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Utah Travel Headlines Blog

Thursday, March 30, 2006

Spring Skiing Is Better Than Ever

Utah resorts still offer great ski conditions, with a deep base and new snow ever few days. Most resorts will be open through mid-April. Snowbird intends to be open daily through May 14, and weekends through May 29.

A Salt Lake Tribune article by Mike Gorrell provided the information below. Read the entire article.

"We've had a huge season this year, our best ever. We had plenty of snow and a large number of skier visits," said Sundance spokeswoman Lucy Ridolphi.

Southwestern Utah's Brian Head Resort got off to a slow start, which hurt Christmas business. But resort general manager Henry Hornberger said "in January we started getting snow and getting strong visitation. Snow-wise we're sitting great, and business has stayed strong."

"For us to get into good skiing back home we have to drive two to four hours," Brad Hobbs said Monday at The Canyons. Added Shelley: "Our sons were [psyched] because they were doing powder up to their thighs."

Even a skier as young as 7-year-old Nick Rose appreciates that kind of snow. "It feels like you're floating on top of the clouds," the Chicago boy said.

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

LDS Church General Conference

Downtown Salt Lake City will be busy this weekend, as Mormons from around the world gather for the 176th annual general conference of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, to be held April 1-2.

The public is invited to participate. Meetings will begin at 10 am and 2 pm both days, in the Church’s Conference Center, across the street to the north of Temple Square. The Conference Center usually fills to capacity and so seats may not be available. The proceedings are broadcast over loudspeakers at Temple Square and many people enjoy browsing around the gardens there while listening.

Most sessions are streamed live, in many languages, on the Church website.

The Mormon Tabernacle Choir will perform and Church general authorities will speak.

Downtown park lots may be filled to capacity both days. TRAX light rail service will be expanded to accommodate people traveling downtown. Bus service is also available to help people get around. More information.

Many downtown hotels will be full.

The Mormon Temple Square complex is actually Utah’s biggest tourist attraction. It features exhibits and presentations to help people learn about the Church, and about the pioneer heritage in this area.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Awestruck At Delicate Arch

The next few weeks will bring ideal conditions for those of us who enjoy wandering, enthralled, through the red rocks of southern Utah.

Delicate ArchLast weekend, with a storm bearing down on northern Utah, I couldn’t resist escaping to Moab, with its blue skies and perfect spring hiking weather. I had friends in town and decided to show them some of Utah’s famous icons. Arches National Park became our destination and we enjoyed the moderately adventurous family hike to Delicate Arch.

Here’s a video clip showing our trek.

You see images of Delicate Arch everywhere. They graces magazine covers, computer screensavers and license plates. The photos are great but they do not adequately convey the stunning beauty that hits you as you come over the ridge and see the arch in person for the first time—when you stand under it, the stone towering above your head, slickrock canyons falling away below you, the snow-covered La Sal Mountains in the distance. It is a spectacular sight.

Naturalist author Edward Abbey wrote: “There are several ways of looking at Delicate Arch. Depending on your preconceptions you may see the eroded remnants of a sandstone fin, a giant engagement ring cemented in rock, a bow-legged pair of petrified cowboy chaps, a triumphal arch for a procession of angels, an illogical freak, a happening.... If Delicate Arch has any significance it lies, I will venture, in the power of the odd and unexpected to startle the senses and surprise the mind out of their ruts of habit, to compel us into a reawakened awareness of the wonderful—that which is full of wonder.”

The Delicate Arch hike is 3 miles round trip along an easy, well-marked trail. The trailhead is at Wolfe Ranch, accessible via a paved spur from the main park loop. Signs make it easy to find. The parking lot was full on our visit and so we had to park in a wide spot on the road’s shoulder. That’s pretty common. They are working to develop a park shuttle service, which will make access easier.

The trail slopes gradually upward as you hike toward the arch. The total elevation gain is only 480 feet, but it seems steeper than that as you climb up the slickrock ridge. There is no shade on that section and it will soon start to feel hot during the middle of the day. The most pleasant hiking is in the morning or evening, but midday is fine if you wear a hat, use sunscreen and carry water.

Near the top the trail swings behind a ridge, where it levels out and enters an area that is often shaded. Steps have been carved into the sandstone to make it easy to get up some steep places. In one spot the trail follows a shelf on the side of the ridge, a solid-rock mountain on one side and a sheer cliff on the other. The trail is wide and smooth and walking is easy but some people get nervous because of the cliff. Just hang onto your kids and stay away from the edge.

This is a very popular hike and there are always other people along the trail—people who would gladly help if a hiker has problems.

It’s always fun talking to people along the trail, finding out where they are from and what they think of the area. There are always international tourists, along with people from all around North America.

In response to my inquiry one said: “I love it. I wish I could live here.” It’s that kind of country—big and beautiful.

- Dave Webb
davewebb@utah.com

Monday, March 27, 2006

Monument Valley, Zion Called Accessible Treasures

MiamiHerald.com has an interesting article about great landmark, natural parks and natural areas that can accommodate people with disabilities. Writers Steve Wright And Heidi Johnson-Wright describe 10 spots they call barrier-free (Hope) diamonds in the rough.

Here’s an excerpt about Monument Valley: “Visitors with disabilities can drink in the stark beauty of the Mittens, Merrick Butte and many other formations from the wheelchair-accessible visitor center with its multi-level outdoor observation platforms. For the red dust under your fingernails experience, tour the valley floor with a Navajo guide. While wheelers can ride in the wagon caravan being pulled along, a gentler ride can be had in the cab of the pick-up truck next to the guide.”

And one about Zion National Park: “As national parks go, Zion is perhaps the most accessible park of Utah's natural treasures. It has the best wheelchair access and most barrier-free trails. The Lower Emerald Pools Trail provides both the best views and most challenging inclines of the bunch. Visitors taking the paved one-mile trail may be treated to glimpses of mule deer and wild turkeys. The trail's occasional steep inclines eventually bring hikers several hundred feet from the canyon bottom.”

Read the complete article

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Hot Spring Fishing at Lake Powell

lake powell striped bassFishing is very good at Lake Powell right now and action is expected to get better and better as the weather warms. Striped bass fishing should be excellent on the lower lake through late May. Smallmouth and largemouth fishing will be excellent in April, May and June.

The reports have been so good, I decided I had to get down there and check it out for myself. We fished at Wahweap on April 21, when it was cold, windy and rainy, and caught a boatload of nice stripers. In three hours of fishing, six of us caught 45 fish like those you see in the photo, ranging in weight from about 4-6 pounds.

We could have stayed and caught more stripers but decided to head up to the Gunsight area and try for largemouth bass and walleye. The bass were hunkering down, waiting out the stormy weather, and so that action was slow. We managed to catch only two largemouth, one walleye and another striper before cold rain drove us from the water.

At Powell it is important to understand how fish respond to seasonal changes so you can key on productive spots. We had help in that regard because we were fishing with Wayne Gustaveson, the Utah Division of Wildlife Life Resources biologist in charge of the Lake Powell fishery, and with Ron Colby, a tournament bass fisherman who lives in Page, AZ. Their expertise certainly put us onto more fish than we would have found on our own, but action will be so good during the next several weeks that most anglers will be able to find productive spots.

During spring, incredible numbers of striped bass migrate to the top and bottom of Lake Powell, propelled by the urge to spawn in moving water. They stage out from the lake’s major tributaries (the Colorado and San Juan rivers), and also in front of the dam (where water flows through the outlets).

Stripers are predators and forage on small shad. This year, shad are abundant on the upper lake but scarce down near the dam. As a result, fish staging near the inlets are big, fat and lazy while those on the lower lake are a little thinner and are hungry. At the top of the lake you will probably catch fewer but bigger fish. At the dam and you can catch fish all day long.

We found great action working the canyon walls, as close to the dam as we could get. We positioned our boats about 40 feet (easy casting distance) out from the cliff and then cast anchovies up against the wall. We were using half an anchovy on a leadhead jig (1/8 oz), so the bait sank at a medium rate, arching downward until it was directly under the boat. Often a striper would pick up the anchovy as it sank.

Lake Powell damA barricade prevents boats from approaching the dam. You can usually find good fishing at the point where the barricade touches the cliff on the west side of the lake (shown in the photo). Other spots along the canyon walls are also good.

Stripers are nomadic, constantly moving, using the canyon walls as pathways. A school would move through and everyone would get bites. We often had 2-3 fish on simultaneously. Then the fish would move on and action would slow until another school moved in.

Fishermen have learned to key on these spots. During spring you will almost always find boats fishing the “corner” where the barricade touches the canyon wall. The first boat to reach that spot in the morning often enjoys a couple hours of exceptional fishing, but other spots along the walls can be just as productive.

Buoys are used to mark the main channel distance from the dam; there is often very good fishing along the cliff adjacent to Buoy #1. The first couple points on the north wall inside Antelope Canyon also offer good springtime action, along with the main channel cliff under the power plant intake, located between Antelope and Navajo canyons.

I’m just highlighting a few of the better spots. Stripers move along the walls all through that area and so there are plenty of places to fish, and plenty of fish to be caught.

Striped bass from Lake PowellThe stripers were not yet in spawning mode when I was there—we caught fish that had wintered in the area. More fish will migrate into spawning areas as the lake’s water temperature rises in April. The action should get better and better during the next few weeks.

Spring brings runoff that muddies the water on the upper lake. Sometimes muddy water will extend for several miles below the mouths of the Colorado and San Juan rivers. A large number of stripers can usually be found right at the edge of the mud lines (where muddy water gives way to clear lake water). It can be productive jigging for them with anchovies and they may also hit shad-imitating lures trolled or reeled through the schools.

Largemouth bass fishing should pick up lake-wide now and should be good whenever the weather is warm and stable. Smallmouth become active a couple weeks after the largemouth. There are incredible numbers of smallmouth in the reservoir and they will provide exceptional action on mild spring days.

Look for largemouth and walleye in tumbleweed tangles at the backs of canyons and coves. You’ll find smallmouth anywhere broken rock comes down into the water.

Both largemouth and smallmouth spawn in shallow water where gravel or cobblestones cover the bottom. If you look carefully you may be able to see them nesting.

Striped bass reproduce so well, they are overpopulated at the lake and there is no limit on the number an angler can harvest. Wayne insisted we keep every striper we caught. Anglers are effectively helping to reduce the striper population and create a healthy balance at the lake. The fish make tasty table fare.

Smallmouth are so common in Powell, biologists encourage anglers to keep a few. There is a 20-fish smallmouth limit. The largemouth limit is 5 fish.

Crappie and bluegill also provide good fishing at Powell during the spring. If you work the rocky structure or weeds near the back of a canyon on a fair day in late April, you can expect to catch bluegill, crappie, smallmouth, largemouth, walleye and stripers. Action can be good for any or all of those species.

Most of Lake Powell is located in Utah but the dam and parts of the lower lake are in Arizona. People over 14 years of age need a license from the respective state where they are fishing. Anglers licensed in Utah or Arizona can purchase a $3 reciprocal permit allowing them to fish the entire lake.

Wayne updates a website that includes excellent, timely reports on fishing at Powell. Study it, if you want to learn to fish the lake: www.wayneswords.com.

I fished with friends who do an outdoors program on KSL radio on Saturday mornings from 6-8 am. They will feature the trip on their show this Saturday (March 25), playing excerpts from interviews with Wayne and Ron. KSL broadcasts on AM 1160 and FM 102.7.

By Dave Webb
davewebb@utah.com

Monday, March 20, 2006

Easter In The Desert

Spring break and Easter vacations bring thousands of people to the red rock deserts of southern Utah. Most come from the Salt Lake or Las Vegas areas, but specialized activities bring in people from all around the world. Travelers need to be aware that lodging may be hard to find in Moab and St George over Easter weekend.

This newspaper article has detailed information.

The Moab Jeep Safari, an incredibly popular event, will be held April 8-16 and area hotels are already booked solid. Developed campgrounds are also filling up, and there are new regulations limiting backcountry camping in some areas around Moab.

St George is also very busy over the Easter weekend, with an art festival in St. George, a car show at Hurricane High School and a Peter Breinholt concert at Tuacahn Amphitheater.

And golf, of course, draws many people to St George during March and April.

Most southern Utah state parks that offer camping will be filled to near capacity – make reservations now if you want a campsite.

Several places are good bets for people who want to get away from the crowds. Capitol Reef will be beautiful, with blossoms starting on the trees in the old pioneer orchards, and ideal conditions for hiking the park’s trails.

Lake Powell is also an attractive destination. Fishing will be very good and camping conditions are excellent. The lake’s water is still cool and so the skiers/jet skiers won’t be there yet. April is a great time to tour Lake Powell, but automobile or boat, and to hike in the Glen Canyon area.

In northern Utah, snow skiing conditions are still very good and the resorts are not crowded.

Friday, March 17, 2006

Snow Ski Across Open Water

During spring, skiers get a bit crazy at Utah’s resorts. One of our most popular zany events will take place on April 1 at The Canyons, when skiers and snowboarders come down a steep hill and then attempt to cross a 100 foot pond of open water. Contestants must dress in costume (the crazier the better) and they are judged on a variety of factors including "Costume," "Air," "Distance," "Style" and "Crowd Appeal."

This will be The Canyon’s 9th annual Pond Skimming Contest & Reggae Fest. It’s the resort’s our most popular party and is a true indicator that spring has arrived. The public is invited to participate, and to follow up the fun on the slopes with an awards ceremony and live reggae music in The Canyons Resort Village.

More details

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Should Cedar Breaks Be A National Park?

Some folks in southern Utah would like to expand the land included within Cedar Breaks National Monument, and they may push to turn it into a national park.

Cedar Breaks includes a huge natural amphitheater that has been eroded out of the variegated Pink Cliffs high in the mountains above Cedar City.

Paul Roelandt, superintendent at Cedar Breaks, meet yesterday with local officials to answer their questions and describe options and the feasibility of expanding the national monument.

“The idea being discussed is that Ashdown Gorge Wilderness and Flanagan's Arch could become a part of Cedar Breaks and the entire area could become a national park,” The Spectrum newspaper reported. Here’s the full article.

The Salt Lake Tribune had this report in today's paper.

Monday, March 13, 2006

Cedar City Cowboy Gathering

The Annual Cedar City Cowboy Gathering will be March 16-19, in Cedar City. The Gathering celebrates the tradition and culture of the American West and the important contributions made to our heritage by the American Cowboy.

Held on the campus of Southern Utah University, participants will enjoy mingling with cowboy poets, western musicians, cowboy artisans and vendors. An expanded working display area will feature interactive demonstrations depicting the life and culture of the great American Cowboy.

The Cedar City-Brian Head Tourism & Convention Bureau sponsors the event.

Location: Southern Utah University, 351 W. University Blvd., Cedar City

For more info: 1-800-354-4849
Email: info@scenicsouthernutah.com

Friday, March 10, 2006

Dutch Oven World Championship Cook-Off

The International Dutch Oven Society will hold its World Championship Cook-Off this weekend, March 16-19, as part of the International Sportsmen’s Expo at the South Towne Exposition Center in Sandy. The cook-off provides a great opportunity for enthusiasts to watch expert cooks at work, learn new techniques and discover new recipes.

The Dutch Oven Society was founded by Dick Michaud of Logan, Utah, and now has chapters scattered around the U.S., mostly in Western states, plus one in New York and one in Florida. The society holds cook-offs and gatherings around the country. To participate in the World Championships, cooks have to qualify by winning an IDOS-sanctioned local event or be nominated by a local chapter. Top cooks from around the country will be here to participate.

Cook-off semi-finals will be held on March 17-18, with the finals scheduled for March 18.

The Society will hold its Spring Convention April 7-8 at the Davis County Fair Park (151 S 1100 W, Farmington). The Convention is open to the public and will include exhibits and demonstrations. There will, of course, be plenty of tasty Dutch oven fare to be sampled.

Over the years, the IDOS has participated in assembling several cookbooks, some of which are given as incentives when people make small donations to the Society. In addition, the IDOS Website (www.idos.org) features many proven recipes, along forums where members share tips and info.

The International Sportsmen’s Expo is a major consumer show offering displays and workshops on all kinds of topics related to outdoor recreation—everything from fly casting instruction to duck calls and ski motors. It is a great place to learn about the latest gear and, in some cases, try it before you buy it.

The Expo is also a great place to connect with guides/outfitters and to learn about lodges, services and special trips. Exhibitors include some of the top names from around the Western U.S.

Thursday, March 09, 2006

Big Snow And Steve Young Ski Classic

A wet storm dumped massive amounts of snow on Utah Thursday, causing a few temporary traffic delays. Road crews worked throughout the day and, at this writing, no major travel problems were reported or anticipated.

All northern Utah ski resorts received substantial amounts of new snow. Showers are expected to linger through the weekend and resorts will offer great powder conditions. With the snowpack growing deeper every day, resorts are expected to offer great spring skiing this year and many will extend their seasons.

Snowbird, with a base of 127 inches and more coming down, expects to offer skiing through May 29. The resort will be open daily through May 14 and then will cut back to a weekends-only schedule.

On a side note, Snowbird will host the Steve Young Ski Classic on March 11. Steve, a former San Francisco quarterback, will bring an impressive group of NFL players and Olympians to the resort as part of a fundraiser to benefit the Wasatch Adaptive Sports program, which is one of the premier ski and summer programs for children and adults with special needs.

As part of the classic, NFL players and Olympians will ski in a fun race against Wasatch Adaptive Sports participants in a dual giant slalom format on Snowbird’s Gad Valley Race Hill beginning at 10 a.m. There is no fee to watch this event, accessed from Snowbird’s Entry 1 or 2.

There will also be an awards ceremony and dinner. Live and silent auctions will offer international vacations, ski packages and more.

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument Open House

The public is invited to attend an open house at the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument Kanab Visitor Center on Tuesday, March 14th; or at the Escalante Interagency Visitor Center in Escalante on Wednesday, March 15th, to say farewell to Dave Hunsaker, Monument Manager, and his wife, Joyce.

Dave has accepted a position in Washington, D.C. as the Deputy Director of the Bureau of Land Management’s National Landscape Conservation System.

Both Open Houses will run from 4 pm to 6 pm. Dress is casual.

For more information, call 435-644-4300.

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Delta Offers More Flights From SLC

Beginning this week, Delta Air Lines will offer direct flights from Salt Lake City to Long Beach, CA, and Mazatlan, Mexico.

In June, the airline will begin offering direct flights to Bellingham, Washington, Des Moines, Iowa, Fargo, North Dakota, Sioux Falls, South Dakota, Toronto, Ontario and Victora, British Columbia.

Delta has struggled financially in recent years, but its Salt Lake hub has been a business bright spot. "In fact, just since October, Delta's added or announced service to 21 new destinations out of Salt Lake City," said spokesman Bob Cortelyou.

More information.

Friday, March 03, 2006

Wildlife Viewing Opportunity Features Tundra Swans

Pure white tundra swans are making their annual spring migration through Utah right now and Utah’s Division of Wildlife Resources is hosting two events to help the public view these magnificent birds.

On Saturday, March 4, Tundra Swan Day activities will be held at the Farmington Bay Waterfowl Management Area (WMA) west of Centerville, just north of Salt Lake City.

The following Saturday, March 11, Tundra Swan Day activities will be held at the Salt Creek WMA west of Corinne, northeast of Brigham City.

DWR biologists and volunteer naturalists will be on hand at both locations from 9 am to 3 pm with spotting scopes and parabolic dishes to help people both see and listen to swans. Admission is free.

Naturalists will also conduct "behind the gates" van tours at Farmington Bay for anyone who would like to visit parts of the WMA that are normally closed this time of the year. The van tours are free.

More information.

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Utah Resorts Support Ski for Nature

Partnering with The Nature Conservancy, some Utah ski resorts will support “Ski for Nature” events to help conservation efforts in Utah.

The public can participate by simply hitting the slopes at Deer Valley, Park City, or Wolf Mountain on March 4th, and Alta and Snowbird resorts on March 12th. The resorts will donate a portion from each lift ticket sold on those days to The Nature Conservancy.

The Nature Conservancy has been successful in enhancing a wide range of local habitats, from desert ecosystems of the Canyonlands area and riparian areas in the Colorado River Corridor, to the critical Great Salt Lake wetlands.

The Conservancy is effective because it uses a cooperative win-win approach to partner with local entities and landowners.

See the Nature Conservancy’s website for more about the Ski For Nature event.
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