Utah Travel Headlines Blog

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Miller Motorsports Hosts American Le Mans Series

The American Le Mans Series returns to Miller Motorsports Park May 15 -17, with the most exotic, high-tech sports cars on the planet, with some of the world's best drivers at the controls.

- Phone: 435-277-7223
- Event Hours: 8:00 a.m - 6:00 p.m.
- Admission: $25.00 on up
- Location: Miller Motorsports Park
- Address: 2901 N Sheep Lane, Tooele
- Web Site: www.millermotorsportspark.com

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Zion Narrows Closed to Kayakers

The Narrows in Zion National Park is a famous hiking/canyoneering route during the summer, when people wade up or down the gorge following the North Fork of the Virgin River.

During spring, when water flows are high from snowmelt, some people kayak through the narrow canyon. But this year kayaking has proven to be dangerous, for reasons not yet clear. The Salt Lake Tribune reports that 4 of 5 groups kayaking the Narrows over the weekend had problems.

As a result, park officials have closed the route to kayakers. As the high water wanes, probably in late May or early June, the gorge will be open for hiking as normal. No problems are anticipated for the summer season.

Below are excerpts from the Tribune article.

Zion National Park officials reported that four of five boating groups with backcountry permits and plans for one-day trips ended up spending one or more nights in the Narrows because of high water this weekend.

Two of the parties lost boats and needed help to get out of the canyon. One kayaker was washed under a log jam, but escaped the craft, which was lost downstream. He spent two nights in the Narrows before being rescued by another boating group.

Two stranded kayakers tried to climb out of the Narrows, but were only able to climb 800 feet above the river. They were eventually rescued when a helicopter from Grand Canyon National Park was called.

Jock Whitworth, superintendent of Zion, temporarily closed the Narrows to boating while the cause of the mishaps is evaluated to determine "why so many boaters underestimated the difficulty of the route," said a news release from the national park. "Rescue in the Narrows, or in Zion National Park, is never guaranteed. Rescue in the Narrows, if possible at all, will be significantly delayed due to the inherent dangers and risk to rescuers' safety."

Monday, April 27, 2009

Everett Ruess Mystery Solved By DNA?

National Geographic may have found the grave of Everett Ruess, the 20-year-old "Vagabond for Beauty" who disappeared in the southern Utah red rock country in 1934.

Ruess left vivid prose about his wanderings and has become somewhat of a folk hero. The Salt Lake Tribune has this article about the new developments. Below are excerpts.

He was a 20-year-old California native whose love for Utah's redrock country, longing for solitude and vivid prose fueled the imaginations of environmentalists, artists and writers from Wallace Stegner to Jon Krakauer.

The latest issue of National Geographic Adventure magazine makes a case that a small burial site discovered last summer near Comb Ridge, a canyon area in southeast Utah, contained the remains of the legendary wanderer and vagabond.

The April/May article in Adventure by David Roberts recounts how Denny Bellson, a Najavo from Shiprock, N.M., embarked on a search for Ruess' remains after his sister said their grandfather, Aneth Nez, told her about the murder of a young white man by three Ute Indians he witnessed from afar while walking the area in the 1930s. Nez told his granddaughter, Daisy Johnson, of how he then buried the young man after his attackers left him for dead and took his two burros.

Speaking from Portland, Brian Ruess said he hopes his late uncle's message of the wilderness' spiritual dimensions remain intact, even if the mystery of his final resting place has been solved.

"It [the burial find] does create almost as many questions as it seemingly answers," he said. "Now that the mystery is removed, I hope we don't lose sight of the man."

The community of Escalante holds an annual Escalante Canyons Art Festival/Everett Ruess Days event, set for September 25-26, 2009.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Outlaw Trails ATV Jamboree

ATV enthusiasts are invited to ride the scenic trails near Green River in eastern Utah during the Outlaw Trails Jamboree, which runs May 1-3.

Trails include: Kid Ricketts, Gunplay Maxwell, Butch Cassidy, Sundance Kid, Della Rose, and Black Hawk.

The staging point will be at the firehouse in Green River. Signup begins at 8 am. Tour leaves at 9 am.

Everyone on the trail MUST register to qualify for insurance and safety coverage. Each participant will be provided with a registration number (bib) that must be worn in a visible location at all times. Everyone must stay on the trails at all times.

The Chamber of Commerce will have sandwiches, cookies, drinks, etc. for sale at the registration.

Participants will be responsible for drinks and food. Extra water will be carried by guides. Emery County Sheriff Guymon will provide and coordinate safety services. Emery County will have emergency technicians on standby.

More information: 877-564-3490

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Twitter the National Parks - Our Beta Test

Twitter has become a powerful way to share information and we've been experimenting to find productive ways to use it on utah.com.

We now have pages up and available that utilize some of Twitter's capacity. We filter by topic and embed relevant messages in the pages listed below.

http://www.utah.com/zion/zion-twitter.htm
http://www.utah.com/bryce/bryce-twitter.htm
http://www.utah.com/capitolreef/cr-twitter.htm
http://www.utah.com/moab/moab-twitter.htm
http://www.utah.com/moab/arches-twitter.htm
http://www.utah.com/moab/canyonlands-twitter.htm

For example, messages that contain the phrase "Bryce Canyon" show up on the Bryce page. Since many people send messages using their cell phones, updates can be made on the fly and, hopefully, some will give practical information - almost real time updates about conditions at these locations.

Many Twitter messages are superficial and it is hard to filter to only show worthwhile content. That's why this is still in beta. We will watch it and see if it is valuable. We welcome comments and suggestions.

- Dave

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Stimulus Funds Will Help Improve Utah Parks

Some $24 million will be used to make improvements at Utah national parks and other areas managed by the National Park Service, the Interior Department announced Wednesday. Both the Salt Lake Tribune and Desert New have reports on the funding. Below are excerpts.

Twelve parks in the state will get funds from the massive federal stimulus effort to prop up crumbling trails, buildings, walls and historic sites, (Interior Secretary Ken) Salazar said at a news conference atop the Interior Department building overlooking the Washington Monument.

In Utah, Dinosaur National Monument near Vernal will get the biggest boost: $13 million to demolish and replace condemned portions of the Quarry Visitors Center.

The visitor center has had continuing problems with foundation movement since its 1957 construction. In July 2006, the Park Service closed the building due to serious life and safety hazards.

Zion National Park will get funds to install solar panels and fix trails, while Glen Canyon National Recreation Area in southeastern Utah will get about $8 million to preserve 68 miles of roads.

Salazar listed the work at Dinosaur with such other high-profile projects as spending $5.5 million to rehabilitate the Independence Hall tower in Philadelphia; $8.8 million to stabilize the Ellis Island Baggage and Dormitory Building; $30.5 million to repair the Lincoln Memorial Reflecting Pool in Washington, D.C.; and $9 million to replace an old wastewater treatment plant in Yellowstone National Park.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Historic Train Trip Marks Golden Spike Anniversary

May 10 will mark the 140th anniversary of the driving of the Golden Spike, which connected Union Pacific and Central Pacific rail lines to give our nation its first transcontinental railroad.

The Golden Spike was driven on May 10, 1869, at Promontory, Utah, which is now the Golden Spike National Historic Site.

A historic rail journey is being conducted this year as part of the anniversary celebration. This USA Today article describes the trip:

"Steam Locomotive No. 844, which was Union Pacific Railroad's last steam locomotive, is on a 32-day four-state tour from Roseville, Calif., to Ogden, Utah. Dispatches about the journey are being posted to Twitter."

"The tour started April 11 and continues through May 12, when it arrives in Utah to help mark the 140th anniversary of the driving of the Golden Spike."

The Last Spike Ceremony is reenacted every year on the May 10th anniversary, as well as every Saturday and Holiday from May 10th to September, and at the annual Railroader's Festival held the second Saturday in August and during the Winter Steam Festival on the last weekend in December.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Is Four Corners Marker In The Wrong Spot?

Four Corners MonumentFour Corners Monument is a popular tourist destination marking the only spot in the US where four state borders come together - where you can literally stand in Utah, Colorado, New Mexico and Arizona all at the same time.

However, this news article says the monument was placed in the wrong spot - that it is about 2.5 miles west of where it should be, according to readings by the National Geodetic Survey.

That would mean Utah has been short changed by 2.5 miles.

The monument is in a remote located on Navajo and Ute tribal land. It is a popular stop for people touring the national park country in southeastern Utah.

We have more information on the area:
- Overview
- Area Info
- Tips on Travel
- Monument Valley
- Navajo Culture
- The Old West
- Area Photo Tour
- Area Videos

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Explore Utah's Geologic Wonders

BYU Newsnet has this article describing a book that can help people understand Utah's unique geologic wonders. Below are excerpts.

"The Geologic History of Utah" a book written by retired BYU professor, Lehi Hintze and Bart Kowallis, professor of geology, serves as a guide of Utah rocks and geology that can be used by both professionals and the average tourist.

"Salt Lake City has the greatest variety of geology than any other place in Utah or the world," Hintze said. "On one side, the Wasatch Range has its geology and on the other side the mountains have a completely different geology. The Wasatch Range is much more diverse in geology than the Grand Canyon."

"I don't think Utah has just one gem, it has a lot of them throughout the state," he said. "I love the national parks but I also love our own little rock canyon here which has wonderful geology in it."

The book, which is available to students in the geology department office, has sold more than 25,000 copies since its first publication. It sells for $25.

According to a press release, the book is also available at most visitor centers and bookstores in Utah's national and state parks.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

ATV: Utah's trails, dunes among best in US

The Salt Lake Tribune has this article describing Utah ATV trails. Below are excerpts.

Utah is blessed with some of the best ATV riding trails and dune areas in the world, a fact that brings tourists from all over the United States to join the state's nearly 100,000 registered ATVs.

Hawthorne's two favorite Utah ATV riding areas include the San Rafael Swell, the Whitewash Sand Dunes near Moab, and the Arapeen trail in central Utah.

"Arapeen has it all," he said. "It offers more trail experiences, scenery, fantastic camping, a killer map and is easy to find."

Read the entire article.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Tourism To Utah Increases

Utah's national parks and other attractions continue to attract a growing number of visitors, despite tough economic times.

That's what is reported in this Deseret News article. Below are excerpts.

The Utah Office of Tourism said Monday that the state attracted 20.4 million people in 2008, an increase of more than 16 percent since 2004.

Four years ago, 17.5 million visitors made Utah their travel destination, the office said. The influx of travel generated $7.19 billion of sales and revenue for Utah businesses last year — up 27 percent over the $5.65 billion that came in during 2004.

"We did get a travelers spending rise of 6.2 percent in '08, which is what pushed us over $7 billion," Leigh von der Esch, managing director of the Office of Tourism, told the Deseret News.

AP has this article saying some of those numbers were overestimated. Below are excerpts.

But an Associated Press review of Salt Lake City International Airport passenger statistics shows that the governor's staff overestimated the number of passengers who flew into Utah last year by more than 200,000 people.

It is unclear how much the incorrect numbers impact state estimates that tourist spending increased by more than $400 million last year to $7.1 billion.

Monday, April 13, 2009

NY Times Explores America's Outback: Southern Utah

Travel writer Tony Perrottet took the road less traveled and explored Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument. He calls the area America's Outback, the West's best-kept secret.

In this article he offers an interesting narrative and glowing descriptions of the land. His expressions are artistic, but they sometimes don't jive with reality. Below are excerpts, with my comments.

This corner of the southern Utah has since been immortalized by the painter Maynard Dixon, the novelist Zane Grey, the photographer Ansel Adams and countless Hollywood westerns. And yet, it still qualifies as the best-kept secret in the West. While millions of travelers are drawn every year to Grand Canyon and Zion National Parks, Grand Staircase-Escalante and its surrounding area offer a seemingly endless choice of natural wonders that lie blissfully forgotten and empty. It’s America’s Outback.

The paragraph above is fine, but the one below is a little misleading.

But my total isolation didn’t really strike home until I stepped from my 4x4 onto the edge of a mesa above Coyote Gulch, a ravine whose golden sandstone hides three gorgeous, narrow slot canyons. The lonely trailhead offered none of the familiar national park comforts like ranger huts or wooden welcome signs — certainly no dubious snack vendors. There was nothing but expanses of rock stretching toward the horizon, which at 10 a.m. were already glowing like embers under the intense Utah sun. Only a few stone cairns far below indicated that there was any hiking trail at all.

The three slot canyons in Coyote Gulch have become very popular hikes - it is almost impossible to find solitude in that area. On any given day a dozen groups will hike there.

Driving it (Hwy 12), the year 1872 felt closer by the mile. The crowds evaporated. Towns looked abandoned, the doors of sun-bleached frontier houses flapping in the wind. Even gas stations became rare.

The towns are not abandoned - albeit they are spaced a considerable distance apart. There are gas stations. Stores and homes include a mixture of old and new, with doors that close.

The next morning, I set out in search of a waterfall (Calf Creek) said to be upriver. I followed the creek for three miles, passing ocher pictographs painted by the Fremont Indians and the remains of their stone granaries; this lush green refuge had teemed with people around the time of the First Crusade.

This is one impressive pictograph panel on the canyon wall, and a small granary that is difficult to find.

At last, I found myself at the base of a 126-foot-high cascade with a circular pool surrounded by ferns and graced by a pristine gold-sand beach — paradise itself.

Stripping down, I threw myself in the water, registered its near-freezing temperature and leaped straight back out. From then on, I simply lounged in the sun, gently sprayed by waterfall mist. I tried to imagine all those summer travelers jostling through Grand Canyon and Zion National Parks, only a Western-size stone’s throw away. Right now, I was fine with my own private park.

The plunge pool under Lower Calf Creek Falls is cool, even on a hot summer day. But not that cold. Thousands of people enjoy swimming in it every summer. It is also a very popular hiking destination. Don't strip down too far because there will probably be children and rangers watching.

I like the article, and the writer's style. It captures the grandeur of this massive area. I just felt it appropriate to point out that some of the particulars may be a little misleading.

- Dave Webb

Friday, April 10, 2009

Check Out A Utah State Parks Day Use Pass

Public libraries in Utah will soon have passes that can be checked out, and that allow free day-use entry to state parks in Utah.

The Salt Lake Tribune has this article about the program. Below are excerpts.

Utah State Parks is launching the Check It Out! program, which allows library-card holders to check out a state park pass at 49 libraries or bookmobiles across the state. Participating libraries will be offering the passes by May 1, if not sooner.

The park pass provides day-use entry for up to eight people in the same vehicle to 42 parks, ranging from the red-rock of Snow Canyon near St. George to Bear Lake on the Utah/Idaho border. Normal day-use fees range from $2 to $10.

"The idea is to get people who may not have made it to a state park to check them out knowing that they will likely come back. It is about opening doors for people to see what the state parks offer," said Nichole Mallory, coordinator of the state's Rockin' Utah initiative to get families and youth into nature. "We want to create opportunities and encourage children and their families to rediscover the natural world again or discover it for the first time."

Read the entire article.

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

St George Art Festival

The annual St George Art Festival will be held April 10-11 (Easter Weekend).

The festival began 30 years ago, showcasing the many artists who call St. George their home. Over the years it has expanded and now includes over 110 artists juried from hundreds of entries from throughout the United States. The festival provided the information below. See the festival website for more details.

Displaying thousands of original works of art, the festival is punctuated with pageantry, music and food. Townsfolk and visitors from around the West converge in the beautiful town of St. George on Easter weekend, one of the busiest travel weekends of the year. The festival takes place in the beautiful Town Square, the centerpiece of the Historic District. The Art Festival is known for consistently outstanding artwork, and does all it can to send the message to artists that they are appreciated and valued guests.

The mild, sunny climate of St. George is particularly suited for this outdoor event. Artwork is displayed in booths designed individually by each artist. The many categories of art accepted include watercolor, oils, pottery, sculpture, photography, woodwork, and other creations. The show offers cash awards for Best of Show, Best 2D and 3D and ribbons for all categories. In addition, an artist’s work is selected each year to grace the following year’s poster. This Featured Artist receives a complementary entry into the festival.

The festival also celebrates the performing arts with continuous entertainment performed on three separate stages. In addition, a children’s area provides hands on creative opportunities for budding artists.

The aroma and distinctive flavors of ethnic food can be found throughout the show (including Native American, Greek, Mexican, Italian, Polynesian, American, BBQ and many others).

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Utah Ski Season Winds Down

It may be time to get out the golf clubs and fishing rods, but don't put your skis away just yet. Snowbird plans to stay open on weekends through Memorial Day, and Alta may add additional weekends to its season. Other Utah resorts are preparing to close.

Spring conditions are still very good at most resorts, thanks to the 100+ inches of new snow that fell in many areas last week. Another storm is expected this week to cap off the season.

Below are tentative resort closing dates as reported by skiutah.com.

Alta - April 19 (may open one more additional weekend)
Beaver Mountain - Closed
Brian Head - April 12
Brighton - April 19
The Canyons - April 12
Deer Valley - April 12
PCMR - April 12
Powder Mountain - Apr. 19
Snowbasin - April 19
Snowbird - Memorial Day
Solitude - April 12
Sundance - April 5
Wolf Creek - Closed April 5, reopens April 9-12

Monday, April 06, 2009

Utah Launches Summer Tourism Ad Campaign

Utah's office of tourism has launched a new ad campaign designed to show potential tourists what the state has to offer. It includes three different ads that will air on 11 cable stations through April and May, as well as on local stations in Los Angeles, Denver and Phoenix. It also includes print ads that can be seen in travel magazines and online.

This year's campaign is a bit different that those from previous years, with more focus on attracting people from nearby states.

Media prices are low right now and so officials say they were able to make excellent buys - that we were able to get more exposure than ever for limited dollars.

KSL has this news story about the ads, and has links so you can watch the ads online. Below are a couple excerpts.

She (Leigh von der Esch, managing director of the Utah Office of Tourism) says even in tough financial times, people are still visiting Utah. Traveler spending rose an estimated 6.2 percent in 2008 to more than $7 billion. "Utah offers great value. You just can't find better value than our state parks and our national scenic beauty," von der Esch said.

That's where this ad campaign hopes to find success. Commercials show a montage of Utah's unique, family-friendly sights, sounds and adventure with a touch of humor. The slogan: "Utah, where what's next is completely up to you."

The Salt Lake Tribune has this article about the ads.

The state's $3.2 million summer advertising campaign, which debuted Monday on television and in print, takes a humorous approach in showing recreationists loaded down with all kinds of gear that can be used to have fun in Utah. (Utah Office of Tourism) value in their vacations. Our commercials, with a bit of a sense of humor, are eye-catching but also get across the message Utah has a lot to do in a small area."

She (von der Esch) does not think the ads, created for the Tourism Office by its advertising agency, Struck, will come off as goofy. Early runs of print ads in Sunset magazine have generated far more calls than more conventional approaches, von der Esch added.

Thursday, April 02, 2009

LDS Conference In Downtown SLC Last Weekend

The LDS (Mormon) Church held its spring General Conference in Salt Lake City on Saturday and Sunday. Events were held at the Conference Center and adjacent Temple Square facilities in the downtown area. Below is part of our post made anticipating the conference.

Two-hour sessions begin at 10 am and 2 pm both days. A session will also be held Saturday at 6 pm.

Traffic in and around the downtown area will be heavy both days. Officials urge people to use UTA buses and the TRAX light rail trains to get into and out of the city. Extra buses will be used to handle the heavy demand.

Most of conference meetings are open to the public - a free ticket is required. Interest is high and so tickets go fast. The Temple Square grounds will also be open to the public, no ticket needed.

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Zion Park Shuttle Resumes Service

Zion Park shuttles will resume service on April 4, signaling the start of the 2009 visitor season.

Also beginning that day, Zion Canyon will be closed to most private vehicles - the shuttle will provide the only access to popular attractions. The shuttle is convenient and has successfully reduced traffic and congestion within the canyon.

Below is the text of a news release provided by the National Park Service.

On April 4th Shuttle System Resumes
Operation in Zion National Park

Date: March 27, 2009

The resumption of the Zion Canyon Transportation (Shuttle) System signals the start of the 2009 visitor season in Zion National Park. The shuttle system will resume its tenth season of operation on Saturday April 4th. Parks Transportation, Inc., a subsidiary of McDonald Transit of Fort Worth, Texas, operates the shuttle system.

The shuttles operate both within the park and the town of Springdale. The park shuttle loop provides access to points of interest, trailheads, and the Zion Lodge along the Zion Canyon Scenic Drive. While the shuttle system is in operation, the Zion Canyon Scenic Drive is closed to private vehicles, except that Zion Lodge guests may drive as far as the lodge. All other roads in the park, including Highway 9 through the park, are open to private vehicles.

The daily schedule begins with an express shuttle departing the Majestic View shuttle stop at 6:30 a.m. and the Zion Canyon Visitor Center at 6:45 a.m. Regular shuttle service starts at 7 a.m., both in the park and in Springdale. Initially, the last park shuttle will depart at 9:30 p.m. from the visitor center and the last town shuttle will depart the Zion Canyon Theater shuttle stop at 10 p.m. The hours of operation will expand as the summer season progresses. The Springdale Loop serves nine stops, and the Canyon Loop serves nine stops including the Zion Human History Museum and the Zion Lodge. Shuttles will depart from designated stops every seven to ten minutes during the middle of the day and approximately every 10-15 minutes in the morning and evening. There is no charge for riding the shuttles.

Visitors are encouraged to park in designated parking areas in Springdale and ride the shuttle to the park. Canyon Loop Shuttles depart from the Zion Canyon Visitor Center. The Zion Canyon Visitor Center, open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily, offers shuttle information, current park information, backcountry permits, lodge reservations, maps, and a wide selection of publications.

Additional information may be obtained by visiting the park’s website at www.nps.gov/zion or calling the park at 435-772-3256.
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