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Utah Travel Headlines Blog

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Brian Head Resort Adds Ski Interconnect

Brian Head is buys installing new interconnect lifts and a ski trail system that will join its two mountains (Navajo and Giant Steps). Beginning this season, skiers and snowboarders of all abilities will be able to enjoy both mountains by skiing/riding instead of driving between the peaks.

The interconnect system consists of two new lifts and a ski-over bridge. Chair Lift #1 will cross over State Highway 143 to Navajo Mountain, replacing the historic Chair Lift #1 that was removed from service in 1993. A new second chair lift, Lift #8, will start near the bottom of the new Lift #1, and will transport skiers to mid-mountain of Giant Steps. Skiers will be able to cross over Highway 143 via the skier bridge under Chair Lift #1.

The interconnect system will expand the resort’s existing trail capacity by nearly 35% and will allow skiers and snowboarders to circulate freely between Navajo and Giant Steps Mountains. The system will also dramatically increase accessibility by creating expanded lift access to the entire resort.

The interconnect project, including expanded snowmaking on many of the new runs, is on schedule to be completed by the start of the 2007/2008 ski season.

The Brian Head website has more details.

This article describes the upgrades.

Monday, July 30, 2007

Utah Offers New Road Map - Free

The State of Utah has come out with a new, official highway map that features vivid photos and emphasizes the theme, "Utah - Life Elevated."

This newspaper article describes the map. Here are excerpts:

Howie Garber's photograph of a backcountry skier in the Wasatch Mountains adorns one cover of the fold-out highway map, developed by the Utah Department of Transportation with assistance from the Office of Tourism. The other cover highlights the state's desert landscape, using James Kay's photo of a hiker in a slot canyon along the Dirty Devil River.

Eight other scenic pictures of the state are incorporated into the map, one for each of the five national parks in Utah plus shots of sailing on the Great Salt Lake, an Anasazi granary in Canyonlands National Park and Sundial Peak reflected in Lake Blanche above the Salt Lake Valley.

The map will be available free of charge at travel information centers and can be ordered online.

Friday, July 27, 2007

Upcoming Events of Interest

These are "events of interest" because I found them interesting. Completely subjective, I know.

Utah Shakespearean Festival continues in Cedar City through Sept 1.

Deer Valley Music Festival continues in Park City Through Aug 20.

Neil Simon Festival continues in Cedar City through Aug 11.

San Rafael Fork Art Festival runs Aug 1-11 in Castle Dale. It offers art demonstrations, cowboy poetry, mountain men, an atlatl throwing contest, music, food and more. Contact Museum of the San Rafael 435-381-5252 or 2927

Annual Native American Association Festival/Contest Pow Wow will be Aug 17-19 in West Valley City. It features arts, crafts, food, Grand Entry, dancing, drumming, and mini-workshops. Location: Granger Park,3500 South 3600 West, West Valley City. More info: 801-955-1089

Sundance Resort's Photographic Workshop. will run Aug 23-27. " With only 15 students or less per class, the curriculum will cover a variety of photographic genre, including landscape, wildlife, studio portraiture, travel, and sports, and vary by season."

The Park City Marathon and the Bryce Canyon Rim Run & Walk will both be held Aug 25.

Oktoberfest will run Aug 25-Oct 7 at Snowbird.

- Dave Webb

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Book And Donation Focus On Utah Rock Art, Archaeology

A new book, Treasures of the Tavaputs, focuses on the archaeology of Desolation Canyon, Nine Mile Canyon and Range Creek, located in eastern Utah.

A nonprofit group called the Colorado Plateau Archaeological Alliance (CPAA) published the book and is donating a copy to every fourth- through seventh-grade teacher in Utah.

CPAA works with government, industry and conservation groups to develop scientifically sound strategies to protect historical sites. The book, written by Donna and Jerry Spangler and created with grants from Questar Pipeline and the Utah Division of State History, is the group's first public outreach effort.
"A lot of our citizens don't know much of what went on before the pioneers got here, but most of the human history in this state took place before the pioneers got here," said State Archaeologist Kevin Jones, who works in the antiquities section of the Utah Division of State History.
The book is one tool to help people understand our ancient history, and our stewardship in preserving these amazing sites.

This newspaper article describe the book donation.

You can order copies of the book here.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Roads, Trails Reopen as Wildfire Danger Subsides

Fires in the Zion Park National Park backcountry are essentially contained and so the park is reopening most trails that were closed. Trail closures in Dixie National Forest have also been lifted. In addition, most of the North Fork Road has reopened and the evacuation order has been lifted.

Roads and trails in Zion Canyon (the most popular part of the park) were never threatened or closed. The fire affected the backcountry area and some popular backcountry trails were closed but are now reopening. For information on specific areas in the park, talk to the people in the visitors' centers or call 435-772-3256.

Crews have also made progress battling the Salt Creek Fire along the Nebo Loop Scenic Byway east of Nephi, in central Utah. Here's the latest available info on that area:

- Hwy 132 is now open

- Big Hollow Road and Water Hollow Road remain closed.

- The Nebo Loop National Scenic Byway is closed from the intersection of the Loop Road with the Santaquin Canyon Road and south to Salt Creek Canyon. The Nebo Loop is open from Payson to the intersection with the Santaquin Canyon Road. That includes Blackhawk and Payson Lakes Campground and Maple Dell Boy Scout Camp.

Fire restrictions remain in place. No campfires are allowed on any lands in Utah outside of developed, designated campgrounds. Barbeques and charcoal are prohibited outside of campgrounds. Propane stoves are permitted. Fireworks are prohibited on federal and state land. Smoking is prohibited, except within an enclosed vehicle or building, a developed recreation site, or while stopped in an area at least thee feet in diameter that is free of all flammable materials.

Other fires in Utah are not threatening popular recreational areas or restricting travel.

Watch this website for current fire information.

Monday, July 23, 2007

Money Magazine Includes Tooele On Best Places List

When searching for best places, Money Magazine looked at many factors including employment. The magazine ranked Tooele County at the top of its list for job growth over the past six years. Here's an excerpt:

"Since its inception in 1850, Tooele had always been a mining area - but now scientific and technical fields are blossoming too. The county - one of the first in Utah - is near full employment and wages are growing at an above-average rate. Helping out is a plan by Pittsburgh-based Allegheny Technologies Inc. to build a $325 million metals plant that will employ 150 people at an average salary of $45,000."

See the entire article.

Friday, July 20, 2007

Hwy 132 and Nebo Loop Closed

A fast-moving wildfire is burning near the town of Nephi and has prompted officials to close Hwy 132 between Nephi and Fountain Green in central Utah.

The popular Nebo Loop and Payson Lakes area is also closed because of the fire. All campgrounds, backroads and trails along the Nebo Loop are closed.

Camper World Campground in the canyon east of Nephi has been destroyed by the fire.

People have been evacuated from area campgrounds and summer homes.

This news report describes the fire.

Watch this website for current info about Utah wildfires.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Zion Backcountry Closed Because of Wildfire

Update: The North Fork Road, just east of the park, has been closed. It leades to a couple results, summer homes, and trailheads.

All backcountry areas in Zion National Park have been closed because of wildfire. The information below is from a park news release:

Due to wildland fire activity in and outside of the park, Zion National Park Superintendent Jock Whitworth is closing the entire backcountry to visitors until further notice. Starting Thursday morning, July 19, no backcountry or canyoneering permits will be issued. The three fires in the Dakota Hill Fire Complex in Zion National Park are all posing threats to most of Zion’s backcountry areas and the safety of visitors. Most frontcountry hiking trails in Zion Canyon will remain open. Lava Point Campground is also closed. Visitors should check at the park visitor center or our website (www.nps.gov/zion) for more information on trail status.

Several other fires are burning in SW Utah but, at this writing, do not pose threats to major recreational areas. Some backcountry roads are closed to public access. The fires are listed below. The information comes from this news release.

1059 – Estimated at 11 acres; 35 miles S of St. George
HWY 12 – Estimated 10 acres; located at the Junction between Highway 89 and Highway 12
Radio – Estimated at 10 acres; burning to NE; 17 miles SW of St. George.
Paradise – Estimated at 50 acres; 20 miles west of Beryl
Red Hollow – Estimated at 100 acres: 5 miles NE of Motoqua
Willow - Estimated at 20 acres; 6 miles S of Minersville
Danish Ranch - Estimated at 25 acres; 5 miles NW of Leeds

This website is updated daily with current fire information.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Some Trails in Zion Park Are Closed Because of Wildfire

A lightning storm that passed through Zion National Park Sunday ignited three wildfires that are burning in close proximity in the Zion backcountry. Crews are battling the blazes. Backcountry trails are closed in that area.

The fire is not affecting Zion Canyon (the most popular area in the park) or any roads, visitors' centers or developed facilities. Most visitors to Zion Park may not even be aware that the fires are burning in the backcountry.

The Zion Narrows are closed above Orderville Gulch. Visitors are permitted to hike into the Narrows from the bottom, going as far as Orderville Gulch, but are not permitted to go father. Top-to-bottom hikes through the Narrows will not be allowed until the fire danger is past.

Orderville Gulch, a semi-technical slot canyon hike, is closed.

Also closed are the West Rim Trail (from the Lava Point Trailhead to Scout Lookout), and the East Mesa Trail (from the east trailhead to the junction with Observation Point Trail).

See this news release for more information.

This newspaper article reports on these and other fires.

This website is updated daily with current fire information

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Bryce Canyon Half-Marathon & 5K Run/Walk

The Bryce Canyon Half-Marathon and 5K Run/Walk will be held this Saturday (July 21). The course winds through scenic parts of Bryce Canyon National Park and along scenic Hwy 12.

The 1/2 Marathon starts at Ruby's Inn on Hwy 63, Bryce (elevation 7,652 ft). The course heads north, then turns east onto National Scenic Byway 12. The route descends through Bryce Canyon National Park, through the town of Tropic, and ends in Cannonville (elev. 5,800ft). $3,000 in cash prizes will be divided between the top 5 overall male and female 1/2 Marathon runners. Shuttles will be available.

The 5k Run/Walk starts at 6:30AM. in Cannonville.

Call 800-444-6689 or visit brycecanyonhalfmarathon.com for more information.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Utah Wildfires Contained, Impacted Areas Reopen

The massive wildfires that scorched parts of Utah are pretty much history now, and travel/recreation restrictions are being eased in those areas.

The Milford Flat fire, the biggest in Utah history, was declared 96% contained today and was expected to be completely contained Tuesday.

This newspaper article gives an update on all of the fires.

This website provides the most current info possible on those fires, and any which may ignite in the future.

Friday, July 13, 2007

Moab, Heber Listed With Best Outdoor Towns

A new book, 101 Best Outdoor Towns: Unspoiled Places to Visit, Live and Play, includes Moab and Heber City in its list of recommended places.

This newspaper article gives more details.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Utah Business Climate Ranks High

Today’s Economic Development Corporation of Utah newsletter says Utah received back to back accolades from two of the top business media organizations on Wednesday.

Forbes Magazine ranked Utah the No. 2 Best State for Business, up from No. 4 last year. At the same time, CNBC rated Utah the No. 3 Best State. Each report recognized Utah’s high quality of life and superior workforce available to business.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Wildfires Abate But Some Closures Remain; Kaibab Forest Closes Because of Fire Danger

Crews have made considerable progress fighting Utah wildfires and activities are returning to normal in some areas. However, significant closures remain in effect and fire danger remains high statewide.

See this website for the latest wildfire information.

Utah's largest fire, in central Utah near Millford and Beaver, prevents access to some backcountry areas. The fire management team gives this update: "There is currently no eminent threat to public safety and there are no current plans for evacuation of residents. Depending on fire activity in the vicinity of Mandersfield, Utah, it may be necessary to temporarily close Interstate 15 for the safety of public travelers and for the firefighters conducting suppression operations."

Smoke from that fire can be seen throughout central Utah and along the Wasatch Front. People with respiratory problems are advised not to engage in strenuous activity in areas where smoke is heavy.

The Neola fire in NE Utah is mostly contained and operations there are being scaled back. The area closed to the public is being reduced in size and now falls between Uintah Canyon and Mosby Mountain Road, on the edge of the Uinta Mountains.

Much of the Kaibab National Forest near the North Rim of the Grand Canyon is being closed to recreational activities because of high fire danger. Forest officials give this summary: "In order to prevent human-caused fires, the Kaibab National Forest will close to public access at 8 am Friday (July 13) unless significant, widespread precipitation is received across the forest. Four developed campgrounds - Kaibab Lake, Cataract Lake, Ten-X and DeMotte - will remain open with fire restrictions in effect."

"Once the closure is in effect, all activities will be prohibited on the Kaibab National Forest, including camping, hiking, biking and motorized vehicle use. While Kaibab Lake, Cataract Lake, Ten-X and DeMotte campgrounds will remain open, fire restrictions will be in effect. No fires, campfires, stove fires or charcoal grills will be allowed in the campgrounds. Pressurized liquid or gas stoves, lanterns and heaters meeting safety specifications will be allowed. Generators will continue to be allowed in the campgrounds, but stand-alone generators will be required to be placed on bare ground or hardened surfaces."

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Cool Slot Hikes in Hot Zion

Kanarra Creek WaterfallA group from utah.com enjoyed two fun hikes in the Zion area over the weekend. Temperatures in Zion are hot right now but we were able to hike in relative comfort because we chose to challenge slot canyons were we would be in the shade most of the time, and where we had to wade through pools of cold water.

Hot and dry weather is forecast for Utah right now and that means conditions are ideal for hikes where you have to wade. The most famous such hike is the Zion Narrows, where the river is your path and you wade and/or swim your way along. The Narrows is an incredibly fun hike and it is suitable for all ages and abilities if you come in from the bottom and hike as far as you feel comfortable.


Kanarra Creek slotWe hiked Kanarra Creek, just outside the Kolob Canyons section of Zion Park. The canyon includes a couple beautiful sections of narrows. A small, clear stream flows here and part of the fun is climbing up two waterfalls. Logs have been positioned for use as makeshift ladders to allow hikers to scramble up the falls. Ropes extend along the logs, allowing a secure handhold.

Kanarra Creek is perfect for families with teenagers desiring a moderate adventure. Younger kids can also do the hike but they will need considerable help over the waterfalls and other obstacles. The canyon is not "technical," meaning it does not require rappelling or other specialized techniques. You do not need a permit to hike here.

Next we hiked Echo Canyon, which is a strenuous, technical canyoneering adventure on the edge of Cable Mountain. The trailhead is Weeping Rock, in Zion Canyon.


Echo Canyon PotholeTo begin this hike you make your way along the Observation Point/Cable Mountain Trail, which is steep but easy. You then scramble down into Echo Canyon, where you have to make a series of short but difficult rappels to proceed down-canyon. You climb over rocks, drop off chokestones and wade through pools - plenty of adventure for determined canyoneers.

During the summer, water does not usually flow through Echo Canyon. But potholes hold water, where it becomes stagnant, and you have to wade through it. The canyon is narrow, often just 3 or 4 feet across, and it is deep, so sunlight seldom reaches some of the potholes. As a result, the water is ice cold. But there is no way around, you've got to wade through it.

In Echo, some potholes are deep and it is difficult to climb out of them. We call them "keeper" holes. You have to hike with a buddy, and help each other, to get through this canyon.

Because Echo is technical, you need to obtain a permit for Zion's Backcountry Desk before you can hike there. Echo is a great adventure suitable for novice adventurers who are hiking with an experienced canyoneer. You need to carry ropes and other gear to make it through.


Echo Canyon WallsTechnical slot canyons can be dangerous, even fatal, if you don't have the necessary skills or equipment, or if you get caught in a flash flood. Don't try to hike here unless you have experience in technical canyons, and have the proper gear, or unless you are hiking with someone who has the needed experience and equipment.

Temperatures will begin to moderate in the Zion area in a few weeks. September is an ideal month to hike in Zion because it is still warm enough to do the water hikes, but it isn't oppressively hot and so you can also do the dry hikes.

I love the area and I'll soon be back. Hope to see you there.

- Dave Webb

Monday, July 09, 2007

Wildfire Update: I-15 Open But May Close Again

A massive wildfire in south-central Utah forced closure of I-15 over the weekend. At this writing the freeway is open but officials say it may be closed again temporarily as crews do a controlled backburn to keep the wildfire away.

US Hwy 89 serves as an alternative route for north-south travel in Utah. The public is advised to use that highway if possible to avoid potential delays.

See these websites for the latest info on wildfires in Utah.

http://www.utahfireinfo.gov/

http://www.commuterlink.utah.gov/ie.htm (click on Emergency Alerts)

Lightning started the central Utah fire about 3 miles north of Milford. It has now burned more than 469 square miles, making it one of the largest blazes in Utah history. The fire blocks public access to some backroads and recreational areas in the Milford/Beaver/Cove Fort area.

The Neola Fire on the south slope of the Uinta Mountains in northeastern Utah continues to hamper recreation in that area. The Closure Order in effect for the portion of the Ashley National Forest has been revised. The new closure is generally east of and including Uinta Canyon Road and west of Red Cloud Loop Road. Only emergency personnel will be allowed access to this closed area. For additional information please contact the Ashley National Forest at (435) 789-1181.

A fire near Kenilworth in eastern Utah is also blocking access to some recreational spots. The Emma Park Road is closed to Nine Mile Canyon and the Whitmore Park Road to Emma Park Road is also closed. The Price to Kenilworth Road remains open; however, travel on the Ronco Road and into Cordingly Canyon is restricted north of Kenilworth. The public is urged to avoid the area.

A fire burning on the Arizona Strip south of St George has prompted closure of Black Rock Gulch Road 1009 south of the gypsum mine, Road 1004, Road 1022 and Road 299 east of Scenic. Additional road closures may be required. The public is requested to view the fire from a distance due to the extreme fire behavior and to keep the area roads clear for emergency vehicles and fire engine response. Fire has advanced to the northeast and southeast and has burned into the Paiute Wilderness.

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Jewel, Tony Bennett at Deer Valley Music Festival

The New York Times gives the Deer Valley Music Festival impressive exposure in this news article. Here's an excerpt:

For instance, this year's Deer Valley Music Festival (July 4-Aug. 18), presented in Park City by the Utah Symphony and Opera, will include outdoor concerts by Jewel and Tony Bennett, as well as a Bravo Broadway night featuring songs by Andrew Lloyd Weber and a production of Gilbert & Sullivan's ''The Gondoliers.'' Ticket information is at http://www.deervalleymusicfestival.org/.

The festival will include a special Patriotic Celebration, performed July 4, 7:300 pm in Deer Valley at July 7, 8 pm at Sundance.

See the festival calendar for more information.

Monday, July 02, 2007

Parts of Ashley Forest Closed Because of Wildfire

Portions of Ashley National Forest are closed to recreational use as crews battle a wildfire. The blaze started in the Neola area and killed 3 people as it burned into the forest. Residents were evacuated from homes in the area, but have now been allowed to return. KSL TV has current news about the fire.

The closed area extends from Yellowstone Canyon on the west to the Red Cloud Loop road on the east, including quite a number of popular camping areas and fishing waters.

Developed facilities along the boundary roads are not closed, as explained in the description below. This is from an interagency news release. You can read the entire text here. Check here for info on other Utah wildfires.

The area included in this closure begins at the Ashley National Forest boundary at FSR 119, (Yellowstone Canyon Road), traveling north to FSR 124, then north on FSR 124 to the High Uintas Wilderness boundary, then northeast along the wilderness boundary to the Uintah/Daggett County line, (also the Vernal/Flaming Gorge Ranger District boundary), then east along this boundary to FSR 043 (Hacking Lake Road), then southeast along FSR 043 to the intersection with FSR 018 (Red Cloud Loop Road), then southeasterly along FSR 018 to the intersection with FSR 044, (Taylor Mountain Road at Kaler Hollow), then south on FSR 044 to the forest boundary, then west along the southern forest boundary back to FSR 019 (Yellowstone Canyon Road).

The described segments of forest system roads which bound the closure area, and the developed recreation areas immediately adjacent to these roads ARE EXCLUDED FROM CLOSURE AND WILL REMAIN OPEN UNTIL FURTHER NOTICE. Portions of the listed forest system roads which provide access to the interior of the closure area are NOT open for public travel.

For those visitors wishing to camp in dispersed locations over the 4th of July camping will be allowed on the West side of the Yellowstone Canyon Road and on the East side of the Taylor Mountain Road. Both roads will be opened for public access. To reduce the risk of human-caused ignitions during this period of extreme fire danger the Ashley National Forest will implement fire restrictions on Monday, July 2nd at midnight banning the building, maintaining, or using a fire, campfire, or stove fire. This order applies to all lands within the Ashley National Forest, with the exception of the High Uintas Wilderness Area. This order will be in effect until further notice.
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