Bookmark and Share

Utah Travel Headlines

Friday, May 30, 2014

Utah Wild Horse & Burro Festival Plus Free Fishing Day

Utah Wild Horse & Burro Festival
This annual festival will take place June 6-7 at the Legacy Events Center, 151 South 1100 West, Farmington, Utah.

Wild horses have been in the news recently, as BLM officials seek ways to respond to what some think is an overpopulation of animals on public lands in the West. Wild horses and burros are considered part of our national heritage and are protected by federal laws.

For many years, BLM has encouraged people to adopt surplus animals, as a way to keep numbers in check. Many people have had great success adopting and gentling these "living legends," which can then be used for general riding and many other purposes. One reason this festival is held annually is to showcase success such stories.

This website has details about the festival, along with links to horse and burro adoption events. Here's are excerpts:

The festival begins Friday, June 6 at 4:000 p.m. and runs through Saturday, June 7. Performance classes begin at 4:00 p.m. on Friday and 9 a.m. on Saturday.

The primary goal of this horse show is to learn and have fun. Another goal is to give you the opportunity to demonstrate what a wild horse can accomplish when given proper care and training. This is a BLM/Volunteer wild horse, burro and mule show requiring all animals to have a US BLM Freeze Mark and proof of Certificate of Title or Adoption Papers.

Utah Free Fishing Day
On Saturday, June 7, fishing licenses will not be required for people fishing on all Utah waters. All other regulations will be enforced. The idea is to give people a chance to try the spot, hoping they will get hooked. Clinics and educational events will be held to help people learn to fish. Some events will provide free equipment for kids.

The Deseret News has this article on free fishing day.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Best Places For Stargazing Plus Volunteer For Wildlife has this article listing the best places, darkest skies, ideal for stargazing. Bryce Canyon is on the list, along with Grand Canyon and Great Basin national parks. Here are excerpts:

Bryce Canyon welcomes Australian photographer and amateur astronomer Alex Cherney on June 27 during the park's 14th Astronomy Festival June 25-28. Watch the sky by day (solar astronomy) and then take a ranger-led constellation tour of the night sky.

Grand Canyon: The park allocates an entire week for its 24th Star Party from June 21 to 28.

Great Basin National Park near Baker, Nev.: This is one of the darkest spots in America, and the park flaunts its celestial reputation with a team of knowledgeable Dark Rangers.

Volunteers Needed To Improve Help Mule Deer Habitat

Utah's Division of Wildlife Resources provided the information below. See complete details.

Many volunteers are needed to help with a partner project with Field and Stream and the Mule Deer Foundation. We will be working on the Santaquin Wildlife Management Area on May 30-31 with the main project being on the 31st.

Projects include fencing, installing gates, seeding, installing guzzler, installing signage for UTV’s, garbage pickup and a lop and scatter area.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Ideas For National Trails Day (June 7)

National Trails Day is June 7, 2014. We encourage you to get out and enjoy trails of all kinds. The best ones are in Utah, of course.

Our friend Michele Hill shared some this interesting article with ideas on activities in the Moab area. Below are excerpts.

...This year seek "Vertical Trails", an introduction into canyoneering the deep crevasses of Moab and an opportunity to visit seldom seen sections of desert canyons that are inaccessible without the use of ropes and technical gear.

...The trip, "Ephedra's Grotto", begins with a short hike across ancient petrified sand dunes, leading into a dry rock wash. Quickly the wash turns into a dry waterfall that seems to almost disappear into the tightest, deepest rain gutter imaginable. "We go down there?!" is the usual question after peering over the edge, and indeed, the trail descends into that slot. This exquisite rappel is the first obstacle in reaching the entrance to the amazing and not-at-all-famous Grotto.

For those with an uneasiness with heights, seek trails in Arches or Canyonlands National Parks. Magnificent landscape wonders dapple the scenery, all available from one destination, Moab. Beat the heat in southeastern Utah by hiking early in the day or later evenings. The National Parks are open 24 hours, even though the park visitor center is limited to 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Mid-day visit the film or Moab Museums, seek out the wineries for a tasting, reserve a Colorado River excursion, or hang by a swimming pool. Summer time, sunset occurs around 8:30 p.m. Remember to drink plenty of water.

Speaking of Moab, below is a great new video that highlights some of the many adventure activities available in the area. 

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Temporary Closures In Arches; Lake Powell Makes 'Best Of' List

Services at Arches National Park Visitor Center will be limited during a special event Friday June 6th. Access will be restricted to individuals needing to pick up their Fiery Furnace tickets and permits. Rangers encourage visitors to pick up tickets and permits the day before to avoid crowds associated with the event.

The official launch of the Arches National Park quarter will be Friday, June 6, 2014. The ceremony will take place at the Arches National Park Visitor Center at 9:00 a.m.

Devils Garden Road & Trail will be closed June 16-26.
Visitors traveling the park road will need to turn around at the Sand Dune Arch Trailhead parking lot. The Devils Garden Campground will remain open only to campers with reservations. Consider visiting before or after this closure to avoid congestion. has an interesting article naming America's most beautiful lakes, Lake Powell is on the list. Here's an excerpt and then their list.

It’s not often that humans can accidentally create something of such extraordinary natural beauty... But there’s no denying the mystical allure of this long, sinewy lake, as its warm blue waters wind through sheer red-sandstone cliffs, filling more than 90 side canyons.
  • Lake Powell, UT/AZ
  • Lake George, NY
  • Lake Santeetlah, NC
  • Yellowstone Lake, WY
  • Lake Superior, MN/MI/WI
  • Flathead Lake, MT
  • Hanging Lake, CO
  • Crater Lake, OR
  • Deer Lake, MN
  • Lake Tahoe, CA
  • Caddo Lake, TX/LA
  • Mono Lake, CA
  • Echo Lake, NH

Friday, May 23, 2014

Activities For Memorial Day And Beyond

We hope you have a safe, respectful, enjoyable, adventurous Memorial Day Weekend. If you are in Utah, there is plenty of opportunity to enjoy community activities and outdoor adventures.

Media, local and national, are full of articles about Utah destinations and activities. Here are a few we noticed today. has an article listing the “10 BEST BIKE VACATIONS IN THE US.” Moab is on the list, of course. Here's a snippet:'

The most famous mountain biking trail in the U.S., and possibly the world, can be found just outside the small, unpretentious town of Moab. Known as Slickrock, the trail is anything but slick. Fat tires literally stick to the grippy Navajo Sandstone for a roller coaster-like ride of steep inclines and hair-raising descents. has this article listing five hikes the the canyons adjacent to Salt Lake City. Below are the trails mentioned; there are many others nearby.
  • Cecret Lake [Secret Lake]
  • Desolation Lake
  • Lake Blanche
  • Red Pine Lake
  • White Pine Lake
The title above comes from this blog post on Each of the items mentioned offers the possibility for a day or more of enjoyable activities. Here's the list, abbreviated.
Our Pioneer Heritage
Backyard Mountain Recreation
Salt Lake's Perfect Manhattan
Full Lineup of Outdoor Concerts
A Farm-to-Table Experience
Our Professional Performing Artists
World-Class Food Production
Access to Passionate Professional Sports
Our Love of the Arts
Unique Shopping

As we move into summer, we invite you to join the festivities as our towns, large and small, host special celebrations. This Deseret News article gives a full list, including details needed if you want to participate.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Get Tickets Now For Utah Shakespeare Festival

The Tony Award winning Utah Shakespeare Festival will kick off its season in June and tickets are going fast. The festival is located in Cedar City, in southern Utah, and makes a great addition on trips to see our national parks and other attractions.

Performances begin June 23 and run through October 18. Productions this season are listed below. See the Festival's official website for schedules and detailed information.
  • The Comedy of Errors
  • Henry IV Part One
  • Measure for Measure
  • Into the Woods
  • Sense and Sensibility
  • Twelfth Night
  • Boeing Boeing
  • Sherlock Holmes: The Final Adventure
The Festival was named the recipient of the coveted Tony Award for America’s Outstanding Regional Theatre on May 8, 2000.

The Festival recently announced productions for its 2015 season. has the details in this report.

The video below shows Festival promotional material from "The Tempest," which was presented last season.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Willard Bay State Park Opens After A Year's Clean-Up

The North Marina at Willard Bay State Park is re-opening, after being closed for a year because of an oil pipeline leak. Official ceremonies will be held Saturday, so the park will definitely be open for Memorial Day weekend. But we hear the gate is already down and visitors are utilizing park facilities, which include a campground, picnic area, beach and boat ramp.

During the closure, improvements were made to trails and wildlife habitat.

The Deseret News has this article about the park. Here's a quote:

(Park Manager) Morgan assures wary guests they have nothing to worry about. Utah's Division of Water Quality has tested the water for safety hazards and has determined it's clean.

Cleanup crews have worked since March 2013 to reinvent the bay after a Chevron diesel pipeline burst, spilling 600 barrels of fuel.

I'm not quite sure what to make of this article, which touts St. George as a destination for extreme sports. The article provides cursory info on a few activities, without providing much meat. Still, some might find it interesting. It recommends:

Mountain biking
  • Gooseberry Mesa
  • Zen Trail
  • Barrel Trail
Hiking Canyoneering
  • Gardner Peak Trail
  • Pine Creek Canyon
  • Distance Runs
  • Ironman 70.3
And this one caught my eye. It lists 13 crazy rock formations, although I'm not quite sure how some fit into that characterization. Utah attractions on the list:
"Escalante-Grand Staircase National Monument is Utah's other rock star. This enormous, 1.7 million acre property offers hikes to spectacular formations like Metate Arch in Devil's Garden and the Wahweap Hoodoos, slender, ghostly rocks that can reach several stories high. For a short and easy hike, try the Toadstools Trail to see special white, beige and red hoodoos formed by large boulders perched above softer, eroded rock. They give new meaning to the term 'magic mushrooms.'"

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Visit Lake Powell Over Memorial Day Weekend

Lake Powell is a very popular destination for people looking for water, sand and sun, and it is always busy over Memorial Day weekend. Conditions are good at the big lake and there is plenty of room for fun and adventure. Here are some tips to make your trip more enjobable.

Arrive early, if you can, and boat away from the marinas. The marinas will be crowded and there will be lines on launch ramps Friday through Monday.

Be aware of water levels and what that might mean to areas you want to visit. At this writing, the lake level is 3583 feet above sea level. Here is a launch ramp report:
  • Wahweap main ramp is open with good launch conditions
  • Stateline ramp has been closed but will open May 22
  • Antelope Point public ramp is closed - may open for smaller boats by weekend
  • Bullfrog ramp has been extended, is open and in good shape
  • Halls Crossing ramp is open and in good shape
Boat launching is not possible at Hite. Small boats will be about to launch on a primitive ramp when the lake level rises to 3608 feet.

The Castle Rock cut has been deepened and will be usable this weekend. Small and mid-sized boats should be able to use the cut, but be careful.

Quagga mussels are now well established in Lake Powell. In past years, boat inspections sought to keep the mussels out of the lake. Now, officials are trying to keep mussels from spreading from Powell to other waters. Boat inspections may happen as you leave the lake. More information.

11 Little Know Facts About Lake Powell
Heather Rankin has interesting tidbits about the lake on her blog, see them here. (An example, Lake Powell comprises just 13% of Glen Canyon National Recreation Area.)

Lake Powell Photography
Below is a video I found interesting, describing photography and culture at the lake. It was published on

Monday, May 19, 2014

9 Ways to Honor & Celebrate Memorial Day occasionally sends email messages with travel tips and special offers. We recently sent this one with ideas for Memorial Day. See the online version with active links. Get on our mailing list.

We wish you the best during this special holiday weekend. Maybe we'll meet you out on the backways and trails.

Friday, May 16, 2014

Mirror Lake Highway Will Open Soon, Other High Roads Opening

Crews are working hard to clear snow from Hwy 150 - the Mirror Lake Highway in the Unita Mountains - and hope to have it open by Labor Day weekend. Some of our high-elevation roads are already open, and others will be soon.

The Deseret News has this report on Hwy 150. We give excerpts below, and then include the Utah Department of Transportation list of seasonal roads and expected open dates.

UDOT has five blowers, plows and graders deliberately digging through the snow and ice. Crews have consistently had to cut through drifts 4-feet to 6-feet deep.

"We've cut through some drifts 12- to 14-feet deep,” Page said. “(There's) almost twice as much snow as last year, but three years ago, it was deeper. They didn't get the road open until July 6 that year.”

“We're just about to the top of the summit, and we've got to go clear over to Sulphur campground, which is about 10 miles away," Page said.

Here's UDOT's latest seasonal roads projections.
  • SR 35 Wolf Creek Pass Francis to Hanna – Milepost 12 to 27 OPEN
  • SR 39 Monte Cristo East of Ogden – Milepost 37 to 55.5. CLOSED
  • Anticipate OPEN Friday, May 23
  • SR 65 East Canyon Northeast of Salt Lake City – Milepost 3 to 13.2 OPEN
  • SR 92 American Fork/Alpine Loop Milepost 14 to milepost 22.5 CLOSED
  • SR 148 Cedar Breaks East of Cedar City – Milepost 0.2 to 19 CLOSED
  • SR 150 Mirror Lake Highway CLOSED Anticipate OPEN Memorial Day weekend
  • SR-153 Mt. Holly Junction Road CLOSED
  • SR 224 Guardsman Pass Park City to Midway OPEN
  • SR 190 Guardsman Pass Big Cottonwood Canyon (SR-190/Brighton) to Park City (Junction with SR 224) CLOSED Anticipate OPEN Memorial Day weekend
  • Lake Powell Ferry - The Ferry is closed. SR 276 is open to the park boundaries.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Grand Canyon North Rim Opens, Camping Permits Needed At Tuweep

Grand Canyon North Rim - NPS photo by Jessica Pope
Grand Canyon's North Rim opened for the season today - it will be accessible until snow starts to fly next fall. The Park made this announcement on its Facebook page:

What an incredible opening day on the North Rim! The sun is shining, and the temperatures are perfect! We could not be more excited. Visitors were lined up at the gate when we opened at 7am. Everywhere people are excited and smiling. Situated at 8,200' above sea level, the North Rim of Grand Canyon closes for the winter months and reopens every year on May 15th. If you haven't yet, start planning your summer trip to the beautiful high forests and cool air of Grand Canyon's North Rim.

Camping Permits Will Be Needed At Tuweep Campground

Tuweep is a remote vista on the north side of the Grand Canyon. It is accessible via dirt roads that cross the Arizona Strip from St. George, Utah. Several fun trails begin in that area, for folks who enjoy solitude and long treks into remove wilderness.

The small campground at Tuweep has been open on a first-come, first-served basis, but permits will be needed to camp there beginning this fall. The park service provided this news release. Below are excerpts.

After September 1, visitors who plan to camp at Tuweep will need to have a permit issued by the National Park Service.

Campers may begin making reservations on May 1, 2014 for dates on or after September 1. Reservations can be made on the first of the month four months prior to the proposed start date and will be accepted through the park's backcountry reservation system. A non-refundable fee of $10 per permit plus a $5 per group per night fee is required to obtain a permit. For more information about the permit process or to make a reservation, please visit

Visitors may also be able to obtain a walk-up permit, up to six days in advance and based on availability, by visiting Pipe Spring National Monument in Fredonia, AZ or at the St. George Public Lands Visitor Center in St. George, UT.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

New Moab Bike Trails - Dirt and Paved

Moab is famous for its rugged mountain bike trails and scenic road bike routes. Not as well known are its fabulous paved bike routes. A new one has just opened, running along Hwy 128 between Moab and Negro Bill Canyon.

The Deseret News has a great new article featuring this and other new trails. Below are excerpts.

Since 2010, Moab trail planners have added more than 75 miles of new dirt trails and 15 miles of paved pathways.

Pavement links bikers from Moab to Arches National Park. It also connects them to wide, paved shoulders on state Route 313 that are designated as bike lanes. Bicyclists can safely pedal dozens of miles, all the way from downtown Moab to Dead Horse Point State Park and to the Island in the Sky District of Canyonlands National Park.

The crème de la crème of Moab's paved pathways is an elaborate, expensive bike trail connecting the city to a popular hiking trail in Negro Bill Canyon.

Just completed at a cost of $9 million, the 2 ½-mile trail parallels state Route 128 on its meandering route through the Colorado River canyon. Long bridges or causeways had to be built to hold the paved path next to the highway. That's because the roadway is hemmed in by a towering cliff on one side and a sharp dropoff to the river on the other side.

At nearby Dead Horse State Park, the Intrepid Trail System has been expanded to provide more excellent riding. The video below highlights that work.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Kanab's 'Amazing Earthfest' Runs Through May 17

Each year during the third week of May, the Amazing Earthfest in Kanab, Utah, celebrates land and life on the Colorado Plateau with a week of educational activities and outings. It is billed as a "festival of discovery, learning and adventure!" It offers workshops, lectures and adventures centered around:
  • Archaeology
  • Biology
  • Ecology
  • Geology
  • Wildlife
  • Paleontology
  • Creative writing
  • Climate change
  • Recycling
  • Sustainable living
  • And more
Kanab is a key gateway to Zion, Bryce, Grand Staircase, Grand Canyon and Lake Powell, with adventure in every direction.

In a recent article, National Geographic named Kanab and Amazing Earthfest as one of the "Best Spring Trips of 2014." has this good article about the festival.

See the Earthfest website for complete information.

Here's a video providing an overview of the festival.

Monday, May 12, 2014

Great Salt Lake Bird Festival Runs May 15-19

The Great Salt Lake Bird Festival is a popular event offering many opportunities to see and learn about migratory birds and other wildlife. Headquarter in Davis County, just north of Salt Lake City, it is held annually and includes field trips, lectures, workshops and many hands-on activities for adults and youngsters. This is one of Utah's best bird watching/wildlife watching opportunities.

This year's keynote speaker will be expert birder Tim Boucher. He is a Nature Conservancy Geographer who caught the birding bug 30 years ago when he was living in South Africa. His passion for birding (and travel) has taken him to 48 countries on six continents. He says he’s loved every minute of it, but something changed two decades ago. He is a knowledgeable and entertaining speaker.

Many other experts will present at the festival. See the list.

This year's spotlight bird is the long-billed dowitcher. It is a medium-sized, chunky, snipe-like shorebird belonging to a group of species with long legs and thin bills that forage along shorelines or in shallow water. Dozens of bird species will be seen by festival participants.

See the official schedule for field trips,workshops and activities.

Most activities will take place around Farmington Bay, on the edge of the Great Salt Lake. Field trips will allow participants to access key spots where birds abundant. Some such spots are off limits to the public at other times.

Friday, May 09, 2014

Two Views Of Zion National Park

Kolob Arch, in the Kolob Canyons Section of Zio
With summer fast approaching, news media are publishing more articles about travel to Utah's Mighty 5 National Parks. I stumbled onto a couple good ones today, both focusing on Zion National Park. Here are headlines and excerpts.

Where the Mojave Desert meets the Colorado Plateau and Great Basin, visitors will find hanging gardens – wildflowers, ferns and moss growing along the steep cliffs – and cattails juxtaposed against the vast red sandstone canyons for which Zion is best known. And the park's diversity doesn't end with the landscape. From climbing to canyoneering, the park offers guests countless ways to experience its diverse environment.

No hiking list is complete without mention of Angels Landing. One of the most famous trails among all National Parks, the 2.4-mile path is not for the faint of heart. This narrow trail presents hikers with steep switchbacks, long drop-offs and chain cables towards the summit. For those that survive the strenuous hike to the top, the rewards are unmatched – views of Zion Canyon are spectacular from its peak.

Hiking down Taylor Creek in Zion National Park in southern Utah, I feel like I’m in a painting, and the artist splashes on more color with every turn in the trail. The sides of the narrow canyon’s 500-foot-tall, red sandstone cliffs glow in the morning sun. Quaking aspens whisper in the breeze, and overhead a seamless, turquoise sky frames the scene.

Despite the majestic setting and easy trail, only a few hikers disturb nature’s reverie. We’re on the secret side of Zion.

“Nearly 3 million people a year visit Zion National Park, but only about 10 percent get to the Kolob Canyons side,” park ranger Brian Raper says. “The busy season goes from spring break to Thanksgiving.” Even then, few people venture past the viewpoints.

With no reason to hurry, I take my time and spend two nights on the trail. The fanciest resort in the world can’t match the majesty of red rock cliffs highlighted by the deep greens of pines and junipers, the intense sky overhead, and a tumbling mountain stream. As the sun sets each night, the canyon, with some of the tallest sandstone cliffs in the world, reflects the fading rays like a blazing torch.

Thursday, May 08, 2014

Explore The World Of The Anasazi On Cedar Mesa

Shards in Grand Gulch - photo by Dave Webb
I've long been fascinated by the Anasazi culture (Ancient Pueblo peoples) and I often make treks to explore their ruins. The greater Cedar Mesa area and Grand Gulch in particular are favorite destinations. So I was naturally interested when the LA Times ran these two features:

Author David Kelly provides accurate and interesting information that provides a great overview for people interested in this area and its ancient culture. It is fun to see how he describes places and situations I've experienced.

The photo that illustrates this posted is one I took in Grand Gulch some years ago. I need to go back and see if all that stuff is still there. 

Below are excerpts from Kelly's narrative.

They are still watching - photo by Dave Webb
"When you go to the Smithsonian, you don't smash the glass and take what you want," Hadenfeldt said. "It's the same here. Treat it like an outdoor museum."

At a junction near the lush canyon floor, I noticed what looked like puzzle pieces in the sand. High on a ledge stood five cliff houses, with more below. A haunting face, pecked into stone, kept watch.

I had stumbled into a prehistoric Anasazi village with all the detritus of daily life — grinding stones, mortars, bone tools — scattered about. Granaries holding ancient corncobs were tucked tightly against rock ceilings. Red handprints covered the walls.

Those "puzzle pieces" were actually shattered pottery, probably 1,000 years old.

"These are places where people lived and died and left the remnants of their lives behind," he said. "Think how wonderful it would be if your grandchildren could come here some day and find everything as it was."

Yes, it is time to go back.

– Dave Webb

Wednesday, May 07, 2014

Serenity, scenery go hand in hand at Utah's Capitol Reef National Park

The title for this post comes from this article in the LA Times. It describes Capitol Reef National Park as a scenic wonderland with plenty of opportunity for auto touring and hiking. Below are excerpts.

Instead of honking horns, Capitol Reef is about serenity and spectacular scenery. "We are remote," says park ranger Lori Rome, "which is part of the appeal of this place."

Capitol Reef is a hiker's park, with trails ranging from gentle to challenging. One of the most popular is the relatively easy hike to Hickman Bridge, a natural rock span that rises 125 feet above the trail. From the parking lot, the well-marked trail climbs about 400 feet to the "oh, my gosh" view of the bridge. This bridge is on par with those found farther north in Arches National Park.

Perhaps the best known of the many monoliths in Cathedral Valley are the 400-foot-tall Temple of the Sun and the Temple of the Moon. Sunrise on these monoliths can be amazing and almost otherworldly. We rose at 4 a.m. to arrive in time for sunrise, and it definitely was worth the effort. From there, you have several choices and can easily spend a full day observing the different monoliths.

It is a pretty good article. I wanted to make one tiny factual clarification: From Capitol Reef, Arches National Park is east, not north.

Below is a fun video highlighting Capitol Reef.

Tuesday, May 06, 2014

Lava Point, Cedar Breaks, Timp Cave Open For Season

Cedar Breaks National Monument
High country spots around Utah are now opening up - some a little early this year.

Lava Point Campground, in the Kolob Terrace section of Zion Park, is now open. The park provided this information:

This campground is typically open June through October, as weather allows. In 2014, Lava Point Campground opened on May 5. Situated at 7890 feet above sea level, it is off the Kolob Terrace Road, 25 miles (45 minutes) north of the town of Virgin. It takes approximately one hour and 20 minutes to drive to the campground from the South Entrance of Zion Canyon.

There are 6 primitive campsites available first-come, first-served, pit toilets, and trash cans, but no water. Vehicles longer than 19 feet are not permitted on the road to the campground. There is no charge for camping.

Nearby, Cedar Breaks is also opening up. The monument provided these dates:
May 8 - Cedar Breaks NM scenic road opens
May 23 - Visitor center opens
June 6 - Campground opens

Daily tours of Timpanogos Cave begin Saturday, May 10. The visitor center and book store opened on May 5.

High country roads are expected to open a little earlier than normal this season due to light snowpack.

Monday, May 05, 2014

Illegal Drones Are Causing Problems In Zion National Park

Bighorn Sheep - Zion Park Photo
Technology is bringing a new challenge to national park managers. Enthusiasts, probably well meaning, are illegally flying drones in the park, most commonly for landscape and wildlife photography, and are causing problems for visitors, animals and park managers. Zion National Park issued the news release below.

Hopefully, education will reduce this problem. Beyond that, fines and the threat of jail time should reduce it more.
Drone Harasses Bighorn Sheep at Zion National Park

Springdale, Utah: Volunteers at Zion National Park recently witnessed a remote controlled drone flying close to a herd of bighorn sheep on the eastern side of the park. They observed the herd scattering at the approach of the drone with several young sheep separated from the adults by the drone. Harassment of wildlife within the park is illegal, as is the use of drones.

“I am sure most people who fly drones have no desire to harm wildlife or endanger our other visitors. Many may not even know that it is illegal to fly a drone here at Zion,” Superintendent Jim Milestone stated. “We hope that by educating the public about the reasons behind the restrictions, we will increase their understanding and compliance and help to protect the park.”

Rangers have seen a large increase in the use of drones within the park. Some visitors have complained about drones interrupting the usual peace of Zion’s soundscape and wilderness, while others have reported feeling unsafe as drones buzz through slot canyons and along exposed trails such as Angels Landing and Canyon Overlook. The recent observation of the bighorn sheep encounter with a drone also demonstrates the negative impact they can have on the wildlife within Zion National Park, particularly in the spring when many animals are caring for their young. In addition to impacting ground-based wildlife, drones may prevent birds from successfully nesting or may cause nests to be abandoned if the birds feel harassed.

A drone is an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV). Its flight is controlled either autonomously by onboard computers or by remote control. The penalty for using a drone in Zion can be up to 6 months imprisonment and/or a $5000 fine.
“Drones are a new challenge for Zion National Park and our mission of resource protection,” said Wildlife Biologist Cassie Waters. “Animals can be injured when attempting to escape or avoid drone activity. Drones can also change the natural behavior of wildlife and lead to unnecessary energy expenditures. This has the potential to affect survival and reproductive success in many species. We are therefore really concerned with drones, their effect on wildlife, and our ability to preserve the natural environment.”

Friday, May 02, 2014

Its Wild Flower And Waterfall Season In Zion Park

This is a seasonal waterfall in Zion Canyon
Many wildflowers are now in full bloom in Zion Canyon and other areas in Zion National Park. Delicate little purple flowers and be seen, along with bring paintbrush and vivid cactus blossoms. The blooms will gradually move to higher elevations, affording plenty of opportunity for visitors to see the annual progression of colors.

Zion Park has some great flower photos on its Facebook page.

Waterfalls are abundant in the park right now, as snow melt cascades down streams and over cliffs. If you pay attention while traveling up Zion Canyon you will see a number of seasonal waterfalls - they are spectacular now but will dry up and runoff ends and summer sets in.

New National Monuments in Utah?

With so much spectacular federally-controlled land in Utah, there is always speculation that the President will use the Antiquities Act to create new national monuments. That possibility may be gaining traction thanks to a strong movement to wrest control of some of that land and turn it over to state management.

The Salt Lake Tribune has this interesting article listing places that might be likely candidates for national monument status. The article lists areas around the West, including several in Utah. Below is the headline and then a list of Utah areas on the list.

12 most likely places President Obama would declare a national monument
  • Desolation Canyon, eastern Utah
  • Greater Canyonlands, southeastern Utah
  • San Rafael Swell, Emery County, Utah
  • Diné Bikéyah, San Juan County, Utah
These are great areas worth exploring, with or without national monument status.

Thursday, May 01, 2014

Utah Archaeology Week Activities May 3-10

Utah Archaeology Week runs May 3-10 and features activities all around Utah. See this web page for official details. Here's the introduction:

Utah Archaeology Week celebrates Utah’s rich archaeological and cultural resources with a week of lectures and hands-on learning.

Statewide events include:
  • Open house at the Rio Grande Depot with educational activities for kids
  • Annual poster contest
  • Lectures and paper presentations
  • Tours of archaeological sites
Some activities provide opportunities to visit sensitive sites with professional archaeologists. For example, this year some people will be able to tour Danger and Jutebox caves in Tooele County. Here are details about that activity:

Danger and Jukebox Caves were formed under the waters of Lake Bonneville. When the waters of that ancient lake receded and revealed the caves, humans began using them as shelter and food processing centers. Archaeological work in these caves is the foundation of Great Basin Archaeological studies. Saturday, May 10th will the annual public Archaeology Week tour of the caves with Utah State Parks staff and associated experts.

Space is limited for this annual tour. Please Note–this tour involves some very steep and rugged hiking. You must reserve a spot by emailing Utah State Parks Heritage Resources Coordinator Justina Parsons-Bernstein at with “Danger Cave Tour” in the subject line. First emailed, first served.

Another popular tour will visit Parowan Gap, near Cedar City, on May 9.

Come see one of the largest and most spectacular collections of rock art in Utah! This tour will be guided by BLM archaeologist, Nate Thomas. While some carpooling may be possible, please prepare to drive your own vehicle. We will meet at the Frontier Homestead State Park and be ready to depart at 6:30 pm. You may also meet the group at the Gap. The petroglyphs are visible from the road, so no rigorous gear should be necessary and wheel chairs should be able to access most of the area. Water, binoculars, and a camera are suggested. No public restrooms yet available at this site.

The Utah Archaeology Week Open House will be held May 3, 10 am - 2 pm, at the Rio Grande Building, 300 S Rio Grande Street, in Salt Lake City.

Experience Utah’s rich cultural heritage by participating in hands-on archaeological activities. Grinding corn, throwing spears, and face painting are just a few of the exciting events for kids and families.
Back to top Print this page E-mail this page