Every year it's the same: Around Memorial Day, people headed out for the holidays looking for one thing - heat. They want warmth. Anything without snow.
Which is why the busiest part of the state is always south of Provo. Southern parks are busy; the boat ramps at Lake Powell are overcrowded with people in tank tops and shorts; and tee times for golfing in St. George are coveted, even by non-golfers.This year will be no different. If you don't mind the crowds, go south with the more popular attractions like Lake Powell, Zion, Bryce and the southern state parks like Goblin Valley, Snow Canyon, Dead Horse Point and Kodachrome.
If you want to beat the crowds, be adventuresome and head for more remote, more primitive camping areas. In most cases, they will be the only areas open if you don't already have a spot staked out.
In forest areas, U.S. Forest Service reports that most of the high-mountain areas are still snow-packed, and that while most of the lower camping areas are open, back-country hiking and camping is still limited.
- Lake Powell: For the third year, reservations are required at Bullfrog and Stanton Creek areas. Some spots are still available. Last-minute planners can call (435) 684-7480 for information.
Expect long lines at the ramps, gas stations, restaurants and general stores. And, expect to travel to some of the far-away canyons to find some seclusion.
Fishing is excellent and water temperatures, between 67 and 70, are very tolerable. Fish the backs of the canyons for largemouth, smallmouth, crappie and bluegill. Fish along canyon walls and around submerged structures for striped bass and walleye.
Fees are being charged at all points around the lake this year. Cost is $5 per vehicle and $10 for a boat for stays up to one week.
- State parks: Most of the state parks are booked, but there are a few openings at Hyrum, Bear Lake and the primitive camping areas of Jordanelle, Wasatch Mountain and Starvation. For reservations call 322-3770 or 1-800-322-3770. Under a new reservation program, people can call up to 16 weeks in advance for camping reservations and up to 11 months ahead for group sites. Fees vary according to services.
- Ashley National Forest: Most of the campgrounds are open. Some will not have water. The Flaming Gorge area will have a fee of $2 per day or $5 for 16 days this year. Call 789-1181 for information.
- Dixie National Forest: All of the campgrounds will be open and have water turned on. Call 865-3700 for information.
- Fishlake National Forest: The Loa and Richfield areas (896-9437) will be open and have the water on. Some areas in the Beaver and Fillmore districts will be open but without water.
The Manti-LaSal (637-287), Joes Valley, Devils, Huntington and Old Folks camping areas will be open, but all campgrounds in Moab and Sanpete will be closed.
- Uinta National Forest: Most campgrounds in Heber and Pleasant Grove areas will be open and with the exception of Diamond, all campgrounds in Spanish Fork District will be closed. Call 342-5100.
- Wasatch-Cache National Forest: All campgrounds in the Evanston District will be closed except Bear River, East Fork of the Bear, Hayden Fork and Stillwater. Beaver Creek, Lower Provo, Shady Dell and Yellow Pine areas will be open, but all other campgrounds along the Mirror Lake Highway will be closed. A new fee system will charge $3 per day or $6 for seven days. In the Logan District, all areas will be open except Tony Grove and Sunrise because of snow. All camping areas will be closed in the Mountain View District; all will be open in the Ogden District except The Maples and Monte Cristo; and all campgrounds will be closed in the Salt Lake District except Birches, Box Elder, Church Fork, Dogwood, Ledge-mere and Storm Mountain. Call 524-5030.
Forest Service officials warn that rivers and streams are running high and fast. And those who are planning to take off-highway vehicles should first get information on roads that are open in the area.
- National parks: Zion, Bryce, Capitol Reef, Arches and Canyonlands will be busy. The best recommendation is to arrive early, very early, and hope for some luck. Otherwise, make reservations nearby and drive to the parks. Most of the camping spots in the parks are on a first-come, first-served basis.
- Other options: This might be a good time to forget the crowded campgrounds and boat ramps, and look for alternative activities.
Utah has mapped out 27 scenic byways and 58 backways open to vehicle traffic. Things to see along the way include scenic wonders, early Indian rock art, geological formations, beautiful reservoirs and the painted desert rocks and sand. A book is available outlining the routes and pointing out fea-tures.
This is a popular time of the year for casting lures and baits at fish. Some of the best fishing of the year typically occurs soon after ice-off on some of the more popular waters.
For those with bicycles, there are a number of tours and rides open. Several of the state's travel regions have books detailing routes. Moab is traditionally one of the most popular riding points at this time of the year. But other areas may not be as crowded.