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Utah Travel Headlines Blog

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Utah Governor Pushes For Renewable Energy

Governor Jon Huntsman wants Utah to lead the US in developing and using renewable energy. In his State of the State address, Huntsman set the goal of obtaining that leadership position by 2012.

Forbes has this article about Huntsman's vision. Below are excerpts.

"Just as Wall Street is known for finance and Silicone Valley for technology, by 2012, I believe Utah can become the premier destination in America for renewable energy," Huntsman said Tuesday.

Huntsman is increasingly attempting to brand himself as part of a new breed of Western Republicans that embrace the environment as an issue that the GOP can use to aggressively compete with Democrats and draw young people to the party.

For Huntsman, there's little political risk. He's the most popular governor in state history and has repeatedly said he wouldn't seek a third term.

"We must pass legislation this year to incentivize, rather than penalize, innovative technologies where the risk is real, but the reward is great," he said.

Huntsman also set a goal of designating Interstate 15 from Idaho to Arizona - about 400 miles - as a natural gas corridor.

"Working with Questar, a great local company, to encourage the use of natural gas, which emits almost no pollution, is more affordable and most importantly, is a domestic fuel found right here in our own backyard; getting Utah, and the nation, one step closer to breaking our addiction to foreign oil," he said.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Backpacker Magazine Does Moab in Winter

The dead of winter is a great time to explore Canyonlands, Arches and other attractions in the Moab area, according to this new article in Backpacker. Below are excerpts.

Sure, it's winter, but the days were sunny and in the mid-50s, snow and ice were minimal, and best of all, there were hardly any dirtbag climbers or flip-flopped tourists jostling with us for access to the region's slickrock, serpentine canyons, and sandstone.I was steeling myself for my first winter camping trip—but lucked out big-time. After some white-knuckle driving across I-70's high passes in a blizzard, we descended into a decidedly mild Moab night. My -20-degree bag and extra handwarmers were clearly overkill; I've endured colder nights in the Rockies in August. Even better: The jam-packed campsites so typical of Moab in the high season were nowhere to be found. Instead, we pitched a tent at a prime spot on BLM land along Kane Creek with zero hassle.

We saw only a handful of other intrepid souls on the 1.5-mile hike to uber-popular Delicate Arch, which means no fistfighting required to get a people-free shot of Utah's poster child.

Maybe we got unusually lucky: Typical nighttime temperatures in the Utah desert can dip to the teens. But wouldn't you trade a little shivering for solo access to a couple of life-list parks? If it gets too bad, you can always bail ... Desperate, off-season Moab motel rates hover near 40 bucks.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Big Storm Dumps on Utah, Sets Record In Salt Lake City

Massive amounts of rain and snow fell on Utah over the weekend. The National Weather Service reports these storm totals to date. Snow is still falling in spots, so the numbers may creep upward.

-- Brighton Crest, 37.0 inches new snow
-- Alta - Collins, 34.0 inches new snow
-- Snowbird, 28.0 inches new snow
-- Solitude, 27.0 inches new snow
-- Park City Jupiter Peak, 23.0 inches new snow

On Sunday alone, Salt Lake City picked up 0.68 inches of precipitation, breaking a 22-year-old record for that date.

The new snow increased avalanche danger in many areas. Avalanche control work is conducted at ski resorts and along highways. No control work is done in backcountry areas. The Utah Avalanche Center has issued avalanche warms for some areas, saying people should stay off of and out from underneath slopes approaching 35 degrees or steeper. See the center's website for details.

NY Times: Brew Pubs Gain an Unlikely Following in Utah

The New York Times says Utah has some pretty good brew puts, in places like Park City, Salt Lake City, Ogden, Moab and Springdale (gateway to Zion National Park).

This article takes a look at them, and with a few side notes about Utah's liquor laws. Below are excerpts from the article.

Wasatch (Brewery) is the granddaddy, but these days other brewers’ craft beers are thriving, too. And around Salt Lake City a string of inventive small breweries make for an inviting, if unexpected, tasting tour.

Utah still has quirky alcohol laws, including one that sets a limit of 3.2 percent alcohol — a little more than half the amount standard in most beers around the world — for beer sold on tap. But they don’t seem to be holding anyone back. Utah breweries do make higher-alcohol beers, though they are treated as liquor and are sold under more limited circumstances. And the state’s brewers have consistently won medals at the World Beer Cup and the Great American Beer Festival.

Most brew pubs in Utah are in tourist areas. Slick-rock bikers and backcountry hikers in southern Utah congregate at the Zion Canyon Brewing Company, near Zion National Park, or Moab Brewery and Eddie McStiff’s in Moab. Skiers at Snow Basin drop in at the Roosters Brewing Company in Ogden, to savor a rich chocolate stout.

Read the entire article.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Foundation Urges Getting Kids Outdoors

The Outdoor Foundation is urging people to help get kids hooked out outdoor recreation. The foundation is expanding it's "I Will" campaign to Utah, according to this Deseret News article. Below are excerpts.

The Outdoor Foundation is expanding its "I Will" campaign into the Salt Lake Valley, challenging all residents to connect two young people with the outdoors in 2009.

The program, which began last year, has the support of Salt Lake County Mayor Peter Corroon and Salt Lake City Mayor Ralph Becker. It's part of The Outdoor Foundation's effort to get youths outdoors, active and healthy.

The foundation website has more information. Below are excerpts.

Join The Outdoor Foundation in the "I Will" campaign to support healthier children, healthier communities and healthier businesses. You can take immediate action to overcome the crisis facing society and our industry. It's simple: sign the pledge and become part of the solution.

Promise to Play
Your signature is your promise to take at least two kids outside to experience any outdoor activity over the course of the next year.

-- I will help improve the mental and physical health of children in our country.
-- I will campaign to support future environmental ambassadors.
-- I will fight to SAVE outdoor recreation in the United States.
-- I will work to increase the number of participants in outdoor recreation.
-- I will partner with The Outdoor Foundation to create change.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Sundance Winds Up a Successful Festival

The annual Sundance Film Festival is winding down - final events will be held Sunday, Jan 25. All reports suggest the festival has been successful, perhaps even more successful that expected.

In this article, Hollywood Reporter says the festival was "sneakily good." Below are excerpts.

This go-round, the Sundance Film Festival, which wraps this weekend, looked a lot like the movies it screened: surprising, quality-filled and not as depressing as some expected.

There were new buyers who jumped into the fray and not-so-new ones who sat it out. There were much-hyped movies that sputtered and unheralded ones that took off. And there was cost-consciousness galore.

As for trends in filmmaking, a new type of youthful, romantic comedy emerged as such movies as "500 Days of Summer," "Adventureland" and "Adam" drew positive responses from audiences (with "Adam" selling to Searchlight). Among titles in the genre still in play, "Paper Heart," a Charlyne Yi-Michael Cera quasi-documentary about the nature of love, was in hot demand: Overture, Miramax and Searchlight were circling it as of Wednesday afternoon.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Utah Shakespearean Festival Shortens Season To Balance Budget

The Tony Award-winning Utah Shakespearean Festival is streamlining operations as it prepares for the 2009 season. The deepening world-wide recession has forced budget cutbacks. As a result, the Festival is shortening its season slightly, shifting it lineup and taking other actions to reduce expenses.

Broadwayworld.com has this article about the theatre and its cutbacks. Below are excerpts.

The Festival ended 2008 with a slight deficit, but administrators are looking forward and planning to weather the deepening financial storm-although they admit it has involved making some difficult decisions. Changes decided upon include the shortening of the summer season by one week, changing the line-up and calendar of plays in the fall season, eliminating some positions, and several other money-saving cuts.

"As we look ahead to the coming year and predictions of a furthering recession," said R. Scott Phillips, Festival executive director, "we want to be pro-active and guarantee that the Festival (which was founded nearly 50 years ago) continues for at least another half-century."

First, the Festival has eliminated one week from its summer season, closing one week earlier. The season will run June 29 to August 29 and feature Shakespeare's The Comedy of Errors, Henry V, and As You Like It, a well as Noel Coward's Private Lives, the charming and emotionally-rich Foxfire, and the family musical The Secret Garden.

In addition, the fall season has changed dramatically. Instead of running September 25 to October 24 as previously announced, it will now be September 18 to October 17. Also, the plays to be performed have been changed. Instead of Pericles, The Woman in Black, and Pump Boys and Dinettes, the fall season will feature Tuesdays with Morrie, the touching tale of a teacher and his student adapted from the popular book; the ghostly and mysterious The Woman in Black; and the hilarious farce, The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (Abridged).

Read the complete article.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Zion Park Allows More Canyoneers Into Spry Canyon

Spry Canyon is a technical slot canyon in Zion National Park. It is becoming more popular every year because it offers outstanding scenery and a challenging canyoneering adventure with relatively easy access.

Permits are required to hike through Zion's technical slot canyons, and the number of visitors per day is limited to protect the park's resources. After evaluating conditions, the Park Service has increased the use limit for Spry Canyon from 12 people per day to 20 people per day. This news release explains the decision. Below are excerpts.

In the past, the limiting factor for the number of visitors allowed in Spry Canyon was a severely eroded exit trail visible from the park road. For the last several years, canyoneers have been asked to avoid the eroded trail and follow a more durable trail down a rocky watercourse. Compliance has been outstanding. As a result, the erosion problem has been reduced to acceptable levels allowing for the increase in use limits. The trail will continue to be closely monitored to ensure that compliance remains high with the increase in use limits.

While canyoneering in Zion can be a challenging and rewarding activity, it is not one that should be entered into lightly. At least one member of each party should be experienced in canyoneering and the use of any required technical equipment. Hikers should also be aware of weather conditions and the possibility of flash floods. By entering into a narrow canyon, visitors take safety as their own responsibility. All persons canyoneering in the park should stop by the visitor center and talk to qualified park staff before their hike. Some canyon hikes in the park (including Spry Canyon) require advance permits. For more information on canyoneering in Zion, contact the park at 435-772-3256 or visit the park website at www.nps.gov/zion.

Spry Canyon is a typical canyoneering route in Zion Park. The hike involves route finding and scrambling to get into the canyon, then multiple rappels and chest-deep wading through cold water.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Group Skis All 13 Utah Resorts In One Day

Utah offers 13 great ski and snowboard resorts, and many people like to ski at more than one in a day. Because of close proximity, it is fairly easy to ski 2-3 resorts in a day. These pairings are common.
- Deer Valley, Park City Mtn Resort, The Canyons
- Snowbird, Alta
- Brighton, Solitude
- Snowbasin, Powder Mtn

Well, a group from Ski Utah decided to see if they could ski at all 13 resorts in one day. They did it, and posted this report. Below are excerpts.

On Tues., Jan. 13, Ski Utah and a team of nine skiers successfully skied all 13 Utah ski and snowboard resorts in a single day. This is the first time in history that every resort in the state has been skied in one day, breaking the record of 11 resorts in a day set during the 2003-04 winter season.

The mission began at Brian Head Resort in southern Utah at 4 a.m. The team drove to the Giant Steps run and enjoyed pristine corduroy snow under the light of a large moon. Mother Nature continued to provide perfect bluebird weather conditions throughout the day. Spectacular snow conditions were complemented with perfect temperatures, mountain-blue skies, gorgeous sunrises and sunsets. The final stop was at Beaver Mountain, near Logan Utah, over 360 miles north of the mission’s starting place. The group arrived at Beaver Mountain just before 8 p.m. and enjoyed three celebratory runs off the Little Beaver Lift.

"With an international airport just minutes from our mountains, Utah is the most accessible winter destination in the world,” commented Ski Utah President Nathan Rafferty. “Skiing 13 in a day, using only a van and skis, really underscores this point."

Friday, January 16, 2009

Salt Lake is Fittest City in the US, According to Men's Fitness Magazine

Men's Fitness magazine ranks Salt Lake as the fittest city in America, according to this new article. The magazine studied demographic data and did extensive surveys before compiling its rankings.

Below are excerpts showing what the article had to say about Salt Lake City.

A newcomer to MF's annual list, the Utah capital jumped (or shall we say, slalomed) to the top of the survey because of its abundance of park space, athletically motivated residents, and below- average obesity rates. While the 2002 Winter Olympics host is known for its abundance of cold-weather activities, Salt Lake City is also athletically impressive away from the mountains.

The metro region ranks highest in our survey in participation in a number of activities, including beach volleyball, racquetball, aerobics, hiking, basketball, yoga, tai chi, swimming, cycling, running, and kickboxing.

According to Nielsen Media Research, TV viewers in the Salt Lake City television market spend 23 percent less time in front of the tube than average among cities in our survey.

Salt Lake City's park acreage per capita is 115 percent higher than average and the 4th highest in our survey. Research has found a connection between access to parks and green space and reduced obesity rates.

Salt Lake City residents participate in sports much more than average - 102 percent more than average, in fact.

Health-food stores are plentiful in Salt Lake City: There's one for every 2,867 residents, handily beating the national average of one store per 12,118.

Golfers can choose from 6 city-owned courses. Relative to population, that's more than almost anywhere else we surveyed.

There are 75 percent more tennis courts per capita here than average among cities in our survey.

Basketball courts are practically everywhere here, among the highest number per capita in our survey. There's a court here for every 1,902 residents; the national average is one court per 6,909 people.

Our survey has found 176 percent more sporting-goods stores in Salt Lake City than average, an indicator of an active populace.

You'll find a higher percentage of mountain bikers in Salt Lake City than almost anywhere else in our survey - 4.6 percent of residents. The national average is 2.5 percent.

What Isn'tSalt Lake City has 57 percent more pizza places per capita than the average among cities in our survey.

Fast food, widely implicated as a contributor to obesity, is more common in Salt Lake City than most places in our survey. In a per capita comparison there are 82 percent more fast-food joints here than average.

Read the entire article.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

St George Winter Bird Festival

The annual St George Winter Bird Festival will be held Jan 29 - Feb 1, with events in and around the city of St George in SW Utah.

While northern Utah shivers under winter weather, St George will have spring-like conditions and an abundance of birds to observe.

The festival offers field trips, workshops, presentations, kids' activities, a photo content, banquette and other activities.

See the festival brochure for more information and registration forms. Below are excerpts.

Amid our beautiful red rock landscape you will have the opportunity to take part in 4 days of birding activities. The 6th Annual St. George Winter Bird Festival is centered around the Tonaquint Park and Nature Center – field trips, presentations and workshops. Our Festival is designed for all levels of birders - beginning to advanced. You will find leaders and attendees that are eager to share their experiences and enthusiasm for birding.

Southwest Utah habitats can attract over 350 species of birds during the year. St. George’s Winter months attract waterfowl migrating through and stopping over in our lakes and reservoirs and raptors find this is a good place for the cold months.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

We've Expanded Our Provo Area Information

Utah.com is just completing work to expand and improve our content on the Provo/Utah Valley area. We've added more pages, including more text and photos. We are confident we now offer the most comprehensive and accurate information available anywhere about Provo, Utah.

The improvements include:

  • Places to see

  • Outdoor recreation

  • Things to do

  • Lodging

  • Restaurants

  • Photos

  • And we're not finished. We will continue to add information and new photos, and we would like to add video as it becomes available.

    We posted a lot of information quickly and so there are bound to be typos and small problems. Let us know if you see any, or if you want to suggest additional information.

    - Dave

    Tuesday, January 13, 2009

    Sundance Buzz Begins In Park City

    They are already arriving - the media, the indie producers and the frenzied fans. The celebs will start to appear in Park City as the Sundance Film Festival officially opens on Thursday.

    MTV is there, ready to bring us the buzz. Here's their latest article anticipating the action. I'll offer just one quote:

    Later this week, your MTV Movies team will once again hit the ground running at the 25th Annual Sundance Film Festival. As always, we'll be looking for tomorrow's biggest movies before the world has heard of them — as well as the star-transforming roles that could make an impact like those listed above.

    Jaunted.com has this information on who will be where when. Here's a quote:

    During Sundance, The Star Bar competes with Harry O's for who can bring the most celebrity wattage while simultaneously causing blackouts on Main Street thanks to excessive sound and light equipment. (Seriously.) This Thursday, Star Bar hosts the Slamdance Opening Party while Paul Oakenfold and Mark Lewis will drop in on January 20. Harry O's meanwhile brings T.I. to town on Saturday. But who booked Chet Cannon?

    Monday, January 12, 2009

    Canyoneer Zion In Winter

    Daytime temperatures in Zion Park often push into the mid-50s during winter, making it very pleasant to hike the dry, lower elevation trails.

    But writer Kristin Harrison wasn't satisfied with mild and dry. In this Washington Post article she describes a winter adventure trip that included canyoneering water-filled slots. Below are excerpts.

    Last year the park received more than 2.6 million guests, with most folks arriving June through September. From December 2007 through February 2008, attendance was only 63,000 per month. Some of the park's higher elevations in the northwest become difficult to access in the colder months, but the main attractions in Zion Canyon stay open year-round.

    "In the winter," said Ron Terry, the park's chief of interpretation and visitor services, "you can avoid the crowds. You're likely to hike a trail and not see anyone else." The wildlife, though, will be out and about, including bald eagles (which appear only in winter, during their migration), desert bighorn sheep and mule deer.

    After five hours navigating our way up a steep, narrow trail, scrambling over boulders and rappelling four rock faces, I started to feel confident; just call me Indiana Jane. So, when we arrived at the final drop-off, my early-morning anxiety was gone. Until Unger said, "Getting down this cliff will require all the skills you've learned today, as well as the experiences you brought with you." That sounded like psychoanalysis.

    I climbed halfway down the face and did not encounter anything scary or tricky. I started to think Unger had been joking. "What's the big deal?" I wondered. Then I found out: I had to navigate a slot just a few feet wide. My knuckles touched one wall and my backpack scraped the other. I started to panic, envisioning myself permanently sandwiched between two cold slabs of rock. With no other way to go, I squeezed my way down, hoping the space wouldn't slim any further. I'd never been so happy to drop, once again, into cold water.

    Friday, January 09, 2009

    Parade on Jan 16 To Honor Ute Football Team

    There will be a parade in downtown Salt Lake City on Friday, Jan 16, celebrating the University of Utah's undefeated football season and Sugar Bowl victory.

    The team ended at No 2 in the final AP poll, the best ever for Utah. Many people around the country think Utah earned the number one spot.

    Below is parade information as reported by the Salt Lake Tribune.

    The parade will begin at 3 p.m. with the football team, band, cheerleaders, Swoop and the MUSS marching from the Eagle Gate entrance at the corner of South Temple and State Street to the City County Building at Washington Square.

    The marchers will toss red Sugar Bowl beads into the crowd and 10,000 commemorative buttons will be distributed.

    Players, coach Kyle Whittingham and others will speak at a rally at Washington Square.

    Wednesday, January 07, 2009

    Learn to Snowshoe, Cross-Country Ski on Jan 10

    Free Winter Trail events will be held at about 80 US locations on Jan 10, designed to help people learn to snowshoe and cross-country ski. Two Utah locations will participate, according to this OnTheSnow article. Below are excerpts.

    The size and scope of Winter Trails events vary from location to location but they all provide the necessary equipment and assistance to get you started.

    Mountain Dell Golf Course: 10 a.m.-3 p.m, I-80 east of Salt Lake City at exit 13. If you are a beginner or first timer on snow, come join the staff of REI, the cross-country ski experts from the Utah Nordic Alliance and the knowledgeable guides from Cottonwood Canyons Foundation.

    Soldier Hollow: 12:30-4 p.m. - 2002 Soldier Hollow Lane, Midway. Named one of the top four Nordic ski resorts in America by Outside Magazine, the premier cross-country facility will be offering free trail passes, equipment, and mini lessons to all first-time skiers. You will have the opportunity to ski on 33 kilometers of groomed trails on cross-country skis or snowshoeing on marked and mapped trails that are gentle and exhilarating. Call (435) 654-2002 for more information.

    Read the entire article.

    Monday, January 05, 2009

    Explore Utah's Mojave Desert Country




    Snow is falling and it is a chilly 21 F as I write this, sitting in my office in Provo, Utah. Snow conditions are great at the nearby ski resorts. But I'm dreaming about sunshine, remembering how warm the sun felt on my bare arms as I explored the warmest part of Utah over the weekend.

    St George, in southwest Utah, is famous for its mild winter weather. But the warmest temperatures in the state are found a little farther to the west, along the Beaver Dam Wash, where the Mojave Desert pushes up into Utah. The point where the wash crosses the Utah/Arizona border has an elevation of about 2,200 feet. That's about the same elevation as Las Vegas, and about 300 feet lower than St George, so the Beaver Dam Wash area gets Vegas-like weather (slightly warmer than St George).

    What is there to see in the Beaver Dam Wash area? Not much, unless you like cacti. The Joshua tree, trademark of the Mojave Desert, grows tall and proud along the wash. So do barrel and chollas cacti. The area is stark, desolate, remote, rugged... In short, it is my kind of country.

    The Mojave is a high desert. In winter nights are usually cold and days are mild. It is probably close to 50 F today - perfect weather for hiking.

    Before I-15 was pushed through the Virgin River Gorge, Old Highway 91 was the major route west from St George. Today it is a scenic backroad that crosses the Beaver Dam Mountains and dives into Utah's Mojave Country. A dirt track, called the Joshua Tree Road, loops below Hwy 91. In years past it wound through a beautiful Joshua tree forest, but vegetation in that area was destroyed by a major brush fire a few years ago and the desert is just starting to recover. Joshua trees are slow-growing and it will be many years before the forest returns.

    We had to probe deeper into Mojave country to find substantial stands of Joshua trees. We drove the dirt Eardly Road and Indian Springs Trail along the east side of Beaver Dam Wash to get the photos that illustrate this report. Both roads have steep spots and we encountered plenty of mud. We definitely needed high-clearance 4-wheel-drive on our trip. During drier months a 4X4 may not be needed.

    Most people don't visit southwestern Utah just to explore the Beaver Dam Wash area. You come to visit the National Parks or play golf. (February and March are ideal months to hit the links around St George, before they become crowded in April.) But I enjoy solitude and stark beauty and so I recommend the Beaver Dam Wash area as a pleasant day trip.

    Note: There are no services - no gasoline, food or water - in the Beaver Dam Wash area of Utah. If you go, bring along a good map, emergency gear and plenty of food and water.

    - Dave Webb
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