I have done this type of trip in this area at least 12 times and I am running another trip here the second week in March from Vegas. I wouldn't cut out Moab, especially that time of year. Might I suggest staying in Vegas the day you arrive and drive out early the next morning, driving straight through from Vegas to Moab. It is about 7 hours but then you can work you way back to Vegas with shorter trips in that direction. For example, here is my itinerary this March;
Day 1-3 Vegas (we arrive 9am so doable) to Arches, camping three nights in Arches. Highlights/must do trails, Primitive trail from Devils Garden campground area, Delicate Arch and I am partial to Klondike bluff because there are fewer people. If you cannot get a campsite in Arches (must pre-book at www.recreation.gov) there is ample camping along the Colorado River. I take the time to drive to Onion Creek when I am alone. It is 24 miles form Moab but the solitude and then drive along the Colorado is worth it. Outside Arches check out petraglyphs along Potash road and then at the Poison Spider trail head. Drive up to Island in the sky in Canyonlands for a nice afternoon.
Day four, break down camp early and drive to San Rafael Swell and Goblin Valley State Park, nice for a few hours then drive onto to Escalante National Monument. Amazing drive! Check out Calf Creek falls late afternoon or early next morning. If you are adventuous, check some slot canyons in Escalante. Check with the Ranger station in Escalante for camping location.
Day 5-7 drive to Bryce for a day hike then onto to Zion. In Zion, must do is Angels Landing, Observation Point and some of the easier canyon floor hikes.
I left out Page instead because that time of year you have to be a little careful with Antelope Canyon. If rain is forecaster DO NOT go in that slot. A few years back 15 people died there during one flash flood. The only one that survived was the guide.
Monument Valley is a nice drive but there are alot of nice drives and the one to/through Escalante is amazing and more interesting IMO.
It's always warm enough to camp...if you have the right equipment. Should be fine with a 30 degree sleeping back and pad. There are not alot of hotels outside Moab or Page. But if you have a tent you can camp just about anywhere.
It is alot of driving but the drives are beautiful.
Have a great trip whatever you decide!
No account of Utah would be complete without mention of the great winter snow.
With 7 major ski resorts within an hour of the SL Airport and 2 more just a little further, skiing is a big tourist draw. The "Greatest Snow on Earth" is not just a registered trademark, skiiers time and time again agree it is truth.
Two canyons on the west side of the Wasatch (the "Wasatch Front") have two resorts each. In Little Cottonwood are Alta and Snowbird. In Big Cottonwood are Brighton and Solitude.
ALTA is legend. Always at the top of the lists for the greatest and best powder snow, with an average of 500 inches of snow yearly the snow is plentiful and deep. And as they say it is a "dry snow". Created as clouds cross the Great Basin Desert and are sucked dry of moisture, and the snow is powder dry as it runs into the Wasatch Range and drops in the Albion Basin. The owners have kind of been anti-development preferring to keep things low key and simple. That may change with the new generation. It is one of two "ski only" resorts in the state (the other is Deer Valley).
SNOWBIRD has a tough reputation for steeps and diamonds. They do have plenty of intermediate terrain though and much more opened up in Dec of 2006 when the Peruvian Gulch tunnel opened through the mountain to give access to Mineral Basin on the backside. Ski the Bird! You can also purchase a combined Alta/Snowbird pass for a complete experience.
BRIGHTON has been the place many locals learn. Small and intimate Brighton was always the innovative resort. One of the first to allow snowboarders, still providing night skiing, Brighton does what it can to provide a unique experience for all.
SOLITUDE has always had tough competition. The new condos there have opened up a whole resort feel and there seems to be a new vibe about the mountain.
On the east side of the mountains is the "Wasatch Back". Up Parley's Canyon 1/2 hr from the airport are Park City, Deer Valley and The Canyons.
PARK CITY is an old mining town with the quaint and historic main street. This is where it started, with a ski lift right in town. It has grown and grown, but the skiing has always been great.
Through various incarnations THE CANYONS continues to survive. Boasting the largest area of the 7 Salt Lake area resorts the Canyons has a little bit of everything. Getting to it all can sometimes be confusing, but the snow is still good.
DEER VALLEY opened last with a goal to provide a top notch ski experience. The best resort, the best restaurant, limited number of skiiers, this is the upscale mountain.
Further afield up Ogden Canyon are two resorts that get less traffic due to being a longer drive: Snowbasin and Powder Mountain. For these lodging is best obtained in Huntsville or Eden where shuttles will take you to the resorts. Ogden, though a little further drive away, is also a possibility for lodging.
SNOWBASIN was the site for the Olympic downhill races in 2002. A gorgeous resort with unfortunately nowhere to stay right there.
POWDER MOUNTAIN with snow totals that equal Alta's, has the largest skiable acreage of all the Utah resorts at over 5000 acres. A good chunk is accessible only by snowcat for the best of powder skiing. They also encourage snowkiting. It is located at the end of a very steep mt road with limited lodging on the hill.
I have to add the two resorts in the Southern end of the state.
BRIAN HEAD east of Parowan and the new EAGLE POINT RESORT east of Beaver. Both have great snow, good runs and fun for the whole family.
Equipment: Salt Lake airport is well used to caring for skis and boots should you decide to bring your own. However equipment is available to rent at any number of outfits in SLC or directly at the ski resorts. REI, Canyon Sports, Utah Ski & Golf, Ski-n-See are in the valley and may have resort discounts available as well.
Soccer fans rejoiced when the newest major league sport franchise opened in the Salt Lake valley. MLS Real Salt Lake started kind of wobbly, but they have hung on and done well. They have just opened a brand new soccer stadium in Sandy named Rio Tinto. The team played two games there and were able for the first time to go to the playoffs. It was rather heady. I attended the first game in the new stadium and though I expected to be completely bored I have to say I rather enjoyed it. The stadium seats 20,000 and seemed intimate and approachable. You were really a part of the game.
2009 Real Salt Lake brought home the MLS championship !
Utah is not the first place that comes to mind for car racing unless you think of speed records. But there are a number of tracks here.
Bonneville Salt Flats are the granddaddy of all speed racing. It was to the hard, wide open salt flats in the western desert that drivers who wanted top speeds came. Ab Jenkins in the Mormon Meteor and Craig Breedlove who first topped 600 mph in the Spirit of America, are names familiar to many Utahns. The last top racer was Gary Gabelich clocked at 622 mph. Every year during speed week they still try. The nearest town is Wendover.
Miller Sports Park outside of Tooele is a newcomer and I haven't been out there yet to see what it is all about. http://www.millermotorsportspark.com/
And in Magna is the Rocky Mountain Raceway: http://www.rmrracing.com/ where you can get all kinds of racing in one evening.
If you haven't seen arena football you have missed the quick action and impact of the sport. Back again, the Utah Blaze provide a short 8-9 game home season thrill packed with action and excitement. Associated with the AFL the Blaze play in the NFL's off season.
The Utah Grizzlies provide dedicated hockey fans with a taste and thrill of the sport. Affiliated with the ECHL, they play at the E Center in West Valley City. This arena was built with hockey in mind and it is a great place from which to watch. It is easy to reach just off I-215. We were avid fans of the old Golden Eagles of years past, but haven't kept up the enthusiasm with the Grizzlies.
The Salt Lake Bees are a AAA minor league farm team to the CA Angels. They provide a fun summer night activity. Special nights have fireworks. You can buy a cheap ticket at the Spring Mobile field just outside of downtown, bring your blanket and sit out on the grass past the outfield. Or take the right field line and have a great view of the Wasatch as the sun sets. It would be an unusual night that you couldn't get seats at the last minute. One nice thing we've been able to enjoy lately is some of our players have done well in the big leagues and it is nice to be able to say I saw them play in SLC.
For many years the only major league professional team in Utah was Utah Jazz basketball. They have been providing us with some great sports moments for over 30 years now. Jerry Sloan just reached 1000 victories as Jazz coach, no one else has done that with one team. I'm not a big fan of basketball but the are the biggest thing happening sportwise in town. They play at the Energy Solutions Arena and have a great home record, If you are here during the season check for tickets, it will be a fun experience.
If you were thinking of trying hiking our, Utah is a great place to start. Trails in the National Park's of the southern part of the state tend to be short to medium length. You're not going to put in any 12+ hours days in. Also in your favor is your elevation pick up is not great either with a gain of 1500 feet a big day. That's not a lot compared to climbing out of the Grand Canyon for 5000 feet.
Trails are well marked and maintained as a rule in the National Parks of Utah. Bryce Canyon National Park offers great short hikes with rewarding views. Arches National Park has some very easy walks with amazing vistas. Zion National Park has a lot of hikes of all levels from easy strolls along the Virgin River to the adventurous chained climb up to Angel's Landing. Capitol Reef also offers some longer trails that still are of an enjoyable length.
The more advanced hiker will find some interesting trails as well in parks like Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument and Canyonlands. In the former's case, there isn't much elevation but navigation is the obstacle, with The Wave requiring a special map from the park service to make your way out. Canyonlands offers up some steep trails down to the Green River, a great tune-up if doing the Grand Canyon later.
Hikes are often quite busy so best to do them early morning. Not only do you escape the crowds but the temperatures are more pleasant and there's better light for photography. The Wave requires a special permit so numbers are limited. Check out my individual Utah pages for more information on how to hike Utah to the fullest.
Equipment: Good sturdy boots are a must when hiking over slick rock and the often abrasive sandstone that defines Utah trails. Don't skimp socks, your feet will appreciate the extra money you put out for the padding. Desert hiking is best in long light pants and shirts for sun protection and best for changes in the weather that occur. Utah is not a real backpacker's mecca though there are some multi-day hikes in the Staircase for those experienced in slot canyon trekking. So, a day pack will suffice for most people. Sunglasses and a wide brimmed hat will also come in handy in this very sunny state.
The U always provides plenty of opportunities for great spectator sports. The great football and basketball programs are always top contenders. The Red Rocks gymnastic program is solidly at the top of the game and is a great spectator draw. You usually need to plan ahead if you want tickets to any of the games though as they have wide and constant support. Easier to get would be tickets to the women's basketball and volleyball, but they are awesome winners as well.
This area of America has some of the most amazing hikes anywhere in the world. Zion NP is particularly brilliant and I can highly recommend the Virgin River narrows - though do check weather forcast before setting out. Angels Landing is a fairly hard hike but the views are magical. The Emerald pools hike is a little less strenuous but still takes a bit of effot to get to the upper pools.
Equipment: Bring worn in hiking boots or cross trainers and a water bottle.
(this is already added to my mini-Beaver page, however, it must also be on my Utah sports activity list :-) )
I couldn't believe that no one put Elk Meadows here on the list of skiing :-).
Luckily, friends took me there, and I had a really wonderful skiing experience !
With an elevation of 10.400 ft, it's even higher in altitude than Utah's famous Park City and Deer Valley !
It has 1400 acres of skiable area, 5 chair lifts, 1 surface lift, more than 30 ascents, half of them rated intermediate.
So, if you want to ski in a less crowded area within Utah - THIS is the place.
Lifts run daily, 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.
PS: no, I'm not working for Elk Meadows Marketing department :-)
I was just amazed about this skiing area and how much it offers.
Equipment: Nothing to bring as a tourist who want's to spend some nice days there. I was there just coincidentially, friends took me there at the beginning of a exlpore-Utah's-national-park-vacation, so I didn't have any of my gear with me.
You can rent all gear there, ski, boots, poles, gloves, etc.
Ok, bring some warm clothing and a jacket.
These are full day trips not too far away from Salt Lake City that are best done in the summer.
White Pine Lake, Bear River Range
Notch Mountain Trail
Gobblers Knob - Alexander Basin (closest to SLC)
Mount Raymond (closest to SLC)
Desolation Lake (closest to SLC)
Lake Blanche (closest to SLC)
Mount Timpanogos (closest to SLC)
Equipment: Water, hiking shoes (expect snow before late June on most of the hikes), food.
Brighton ski resort in Big Cottonwood Canyon has great slopes for beginners like me.
Alta offers free skiing after 3 pm during the week on green trails.
Equipment: I strongly recommend to visit REI stores. First of all, they offer ski passes at lower rates that ski resorts. Just there you can save 10-15 dollars.
When I arrived in Salt Lake, another traveler commented to me that the airport was going to be a giant mega-bottleneck during the Olympics because it was so inefficiently managed. They couldn't even tell us which carousel our luggage would arrive on.
We only got to see the 2002 Winter Olympics on TV, so that didn't worry me too much. Bob was recovering from his heart attack, and it was an interesting thing to watch at that time. My picture looks a little like the one that's on the Olympics website.
08 February 2002 (the day that Bob had his angioplasty)
24 February 2002
Country of the host city:
United States of America (USA)
Östersund (SWE), Quebec (CAN) and Sion (SUI)
Equipment: Summary of the games from the Olympics website:
The Salt Lake City Olympic Winter Games saw the expansion of the Olympic programme to 78 events, including the return of skeleton and the introduction of women's bobsleigh. Athletes from a record 18 nations earned gold medals. Canadian teams won both the men's and women's ice hockey tournaments. Ole Einar Bjoerndalen earned gold medals in all four biathlon events and Samppa Lajunen in all three Nordic combined competitions. Alpine skier Janica Kostelic won three gold medals and one silver. Simon Ammann scored unexpected victories in both individual ski jump events. Speedskater Claudia Pechstein earned her third straight gold medal in the 5,000m race and also won at 3,000m. By taking the silver medal in singles luge, Georg Hackl became the first person in Olympic history to earn a medal in the same individual event five times in a row. Short track speedskater Yang Yang (A) became the first Chinese athlete to win a gold medal at the Winter Games. Competing in the women’s bobsleigh, Vonetta Flowers became the first black athlete to earn winter gold, while ice hockey player Jarome Iginla followed as the first black male winner.
77 National Olympic Committees (Nations)
2,399 athletes (886 women, 1,513 men)
8,730 media (2,661 written press, 6,069 broadcasters)
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