Dress for Your Adventure

As the crisp autumn breeze blows in along the Wasatch, nature lovers will be in search of their fall layering formula. Utah’s dramatic changes in temperature throughout the day, coupled with high elevation, make layering a necessity when out adventuring.

The base layer lies next to the skin and manages the moisture of the body. It can either lock in sweat or wick it away, so the fabric of choice depends on activity level. It’s usually preferrable to find something that keeps you dry, but in extremely cold temperatures (sub-zero), a layer that holds in moisture can trick your body into sweating less, as it adjusts for the excess of sweat. The base layer should be made of merino wool, synthetic fabrics or a silky material. This layer should be tight enough to fit two to three more layers on top.

The insulating layer does just that— insulate.  This is the second layer and is the main protector from the cold. The insulator should be made up of natural fibers such as wool and goose, and the thickness is determined by the amount of activity. For an expedition with low activity levels and lower temperatures, a heavy-weight product is suggested.

Moderate activities and climates require a mid-weight material, while in mild climates with aerobic activity, a lightweight insulator is recommended. The classic fleece with a breathable but warm fabric is the most common insulator.

The shell is the outer layer with the vital function to protect from the wind and rain. This is the most important layer in rough weather conditions. It should be roomy and not constrict movement or the other layers. Fleeces do well in dry conditions, but it’s best to have a waterproof and windproof fabric to shield you from the elements. A breathable, water-resistant material is suggested for highly athletic activities and a waterproof material for damp and wet conditions.

As layers come in all shapes, sizes and materials, they can also provide a solid sense of fashion. The layer slayers additionally add vests, hoods, scarves and hats. Adding length to layers can class up an outfit, with the shortest layer on top. Layers conveniently provide quick adjustments and comfort for moisture, warmth and protection.


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140 Ways to Climb Maple Canyon

Maple Canyon is one of the most unique climbing destinations in Utah. The texture of the cobblestone rock is like no other place in the state. Just two hours south of Salt Lake, it’s the perfect destination for a weekend stay. With a variety of climbs and numerous locations to explore throughout the canyon, it is a great place to test your ability as a climber.

Climbers can camp near the crags in the huge canyon, but campsites need to be reserved in advance before the end of the season in October. This is the perfect spot for large groups, and amenities like single-family sites, walk-in tent sites, and picnic tables with fire pits make it easy to plan last minute. Ephraim is about 15 minutes south of the canyon, and is great place to stock up on food and supplies before spending time at the crag.

The main attraction of Maple Canyon is the 140 climbing routes ranging from 5.4 up to 5.14. The best places to start would be on Pipeline or Orangutan Wall. Pipeline has a great selection of short but steep routes while Orangutan has a variety of longer climbs. The best time of the year to go is during the summer months and the beginning of the fall. In October and November, it can get cold at night, but this is one of the best times of the year to be outside in Utah as the leaves begin to change and the days aren’t unbearably hot. The majority of the climbs offered in the canyon are single pitch sport routes, but there are a couple of multi-pitch routes. If you don’t get there before the snow comes, don’t sweat it. Maple Canyon also has a variety of ice climbing routes. The best times of the year for ice climbing range from December to the beginning of March. Keep in mind that you will have to skin up or hike to the climbing route as the campsites are closed down during the winter months. The majority of the ice climbs are single pitch, but there are a couple of multi-pitch climbs as well.

Photo courtesy of Lindsay Daniels

Photo courtesy of Lindsay Daniels

If you’re not big into climbing, Maple Canyon itself is stunning enough to go camping for a couple nights to experience its cobblestone cliffs. There are campfire rings, wildlife viewing areas, biking, horseback riding, as well as a couple hikes to explore throughout the canyon. There are three hikes to choose from that range from three to five mile loops branching out from the center of the canyon that feature small caves and waterfalls through the Box Canyon hiking trail. The Maple Canyon Loop trail will be great during the fall season to see the leaves changing because the trail takes you through and out above the canyon and overlooks the valley below.

Whether you are a seasoned climber who has traveled all over the world for climbing or someone who is just looking for a vacation from the Salt Lake Valley, Maple Canyon is definitely a location for your list. Its close proximity to Salt Lake will keep you coming back multiple times a year to experience all that the canyon has to offer.

DIY Trip

DAY 1: The first day is spent packing and getting to Ephraim, Utah, which is the nearest town to Maple Canyon. Pick up all the supplies you need for your stay and anything you might have left at home. You can leave later in the day since the drive only takes a couple hours. Next, make your way back towards the canyon and your campsite.

DAY 2: Today is spent climbing many of the crags the canyon has to offer. I recommend starting out at Orangutan Wall or going to Pipeline.

DAY 3: Today will be a break from climbing and a day spent exploring the rest of the canyon. I recommend hiking on the Maple Canyon Loop. This hike is 5 miles long, so be sure to take your time. There is no need to rush!

DAY 4: Today is spent rock climbing in Box Canyon. These climbs are longer but they offer a couple more challenging aspects such as large overhangs. Plus, the approach through Box Canyon is something you can’t pass up. Today can either be your last day in the canyon, or the next day. It depends on your stamina and how long you are able to keep climbing.

Photos courtesy of Lindsay Daniels


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Seeking Adventure in San Rafael Swell

A kaleidoscope of red rock, the San Rafael Swell in Southern Utah is a destination you have to see. Approximately three hours south of Salt Lake City near Cleveland, Utah sits a vast playground of hiking and mountain biking.

When approaching from Cleveland, you will drive through plains as far as the eye can see. Looking east, the plateau in the distance towers above the flat plains and ranch corrals. The dirt road to get to the Swell meanders through the country like a snake.

There is a turnoff to stop and see the Wedge Overlook, which I highly recommend seeing. Imagine a miniature Grand Canyon and there you have it, the aptly nick-named “Little Grand Canyon.” Standing at the top of a majestic overlook, see canyons weaving in and out. On your way to the campsite located 100 yards from the historic bridge crossing the San Rafael River, you’ll drive down Buckhorn Wash. As you descend deeper into the Swell, the canyon walls narrow in on you and grow in magnitude.  Stay on the Buckhorn Wash dirt road for approximately 27 miles until Swinging Bridge Campground. Watch for debris from flash floods on the road.

One of the best sites to stop and visit while driving to the campsite is the Indian Buckhorn Wash Pictograph Panel, approximately 4.1 miles from the campground.  The pictographs are over 2,000 years old and you can make out a few animal shapes resembling a sheep or a horse (or whatever your imagination conjures up).

San Rafael Swell Camping Trip, Photo by Kiffer Creveling

San Rafael Swell Camping Trip, Photo by Kiffer Creveling

Continuing on your journey to the campsite just past the San Rafael River, you will cross one of the only suspension bridges in Utah, now a registered historic place.

There are endless places to hike and bike in the San Rafael Swell. The Mountain bike trail to Mexican Mountain parallels the San Rafael River and is very popular. On the southernmost part of the Swell, you have two of the most popular destinations: Little Wild Horse Canyon and Goblin Valley eighty miles south on Buckhorn Draw Road and I-70. Little Wild Horse Canyon, an eight-mile loop with approximately 800 feet of elevation change, will entice you. There are some passages that are so narrow you will have to hold your pack above your head to pass through. The wind is chilly when you are walking through the deep crevasse, but when you are in the open spots, it is essential to have plenty of water and sun protection.

Near the campsite,  there are a few fun canyons to explore. Each has its own special beauty with natural bridges, forming arches, and desert life. The most popular canyons are Calf, Pine, and Cow canyon. After an hour of hiking up Calf Canyon, you will reach the ‘Double Caves.’  There are cacti, jack rabbits, lizards, desert toads, scorpions, and more.  At night see the entire galaxy light up the sky and shooting stars visible after the moon sets. The Milky Way will be prominently located across the horizon.  You will never want to leave because of how beautiful it is.

DAY 1: Drive South to the Wedge Overlook and proceed to Swinging Bridge Campground. Stop to see the Indian Pictographs.

DAY 2: Drive back up Buckhorn Draw Road to Calf Canyon and hike to see “Double Caves.” Head back to the campground to enjoy burgers and relax.

DAY 3: Drive south to get to Goblin Valley and Little Wild Horse Canyon. The hike will take approximately five hours depending on how hot it is outside. Camp at Goblin Valley for your last night to enjoy the Goblins at night.

DAY 4: Drive back home to Salt Lake City from I-70 to I-15.

Camping in the San Rafael Swell, Photo by Kiffer Creveling

Camping in the San Rafael Swell, Photo by Kiffer Creveling


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Dead Horse Point: Views to Die For

Thirty-two miles outside of Moab lies Dead Horse Point State Park. This small but mighty state park rises 2,000 feet above the Colorado River and provides incredibly awe-inspiring views of the deep canyons, towering rocks, and buttes of the Canyonlands. The park is nicely situated: 30 minutes from Arches National Park and 10 minutes from Canyonlands National Park. Visiting Dead Horse Point is a great way to enjoy the landscape of these nearby national parks without the crowds of tourists.

Dead Horse Point is a certified “International Dark Sky Park,” and the wide open desert sky makes for great stargazing, as well as beautiful sunsets and sunrises.

There are eight different hikes to choose from and they range from easy to moderate. Dead Horse is ADA-accessible and family-friendly park, plus biking is allowed and park rangers provide guided tours on the weekend.

The legend of how Dead Horse Point got its unusual name is an interesting but sad tale. During the 19th century, ranchers in that area took advantage of the dried brush and branches to create a natural corral for their horses. Unfortunately, at one point many horses died due to exposure and the scarcity of water.

The entrance fee for the park is $10 per vehicle and the visitor center is open year round from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. The campground has 21 sites and one group site. These fill up quickly so if you want to camp inside the park, make sure to make a reservation. The campgrounds are $30 each.

There are bathrooms, water, RV, hook-ups, and a dump station but, no showers. Each campsite has a sheltered picnic table with built-in cabinets for locking up food overnight.

Along the road into Dead Horse, there are two BLM campsites called Cowboy and Horsethief. Cowboy has seven sites at $10 a night, and Horsethief has 56 sites at $15 a night. These sites all have bathrooms, picnic tables, charcoal grills, and fire pits.

If you’d like to camp in style, consider staying in one of the two yurts. These will set you back $99 a night but the amenities make up for the cost. Sleeping for six, electricity, a fireplace and a propane grill are provided for guests. Just don’t forget to pack bedding, utensils, and food. Another huge perk of the yurts: air conditioning. During the height of a Utah summer in the desert it’s a blessing.

Dead Horse Point is ideal for a weekend trip, and this is a great park for enjoying all year round.

Photo by Esther Aboussou

Photo by Esther Aboussou


DAY 1:

After you’ve set up your campsite, take a drive up to Dead Horse Point overlook. From the point, you can look down on the Colorado River and experience the beauty of what millions of years have done to change the land. Layers and layers of sandstone and leftover sediment have turned this once water-filled area into a magnificent desert peninsula. After spending time here, settle in by the fire to enjoy the sunset and do a little star-gazing.

DAY 2:

On your second day at the park, I recommend getting up bright and early to hike the rim trails. Both the east and west rim trails are moderate hikes and are a great way to see Dead Horse from different angles. There are many great spots to stop and take pictures along the trails.

After an afternoon lunch break, head to the Intrepid bike trail. There are three loops of this trail that equal 16.6 miles. It starts at the visitor center and the terrain is suitable for mountain bikers of all levels.

DAY 3:

Before you pack up and head out, make sure to wake up early so you can catch the sunrise as it hits the red Kayenta sandstone. Just outside of the visitor center is the Pony Expresso coffee shop, open daily from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Grab a bite to eat here and take the time to enjoy the view of the amphitheater situated just behind the visitor center. If you’ve brought a furry friend along feel free to take him for a walk on the nearby basin overlook trail. All the trails in the park, except for the mountain bike loops, allow dogs.


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Opinion— Running Dry: Frivolous Water Usage and Uncertainty on the Wasatch Front

Walking along the winding avenues and seemingly endless parallels of Salt Lake City during the summer months is cathartic, and even blissful for the appreciative observer. Sprawling gardens and lawns come to life in technicolor splendor as careless homeowners and local businesses nurture their holdings in spite of the oppressive heat; the desert is in full bloom. Radiance however, comes at a price.

A bidecadal study conducted by the United States Geological Survey indicates that the average Utahn uses 248 gallons of water each day, a disheartening statistic comparatively greater than any other state in the nation. In 2010, Salt Lake County alone consumed over 300 million gallons of water per day. Currently, Utah is the single largest water waster in the U.S.

More alarming yet are the mounting projections that Utah’s population is to double by 2050—with an additional 2.5 million people to the 2.9 million currently inhabiting the high desert state. Our rate of consumption at present is hardly sustainable; how is the state to compensate for this unprecedented growth?

The rising global temperature — despite what many proponents of ignorance would have you believe — is undeniable. These increases are resulting in a dramatic reduction in mountain snowpack levels, particularly in western states. EPA researchers noted “large and consistent decreases observed throughout the western United States… the average change across all sites [amounting] to about a 23 percent decline”. Inhabitants of the Wasatch Front are heavily reliant upon snowpack as a source of drinking water and serve to suffer most as these levels continue to diminish.

Local conservationists and lawmakers are well aware of the uncertain future of Utah’s water sources and recognize the looming potential of a mega-draught similar to that currently ensuing in California. Multiple questionable initiatives have been proposed, from the halfhearted “Prepare60” that intends to address the problem by developing Utah’s water delivery systems and infrastructure, to more radical approaches that involve actions like drilling into our state’s groundwater or diverting resources from Lake Powell. Yes, these initiatives are just as environmentally irresponsible as they sound.

It is becoming increasingly apparent that with increasing global temperatures, booming population growth, and decreasing snowpack levels that action needs to be taken to preserve Utah’s status as an inhabitable chunk of desert, though the responsible course of action may not be appealing to many. Rather than looking towards new sources to compensate for our superfluous water usage, we should focus primarily on preserving the water we already have as its perceived abundance diminishes with catastrophic climate change and rising consumption.

So, where to begin? Here are just a few ideas:

· Water-pricing based upon individual use to discourage wasteful practices.

· Tax rebates for businesses and homes that use environmentally friendly appliances and methods.

· Additional regulations barring excessive water use during temperate seasons.

· Transition to regionally-adapted plants that are known to use less water.

· Regulation of the agricultural industry’s excessive water use.

· Public service campaigns providing helpful tips and methods for conserving water.

It is understandable that Utahns derive a great degree of pride from maintaining beautiful yards and lush ornamental features in such a dry, inhospitable climate, but if our state is to remain an inhabitable place, the state’s population as a whole must reduce its overall water usage dramatically.


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Hit The Waves And Try Some Water Sports

Summer is a time for late-night campfires with s’mores, endless hiking and mountain biking trips, and fireworks. But there’s one question everyone has to deal with: How do you combat the intense heat? For this, there is nothing better than getting out on the lake and enjoying some refreshing water.

There are many ways to enjoy the waters of Utah this summer, but my favorites are boating and water skiing. If you thoroughly enjoy the thrills of the winter sports in this state, particularly skiing and snowboarding, then you will have an effortless transition from the frozen world to the world of water.

The hardest part about water skiing is getting up. As the boat quickly accelerates, it might be an unfamiliar feeling because you are no longer in control of the forward motion of your body — however, once you discover how to harness the power of the boat, it’s just like hitting the slopes.

It will take multiple times being dragged around the lake — and, more often than not, swallowing lake water — until you learn to stand. But don’t give up. More importantly, once you finally do get up, don’t forget to adjust your body as you start picking up speed.

I remember the first time I went water skiing. When I finally got up, I forgot what I was doing in all the excitement and celebration. I instantly caught an edge and lost my skis as I was dragged behind the boat, still holding on to the rope. Learn from my mistake. Once on your skis and moving along the lake, move in and out of the wake, take wide turns and carve on your edges — figure out what your limits are. Most importantly, have fun with this new sport.

If you figure out quickly that water skiing just isn’t for you, give tubing a try. Get ready to hold on for dear life as the boat driver does their best to whip you off. The more people you have on a tube at once, the better. It just makes the experience and memories that much more enjoyable as you try to be the last man standing. Some of my most favorite memories while tubing are seeing my friends taking flight after hitting a huge wave. Make sure you are wearing your life jacket, though, because as the old saying goes, “It’s always fun until someone gets hurt.”

Living in Salt Lake City, there are several places to go throughout the summer that are really close to home. One of the closest lakes is at East Canyon State Park. It is about a 45-minute drive from the base of Emigration Canyon and over the top of Big Mountain. Although it is a smaller body of water, it is conveniently located.

Another great place to go to is Jordanelle Reservoir, which is about a 30-minute drive from the bottom of Parley’s Canyon heading up past Park City on your way toward Heber. If you have a couple days to spend a weekend at a lake, I would recommend going to Lake Powell. There are so many places to explore along the coastline of the lake that you will keep coming back for more. It is truly a beautiful body of water that provides a pleasant change of scenery compared to the other lakes in Utah.


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