Hope, the officials don’t mind that I place Smokey Bear here to warn of forest fires. But, during all my travels in US I was fascinated of the successful campaign of creating the bear as a “living figure” to give the message to prevent forest fires.
So: wherever you are, whatever you do travelling and hiking around in Utah – be careful when lighting a fire.
Don’t throw away cigarettes or matches, don’t cook with open fire when not protecting it against wind – the best of all would even be not to light a fire at all.
It is said that 9 out of 10 wildfires are caused by humans.
A bit off-topic, but nevertheless interesting: Smokey Bear is actually based on an orphan baby black bear, who was found after a big forest fire in 1950.
You can read more about this, and also about wildfires, what they do, and how to prevent them on Smokey Bears Website
The picture is a 1960 poster of Smokey Bear campaign.
Always try to check locally for the weather locally and up to 50 km away, as even if it is not raining locally a lot of these canyons and washes are linked and a small trickle will turn into a flood very quickly. Try to stay alert, listen for unusual sounds and have an eye for high ground, it may be necessary to get up somewhere pretty fast. In short if there's any possibility of rain anywhere close DO NOT GO IN !!!
Remember Antelope Canyon, August 1997. 11 people died when caught in the canyon by a flash flood that started when it rained 30 kms away.
When you experience the outdoors you must be prepared. Just because you're going to a national park with trails that are maintained does not mean you are safe from danger. You must know your capabilities and plan properly. Be sure to have the right clothes and right amt. Take quality gear. Register and inform park rangers of your plans if you're going into the backcountry. Advise family or friends of your plans and when to expect you back. Be careful while STAYING on the trail. Take out of the park what you brought in. Obey park rules and regulations, especially pertaining to campfires. DO NOT POLLUTE! LEAVE NO TRACE!
It is hard for a person that has not lived in this part of the world to get their head around how exposed you are here. The automobile gives one a FALSE sense of security. The distances here are vast. Should you have a mechanical malfunction you could be DAYS from the nearest help. Your cell phone will NOT always work.
You will need at east a gallon of 4 L of water per day per person. Make sure you keep a large jug of water in your car. It will take 3 Days to walk 50 to 60 miles.
Never take a hike with out water to drink. EVERY season people die in the South Western United States from dehydration.
One of the best tips I can leave you with is to start out on your trip fully hydrated. Start drinking water a week before you arrive in Utah. Then push the water every day. Your urine should be clear. If not push more water.
I do not mean to scare you just to make you take this seriously.
My husband and I were admitted for a day at the hospital in Panguitch, UT after eating at the buffet at Ruby's Diner in Bryce, UT. The doctor said at that time that another few people had had a similar problem a week prior, and "luckily, their hepatitis tests came back negative." DINER BEWARE!!!!
Driving on snow and ice can be a harrowing experience. Every year, people are injured and killed while doing this. Utah has a lower rate of traffic fatalities than most states, probably due to the low consumption of alcohol. But accidents on ice roads do happen. On Thanksgiving weekend 2004, at least 8 people were killed in traffic accidents in the Wasatch area.
Since I'd never driven in snow before, I asked alot of people for tips on how to be safe, not skid on an icy road and not roll the SUV into a ditch (rental car companies hate it when you do that). Here's a bit about what I was told:
1. Drive slowly and do not exceed 40 mph. Most accidents happen because drivers are going too fast and lose control of their vehicles. Also, if you're driving the posted speed limit during a storm or over snow and ice post-storm, you are going too fast.
2. Drive a vehicle with 4WD. This one was conflicting though. Last year in Colorado, I was told 4wd does notthing but help you get out if you're stuck. In Utah, most people seemed to think it was a life saving mechanism and one that would keep you safe under any condition. In spite of this, it seems to make sense that vehicles with 4wd are less likely to skid.
3. Keep your windshield and lights clear. Don't worry about snow on the rest of your car, but make sure that you can see and that others can see you. Keep lights on while driving too.
4. Don't drive in front of a snowplow. This seemed pretty common sense to me, but people apparently do this when in a hurry. Also, a friend who lives in upstate NY suggested driving behind trucks (at a safe distance, of course) as they have a smiliar effect on the road.
5. Keep at least 3 car lengths distance from the vehicle in front of you. Cars do not stop so quickly in snow and this is another cause of accidents.
Have a blast and don't forget to buy an ice scraper for your windshield!
Many places in Utah, including gas stations and convenience stores, do not sell cigarettes. If you're a smoker, keep that in mind lest you'll go without or have to drive for miles to the only place which carries your wares in order to purchase a drastically priced inflated pack of smokes.
This, of course, does not apply to Salt Lake City and environs, but to those sparsely populated areas and to national parks such as Bryce Canyon.
Utah is, by and large, a dry state. Many areas do not sell alcohol. By law, alcohol cannot be sold without food, so you won't find too many bars in your travels across this state. In more populated areas such as Salt Lake City, restaurants and private clubs allow drinking, but require the purchase of a membership for a fee before allowing you in.
As you pass through some areas in Utah you will come into contact with many artifacts from past cultures. Most of these lay in the open and unguarded. It is your responsibility to treat these treasures with careful consideration and respect.
Do not climb on them, write on them, or in most cases even touch them. Do not even think about taking a bit home. The National Antiquities Act makes this a felony and carries a heavy fine and jail time.
So do your part to protect this bit of human culture. Look, learn, photograph and leave it undamaged for the rest of the world to see.
I-70 is a rush but watch out for gigantic elk and deer...the will take you out!!
Suset...nightime...mating season(fall) and even daytime...the are big, unpredictable and can kill you...hitting a deer at high speed is like running into a brick wall...and if you clip em just right they can go thru you windshield and then you have one pissed off deer in your lap
Utah has its share of slot canyons and care should be taken when visiting them. In narrow canyons like Buckskin Gulch, there is always the danger of flash floods. This area is generally starved of moisture but when it comes, it comes torrentially , and often with little warning. The ground is simply unable to absorb the water quickly enough and hikers can soon be in over their heads. With nowhere to go but up, one needs to be constantly on guard for signs of impending flooding.
You will notice some areas are quite dry and others will have small streams running through them. Look for debris moving along with the water as one sign that more could be on its way. When in doubt make your way out of the canyon. For that reason, it's good to know where you are in the canyon to be able to make a decision on where to retreat to. If deep in the canyon, seek a wide part of it. You will notice as you hike, there are some nice big lush areas seemingly in the middle of nowhere. These can be safer areas to seek refuge. Then you have to wait it out till the water recedes. That's a good reason to carry some warm clothes and extra food while hiking.
On the trail we hiked the ledge was very narrow, and there was a light coating of sand that is very slick in tennis shoes. Hiking boots would work better and use the chain posted in the rock. If the weather is hot and sunny be sure you have water.
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.
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! :)
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.
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