Utah Travel Headlines Blog

Friday, March 30, 2007

Miller Motorsports Park 2007 Season Starts This Weekend

The internationally-renowned Miller Motorsports road racing facility will open its second racing season this weekend with a little something for everyone.

Rubber Magazine has this report on the facility’s second season, including the snippets below.

"The weekend will include the first event of the season for the Honda Presents the Plaza Cycle Masters of the Mountains Series, a seven-race series developed by Miller Motorsports Park, run by the Utah Sportbike Association (USBA) and sanctioned by the American Motorcyclist Association (AMA) to encourage and develop fun and competitive road racing at the club and regional levels."

"Miller Motorsports Park is a state-of-the-art, multi-configurational road racing circuit located in Tooele, Utah, just 25 minutes from Salt Lake City. The 500-acre facility, which earned the prestigious "2006 Motorsports Facility of the Year" award from the Professional Motorsports World Expo, includes the 4.5-mile main circuit as well as a 0.9-mile karting circuit. Miller Motorsports Park is also home to the Ford Racing Performance Training Center; Freddie Spencer's High-Performance Riding School; the Race Fanzz retail store; the Larry H. Miller Auto Museum; and a 22,000-sq.ft. Clubhouse which offers a variety of membership packages for motorsports enthusiasts."

For more information, visit the track's website at www.millermotorsportspark.com.

Read the entire Rubber Magazine article.

Thursday, March 29, 2007

LDS Conference Will Bring Crowds to Downtown Salt Lake City

Thousands of extra people will be in downtown Salt Lake City this weekend, participating in the semi-annual General Conference of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormons).

Events will be held both Saturday and Sunday, on historic Temple Square and in the adjacent Conference Center.

Here’s more information about the conference.

The Salt Lake area bus and light rail mass transit systems will be fully operational both days to help move people in and out of the downtown area. Get info here.

Automobile traffic will be heavy at times in the downtown area. You can get current traffic reports here.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Closing Dates for Ski Resorts

Today's storm is dropping new snow at our ski resorts, ensuring good spring conditions right up until the resorts close for the season.

With snow still coming down, Brian Head reports 10 inches new. Alta, Snowbird and Solitude are reporting 8 new.

Most resorts will offer skiing until mid-April. Snowbird usually stays open the longest and it has yet to announce a closing date. Ski Utah provided the closing dates shown below.

Alta - April 15, then open April 20-22
Beaver Mountain - Closed
Brian Head Resort - April 15
Brighton Resort - April 15
The Canyons Resort - April 15
Deer Valley Resort - April 15
Park City Mountain Resort - April 15
Powder Mountain - tbd
Snowbasin - April 8
Snowbird Ski & Summer Resort - tbd
Solitude Mountain Resort - April 15
Sundance Resort - Closed
Wolf Mountain - Closed

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Spring Snow and Brown Trout

East Fork brown troutWith spring sunshine enticing me, I decided to trek into Bryce Canyon country last weekend for a little hiking and fishing. It was a great trip – the trout cooperated and the weather was perfect for hiking.

I elected to camp, to maximize time in the area where I wanted to play. I’ve camped there many times and it is always enjoyable. On this trip the weather felt very much like June: warm during the day, cool at night, with a little rain and snow mixed in. It was never cold, not even when it was snowing. Bryce is located at a high elevation and it can snow on any day of the year. I’ve camped there on many a June night when it was colder.

The East Fork of the Sevier River heads above Bryce Canyon and flows north, past the tiny town of Antimony. The stream usually offers good fishing for wild brown trout. Small flies and lures enticed them to bite and I caught a bunch. The stream was picking up some runoff from rain and snowmelt and so it was a little high and muddy, but fishing was still good. Action there will get better as spring progresses.

Antimony CreekWe hiked up Antimony Creek, which flows through a rugged canyon off the west site of Boulder Mountain, and caught rainbows and brook trout in its pristine holes. It is a beautiful stream that almost always offers good fishing. The trout are small, most running 8-12 inches, but they are abundant and fun to catch.

Utah has enjoyed a series of beautiful spring days, until today. The weather has been perfect, in my opinion. A big storm is blowing through right now and it will bring rain and snow overnight, but then skies will clear and it looks like the coming weekend will be perfect again.

The storm could bring our ski resorts 1-3 feet of new snow. Skiers are enthralled by this happy extension to their season.

Me, I’m hunkered down waiting for sunshine. In a couple days I’ll head back down into the red rock. This is an ideal time to explore that country.

- Dave Webb

Monday, March 26, 2007

Winter Storm Watch for Northern Utah

A big storm is expected to bring rain and then snow to much of Utah early this week. The northern part of the state will be hit hard. A winter storm watch is in effect for northern Utah from Tuesday afternoon through Wednesday morning. Considerable snow may accumulate, even in valley locations.

An advanced front is expected to cross Utah Monday evening, producing some rain. Rain may continue off and on Tuesday. Showers will change to snow sometime Tuesday or Tuesday night, and become heavy overnight.

The probability of snowfall is nearly 100% in many areas.

Utah ski resorts will certainly pick up new snow, and that will extend the spring ski season.

Sunshine and spring conditions will return later in the week. Early forecasts suggest the coming weekend will be dry, warm and beautiful.

Check the forecast for areas you may want to visit.

Friday, March 23, 2007

Sand Hollow - Popular Park Is Beating Expectations

Sand Hollow State Park, one of Utah’s newest parks, in rapidly becoming one of its most popular. The park includes a reservoir for boating and fishing, sand dunes where people can ride ATvs, and a very nice campground.

The Deseret Morning News has this new article featuring the state park.

"We're seven years ahead of projections," said Laura Melling, park manager. "We are now among the top three parks in annual visitation. But we have an advantage. We have boating in the summer, OHV riding in the winter and both boats and OHVs in the spring and fall. There's never a quiet moment."

"We get a lot of visitors from Las Vegas, California and Salt Lake, and from the Rocky Mountain area. But we also get a lot of people from out of the country. One man, from France, brought his own OHVs. He wanted to ride his own machines."

Read the entire article.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Enjoy Utah's High Mountain Views From Your Car

You can see a lot of spectacular mountain scenery from paved and unpaved roads in Utah. Our high country will start to open up during the next few weeks, so now is the time to plan such road trips.

The Deseret Morning News has this new article describing our highest roads.

"The Mirror Lake Highway - state Route 150 - is the Beehive State's highest paved road. Topping out at 10,715 feet above seal level at Bald Mountain Pass, this scenic byway is well worth the drive and is Utah's premier high-altitude wilderness drive."

The article lists our 10 highest paved roads, and also discusses our highest unpaved roads.

Read the complete article.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Denver Post: Powder Mtn Ski Area Is a Secret Gem

This interesting article in the Denver Post newspaper has nothing but good to say about Utah's Powder Mountain ski resort.

"Never heard of it? Well, get ready. The buzz in Utah - and the fear of the mountain's loyalists - is that this 5,500-acre powder wonderland, happily huddled in the shadow of 2002 Olympic venue Snowbasin, will soon rightfully be crowned as Utah's fluffiest jewel."

"The aptly named hill, a short drive from a village named Eden, is not just the largest, softest hill on Utah's trophy shelf of ski areas. It's one of the most affordable, with $50 lift tickets and $70 slopeside hotel rooms. It's definitely one of the snowiest, with more than 500 inches last year."

Read the entire article.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Try Pond Skimming at The Canyons on Saturday

The annual Pond Skimming Contest at The Canyons ski resort will be held Saturday, March 24. Here’s what official line:

"It's one of those traditions that has been wild from the start. The Pond Skimming Contest is The Canyons’ most popular party and is the true indicator that spring has arrived. Contestants must dress in costume (the funkier the better) as they attempt to cross a 100-foot pond on skis or a snowboard. The pond and the excitement happen at mid-mountain just outside Red Pine Lodge."

Read all the details.

Monday, March 19, 2007

Utah Destinations for Spring Break Travel

Easter and spring break are just around the corner and the Salt Lake Tribune newspaper has a good article providing information about popular Utah destinations.

Utah Destinations With Spring Break On The Mind gives details about perennial spring hotspots like St George, Moab and Little Sahara.

"While the crowd of high schoolers that converges on Utah's Dixie and St. George Boulevard over Easter weekends has shrunk in recent years (largely due to strict law enforcement), many kids and families still come to St. George for Easter. In addition to the street party, there are plenty of activities for adults and families, including golf, mountain biking, hiking, boating and fishing, as well as gambling in nearby Mesquite, Nev. As in Moab, the big problem may be finding a room anywhere near St. George."

The article also suggests destinations for people wanting to get away from the crowds, including our ski areas, the San Rafael Swell, Vernal, Price, Lake Powell and The Knolls sand dune/ATV area east of Wendover.

"While the ski season winds down by the middle of April, snow is still decent, and most of the state's resorts stay open through at least Easter weekend. Many outdoor enthusiasts are hunting for sunshine and warm weather, so the slopes tend to be less crowded over break."

Read the entire article.

Friday, March 16, 2007

Easy Hike to View Mysterious Rochester Rock Art

Rochester Rock ArtI'm fascinated by rock art created by ancient Native American cultures. I seek it out as I travel. Finding and viewing rock art has become an enjoyable hobby.

Yesterday afternoon I made a special trip just to visit and photograph the Rochester Creek rock art site, and a smaller site a few miles away. It was a great outing, very enjoyable. The images are spectacular and I'm glad I have them in my collection.

Virtually every inch of one huge rock face is covered with strange figures: humanoids, monsters, gods, animals - who knows what the artists intended for the figures to represent. An arch or rainbow decorates the main panel. Or is more than mere decoration? Perhaps it is there to shelter and protect the humanoids, which are surrounded by dragons and wolves and snakes.

Rochester Rock ArtOur weather has been gorgeous the past couple weeks and I've had a hard time staying in the office. On Wednesday, while fidgeting at my desk, I hatched an escape plan. I had a buddy call and invite me to go on a rock art hunting excursion on the edge of the San Rafael Swell, south of Price. The ploy worked – my boss approved and so I grabbed my camera and disappeared into the desert.

I met my friend in Castle Dale, visited for a few minutes and then headed for Rochester Creek.

The panel is located on top of a ridge overlooking the junction of Rochester and Muddy creeks, near the town of Emery, 50 miles south of Price. It is easy to find. From Emery drive north on Hwy 10 for about 3.5 miles, to the signed, paved road that heads east to Moore. Turn east onto that road and follow it for about .5 miles to a gravel road that leads to the trailhead. The gravel road is signed and easy to find. Follow the gravel road for about 4 miles to the trailhead parking area.

A well-defined trail leads down the canyon and then along a ridge to the panel. You've got to hike about 1 mile (round trip) to see the art.

Rochester Rock ArtThe panels contain images that have been carved by a variety of cultures, over centuries, but the dominant figures are attributed to the Fremont people.

A few miles east along the Moore Cutoff road you can see more figures, on boulders along the north side of the road where it cuts through the Molen Reef. The Moore Cutoff becomes gravel at an intersection in the community of Moore. From that intersection follow the Cutoff road east for about 4 miles until it cuts through the Reef. On the east side of the Reef you will find an obvious parking area. From that parking area you can see the main rock art panel.

Inspect other boulders in that area and you'll find more rock art figures. Two rocks have very prominent snake figures.

You need to linger for a few minutes at rock art sites, soaking in the scenery. I find that I see more and more detail, the longer I sit quietly and gaze at the images. Rock art isn't something you can grasp in a hurry.

It’s worth seeking. The Rochester site is certainly worth two hours, if you are driving Hwy 10.

Here's more info on rock art.

- Dave Webb

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Warm Weather Brings On Good Spring Fishing

Utah’s weather has been so nice, spring changes are coming on a couple weeks earlier than normal. The ice is already off several of our reservoirs and fishing success is now picking up. The next few weeks will bring excellent fishing at some of our most popular waters.

Lake Powell’s water is starting to warm and so the smallmouth, largemouth and striped bass are becoming active. Fishing for those species should be very good by the end of March, and the hot action will continue through May.

Walleye are now biting at Willard Bay and Utah Lake, and that action will also improve during the next few weeks.

See our fishing report for more details.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Utah's Epic Ride - NY Times Features The Ski Utah Interconnect

"Spring is the best season for backcountry excursions like the Ski Utah Interconnect Adventure Tour, which runs daily through early April."

That from a NY Times Travel article on the Interconnect, the backcountry route that connects six Utah ski resorts.

"In a single day, Interconnect skiers travel about 25 miles through the mountains, carving more than 15,000 vertical feet of turns on the slopes and adjacent backcountry at Deer Valley, Park City Mountain Resort, Brighton Resort, Solitude Mountain Resort, Alta Ski Area and Snowbird Ski and Summer Resort."

"Indeed, at no other place in the Western Hemisphere can you find a similar concentration of ski resorts. All six areas — plus the Canyons Resort, a nearby 3,700-acre behemoth touted as the biggest ski area in the state — have property lines that fall within a 10-mile radius. The Wasatch resorts are so close and tidy — glades, bowls and fluted ski runs from one area nearly abutting the next — that airline passengers flying overhead might mistake the whole network as a gigantic unified ski resort. (A Wasatch megaresort that connects up to seven existing ski areas via cable cars, chairlifts and tunnels is a decades-old conversation in local ski-business circles — a project that, if completed, could create the largest ski resort on the planet.)"

Read the entire article.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Warm Weather Has Golf Courses Opening Early

Incredibly nice weather has golfers flocking to courses all around Utah.

St George is our famous spring golf spot, with a multitude of excellent courses. March and April are always prime months to golf there. This newspaper article tells what conditions are like right now in St George.

Warm weather has allowed Salt Lake-area courses to open early. The grass has greened up and conditions are very pleasant. Many courses around Utah are either open or preparing to open shortly.

Snow is bound to dust northern Utah one or two more times before the season plays out, but I doubt we will get any more harsh winter storms.

Skiing is still good at our resorts. It is still worth coming to ski.

But you may as well bring your golf clubs.

- Dave Webb

Monday, March 12, 2007

Explore Roads Less Traveled In Western Utah

"There's more to see than you might suspect along the less-traveled highways of western Utah and eastern Nevada."

So says Tom Wharton in this Salt Lake Tribune article. He takes the long way home and describes traveling through remote sections of the Great Basin.

“If "nothing" is defined as going miles between towns or viewing wide-open spaces of high desert, with mountains on the distant horizon of basin-and-range country, then the route would fit the bill.

But if you drive through Joshua Tree Forest on the Arizona-Utah border, explore Gunlock Reservoir, stop in at the Buck Stop Grill in Enterprise for a malt and a burger or catch 13,081-foot-high Wheeler Peak from a distance, there is much to see along the way.

Read the entire article.

Friday, March 09, 2007

Day Tripping to Utah Ski Resorts

The Wave Magazine, out of Silicon Valley, has an interesting article that discusses the options of flying to Utah, skiing all day, then flying home.

Why would you want to do that? Here’s part of the rational:
"If one was so inclined, one could wake up at 5:30 am on any weekday, fly to Salt Lake City, Utah in your ski clothes (and I use the term “ski” to include “ski and snowboarding”), take a shuttle to the mountain, ski all day, and fly back in less time than it would take to drive to Tahoe or Big Bear and back."

More reasons:
"Saving time, the novelty of going to Utah for the day, and the quality of snow are all probable factors. Utahans claim to have “The Greatest Snow on Earth” – a bold statement, yes, but it pans out once you factor in the science. Because Utah is the second driest state in the nation (behind Nevada), when Pacific storms pass over the Great Salt Lake, they absorb the moisture in the air like a sponge. Then, as these wet storms hit the Wasatch mountain range, they’re forced upward, where their temperature drops significantly. Higher altitudes and lower temperatures, combined with an especially dry region, produce that fluffy “powdery” snow that skiers won’t shut up about."

Read the entire article.

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Houston Chronicle Pushes Utah's Late-Season Skiing

"There's still time, and more snow than ever, to work in a few runs down a mountainside."

That’s what Chronicle writer Doug Pike says in this article about Utah skiing. He calls Park City a hotspot that is attracting more and more Texans.

"One of Utah's biggest selling points is convenience, the relatively short distance between Salt Lake City's international airport and several world-class resorts. Within one hour of the arrival gates, there are more than 25,000 skiable acres that on average get more than 600 inches of snowfall annually. That's more snow in a year than southeast Texas has recorded in its written history."

Read the entire article.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Moab's Easter Jeep Safari

Moab's annual Easter Jeep Safari is scheduled for March 31-April 8. It is a big event that draws thousand of participants and spectators. During that time period campgrounds will be crowded and many motels will be booked solid. The town will be lively, even late into the night. If you want to be there, book immediately.

The Safari consists of trail rides, mostly day-long trips, departing from Moab throughout the week. The official event is hosted by the Red Rock 4-Wheelers Inc, the local four-wheel drive club. Participants provide their own four-wheel drive vehicle, food and supplies.

The club officially runs approximately 9 different trails every day, with "Big Saturday" culminating in the largest ever single trail ride departure happening - around 30 groups line up in downtown Moab to head off in every direction for 30 different trails! Pre-registration for this event is recommended, although limited registration at the event may be possible.

After the Jeep Safari things will settle down a bit - it will again be possible to find a motel room - but the opportunity for outdoor adventure will continue to increase. River trips will begin in earnest in May. Late May and early June usually bring high river flows, creating the most exciting whitewater trips through Cataract and other legendary canyons. Right now is the time to book river trips.

Monday, March 05, 2007

Powderrific

While many were bemoaning the recent barrage of snowstorms that swept through Utah, I for one was celebrating. But then, a person’s perspective is often skewed by a new hobby. Mine is snowboarding.

So last Thursday my buddy Ken and I took to the slopes in Park City at The Canyons resort, which touts itself as the largest ski and snowboard resort in Utah. I believe it, and the snow was fantastic. There was fresh powder everywhere, and on some runs the new snow was over a foot deep. Add to that the fact that lines were minimal at most lifts, and we ended up with an absolutely perfect day.

Now, this powder business was new territory for me, because as a skier I generally avoided it. My few attempts at skiing powder were painful and tiring, so I always stayed with the groomed runs (I’m sure those who know what they’re doing enjoy it tremendously). But on a snowboard, it was a whole new experience.

Even at my novice skill level, the board floated on the powder like I was riding on air. It was effortless. We found ourselves boarding at the edges of many runs where the powder was undisturbed. And for those of us who still fall regularly, it was like landing on a pillow. Only a little colder.

We explored a lot of different runs, mostly off of the Saddleback and Tombstone lifts, and stopped just long enough to eat a quick lunch and figure out where we were (it's a good idea to take a map with you at The Canyons, because the place is huge). We hit our favorite runs off Saddleback three or four times at the end to maximize our snowboarding time, and finished with a trip up Golden Eagle to take Doc's Run back down.

I never before understood why people were so anxious to get out after a good storm to catch the powder. Now I’m hooked.

- Russ A.

Rock Art In Utah's Babylon

I stumbled across a fascinating petroglyph panel over the weekend while exploring the Babylon Road in southern Utah. The rock art images, most apparently made by ancient Native Americans, include figures I have not seen on other panels.

I love rock art and I seek it out - I’ve seen a lot of rock art panels. This panel has obviously been vandalized. The rock has developed a rich, dark patina, and the old images also show this patina. Some inscriptions do not have the patina and so I assume they were made more recently. Some old figures have apparently been traced over – you can see white, chalky marks over old patina. Sad.

Click on my photo to see a bigger version, with more detail. Is that a Spanish cross? And it looks like there is a map showing a lake, with inlet and outlet streams.

And how about those figures on the upper right? Are they ducks? Or pregnant humanoids?

The panel is located in a narrow gap at the lower end of the Babylon Trail, just above the spot where Grapevine Wash crosses the Babylon Road. The area is south of the town of Leeds, about 17 miles east of St George. Access to the rugged dirt road is from the I-15 frontage road on the east side of Leeds.

Much of the area is included in the Red Cliffs Desert Reserve, and is managed as critical habitat for desert tortoise. It is a scenic area offering great recreational opportunities.

This article describes the history of the area and how it earned the name “Babylon.”

- Dave

Friday, March 02, 2007

Good Spring Boating in Utah's Dixie

"Tired of the bone-chilling winter weather? Anxious for some boating, camping or fishing? Let three parks in Utah's Dixie fill you with . . . Southern comfort"

That’s how the Salt Lake Tribune introduces an article by Tom Wharton about boating reservoirs near St George.

Quail Lake, Sand Hollow and Gunlock are ice-free year-round, and begin to warm up early in the spring.

"When the sun comes out and temperatures get over 70 degrees, people think about boating," said Kurt Yates, assistant park manager at Sand Hollow and Gunlock. "We saw that the other day. Everybody brings their boats out and takes them for a dry run. . ."

Read the entire article.

Thursday, March 01, 2007

Forbes.com Calls Salt Lake One Of The Best Places To Live And Work

Salt Lake City ranks number 6 in a www.forbes.com list of the top cities for jobs. Last year SLC was #12 in the survey. Here’s this year’s summary:

"Salt Lake City benefits from a high quality of life, high incomes and a well-educated workforce. It has a small technology sector. It's also emerging as a logistics and distribution center for the whole Rocky Mountain west. 'It doesn't have the sexy industries that drive other economies, but there is enough there that Salt Lake is doing quite well.'"

To compile the rankings, they used five data points, weighted equally: Unemployment rate, job growth, income growth, median household income, and cost of living. They measured the largest 100 metropolitan areas.

Read the entire article.

Here’s the top 10 from the list:
1 - Raleigh-Cary, NC
2 - Phoenix-Mesa-Scottsdale, AZ
3 - Jacksonville, FL
4 - Orlando-Kissimmee, FL
5 - Washington-Arlington-Alexandria, DC-VA-MD-WV
6 - Salt Lake City, UT
7 - Honolulu, HI
8 - Las Vegas-Paradise, NV
9 - Fort Lauderdale-Pompano Beach-Deerfield Beach, FL
10 - Virginia Beach-Norfolk-Newport News, VA-NC
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