The Memorial Day Weekend is here, and a lot of people are probably wondering if they'll be able to get away and, if they can, where they'll go.
Time being as valuable as it is and gas prices as high as they are, there's no need to travel far to enjoy some of the sites and activities Utah has to offer.
Just look to the nearest county or to whatever it is that is of interest.
Here is a county-by-county look at some of the possibilities:
Located within the county is state Route 12, probably Utah's most famous stretch of highway. The highway, from start to
finish, all 120 miles, is breathtaking. There is a blend of natural attractions seldom seen anywhere, let alone over such a short stretch of road. It is considered one of the top 10 scenic byways in the country.
It starts with Red Canyon a few miles from the turnoff near Panguitch and ends with a ride over the Boulder Mountains. Past Red Canyon there are Bryce Canyon National Park, Mossy Cave, Kodachrome Basin State Park, Escalante Petrified Forest State Park, Calf Creek Falls Recreation Area, the Escalante Canyons and the Anasazi Indian Village State Park.
There are the towns of Tropic, Cannonville, Henrieville, Escalante and Boulder, quaint farming communities with small stores and down-home restaurants and not a single stoplight among them.
There are streams and lakes, hiking and biking paths and attractions dating from pre-man to modern cowboys and Indians.
Fishing is one of the popular activities within Beaver County. There is one major reservoir and seven mountain lakes, four of those holding brook trout, long considered one of the more popular sport fish in Utah.
Minersville Reservoir, west of Beaver, is being managed as a trophy fishery. Fishermen can use only artificial flies and lures and are allowed to keep only one trout, and it must be over 22 inches. One of the better known mountain waters is Puffer Lake, located a few miles past the Elk Meadows Ski Resort east of Beaver.
Within the town of Beaver is the Territorial Museum. A number of very interesting items can be found in the museum, including the flag that flew over the USS Utah when it was hit in the attack on Pearl Harbor.
The Beaver Canyon Scenic Byway runs east of town along state Route 153. The road terminates at the Elk Meadows Ski Area. The scenic drive is considered one of the state's hidden jewels and is ideal for those who like to hike, camp and mountain bike.
Little Sahara Recreation Area, a 60,000-acre pocket of sand, is managed for off-highway vehicles and is a playground for everything from buggies to motorcycles.
The center of attention is Sand Mountain, which is a mound of sand roughly 700 feet high. Within the area there is also a spider web of trails for hiking, biking and/or motoring.
For those without motorized transportation, the dunes have become a playground for those who like to play in the sand, which would include everything from building sand castles to a new sport called sand surfing. Also inside the managed land is the Rockwell Outstanding Natural Area, a desert ecosystem that is about 9,000 acres in size.
In the southeastern corner of the county is Yuba Reservoir, a popular spot in the summer for boaters, swimmers and anglers. Also, there's the Nebo Loop National Scenic Byway, which runs between Nephi and Payson.
Within the county there are remnants of prehistoric life, ruins dating back to early Americans, remains of turn-of-the-century mining and ranching and sites to include everything from high-mountain meadows to desert landscape to recreational waters just made for swimming, fishing and water skiing.
The county is home to some of Utah's most interesting history, and much of it can be seen in the comfort of climate-controlled buildings and through glass cases. There is the College of Eastern Utah Prehistoric Museum in Price, which holds a large collection of dinosaur bones, including the famous Utah raptor. There is also a cast of the Huntington mammoth, which was found near Huntington Reservoir back in 1988 and proved to be the skeleton of a prehistoric Colombian mammoth.
Near Price is Nine Mile Canyon, one of the state's best Indian rock art exhibits. The art is different in that the early artists exhibited a special style that shows in greater detail human figures presented with elegant dress and accessories.
Two of Utah's scenic byways are in the county the Indian Canyon and the Huntington/Eccles canyons.
Cutler Marsh is on the lower arm of Cutler Reservoir and offers access to some of the most extensive flat-water boating within the state. Hundreds of miles of waterways weave through the marsh's self-made maze, or on the narrow, 10-mile long reservoir, or on one of its main arteries the Little Bear, Bear, Logan or Blacksmith Fork rivers. It, too, is sanctuary for one of the state's most extensive populations of migrating and resident birds.
About 10 miles up Logan Canyon, on the right-hand fork road, is the trail leading to the site where Old Ephraim, the legendary grizzly, was killed. A granite monument marks the site. His skull sits under glass in USU's Merrill Library Special Collection.
About 5.2 miles up the canyon is the parking area for the popular Wind Cave. Over time, wind and water have created in the limestone wall a delicate triple arch and natural cave. There are actually several caves here, part of a triple-arch formation belonging to the China Wall rock area on the slope of Logan Canyon. Hardware Ranch, an elk sanctuary, is located 15 miles east of Hyrum in Blacksmith Fork Canyon.
Along with Antelope Island, there are other well-known places like the Farmington Bay Bird Refuge on the shore of the Great Salt Lake, which is popular with bikers, waterfowl hunters and birdwatchers. There are more than 200 species of birds that have been documented there, everything from white pelicans to horned grebes.
As with all of the communities along the Wasatch Front, there are access points to the popular Bonneville Shoreline Trail, which is the waterline for old Lake Bonneville and runs along the mountain range at an elevation of around 5,200 feet. The Mueller Park loop is one of the more popular trails along the Wasatch Front with hikers and bikers. The 13.5-mile loop starts at the picnic area, goes to North Canyon and then returns to the park.
The S & S Railroad Park and Museum in Farmington started as a hobby and is now a working railroad with 11,000 feet of 7 1/2-gauge track and 5,000 feet of 24-gauge rail, with more than 90 engines and cars and a full-size replica of a 1920s Union Pacific Freight Station. There are more than 20 miniature trains that are large enough for people to ride.
This is one of the most frequently visited areas of the state, mainly because of Flaming Gorge Reservoir and the popular Green River.
The 90-mile reservoir, with more than 350 miles of shoreline, offers summer activities such as water skiing, swimming and fishing. In areas around the reservoir, there are biking, hiking and ATV trails, along with ample opportunities to view wildlife.
The area is also rich in history, dating back to the very beginning of the earth all the way to early visits by pioneers and mountain men. Paleo Indians, Fremont culture people and Ute and Shoshoni Indians have all called the area home. The drive from Vernal to Flaming Gorge is a race through time. It's called "Drive Through the Ages," and there is a special brochure available at locations in Vernal that tells of the formations, groups and ages.
There is, too, the "Wheel of Time" drive, a 10-mile self-guided tour that covers some of the same ground. It starts at Manila and goes over the Sheep Creek Canyon Geological Area. Most of the route is paved, but there are a couple of gravel sections.
Back in 1880, a stopping-off point for anyone in the area of the Green River was Brown's Park. That was when Scotsman John Jarvie operated a store, post office and river ferry. Standing today are several buildings, including a stone house, dugout, blacksmith shop and corrals.
Within the county boundaries is East Canyon State Park, a beautiful mountain lake and camping area bordered by state Route 66 and the Mormon Pioneer Trail.
The route most people take is to head up Parleys Canyon and take the East Canyon exit just below Mountain Dell Golf Course, then simply follow the road to the reservoir. This is a typical mountain lake with about 600 surface acres of water, steep bends and very deep in spots 150 to 200 feet. Fish include rainbow, brown, cutthroat and a few kokanee.
There are also sections of the old Mormon Trail that can be intercepted along the highway.
Lost Creek is another of the high-mountain reservoirs popular with fishermen.
Within the county is Capitol Reef National Park, and on the very eastern end is a piece of Glen Canyon National Recreation Area. In between are such sites as Factory Butte, Henry Mountains, Horseshoe Canyon and pieces of Fishlake and Dixie national forests.
The trip most serious visitors like to take within the park is the 60-mile loop that starts 12 miles east of the visitors center, comes out at Caineville and then returns on state Route 24 to the park.The first obstacle is dubbed the River Ford, which is a flowing river during spring runoff and, after heavy showers, and can be impassable.
The drive is 30 miles to Upper Cathedral Valley and 43 miles to Lower Cathedral Valley, where Temple of the Sun and Moon and Glass Mountain are located.
There are a number of popular hiking and biking routes inside the park, as well as outside the park.
Maps for biking, hiking and ATV use outside the park are available from the Travel Bureau in Torrey.
Steadily flowing past the town of Green River is the Green River itself, the first leg on the historic journey of John Wesley Powell and popular with canoers, kayakers and rafters.
The San Rafael Swell, a geological wonder, runs through the western section of the county and offers unlimited recreational opportunities. There are 13 different recognized areas, which include Goblin Valley State Park and Cleveland-Lloyd Dinosaur Quarry, and such little-known areas as Devils Canyon, Mussentuchit Badlands and Buckhorn Wash.
The Cleveland-Lloyd Dinosaur Quarry, on the edge of the San Rafael Swell, has the remains of more of the prehistoric meat-eaters than any other known location in the country. The museum stores about 10,000 bones that date back to the late Jurassic era, roughly 150 million years ago.
A short drive from the Salt Lake Valley is Jordanelle Reservoir and State Park, and a few miles from there is Deer Creek Reservoir and State Park. Both offer all the summer fun of a water-based state park, including camping, water skiing, swimming, picnicking and, of course, fishing.
The connecting link between the two is the middle section of the Provo River, which is one of the state's premier fishing streams.
Heading southeast, over the summit and down into Strawberry Valley is Strawberry Reservoir, which is Utah's No. 1 fishing hole.
South of the town of Midway is one of the state's Olympic venues Soldier Hollow.
There are two state-run golf centers and the Homestead course open to the public.
The Territorial Statehouse stands in Fillmore. In 1851, then-Gov. Brigham Young announced plans to move the state's government to Fillmore. One reason given was that it was near the center of the territory.
A few miles down the freeway from Fillmore is Cove Fort, so named after the fort built by early Mormon settlers in 1867. The fort served as a way station for travelers. Despite its purpose, the fort never encountered an Indian attack.
Cutting through the eastern side of the county is the Paiute ATV Trail. This spider-web-like trail system has more than 3,000 miles of dirt roads. The Paiute Trail is open to all-terrain vehicles motorcycles, four-wheelers, even some areas for four-wheel-drive vehicles along with hikers, horsemen and mountain bikers.
Iron Mission State Park, which has chronicled early life in the region, is in Cedar City. Found there is a field of old wagons with broken wheels and rusted parts, three one-room cabins built more than a century ago and features that hold lots of history.
The museum itself was suggested in 1957 and opened in 1973. One of the main elements in the museum is Gronway Parry's horse-drawn wagon collection, many of which have been used in old western movies.
Up the mountainside and a little northeast of town is Brian Head Resort, noted not only for its skiing, but also for its summer activities, most notably mountain biking. There's more than 100 miles of single-track trails in the area and hundreds more miles in backcountry dirt roads.
Inside the county are Zion and Bryce national parks, Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument and Glen Canyon National Recreation Area.
More than 70 major moviemakers have used the county landscape for their movies, bringing into the communities the likes of such stars as Tom Mix, John Wayne, Clint Walker, Frank Sinatra, Clint Eastwood and Charlton Heston, to name but a few.
Movies made include such classics as "Stagecoach," "Sergeants III," "The Outlaw Josey Wales" and "Maverick." Other than Kane County, the only place where more western movies have been made is California.
East of Kanab, the county's main city, is Johnson Canyon. The movie set used for the "Gunsmoke" TV series, shot between the 1950s and 1970s, still stands on private land and can be seen from the road running up the canyon.
The county holds some of the state's more scenic and historic canyons, such as Settlement Canyon and Reservoir; Dry Canyon, where the ghost town Jacob City is located; and Soldier Canyon, once a hotbed for early mining.
Also within the county is the old Pony Express route that runs through the county east to west. Nowhere are the life and hardships of the early Pony Express riders more evident than the section between Faust and the town of Ibapah on the Utah/Nevada border.
In the northwestern corner of the county is the Bonneville Salt Flats, made famous by anything with wheels and the potential to travel faster than anything of its kind. The first speed trials were held in 1949. Now race cars and motorcycles from around the world show up on the salt each August to run for world records during Speed Week.
Golf is probably the most popular pastime. In the St. George area alone there are 10 courses some private but most are open to the public.
Zion National Park is one of the state's most popular attractions. Within the park are the Great White Throne and Angels Landing, along with the sculptured rock walls, which are formidable barriers to the visiting traveler.
Snow Canyon is eight miles north of St. George and has long been considered one of Utah's more spectacular parks. Within the park there are a number of popular hikes, including Three Ponds, which is a scenic hike to three man-made ponds, and Hidden Pinion Trail, which is a 1 1/2-mile self-guided walk through red-rock formations and large lava flows. There is a trail through the flows past the popular lava tubes.
There are also a number of popular reservoirs, including Gunlock, Quail Creek and the new Sand Hollow reservoir and recreation area.
Available are a range of activities, including floating rivers, hiking and biking over slick rock.
Four of Utah's most noted white-water river adventures are tied into Grand County Cataract, Westwater, The Daily and Desolation Canyon.
A short drive outside of Moab is the entrance to Arches National Park, one of Utah's more spectacular landscapes and home to the largest concentration of natural sandstone arches in the world.
Dead Horse State Park is north of town. From the deck of the new visitors center, people can get great views of the Colorado River, including one of its most famous points Goose Neck which is 2,000 feet below the rim of the park.
There are three scenic byways in the county the Upper Colorado River drive, which follows the river northeast from Moab to I-70; the Potash-Lower Colorado River drive, which also follows the river but goes southwest; and the Dead Horse Point Mesa, which goes from U.S. 163 to the state park.
There are also three scenic backways LaSal Mountain Loop, Needles/Anticline Overlook Road and Lockhart Basin Road.
On a section of the Weber River is the state's only kayak rodeo park a playground for kayakers, canoers and tubers.
Near the river is Fort Buenaventura, 2450 A Ave., once a state park but now run by the city of Ogden. The fort was the first permanent Anglo settlement in the Great Basin, back in the 1840s. The reconstructed fort includes a stockade, replicas of old cabins, camping areas and a pond.
Pineview Reservoir is east of Ogden and has become a center for summer water sports, including wakeboarding, water skiing, boating and swimming.
In Ogden is the Salomon Center, which offers a range of activities, including bowling, indoor surfing, flying in an air tunnel and a large indoor climbing wall.
San Juan County
Within the county are some of Utah's most extraordinary historic markers, some dating back millions of years and some linked to Utah's more recent past.
The calendar of time can start with Canyonlands National Park and Natural Bridges National Monument and can race forward to more recent recordings such as Hovenweep National Monument and the early American writings on Newspaper Rock.
On the Utah/Arizona border is Monument Valley Navajo Tribal Park, which goes back to the Anasazis, who left the area in the 1300s. The valley, which covers about 30,000 acres, features some fantastic rock structures of red and orange sandstone mesas, buttes, cliffs, canyons and gullies that have served as the setting for numerous movies.
Canyonlands features three distinct areas Island in the Sky, the Needles and the Maze districts all different and all worthy of a visit. Four-wheeling is the most popular means of travel within the park. These days, there is a sharp increase in biking interests, especially in the spring and fall.
A little to the south is Natural Bridges, which features a number of sandstone bridges Owachomo (106 feet high, spanning 180 feet), Sipapu (220 feet high, spanning 268 feet) and Kachina (210 feet high, spanning 204 feet).
Stretching across the Utah/Colorado border is Hovenweep National Monument, which features six well-preserved pre-Columbian Indian villages of towers, pueblos and cliff dwellings dating back some 700 years.
The Uinta Basin, aka Duchesne County, holds hundreds of lakes, mile upon mile of rivers and streams, three national forests and Utah's largest wilderness area.
The High Uinta Wilderness was established by Congress in 1984. Encompassing more than 456,000 acres, it is the largest wilderness area in the state. Among the more popular fishing spots are Moon Lake, the Granddaddy Lakes and the Duchesne River.
Another known fact is that few areas within Utah hold the disparity of wildlife, including elk, deer, moose, black bears, mountain lions, bobcats, coyotes, pine martens, fox mink and weasels, not to mention the families of smaller animals like squirrels and marmots.
The county has, in recent years, become popular with hikers and bikers. Located on BLM lands are signs marking the old Spanish trails found in many locations. Most of the more popular trails followed streams in the area. The old trails were used by a range of early characters, including sheepherders and outlaws and more recently by hunters. Carvings by some of the trees date back to 1914.
Near the center of the county is Starvation State Park and Reservoir. Available within the park are comfortable camping areas, with everything from hot showers to sandy beachesto more than 100 acres of sandy hills for off-highway users to enjoy.
Within the boundaries are Deer Valley, Park City Mountain Resort, The Canyons, the Utah Olympic Park along with cross country skiing on Guardsman's Pass, Rail Trail and on Park City golf courses and adjacent lands.
Along with winter use, the resorts offer activities in the spring and summer. Activities include lift-served hiking and biking, along with a number of special activities such as the Alpine Slide and ZipRider at Park City.
The Utah Olympic Park got into the ZipRider with two different courses the Ultra Zipline and the Xtreme Zip, which is the steepest line in the country, and has its version of the alpine slide the Quicksilver Slide.
Within the county people can look back in time and view the world's history in rock Cenozoic, Mesozoic, Paleozoic and Precambrian periods, or roughly 4.5 billion years spread over just a few miles of road.
There are also few places where people can take a more educational approach to travel than through the town of Vernal, the diggings at Dinosaur National Monument, rafting the Green River or touring the Uintas and seeing such full-time residents as bighorn sheep, marmots, ferrets, several species of hawks, osprey, deer, elk and moose.
One of the more familiar sites in the county is Dinosaur National Monument, which holds the largest Jurassic-period fossil bone quarry in the world. Along with the bones, the quarry features a paleontology laboratory, exhibits and bookstore with all the latest editions on dinosaurs of all shapes, sizes and eating habits.
There is a direct link between the dig site on the Utah/Colorado border and the Natural History State Park Museum in Vernal. In the Vernal museum, visitors get a resourceful, insightful and at times interactive trip through history.
Heading north from the center of town is Scenic Byway 191, leading to Flaming Gorge. The mountainous area, located on the doorstep of town, holds approximately one-third of the state's trophy deer, elk, moose and the largest herd of Rocky Mountain bighorn sheep. It is also home to 350 species of birds, including the largest colony of osprey.
Timpanogos Cave National Monument is located in American Fork Canyon. There is a campground at the base of the mountain that allows access to a paved trail to the cave that is about 1 1/2 miles long and climbs about 1,065 feet. The limestone cavern is noted for helictites, water-created formations that grow in all directions and shapes.
Camp Floyd State Park is another of the more known attractions. For three years 1858-61 men from Johnston's Army bivouacked at Camp Floyd near Fairfield. The inn has been restored and looks as it did back in the late 1800s. There is also a museum showing relics of the time period and a commissary.
Sundance is a year-round recreational center known for its involvement with arts and crafts. The resort also offers a range of summer activities such as nature hikes, hiking and biking trails, fly fishing, horseback riding and a number of programs for children.
Box Elder County
Key attractions are the Bear River Bird Refuge, Willard Bay State Park, Golden Spike National Historic Site and Thiokol's rocket display.
Willard Bay is a 10,000-acre impoundment that offers a full range of watery activities, including boating, swimming, fishing and a steady supply of birds for avid birdwatchers.
The Golden Spike Historic Site was the historic meeting place of the transcontinental railroads back in 1869. The Union Pacific and the Central Pacific railroads, one coming from the West Coast and the other from the East Coast, met at this location on May 10, 1869.On-site there is a visitors center, showing pictures and artifacts of the time and working replicas of the 1869 steam locomotives Jupiter and 119. There is a 9-mile self-guided auto tour along a section of the historic railroad grade. There is also a shorter 1 1/2-mile tour.
The Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge is home to 208 species of birds, including 29 species of swans, geese and ducks, and 30 species of shorebirds, along with such unique varieties as the northern goshawk, western wood-pewee, willow flycatchers, chipping sparrows and rock wrens. There is a 12-mile loop within the refuge that offers great viewing opportunities either by vehicle or bike.
Within the boundaries are two of Utah's more popular reservoirs Piute and Otter Creek. Connected to each of the reservoirs is a state park.
The Piute ATV Trail has become very popular over the years with off-highway recreationalists, and two of the main hubs have become Circleville and Marysvale. The trail is a 272-mile loop along the tops of the Fishlake National Forest.
The county is home to large numbers of bear, elk and deer. There are also cougars in the Dry Creek area, and it's not that uncommon for one to be spotted up among the rocks. During the summer months, another popular activity is to raft on the Sevier River. Many rafters start upstream and end up in Marysville.
Skyline Drive, which runs along the eastern border, is one of the state's more beautiful scenic drives, but because of the heavy snow year is not yet open.
Fairview Canyon is a well-known landmark. The canyon, with the steep mountain slopes projecting up on both sides, is a popular drive and an access point for The Energy Loop: Huntington and Eccles Canyons Scenic Byway.
Near Huntington Reservoir, back in 1988, excavators discovered the skeleton of a prehistoric Colombian mammoth. Later they discovered the jaw of a short-faced bear, said to be half the size of today's grizzly bear, along with a few primitive stone tools. The museum in Fairview shows a full-size replica of the Huntington mammoth, along with a number of other historic artifacts.
There are seven national parks within convenient driving distance Zion, Bryce, Arches, Canyonlands, Great Basin, Capitol Reef and the north rim of the Grand Canyon.
Among the scenic backways is the Gooseberry/Fremont Road, which starts a little northeast of the town of Fremont and connects to I-70. The road is paved, but because of the steep grades and narrow nature of the road, high-clearance vehicles are advised. Along the way, travelers pass through several high-mountain meadows and pass over a number of mountain streams.
One of the main attractions within the county is Fish Lake, the largest body of water in the county. It is among the state's more popular fishing waters.
Another of the well-known sites in the county is the Fremont Indian State Park, one of the largest Fremont Indian communities yet discovered. There were 80 residential structures and a number of storage granaries. Outside the museum there are more than 700 rock-art panels with some 3,600 distinct images. Some of the things the early American Indian people have come to be are known for are their pottery and unique stitching on moccasins and cradle boards.
Also, there are a dozen designated hiking trails in the area, each with its own published guide.
Salt Lake County
Of all the counties in Utah 29 in all none has more recreational opportunities than Salt Lake County many of them spectator sports and many more active sports.
Away from the city center are four of Utah's 13 world-class ski resorts Alta, Snowbird, Solitude and Brighton. At this time of year it's possible to hike, dine and even ski at Snowbird, which is open Fridays through Sundays until June 8 and very likely beyond.
The Utah Olympic Oval in Kearns gained fame during the 2002 Winter Olympics and after as a training center for world-class athletes. Activities available are public skating, indoor soccer and lacrosse, an indoor running track, aerial bungee system and lessons for everything from figure skating to hockey to curling.
The crown jewel is Bear Lake. The lake is 20 miles long and eight miles wide. The lake is unlike any other in Utah. For starters, it has its own Loch Ness monster myth. Over the years, several locals have reported seeing a dinosaur-like creature swimming in the lake. Some have even suggested it really is the Loch Ness creature and that there's an underground channel connecting the two waters. For another, Bear Lake holds three fish that are found nowhere else in the world.
There are more than 1,760 acres of marsh, open water and grasslands, home to such species as the sandhill crane, herons, snowy egrets, white pelicans and a whole list of waterfowl.
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