This would mostly be for those who haven't been to the Western United States ...
1. Hot dry weather. Beacause the humidity is so low, I found you can become dehydrated very quickly, and not know it because you don't notice sweating. It dries too fast. Bring PLENTY of water.
2. Much of Utah is very remote - make sure you have enough supplies. On specific example is Interstate 70 in the middle of the state. There's a 112 mile stretch with no services, I don't know of any other Interstate Highway that desolate in the US. On the bright side, this makes for a beautiful state. The included photo was taken on I-70: find me another interstate highway in this country so scenic!
3. Large changes in elevation mean weather can be unpredictable. While it was in the 90's (F) in Zion NP, the next morning (late August) it was only 34F in nearby Cedar Breaks, with a stiff wind.
I tried very hard to train my eye-hand coordination while driving in Utah, keep one eye on the road, the other one on the passing scenery, one hand on the steering wheel, one hand to wake my husband to snap a shot, it can be dangerous for there're too many breath-taking scenery on the road, you wish there's roof top camera with a remote control on the steering wheel.
If you’re in the mood for some alcohol while in Utah, you better plan on getting it before you want it. Utah controls all the liquor stores in Utah, and only has 13-14 liquor stores in the entire state. Since they are the monopoly, watch out for the prices. The hours they are open are pretty goofy, and are closed on Sunday. All beer sold in Utah has an alcohol content of 3.2%. The only place to get 6.0% beer is up at Hill Air Force Base, and the prices are very reasonable. The only hitch is that US Military are allowed to shop there, so ask around, you might find someone willing to help out.
Watch your speed while traveling around rural Utah. We've discovered that a lot of those rural towns don't like non-mormons, and will be happy to give you a ticket! The Metro areas of Ogden, Salt Lake City, and Provo aren't that bad. I took this picture when my friend was pulled over! :)
Most of Utah is desert, especially the southern portion. BRING WATER. If you're driving, it's always a good idea, what with the radiator overheating or being stranded. And you don't have an excuse if you don't bring it with you while hiking! Seriously, you'll dehydrate out there.
Until the 2002 Winter Olympics, I list the traffic hassles has a warning. When the games were announced, Salt Lake City began widening the interstate system and putting in a light rail system. Traffic can thus be heavy. However, when all the work is done, I would anticipate that it will be a very communter friendly city.
Normally the desert is not a good place for your four footed and dark furred friend. Last time I went to this area, was during the fall. And I went hiking only during the morning and late afternoon when the sun was lower in the sky. Even then you should bring lots of water for your self and your hiking partner. My dog looks very thirsty here, but he fared well, never complained, a great travel partner! Once we got into the narrow canyons he was very lively again. Also check your friend's paws frequently. The dry and sharp rocks will be tough on the feet.
When hiking in the parks of southern Utah, be sure to take plenty of drinking water with you. Dehydration is a serious threat. Basically, when you leave the Information Center there are no more places to buy refreshments so go prepared for the day's outing.
My only disappointment with this trip is that I did not have the time to see all of Utah's many natural wonders. Despite what the SLC travel brochures tell you, the city is not a great location to base yourself to see everything in Utah unless you have a month to spend driving around. Many of the great sights of Utah are more than a day trip away from Salt Lake City. When I go back, I might spend a week in the north, and a week in the south.
Remember when visiting that Utah is a dry state.
Park City is one of the few places in the state where you can find alcoholic beverages in restaurants, and one of the few cities that has pubs, brewpubs, and bars.
To purchase alcoholic beverages at a restaurant you must either join a private club (good for one year) or be sponsered by a club member.
I've found that if you are polite and gracious, a club member or restaurant employee will offer to sponsor you. This will save you the $15.00 fee for a one year membership. I was sponsored by a local in a popular watering-hole in on the main-street downtown. A true cowboy, up to his 10 gallon Stetson. To show my appreciation, I bought him a round and he seemed to be geuninely surprised and appreciative.
But it goes without saying that when you travel, if you are a good guest and an gracious vistor, a little courtesy will buy you a lot of help from the locals!
There are dangerous animals in Utah, the picture shows one of them. Its most dangerous aspect is that it causes you to get down on your knees or even belly crawl to get a good picture, very dangerous to clean clothes and especially your spouse calling out to you 'What are you doing crawling on the ground', of course to the amusement of the other tourists.
When driving be aware for deer, elk and other large critters on the road. Backcountry travel in winter (cross country skiing, snowmobiling, snowboarding) should be done carefully due to avalanche hazard. Be sure to check local avalanche conditions by contacting the Utah Avalanche Forecast Center by calling them or visiting their website at http://www.avalanche.org Skiing and other winter activities in the mountains are safe at the resorts and if visiting these areas, you really don't need to contact the Avalanche forecast center.
The narrow slot canyons of southern Utah should be visited only when there is no chance of thundershowers as flash floods often sweep through them during thunderstorms, and when you are in a slot canyon, there is no escape from the flood.
The roads of Utah are good, but be sensible when driving on the steep switchbacks and use a low gear or risk burning out your brakes.
I don't know how often this happens, but near Goosenecks Park, a nice blacktop road changes to VERY steep gravel switchbacks without guardrails and back to blacktop at the top of the incline (signs warn you, but it's unnerving driving for those of us from 'flat' parts of the country). Get a good map that labels unpaved segments of roads.
The freeways are now almost completely finished in preparation for the 2002 Winter Olympics. Traffic is now flowing a lot more smoothly in the Salt Lake City area. However, there are still some spots under construction that may cause some slowing. Construction is now under way in the Ogden area. North and southbound lanes can get very congested between Clearfield and North Ogden. If at all possible, avoid this section of the freeway during morning rush hour, 7:30-9:00 am, and afternoon rush hour, 4:30-6:30 pm. A lot of city streets are also under construction. I would recommend tuning in to one of the local radio stations and paying attention to the traffic updates. KISN97 (97.1 FM) has traffic reports every 15 minutes, mornings and afternoons.
There are, of course, road hazards in all places. This road hazard I encountered in Utah is a bit unusual.
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