Tag - utah

Zion National Park

Zion National Park (nps.gov/zion) is one of the world’s great outdoor destinations, drawing visitors from as close as St. George or as far away as China throughout the year.

Zion Hiker

Zion Hiker

Whether you’re looking for climbing, hiking (highly strenuous and beginner-level alike), biking, canyoneering, or backpacking, Zion’s got you covered. But if you’re looking for something a little more laid back, whether on its own or as part of a Zion adventure, Springdale, just outside the park, is an ideal home base. The town has shuttles to and from the park throughout the day, and a plethora of dining and lodging options.

Planning your adventure 

Whether you’re a total novice or a hardened wilderness-dweller, having some help in planning your outdoor excursions never hurts. Zion Adventure Company (www.zionadventures.com, 36 Lion Blvd., 435-772-1001) offers customizable “Hike and Bike” packages that take into account your skill level, what parts of the park you’d like to see, and whether you’d like to take it easy or push yourself. Zion Rock and Mountain Guides (www.zionrockguides.com, 1458 Zion Park Blvd., 435-772-3303) leads excursions through canyons just outside the park, as well as partway through Zion‘s famous Narrows. The guide can only take you part of the way, but can certainly come in handy when it comes to traversing chest-high water and other impediments. Both companies also offer rental equipment for those looking to strike out on their own.

Where to stay

Whether you’re thinking posh or back-to-basics, Springdale’s lodging options have you covered. Hotels, motels, bed-and-breakfasts, and camping options abound. Cliffrose Lodge (cliffroselodge.com, 281 Zion Park Blvd., 800-243-8824), just 200 yards from the park entrance, has a fantastic view overlooking the Virgin River. One of the nation’s classic National Park hotels, the Zion National Park Lodge (www.zionlodge.com, 435-772-7700) offers suites, hotel rooms, or cabins with front porches and fireplaces. If you’re looking to get a bit closer to Mother Nature, camping sites are available not far from the park as well. South Campground offers spaces on a first-come-first-served basis, and Watchman Campground requires advance reservations.

Grab a bite

If you’ve worked up an appetite hiking and climbing, fear not; Springdale’s got dining options aplenty. Get a hearty breakfast at Oscar’s (www.cafeoscars.com, 435-772-3232, 948 Zion Park Blvd.), which offers homey specialties like Hank’s Horseshoe (toast and potatoes baked and piled with everything but the proverbial kitchen sink). Oscar’s is often packed to the seams with locals and tourists alike even during the slow seasons, but it’s well worth the wait. Late risers and night owls will be thankful for Wildcat Willie’s Ranch Grill and Saloon (www.wildcatwillies.com, 435-772-0115, 897 Zion Park Blvd.). The restaurant serves breakfast until 1:30 pm for those who have overslept after karaoke there the previous evening. Be sure to try the Wild Game Meatloaf, which includes elk and bison meat.

To hear more about Zion, including interviews with locals and outdoor guides, listen to Travel Brigade’s Zion episode by clicking here:

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Zermatt Resort Near Park City Provides a Luxury Swiss Alps Experience in Utah

Zermatt Resort  Credit: Kathleen Curry

Zermatt Resort Credit: Kathleen Curry

The town of Midway, Utah, was settled by Swiss immigrants who thought the mountains looked like the Alps. The Swiss tradition continues at Zermatt Resort and Spa.

The arrival area for this luxury hotel gives the feeling of being in the town square of a authentic European village in the Swiss Alps. The main feature is a Swiss Chalet-style, five-story tall, luxury hotel, complete with 226 rooms. There are a variety of room sizes including five penthouse suites. The Swiss theme continues in the rooms, with tapestries and carved wood furniture. The hotel, which opened a few years ago, is just one feature of the 18-acre grounds which includes a spa, carousel, state-of-the-art facilities for holding business meetings, a Euro themed restaurant and a bakery.

Zermatt is located in Midway, which is part of what is known as the Heber Valley, an area that has taken advantage of its proximity to Park City to undergo incredible growth during the past 10 years, and now offers an interesting variety of restaurants and other lifestyle amenities.

Skiing, Golf and Outdoor and Water based Recreation in Heber Valley

Midway is just a 15-minute drive from Park City and its world-famous ski resorts, including Deer Valley. Zermatt offers shuttle service to the resorts for skiers and snowboarders. Beyond the slopes, visitors to Zermatt can also easily access Park City’s other attractions, notably its clubs and night-life, particularly during the Sundance Film Festival.

For those who visit in the summer, the Heber Valley offers a variety of outdoor recreation opportunities, and all of them can be easily booked with assistance of the hotel, activities such as horseback riding, hiking, mountain biking, boating and water activities, hot-air ballooning and learning to fly-fish on the Provo River, which meanders through the Heber Valley.

If one would prefer lacing up golf shoes to hiking boots, Zermatt sits in Wasatch County, which has five golf courses, and an online program that lets visitors book tee times up to 60 days in advance.

Relax at The Spa at Zermatt

Part of the Zermatt complex includes a 17,000 square-foot Spa stretched out over three-floors within the hotel. There are 11 treatment rooms to go along with a 13-head Swiss Shower, Aromatherapy Steam Grotto and Ruheraum Relaxation Room. The variety of treatments, some of which are geared specifically towards men, including house specials such as the Monte Rosa Full Body Rejuvenation and the Caviar and Pearls Anti-Aging Facial.

Zermatt Resort and Spa

784 W. Resort Drive, Midway, Utah 84049

866-643-2015

Whether one wants to visit for the skiing, the outdoor recreation, the golf or the spa, the Heber Valley is a great place to be, and the Zermatt Resort is a good place to stay to be convenient to everything.

More Anasazi Ruins in Utah’s Grand Gulch*

Grand Gulch Ruins

Grand Gulch Ruins

Deep in the Grand Gulch of southeastern Utah, we had been hiking for several hours and took a rest to drink some cool water and eat a snack. Someone in our party of 12 people suggested moving on to Turkey Pen Ruins to set up camp for the night. The few more miles along the trail proved to be both fragrant and musical. Golden hollygrape flowers, smelling like Mormon honey, attracted hummingbirds and western meadowlarks that translated the highs and lows of the surrounding rock walls with commensurate notes. Desert varnish graced all of the gulch’s cliffs with finger-shaped stains of black, gray, red, or white.

Who cared about the pain in our shoulders from those ridiculously heavy packs. John Muir had it right, though–hike with bread crumbs, tea leaves and matches. But the Grand Gulch is not Muir country by a long shot, and we were hungry for more than bread crumbs.

What did these ancient Anasazi people feed on who lived here eight hundred years ago? Corn for sure. Turkeys? Perhaps they penned wild turkeys more for their feathers (used for sleeping mats) and for eggs than for their meat. Other crops? Beans and squash for sure, not to mention pine nuts and wild strawberries. They certainly hunted mountain goats, deer and rabbits as the bones of these animals have been found in their ancient trash heaps. They built up appetites as strong as ours by carefully constructing sandstone dwellings, storage chambers, and ceremonial kivas and by climbing up and down sandstone fills to farm the mesa tops, and by occasionally hunting wild game.

Pig Grand Gulch

Pig Grand Gulch

Plodding along our trail, we were refreshed with the sight of flowers: bright red scarlet gillia, yellow clusters of Rocky Mountain bee plant, and chilli pepper-red firecracker penstemon fainting suggesting bowls of hot chili!

Had similar swallows’ nests made of mud hanging throughout the canyon inspired the Anasazi to do likewise? Perhaps hornet nests inspired them as well. Modern day Native Americans tell us that each animal has something to teach human beings. Spiders weave, coyotes always look over their shoulder, hummingbirds cross-fertilize squash blossoms, and owls hunt at night when small mammals are active.

At last we came to an incredibly lush bend in the valley with a curving arch of sandstone cliffs rising above the Turkey Pen Ruins. Twilight had settled in as our cook stoves hissed away like serpents; some of us gourmandized on cous-cous, others on tortillas and beans, and still others on spaghetti. It had become too dark to climb the cliffs up to the ruins which gave us the excuse to sit back and listen to a nighttime chorus of frogs, owls, and jays. For a moment I thought I was back in South Florida’s Corkscrew Swamp where the evening is hardly silent but alive with the piping of creatures large and small. One could readily imagine that these sounds came from the spirits of the protective Chindi hovering around the ruins keeping away alien intruders. Who knows what I dreamed of that night under the glow of a full moon.

White cliffs glinted in the rising sun giving contrast to the dark hollow housing Turkey Pen Ruins. A quick breakfast in our bellies and we climbed to the ruins across a high sandy flat beneath overhanging sandstone. Slowly we approached an enclosure of tightly knit willow branches whose shadows slanted across the sand. No doubt about it–a turkey pen with small piles of petrified golden brown dung. We half expected to see wild turkeys clucking loudly trying to chase us away. As if to anticipate our coming, the ancient ones had painted images of turkeys both standing and sitting on the cliff walls behind the pen. Quiet though it was, you couldn’t help but sense the presence of these people and their penned turkeys.

We climbed with care to an upper house high on a ledge above the turkey pen. The masonry, the ceiling, the jutting pinyon pine logs remained perfectly intact. We looked closely at the masonry to see rough sandstone slabs cemented together with mud mortar and stone chips for leveling. Clearly the masonry of this upper dwelling was a work of art as were the ceilings made of willow branches and smooth plaster.

The view from the inside to the outer world was stupendous–first a curving arch of woven sandstone looking like a tan sky, and then the blue sky itself above the bending river valley lush with vegetation, and finally the far side of the valley bending with its own sandstone cliffs; the whole valley indeed appeared to be a great ceremonial kiva. Three or four of us, including my son Rich, sat here for an hour just staring and listening. Voices from other people in our party talking below seemed to bend with the stone sounding like they were next to us, Space in this valley also bent around the contours of the sandstone cliffs. The Turkey Pen Ruins proved Einstein right; time and space bend making here there and there here. Above all, our perspectives on life bent. Whose civilization lay in ruins? The Anasazis’? It depends on how you define ruins.* This is a modified excerpt from my out-of-print book Where Land is Mostly Sky(1997).

Excitement in Dinosaur National Monument

Dinosaur National Monument, Credit-FB

Dinosaur National Monument, Credit-FB

Green River Exiting Canyon

Just south of the three-corner area where Utah, Wyoming and Colorado meet, lies Dinosaur National Monument. Here the Green and Yampa rivers join at Steamboat Rock to flow south hundreds of miles all the way to the Colorado River. This grand confluence of rivers is in Canyonlands National Park, Utah.The rivers within Dinosaur National Monument have cut deep into the150 million years old Morrison Formation of the Jurassic Period when the dinosaurs roamed. Thousands of dinosaur skeletons have been exposed as a result of river action.

As a young bachelor back in 1959, I wished to explore this National Monument by driving west of Maybell, Colorado to follow a winding dirt road for thirty-five miles toward the Yampa River entrance through a gateway of red, rocky cliffs. I remember passing a sign with a warning–4 Wheel Drive Only Beyond This Point! Not to be deterred, I continued over jutting rocks and potholes until my 1950 Ford felt like it was going to split in half. Suddenly two ruts the size of small ditches filled with water appeared ahead. I backed up the car, got up speed and skidded through muddy ditches at 45 miles per hour. I almost lost it but roared out onto hard sand and drove up into a cottonwood grove beneath bloody red cliffs where the Yampa River entered Dinosaur National Monument.

Despite the gnawing worry of getting back out to the main road, I became entranced by the immensity of the hollow depths ahead of me and the echoing sounds of ravens cawing deep within the canyon. I couldn’t help but notice bright red-flowered strawberry cactus lining the desert floor. Suddenly a disturbing rumbling sound grew louder and louder–my first thought was that an earthquake was about to take place. But when I saw a flank of canyon lit up by lightning for a split second, I knew that a thunderstorm was about to explode around me. My only hope was that I should leave immediately without the slightest hesitation.As I backed up my car, thunder boomed and echoed deep with Yampa Canyon sounding as though dinosaurs were having a battle. If ever I felt like a modern intruder in prehistoric times, it was then. This time I had a level 100 yards (meters) to gain speed and easily (well not too easily) splashed through the muddy ditches that were pelted with tiny drops of misty rain from the approaching storm. I succeeded in outrunning the storm and arrived at hardtop road (U.S.40) to continue on to Vernal, Utah and the Green River Canyon campgrounds.

Before coming to Dinosaur National Monument I had read John Wesley Powell’s Exploration of the Colorado River and its Canyons (1895) ) in which he describes his 1867 exploratory expedition of the Colorado: “Lying down, we look up through the canyon and see that only a little of the blue heaven appears overhead–a crescent of blue sky, with two or three constellations peering down upon us. I do not sleep for some time, as the excitement of the day has not worn off. Soon I see a bright star that appears to rest on the very verge of the cliff overhead to the east. Slowly it seems to float from its resting place on the rock over the canyon….I almost wonder that it does not fall.”

That evening, I slept outdoors where the Green River exits the canyon. I, too, could hardly get to sleep after the excitement of the day. Stars floated in the sky. I finally fell asleep seemingly to wake up minutes later at sunrise to see the cliffs illuminated so brilliantly I thought I was on Mars.

Climbing Kings Peak, Southwest of Manila, Utah

Kings Peak, Cr-utahhikingandlakes.com

Kings Peak, Credit -utahhikingandlakes.com

Highest Peak in Utah in the Uninta Range

The summit trail to Kings Peak (13,528 feet) from Henry’s Fork Campground is twelve and a half miles and requires camping overnight closer to the top of of the peak.

The twelve and a half mile trail to Kings Peak begins at Henry’s Fork Campground ten miles west of Manila, Utah. There is no other way to get here but by private car where there is enough parking for forty vehicles or so. The starting point of the summit trail is 9,500 feet above sea level. Hikers should pack supplies and food necessary for a two-night stay at Dollar Lake some seven miles distant from the trail head. Hikers must sign the register just outside of Henry’s Fork Campground stating that their objective is the summit of Kings Peak. The best times to climb Kings Peak (named after Clarence King, the first head of the U.S. Geological Survey) are from mid-June through mid-September. Be aware that it can snow well into June and that summer thunderstorms are frequent. It is best to be on the summit no later than noon. The worst times to climb this peak would be from mid-September through early June. There are no man-made hazards on this twelve and a half miles trail, but once the hiker is above twelve thousand feet, she will encounter loose scree.

The Early Part of this Trail Offers Many Opportunities to See Much Wildlife

Once the hiker is own the way to Dollar Lake, he will experience dense stands of lodgepole pines and many streams that have been dammed by beavers. If the hiker gets an early start he will probably see a moose feeding along the stream sides and mule deer scampering through the woods. Along the side of the trail take note of the many wild flowers such as rosy paintbrushes, white alpine bistorts, white geraniums, and bright yellow heart-leafed arnica (whose sepals give relief to rheumatism).

Within a few miles, the trail runs along the top of bluffs overlooking Henry’s Fork River. Here is a great place to take a rest. From the top of these river bluffs the hiker can begin to see the vast beauty of the Uninta Range that is estimated to be 3.9 billion years old, much older than the mere 60 million-year old Colorado Rockies. While the Rocky Mountain Chain runs north-south, these Unitas run east-west suggesting that the much younger tectonic plates have collected around the older Uintas. To the east, the hiker can see Gilbert Peak rising to 13,422 feet and to the west, Flat Top Mountain rising to 12,170 feet. Before the hiker continues, she should listen to the melodious notes of the western song sparrow indigenous to the Unitas. Within another two miles, the trail will cross a wooden footbridge across Henry’s Fork and eventually rise up over a subalpine rill to give the hiker a tremendous view of the high Unitas, maroon colored and cathedral-organ shaped. As the hiker proceeds along the trail, she will notice that the trees have become much smaller and clumpy. After a mile or so of hiking is this marshy, grassy, tree-clumped terrain, the hiker will at last see Dollar Lake sparkling like a giant silver dollar. Here is where camp should be set up and dinner cooked and a good night’s sleep be taken.

Rise With the Sun and Take a Day-pack With Snacks and Water to Summit Kings Peak

On this second day, the hiker will begin at 11,300 feet or so to climb above tree line to Gunsight Pass just over 12,000 feet. Here is a good resting spot with just a little over three miles to the summit. From Gunsight Pass the hiker can look northward into the Red Desert country of Wyoming and look all around at many thirteen-thousand foot peaks. Take note of white alpine-forget-me-not at your feet. These little flowers are rare and usually are light blue in color. Do not get discouraged by descending into a meadow, first of all because it is so beautiful and lush with marsh marigolds, and second of all it rises quite quickly from the meadow to Anderson Pass at 12,700 feet. From the meadow the hiker will get a full view of Kings Peak looming above. The trail rises quickly on the west side of the meadow following gushing streams beside bright green tufts of alpine tundra. It takes about an hour to arrive at high Anderson Pass.

There is a Vertical Gain of Less Than 900 Feet From Anderson Pass to the Summit,

At Anderson Pass the hiker can breathe a sigh of relief as he has only 828 vertical feet to go. But he must take caution in getting handholds and footholds on loose scree. While there are no wild flowers up here, the rocks themselves have a beauty all of their own: rosy shale, gray granite, and red quartzite. High pitched squeaks can be heard up here coming from a small, rabbit-like pika. Within less than a hour, the hiker will stand atop the highest point in Utah with views of the entire Uinta Range including, to the west, the distant snowy, cone-shaped Tokewanna Peak rising 13, 123 feet. The hike takes two days with a vertical gain of 4,000 feet. Bring sufficient water (and food) as there are no pure water sources along the Summit Trail, nor are there any rest room facilities. You can download a USGS Quad map of the Unita Range.

Archers National Park- Moab Utah

Archers nat park, Cr-smarttravelinfo

Archers nat park, Cr-smarttravelinfo

A weekend at the Archers National Park

Arches National Park contains the world’s largest concentration of natural stone arches. This National Park is a red, arid desert, punctuated with oddly eroded sandstone forms such as fins, pinnacles, spires, balanced rocks, and arches. The 73,000-acre region has over 2,000 of these “miracles of nature.” The park is 5 miles north of Moab downtown and it’s open 24h a day. The cost would be $10 per vehicle but the ticket is valid for 7 days. The prices vary if you are local, senior. It’s recommended to visit the arches in the afternoon when the sun hits the rock formation. It has the most beautiful red colors you can imagine. When the sun sets, the colors turn into yellow or brown.

How to get there:

When you arrive in Moab, take the highway 191 and if you follow up to 5 miles, you would see the entrance to the park. Go to the visitor’s center and buy your tickets and you are all set to go.

If you drive, you have parking places all over the major rock formations, if you don’t have any, just park on the road and no one will blame you. The rock formations are amazing and it’s not recommended to pick up rocks or venture around. The rocks are fragile.

The visit takes up to 3 h even if you are driving. Some hikes and some bikes, everyone has to share the road. Every 5 mn, you would see new rock formation and sometimes you wonder how it was eroded that way it is. The most amazing rock I’ve seen is the one looks like a fish head with its eyes, mouth a nice face, the others look like a family gathering.( three women standing )

it is hard to describe the beauty of the rocks and if you never seen those before. Make sure to take more pictures. A paved two-lane road runs about 18 miles one-way through the park, with a few short turnoffs along the way. Many of Arches’ sites are visible from pull-offs along the road, but the best views take some short hiking over well marked trails

The best thing to do when you are in the park is to walk to the famous  delicate arch. It’s a treacherous and hard path to follow. You have to able to climb a huge rock for 15mn at least then have to go through some sand dunes then at the end, you have to be brave by following the narrow path leading to the arch. On one side, you see the free fall with huge rocks and the other side it the rock wall everyone want to hold onto. You make sure that you are safe and would be able to walk. If you are taking kids with you. Just make sure they are always with you and hold on to them. When you reach the arch. It’s gorgeous and no world to express the beauty, especially, if you are there during the evening. The area is wide but to get to it, you have to crawl over some rocks and it’s not for everyone. You might have vertigo and most walk back.

Fun things to do:

Camping

If you like to camp,there are few camp ground you can reserve but I would recommend you calling the reservations couple weeks in advance if you plan to go during the busy summer.

You will also be able to find hotels around the park for over $100 a night. During the season, the prices are high, just be aware of it.

Hummer safari

The other fun thing to do is to take a Hummer safari, which consists of renting a hummer with a driver for 6 people, and climb the rocks like rock climbers. It is the scariest ride you would ever experience. The hummer climb steep ricks with a 70 degree angle and the driver stops in the middle of the course. The ride takes up to 2h with a small dinner at the end. When you come back it’s dark and exhausted. The ride cost $80 per person and it is worth it.

Sky diving

Biking

Hiking

Balloon flights

Off road driving

Speed boat tours

Rock climbing

White water rafting

Hourse back rides and much  more

Do not worry about food. There are so many restaurants in Moab but if you drink, you have to pay for the alcohol tax. It’s Utah wired drinking law. You have to buy a pass for $5 non refundable and in case you change the bar. You are entitled for another $5.00  not because you are drunk but it’s the law. Moab is a vibrant city and it’s jam packed during the summer time. You would notice jeeps all over the city. I thought it was the jeep city. Everyone has one and many are going off road driving. I recommend you going to see those formations if you are a nature lover. There are so many hikes inside the park and you would appreciate them.