found. The blogger lists dog spots in Roy, Salt Lake and Provo.

Ready for just plain, raw adventure? has this interesting photo essay:

Why: One-up the Sundance goers
Sick of the celebrity Instagrams showcasing the super-fun Sundance after-parties? One-up the wannabes with a trip to southern Utah, just a five-hour drive from Park City’s epicentre of independent film-dom. Escape the crowds and join the real jet-set for a holiday in this ultra-exclusive area on a private ranch amid sandy crags and dinosaur bones.

The essay shows decent photos of Bryce Canyon, Grand Staircase-Escalante, Monument Valley and Amangiri resort.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Explore Utah Like A Native

"Insider guides" are always popular and Salt Lake Magazine has a good one going. They call it "How To Be A Utahn" and every other week they publish a column describing a classic destination or activity - the kind that bring local people back again and again.

Of course, these places are open to the public and travelers are welcome to participate. Come join us for some of the best Utah has to offer.

This week the column focuses on Brian Head Ski Resort. Brian Head doesn't get as much ink as the famous northern Utah ski mountains, but it offers great snow and wonderful runs. It is actually the highest ski resort in Utah. It is located near Cedar City, about 244 miles south of Salt Lake City. Incidentally, it is about 205 miles from Las Vegas and is a popular stop for people who want to combine skiing with visits to our national parks or the St. George area golf courses.

Read the column on Brian Head.

Here is a sample from other recent columns:
The list goes on and on. It's worth reading.

- Dave Webb

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Best Winter Drives, Most Expensive Ski Resorts

A couple news items caught my attention today. First is this fun article on listing "America's Best Winter Drives." Arches National Park tops the list. Here's an excerpt:

Beautiful any time of year, Arches National Park’s natural sandstone sculptures assume an ethereal quality when covered in a layer of snow and bathed in soft winter light—best for desert photography. The scenic drive is paved, and even after a storm, snow usually melts off quickly.

Also in our region, Yellowstone, Yosemite and Lake Tahoe make the list.

Most Expensive Ski Resorts

Next, I was a little surprised by this press release listing North America's most expensive ski resorts. A survey by based the ranking on the cost of lodging at the resorts.

Deer Valley ranked as the most expensive, and that is not surprising.

But Snowbird was number 2 on the list and Canyons came in at #6. That's 3 Utah resorts in the top 10 for most expensive.

For months, I've been bragging that Utah offers the best value for skiing, and I stand by that. Even these most expensive resorts offer amazing quality and thus justify a high lodging price.

Park City, on the other hand, has more lodging options available and doesn't even rank in the top 20 on the list.

And, the ranking doesn't consider lift passes. Some Utah resorts offer some of the lest expensive lift passes in the Western U.S. Quality snow and inexpensive lift passes! With that, I don't mind shopping around for lodging.

- Dave Webb

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Outdoor Retailer Show Brings Thousands To Salt Lake City

The Outdoor Retailer Winter Market expo runs tomorrow through Saturday at the Salt Palace Convention Center. It is not a public show, but it is a huge event that brings crowds to downtown Salt Lake City.

People need to be aware that streets will be congested, buses and trains will be full and parking will be impossible in the area around the Salt Palace.

U.S. Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell is the keynote speaker.

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

An estimated 22,000 manufacturers, retailers and suppliers to the outdoor industry will descend on Utah this week for the annual Outdoor Retailer Winter Market 2014 expo that runs Wednesday through Saturday at the Salt Palace Convention Center.

The winter market — the second-largest convention in the state behind only the Outdoor Retailer summer event — generates more than $20 million in direct spending for Salt Lake City and the state of Utah, according to Visit Salt Lake, the city's visitors and convention bureau.

"What makes being here special is that the people of this state live and breathe outdoor recreation, which resonates so well with the industry audience,” said Kenji Haroutunian, Outdoor Retailer show director and vice president of Emerald Expositions, which puts on the event.

The Outdoor Industry Association recently released The Outdoor Recreation Economy, a report showing that outdoor recreation is a major economic driver in the United States — and one that has grown throughout the recession.

Monday, January 20, 2014

Sundance And Beyond

Sundance is the place to be this week, if you like movies and celebrities and that kind of stuff. The Sundance Film Festival will continue in Park City through Jan 26.

And the world is watching. Newspapers, magazines and websites from around the world are publishing daily features and photos. Of course, or local publications have an inside track and provide some of the best coverage. has this interesting gallery showing photos from the festival. Anyone interested is invited to submit photos.

The Deseret News has this great article providing a historic perspective about the festival.

The Utah Office of Tourism has published this guide to everything Park City. Here's the introduction:

This bustling mountain town has everything a visitor needs, from epic snow to great
sushi. Use the free Park City Transit buses to get between Festival destinations.
Both Park City and Kimball Junction are very walkable, allowing you to grab a bite
to eat, refuel with a coffee or unwind with a drink at the end of the day.

When Park City gets busy, some of us enjoy getting out of town. offers excellent suggestions in this guide to winter drives. It features these attractions:
  • Zion and Cedar Breaks
  • Little and Big Cottonwood Canyons
  • Arches National Park
  • Fishlake Scenic Byway
  • Transcontinental Railroad National Backcountry Byway

Friday, January 17, 2014

Public Comments Sought On Glen Canyon Off-road Vehicle Management Plan

Right now, off-road vehicles are allowed to operate in only a few areas around Lake Powell, in Glen Canyon National Recreation Area. Officials have been reviewing off-road vehicle use and have drafted an environmental impact statement that looks at 5 options for future management.

Decisions regarding off-road vehicle use will impact recreation at Powell. A public comments period is now open and people are encouraged to make their views known on this subject.

Details can be found here. Below are highlights provided by the National Park Service.

Five alternatives are analyzed. Alternative A, the "no-action" alternative, represents the continuation of existing management policies and action related to the use of ORVs in Glen Canyon and represents “no change” from the current level of management direction and level of management intensity. Alternative B, the environmentally preferred alternative, does not designate any ORV routes or areas and would allow motorized vehicle use only on existing park roads. Alternative C would expand recreational opportunities by increasing the number of ORV routes and areas as well as the types of vehicles that would be allowed on park roads. Alternative D would limit the number of ORV routes and areas and prohibit the operation of OHVs and ATVs throughout Glen Canyon. Alternative E, the NPS preferred alternative, designates a mixture of opportunities for motorized recreation on park roads and designated ORV routes and at remote shoreline areas while prohibiting such uses in areas where resources and values may be at risk.
All action alternatives include provisions to improve signs and road/route markings, develop a communication strategy to better educate visitors on regulations and resource concerns, and to close and restore routes and areas not designated for off-road use. In alternatives that would provide for off-road use, management and mitigation strategies are outlined to address the impacts from off-road use. This would include implementation of a permit system to provide for education on applicable regulations, provide for visitor safety, prevent resource damage and recover costs for monitoring, mitigation, education and administration of the permit system.
All comments on the Plan/DEIS are welcome, particularly those that assess the adequacy of the document in disclosing and evaluating the effects on the environment. These comments are most useful if they are as specific as possible and do the following:
  • Discuss a particular plan element or alternative
  • Identify incomplete or incorrect information
  • Offer reasons why a particular alternative or plan element would or would not work
  • Offer a reasonable, new plan element or completely new alternative that could help accomplish the stated goals
  • Point out discrepancies between legal mandates and proposals
  • Highlight deficiencies in the analysis of environmental consequences
  • Provide information on how you use the park and how particular proposals in the planning document would affect that use.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

St. George Winter Bird Festival Runs Jan. 23-25

The St. George Winter Bird Festival provides a great opportunity to see and learn about birds - and to get away from the ice, snow and smog that chocks so many of our cities.

The festival will be held Jan. 23-25 and will include field trips to productive birding spots in the St. George area. See the festival website for complete information, including a schedule of events. Here's just a brief introduction:

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 2014 St. George Winter Bird Festival collectible event t-shirt or hat at the Red Cliffs Audubon Society’s booth.

Utah Bald Eagle Day
Utah Bald Eagle Day will be held Feb. 8. Field trips will be offered to spots where eagles winter in Utah. In many spots, dozens of birds can be seen and photographed. The event is sponsored by Utah's Division of Wildlife Resources (DWR). This Salt Lake Tribune article has info about the event. Below are highlights.
Biologists and volunteers will meet at the following locations and times Feb. 8 as part of Utah’s annual Bald Eagle Day. Spotting scopes and binoculars will be available so you can see the birds up close, but if you have your own, please bring them.
  • Salt Creek Waterfowl Management Area » 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.
  • Farmington Bay Waterfowl Management Area » 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
  • Fountain Green State Fish Hatchery » 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
  • Split Mountain/Green River » 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.
  • Cedar Valley » 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Great Salt Lake Bird Festival
The annual Great Salt Lake Bird Festival will be held May 15-19, 2014. Watch for more information as that events draws closer.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Sundance Is Ready For Launch; So Is Slamdance

The famous Sandance Film Festival runs Jan 16-26 in Park City and surrounding areas. It is generating tremendous media buzz and will be covered by reporters from around the world.

The less famous Slamdance anti-film festival runs Jan 17-23 and is headquartered at Treasure Mountain Inn, 255 Main Street, Park City.

Below we offer last minute info about both:

NY Times has this insider's guide to navigating Sundance, and it actually offers some pretty good advice. Here's one quote:

All the big films sell out, but here’s the thing: those films are going to be bought and distributed, and you’re going to be able to see them in theaters in six months to a year. In all fairness, what you should be doing is focusing away from the Bill Hader and Kristen Wiig movie, and go see those obscure little movies that Sundance has to offer. has this article claiming: All the Details on the Stars, Parties and Nightlife

The lists are very different but both have some insights.

Of course, the Sundance website has excellent info on "how to Sundance."

What About Slamdance?

This introductory info was taken from the Slamdance website:

It all began when a group of cheerful, subversive filmmakers weren’t accepted into the Sundance Film Festival. Unwilling to take “no” for an answer, they instead started their own event - Slamdance: Anarchy in Utah. Nearly 20 years later, Slamdance has become a year-round organization fostering the development of unique and innovative filmmakers. The organization now consists of the Film Festival, Screenplay and Teleplay Competition and Slamdance Studios.

No other film festival in the world is entirely run and organized by the creative force that can only be found in filmmakers. Slamdance adamantly supports self-governance amongst independents, and exists to deliver what filmmakers go to festivals for – a chance to show their work and a platform to launch their careers. The festival has earned a solid reputation for premiering films by first-time writers and directors working within the creative confines of limited budgets.

See the list of films.

Slamdance doesn't get the hype, but it does get some good flicks.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

100 Best Ski Runs In The World has this interested article with this title:

World's best ski runs: 100 to 1 has picked up the article, which you can see here. On both websites, readers are invited to make comments. On, which has mostly Utah readers, comments favor our local resorts. On, it is interesting to read comments from around the country.

The world's best, according to this article:
1. The Stash, Avoriaz, France
The 7 Utah runs making the cut:

94. Hourglass Chute, Alta, Utah
89. Straight Shot, Powder Mountain, Utah
71. So Long, Alta, Utah
32. Keyhole, Snowbird, Utah
30. Barry Barry Steep, Snowbird, Utah
22. High Boy, Alta, Utah
4. Glen's, Snowbird, Utah

Here are some comments from the page.

The list is seriously messed up. Switzerland, Austria, Utah and Colorado are way way way underrepresented with Canada and France way over represented.

I have skied virtually everywhere other than South America. The best place to ski is Alta/Snowbird. The snow is literally lighter than a feather. The salt in the lake must suck out the moisture. Plus it is not a commercial fest like all the Vail Resorts. I live in Colorado and like Vail however since it has been taken over by a former venture capitalist. It has become a mess!

Switzerland is the best skiing in Europe. Also, UT is better than the Italian Alps...much better powder there.

The debate rages...

Monday, January 13, 2014

4 Great Utah Winter Adventures

Ski The Powder
Deer Valley picked up 16 inches of new snow during the past 48 hours, and all northern Utah resorts received a generous serving. So now is a great time to hit the slopes and enjoy Utah's famous powder.

Alta and Snowbird now have a base of 72 inches of snow. Can you imagine skiing on snow 6 feet deep. Get out here and do it!

Utah DWR photo
Discover Ice Fishing
Utah's Division of Wildlife Resources and State Parks are teaming up to offer an ice fishing clinic at Steinaker Reservoir this Saturday! The clinic will start at 9 a.m. and run for three hours. We’ll teach about ice safety, lures, knots and fishing techniques.

If you don’t have a rod or reel, they will loan you a set up. They will also drill the holes and provide bait so everyone can try the sport. Don’t forget, you’ll need a fishing license to participate!

For more information, contact the Northeastern Regional Office at (435) 781-9453.

Balloons Over Red Rock
The 16th annual Bluff International Balloon Festival will be held January 17-19th, 2014 in beautiful Bluff, Utah. Bluff is a historic small town built against towering red rock cliffs. The multicolored balloons are particularly photogenic in that setting.

Discover Utah's Dinosaurs
The Utah Office of Tourism has this fun map and guide to Utah dinosaur sites on its Pinterest page. Now's a great time to learn about our area's prehistoric times.

Bonus Question
Have you ever thought about moving to Utah? If you are interested in upward mobility, you should seriously consider such a move.

The Deseret News this new article about a Harvard study ranking U.S. cities according to "the availability of the 'American dream,' which in this case, is indicated by opportunities for personal economic growth."

Salt Lake City tops the list.

Friday, January 10, 2014

The Best of Utah and Park City

Two new articles tout Utah and Park City as great travel destinations, in different but entertaining ways.

On, veteran travel writer David Landsel has this interesting article with this title:

10 Terribly Overrated Destinations (And Where To Travel Instead)

He says Colorado is overrated and recommends Utah. Here's the quote:

Nearly everything Colorado does, Utah does as well or better, without the kerfuffle, the crowds or the cost. Skiing? Ride a Salt Lake City bus to some of the hemisphere's best powder at Alta and Snowbird. National Parks? Arches, Canyonlands, Zion -- all among the best in show. For cool small towns with lots to do nearby, there's Moab. There's Springdale. The beer may be more advanced in Colorado, but these days, breweries like Uinta are playing for keeps. has this new article with this title:
Writer Celeste Moure strings together a bunch of insightful zingers. Below are samples.

By the 1930s, the silver boom had drawn to a close and its residents—surrounded by incomparable natural beauty—realized that if they build it, they would come.

In 1985 Robert Redford brought his Sundance Film Festival and further established Park City as the celebrity mountain resort of choice.

With more than 8,000 acres, 337 runs and 53 lifts and gondolas in three world-class resorts, Utah has what many consider to be the best snow in the country. (Ask them and they’ll tell you they have The Greatest Snow on Earth®.)

There’s no better skiing in town than at the refined Deer Valley Resort, which some locals refer to as a number of exceptional restaurants linked by even better runs.

The guest book at Stein Eriksen Lodge reads like a who’s-who of an ensemble cast blockbuster film.

During Sundance, Main Street hosts a non-stop party where locals and movie stars wait in the same lines for dinner tables and fight for the best seats in the theaters. So don’t be surprised if the residents remain unimpressed with celebs. (A few years ago Bill Clinton's credit card was refused in an Old Town bookstore.

Read the entire article.

Thursday, January 09, 2014

There Is Still Time To Have A Sundance Experience

The Sundance Film Festival runs January 16-26 in Park City and surrounding areas. It brings crowds to Park City, where hotels sell out and many film screenings are booked solid. Many people register months in advance to so they can participate.

But there is still time even now to enjoy some of the excitement. Don't hesitate to come on down if you want to view films, bump into celebrities and mingle with the Hollywood crowd.

Many people enjoy just being in town during Sundance. You never know who you might see as you go into restaurants and shops, and ride the ski lifts. But there are also opportunities to see film screenings and attend parties, even if you have not yet made reservations.

Jump onto the Sundance website and poke around to lean more about "how to festival." This page has key info on obtaining tickets.

If you live in Utah, check out this info on how to get locals-only tickets.

Hotels/motels/condos and other lodging in Park City is probably totally, completely sold out. But there are always rooms available in Salt Lake City and Heber/Midway. Be a little flexible and you can still get a good room.

Come enjoy the skiing. Many skiers stay away from Park City during the festival because the assume the slopes will be crowded. Actually, the opposite is true. Most people stay in town and there is usually plenty of room on the lifts and runs. Sundance is a great time to ski Park City.

Or, if you are like me and try to avoid crowds, mid January is a great time to visit the national parks in southern Utah.

Either way, you can't go wrong.

- Dave Webb

Wednesday, January 08, 2014

Highway 89 Construction, Canyonlands Guide and Impact of Tourism

US Hwy 89 is a major artery running north-south through the middle of Utah. It provides access to many of our towns and recreation areas. In southern Utah it connects with Scenic Byway Hwy 12, the gateway to Bryce Canyon, and with Hwy 9, which is the major access road through Zion Park.

The Deseret News has details here. Below are excerpts.

On Wednesday, UDOT began completely closing 3 miles of the highway in both directions, from Kanab north to the Kanab Creek Bridge. Closures will run from 8:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. Mondays through Fridays until about April 11.

The highway will be open to single-lane traffic for the remaining 21 hours each day and also open on weekends.

Depending on a driver’s origin and destination, suitable detours could take as much time as waiting. The Kane County Office of Tourism, community volunteers and local businesses will be offering some extra hospitality to travelers willing to wait it out.

Plan ahead if you will be traveling in that area.

Guide to Adventure in Canyonlands

National Parks Traveler has this interesting article giving suggestions for a trip to Canyonlands National Park. It recommends people visit these specific areas:
Those are all great options – well worth the trip.

Impact of Tourism

Deseret News has this article about the impact tourism has on the U.S. and Utah economies. Below are excerpts. Read the entire article.
In more than half of the states in the U.S., the travel and tourism industry is one of the top three employers. The impact of travel and tourism on the labor market cannot be overstated. Providing much-needed job growth since the beginning of the recovery in 2010, the industry employs approximately eight million people in the United States. Tourism is on track for its best year since the recession, and 2012 marked a return to pre-recession levels. Through the first half of 2013, U.S. tourism and travel output grew nearly 3 percent year-over-year, outpacing the rest of the U.S. GDP.

However, according to the U.S. Travel Association, the recent government shutdown wiped out $152 million a day in economic output due to lost travel-related activity. For instance, the federal shutdown closed 401 national park areas, including 13 in Utah. Our national parks host more than 280 million visitors each year. Not surprisingly, park closures negatively affect the economy and harm countless related industries.

Tuesday, January 07, 2014

Events Where You Can Learn About Winter Recreation

Downhill skiing and snowboarding are great sports but don't overlook other enjoyable options when planning winter activities. Several upcoming events will provide great opportunities to learn about new recreational activities.

Winter Trails Day
Saturday, January 11 is national winter trails day and special activities will be offered at these Utah facilities:

Soldier Hollow will be offering free trail passes, equipment, and mini lessons to all first time skiers.

Ogden Nordic Winter Trails will have 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.

East Canyon State Park Winterfest

Winterfest will be held on Feb 1 at East Canyon State Park. Participants will be able to learn to snowshoe, cross-country ski, snowmobile, sled and ice fish. Donate anew or lightly used children's coat and entrance fee is half off. Details.

Bryce Canyon Winter Festival

The annual Bryce Canyon Winter Festival will take place over President's Day Weekend (Feb 15-17) at the entrance to Bryce Canyon National Park. A wide variety of activities are offered including:
  • Cross country ski tours
  • Snowshoe tours and races
  • Archery clinics
  • Ski Archery competition
  • Kayaking demos
  • Waxing clinics
  • Photography clinics
  • Photo contest
  • Snow sculpture contest
  • People-powered sled race
  • Kids snow boot races
  • Other entertainment

Monday, January 06, 2014

Snowshoeing, Zion Backcountry Permits, Odd Photo

As the title indicates, I'm covering three unique topics in this post.

Snowshoeing The Wasatch
Now's the time to get out the snowshoes and explore winter trails. Some of our best snowshoe routes can be found in the canyons adjacent to Salt Lake City. This website has a great guide to popular snowshoe routes. It gives specific info about recommended trails.

Zion Backcountry Permits
Zion National Park posted this in its Twitter feed:

Due to regional server issues, our permit system has been down for several days. The system has been restored, but outages may still occur.

The better slot canyon hikes all require permits. Permits are also needed for overnight stays anywhere in the backcountry. Hope they get the system fixed quickly - I'm now time to start planning trips.

Odd Photo
Finally, I was impressed by the photo below, provided by the Utah Geological Survey. The

An ancient, meandering river channel composed of resistant sandstone in the Cedar Mountain Formation now stands 100 feet higher than the surrounding, less resistant siltstone and shale landscape southwest of Green River, San Rafael Desert, Emery County.

From the ground, you'd never be able to identify the formation as an old riverbed. From the air, it's obvious. Cool.

Friday, January 03, 2014

Wandering In The Red Cliffs Desert Reserve

My hidden valley in the Red Cliffs Desert Reserve
I spend New Years Day afternoon wandering, with no particular destination in mind, just exploring a portion of the Red Cliffs Desert Reserve. It was great fun.

Along the way, I spotted the bleached remains of an abandon desert tortoise shell and also a broken Indian arrow point. Admiring without touching, I consider those things payoff for sweat invested in the hike.

The reserve includes much of the red rock visible from I-15 as you travel east from St. George, plus some spots away from the freeway. It is a largely undeveloped landscape of sand, cliffs and cacti, approximately 20 miles wide and 6 miles deep. It was established primarily to protect habitat for the desert tortoise and other sensitive species, but also provides great opportunity for recreation.

The reserve winds around Snow Canyon State Park and provides much of the same kind of scenery. It is a wonderful area for winter hiking and horseback riding.

I hiked in the eastern portion of the reserve, starting at the BLM-managed Red Cliffs Recreation Area, just west of the town of Leeds. I followed the contour at the base of the red cliffs, just to see where I could go, and occasionally climbed up cliffs and explored hidden canyons.

I like to imagine I'm treking into unexplored territory - thinking perhaps if I hike farther and climb higher, I might stumble into a cove or crack that hasn't been seen by humans for hundreds of years. It's possible in this country, where distance is deceptive and hiking a mile can be incredibly difficult, requiring almost as much vertical as horizontal travel.

I found and followed what appeared to be a faint old trail - no footprints or evidence it had been used in years. From the base of the cliff, I followed the trail up one level, just to see what was there, then up another and then another. In spots I lost the trail and so I just trudged ahead, only to pick up the old path again as I moved forward.

There aren't many spots where you can climb the cliffs (without technical climbing skills and gear), but this trail led from shelf to shelf until I cam out on top of the highest visible cliffs. The view was amazing.

At the top, a gentle slope dropped down the other side into a hidden valley boarded by more red rock. As I wandered in the valley I saw, to my amazement, human footprints in the sand. I'd come all of that way, following an almost imperceptible path through difficult terrain, only to find that someone else had recently reached the same spot.

As a kid growing up in the St. George area, I often found arrow heads and occasionally saw a tortoise, a sidewinder or a roadrunner, or other species that are now almost gone. Not any more. Those things pretty much disappeared when the area has become a popular playground. But I still hike with the hope of discovery.

Mostly, I just enjoyed getting out in the warm sunshine. The weather was perfect, with the thermometer hitting a daytime high of about 55 F.

It was fun getting out - getting away from the ice and smog that chock so many cities this time of year.

- Dave Webb

Thursday, January 02, 2014

Utah Cities On List Of USA Today Best Ski Destination

USA TODAY and 10Best have released this report naming the 10 best ski destinations, as chosen by their readers.
Here are excerpts from the report:

Three resorts with three distinct personalities define skiing and snowboarding in Park City...

The Cottonwood canyons that branch off the southwestern edge of this major metropolis (Salt Lake City) offer easy access to four world-class ski resorts within 30 minutes of the airport...

Other destinations making the list include South Lake Tahoe, North Tahoe, Sun Valley, Bend/Mount Bachelor, Whistler, Crested Butte, Jackson Hole and Aspen.

It is interesting to see differences between this ranking and others from Ski Magazine and other targeted publications. But, regardless of the list, Utah's resorts place well.

Kardashians Ski Deer Valley

I'm not sure why this is news, but it was prominent on and so I thought I'd pass it along. Below is a quote. Read the full article here.

(Kim) Kardashian went skiing with her sister, Kourtney, and her fiance, West, who was covered up in a full ski mask and goggles, according to the photo agency that secured the snapshots. While the rapper chose to go incognito, his 33-year-old bride-to-be was certainly noticeable in a glamorous fur vest and snug snow pants.

If you want to see celebrities, come to park city in a couple weeks when Sundance will be in town.

- Dave Webb
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