Utah Travel Tips

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Ride The Desert Wave

"Everywhere you look there are a million beautiful but weird shapes and colors," one of my companions said as we hiked the Coyote Buttes, in the Paria Canyon area on the Utah/Arizona border.

Swirled bands of color run through the sandstone, which has eroded into interesting shapes. The colors and shapes change with the light as the day progresses. Red, pink, yellow and green rock has been blended together to form castles, beehives, chutes and other structures.

We hiked Coyote Buttes on Feb. 11 and had a wonderful time. Temperatures were crisp as we started hiking; by noon the air had warmed considerably and we shed our jackets. The air carried whiffs of spring. This short video clip shows our hike.

A multi-colored chute, called The Wave, is a key attraction in this area, but many other features are just as photogenic and make excellent destinations for day hikes. The Coyote Buttes are part of an area under special management by the BLM. Permits are needed to gain access and they must be reserved months in advance. Here's more info.

The next several weeks will bring excellent hiking conditions in Utah's low-elevation deserts. Winter has been mild and dry in these areas and seasonal changes are coming ahead of schedule. Most backroads are dry and drivable. Water-filled potholes inhibit hiking in some canyons in early spring, but this year they will probably dry out early.

The Coyote Buttes are on the edge of Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, which is a prime area for spring hiking and auto touring. Other, lesser-known areas that are attractive this time of year include Capitol Reef National Park, the Glen Canyon area and the San Rafael Swell. Spring is also a great season to tour Monument Valley.

Skinny Tire Festival

The Moab Skinny Tire Festival will take place March 3-6. Moab is famous for its mountain bike trails, but did you know the area offers some of the best road biking in the world. Festival participants will peddle along hundreds of miles of paved roads in and out the parks, amid the world-class scenery. This festival features rides through Arches National Park, along the Colorado River and up to Dead Horse Point. Info: 435-259-2698

Celebrating the Cowboy

The annual Cedar City Cowboy Gathering, March 16-19, brings opportunity for the public to mingle with cowboy poets, Western musicians, artisans and vendors. It includes live demonstrations of cowboy culture, past and present, including live action shooting, an old-fashioned sheep camp and line dancing.

The Kids' Corral will offer bucking bronco rides, cowboy crafts, bull roping and cowboy games.

A concert will feature cowboy poets Andy Nelson and Mike Dunn, plus western musicians Belinda Gale and RW Hampton. Phone: 1-800-354-4849.

-- Dave Webb

See our comprehensive events listing for upcoming activities.

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