Beyond the Wasatch: Goblin Valley

Last year, my fiancé and I made it a goal to travel at least once a month. We visited national parks and monuments, state parks, and hot springs, and we were able to round out 2016 with 13 camping trips under our belts. This year, we started out fresh with a January trip to Goblin Valley State Park.

Goblin Valley is basically an enormous playground. There’s something for everyone; campers, hikers, bikers, and climbers. The park’s main attraction is the collection of sandstone hoodoos sprinkled throughout the landscape. Down in the valley, these mushroom-shaped rocks and towers fill your view in every direction, and each one is unique. Inside the park, there are five designated hikes.

Little Wild Horse and the Ding and Dang Canyons are just a few miles away from the visitors center and these slot canyons offer a whole day of fun. Little Wild Horse especially is very popular because you don’t need to be experienced to navigate, climb, and scramble through it.

A day use pass to enter the park is $13. If you’re planning to stay the night, there are 25 sites in the campground and two yurts available. Campsites are $25 a night, and there are options for tents and RV hook-ups. Along with that, there are showers and flush toilets, and each site comes with a fire-pit, picnic table, and shade shelter. Yurts are $80 and are equipped with bunk beds, a seating area, table, heat, A/C, and a BBQ cooker.

For weekend warriors like me, here’s your perfect three-day itinerary:


Arrive at the park as early as you can. After setting up camp, explore the three valleys of goblins. They are in close proximity to each other and offer hours of fun if you decide to trek through all of them. Pack a lunch and a lot of water. After a break, take the 1.5 mile hike to the Goblin’s Lair and relax in the fresh cool air of this enormous cavern. If you’re prepared for it, permits for rappelling down into the canyon can be purchased at the visitors center or you can hire a guide for a canyoneering tour.


Visit Little Wild Horse slot canyon, just five miles west of the Goblin Valley Visitor Center. The full loop of Little Wild Horse Canyon and Bell Canyon is eight miles, or you can stick to Little Wild Horse, 3.3 miles one way. It’s easy to navigate for all skill-levels and ages. When you get back to camp, relax your sore muscles by the fire and gaze up at the many visible stars in this Dark Sky Certified Park.


On the last day of your trip, take the easy 250-yard trail down into the valley to get a closer look at the Three Sisters, one of the most iconic formations in the park, before packing up and heading home.



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Find Your Pitch, Ice Climbing close to home

Climbers have three options in the winter: drive south, go indoors, or layer up and get on some ice. If you haven’t yet tried option number three, there is still time, the season isn’t over yet. Yes, attaching metal spikes to your feet and holding on by the tip of an ice axe can be a little intimidating, but there are few epic adventures more brag-worthy than standing atop a pillar of ice. Try it once, and you’ll be hooked.

Most people have their baptism by ice at Ouray Ice Park in Colorado: the perfect launch pad for an ice climbing career. The man-made ice is reliable and thick, while in the Wasatch, fluctuating weather patterns and avalanches make route finding a little more fickle.  For those sick of following a Candy Lane trail of colored, chalked-up holds in the gym, put your gloves on instead and try these ice climbing routes.


After driving up this canyon, park at the Bridal Veils parking lot, and you will find another vehicle full of climbers. Accessibility and consistent ice make this place a little crowded, but there is a high concentration of climbs here. Access the famous Stairway to Heaven just off the trail, a multi-pitch climb that can reach up to 10 pitches during a good ice season. The first pitch, lovingly called The Apron because of its width, is easy to set up a top-rope on and do laps. There are a few bolts at the top, so you can hop between routes if you are in a bigger group.

If you keep walking up the trail before turning toward the Stairway area, you will come to the breathtaking Bridal Veil Falls. While it rarely freezes, there are a few fantastic climbs to the right of it. Ice leading experience is required.


You really can’t call yourself an ice climber and live in Utah without climbing the Great White Icicle. It’s a classic multi-pitch easily accessible off the freeway. The views get better and better at the end of each of the four pitches, but don’t get distracted and forget to watch for falling ice. Because of high traffic, you will get hit with ice, so always wear a helmet. Once you’ve done this classic, you might as well hike over to Scruffy Band, a collection of ice dripping off granite slabs. You can switch easily between routes of easy grades.


When avalanche dangers are high in the Wasatch, Maple Canyon is the perfect alternative. Around every winding cobblestone corner, ice pours into perfect climbing routes. There are several routes accessible off the Main Road, but Box Canyon and Left Fork also reveal hidden treasures. Tennis Shoe Slab is long but sustained, and the intimidating Dagger is just around the corner, suspended over an easy first pitch that has set chains. The Wet Itchies and Bowling Ball Head are a little more steep, but fun if you are ready to push yourself.


This famous bouldering destination also has stellar ice in the winter months. The CCC and Donoricicle are both breathtaking pillars of thick ice that just taunt you to climb them. A top rope can easily be set up at the Donoricicle, but leading experience is necessary for the two pitches of the CCC. A plus here is the belayer isn’t stuck with a bad view, the frozen Joe’s Reservoir and surrounding mountainous landscape are visible below.

**If you are going ice climbing in Utah, purchase the detailed guide “Beehive Ice” by Nathan Smith and Andrew Burr. Also, check avalanche conditions prior to the climb and check equipment constantly throughout.



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The Perils of Filmmaking in the West Desert

After weeks of painstaking exploration, bartering, sabotage, and espionage, I managed to secure an interview with the avant-garde filmmakers known only as Visage. Rumor had it that the illusive crew was stuck in town, treating hypothermia and shock after a failed attempt at producing something “truly transcendental” in Utah’s West Desert.

This clandestine group, led by Chad Powers, traveled the world on a quest to “capture the golden ratio between extreme and obscure,” ultimately leading them to our slice of Northern Utah just three weeks ago. Powers, with his customary head-mounted GoPro and surrounding turtleneck posse, relayed to me the trials and turmoil involved in their recent, largely unsuccessful project.

Shortly after releasing a silent film based on their time living amongst the manatees of Crystal River, Florida, Visage was tipped off about the local Faultline Film Awards. “This was to be the ideal platform for another monumental release,” Powers recalled. “A creative gathering hosted by a little-known student outdoor publication — extreme, yet obscure. Plus, the swamp was incompatible with our attire; it was time for something new.”

The ambitious project they intended to submit was Powers’s magnum opus, the creative masterpiece to get them on the map, while remaining simultaneously off the map, ironically. The premise was simple: “for seven days and seven nights, we were to walk into Utah’s sandy flatlands on a journey… to find ourselves.”

Powers, and the four other members of the crew at that time, drove west on I-80 for an undisclosed distance, only to turn off at what seemed to be the most introspective point-of-departure. “Tents, bags, insulated boots — these are the objects of domesticity. We needed only open minds, open hearts, and our Chacos; the rest was to be revealed in the sands.”

The initial days of their creative spiritual journey were successful, with reportedly over eighteen recorded hours of 360-degree wide-angle panning and sepia still frames of crew members in various positions and poses. This experiment in creative expression and self-discovery took a turn for the worst, however, as the filmmakers came into contact with the then encroaching winter storm.

“We were shocked to see snowflakes falling around us,” the documentarian recalled with difficulty. “All the google images of this bogus state indicated dry, red desert. We saw ground snow on our way in, sure, but we assumed that was just part of the aesthetic, artificial.”

The subsequent couple of days were a whitewashed blur, it seems, as Powers recalled experiencing only perpetual torrents of snow, and the inability to discern anything else, while other members chose not to speak to me for the entire duration of the interview, merely nodding occasionally to ostensibly jive word-choice. “Without any point of reference outside the powder, we experienced the cold, we were the cold, you dig?”

Shivering in a collective ball, Visage was discovered several days later by a good samaritan on the hunt for old aluminum cans and artifacts.

Powers expressed that the crew’s next project will be somewhere with neither sand nor snow, and likely a place that I’ve never heard of.

While Visage’s 72-hour ambient film from this perilous journey will not be shown at the Faultline Film Awards, you are still encouraged to attend nonetheless — it will still be very hip.


Photo courtesy of Carolyn Webber


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How I Ended up in Cranbrook, B.C.

The reality of what we had gotten ourselves into only hit me at the tiny, remote border crossing in Roosville, MT. After politely informing the Canadian border patrol agent that our travel plans were to head to Cranbrook, B.C., he followed up with an assertive, “Why?” I noticeably fumbled my words as I crafted a substantial-sounding answer. The words I thought in my head were sarcastically clear — “I don’t know, I definitely didn’t just choose to come here a couple hours ago on a whim because I saw this town for the first time on Google Maps.” He sternly told us to pull aside the border patrol office. For a few anxious moments, we sat stock-still in the car anticipating a full search because of our lack of reason for entering the country. Finally, another Canadian official tapped for the window to be lowered and he handed us our passports back without saying a word.

Apparently, spontaneous traveling without a good reason doesn’t make the cut at border crossings, but it’s a popular activity these days that is increasingly easier. I’m sure I’m not alone when I say many of us adventure-minded folk have dreamed of pointing to a spot on a map in another country and impulsively going. I did exactly this all in one day. I looked up pictures of the city on my phone, booked the cheapest motel I could find for the evening, and went purely for the sake of seeing a new place and the ensuing story that might come from it. Despite the fact this was just a short drive across the border, there are so many possibilities around the world if you can save up a bit of money for a plane ticket. Then the resources of the Information Age do the rest.

The pictures here are of Fernie, B.C., a popular ski town you would have expected us to visit and what the border patrol agent likely expected to hear as our destination. But we didn’t even bring skis. We did pop over to Fernie, but our true destination was Cranbrook, an unnoteworthy, unphotogenic town beside some photogenic distant mountains. That was the beauty of the trip — we went somewhere that wasn’t even adventurous on the outdoors spectrum. It was just somewhere new to explore that we found online on a map.


From a random flight generator to adjusted public transit times in cities across the globe. Google Maps is my go-to travel companion and can help me pick my next internet-generated spot on the map to go to every time. Also included: driving route planning, reviews of hotels and restaurants, photos, write-ups, satellite images, and GPS data. Trimble Outdoors gives you access to different map lay-outs while helping you plan mileage and elevation gain on a hike.


These resources set you up with cheap lodging accommodations and unique travel situations. Couchsurfing sets you up with good samaritans looking to host people for a short amount of time in exchange for stories and connections with unique people. Airbnb costs money, but is a great (and cheap) way to have a personal experience with the residents. Workaway is tailored toward long-term international travelers, who trade work for room and board. Hipcamp is great for finding camping spots outside of traditional campgrounds.


These handy resources can find you the best outdoor excursions wherever you end up. They are based on solid outdoor community reviews backed up with maps, pictures, and firsthand accounts to get to the best adventure you can find on a short notice.



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Carpool up the canyons

As bus riders grabbed their skis and stepped off toward the lifts last Friday, they were met with a pleasant surprise — a free beanie and a thumbs up from enthusiastic people heading the POW Day event. POW Day, which began last year through a partnership with Protect Our Winters (POW), Ski Utah, and local resorts Snowbird and Alta, was such a success that they decided to expand it this season to Powder Mountain and Sundance.

For the Cottonwood resorts, the day was representative of a bigger initiative taking place all season long. Snowbird’s new program, RIDE (Reducing Individual Driving for the Environment), incentivizes carpoolers and bus riders, said Hilary Arens, Snowbird’s Director of Water Resources and Environmental Programs.

Arens knows what all skiers want: “Time, money, and powder,” she said.

Those carpooling with three or more skiers or riders receive VIP parking close to the lifts by Entry 1 and Entry 2. Besides proximity to fresh tracks, they also receive a punch card that, after 10 times carpooling, they can redeem for a transferrable half-priced Snowbird day pass. Monthly, Snowbird will select twenty season pass holders who ride UTA to receive a half-priced day pass as well.

Carpoolers participating in RIDE also enter a raffle, in which eight people are selected for a once in a lifetime early-up ride on Gadzoom. One bus rider and one employee are chosen for this event too, which will take place a few times a season.

Snowbird teamed up with POW, Breathe Utah, Canyon Transportation, and UTA to design and launch the RIDE program and, soon, similar benefits will spring up at Alta, Brighton, and Solitude ski resorts. Snowbird worked with UTA to improve the frequency and reliability of their buses, and season passes double as a UTA pass. This is a cost Snowbird incurs, said Brian Brown, director of marketing for Snowbird, but any extra incentive to reduce traffic in the canyon is worth it.

“We believe we can make a difference, even if it’s a small one,” he said. “I am 100 percent confident that over time, this program is going to pay off and we are going to have less people driving up the canyons.”

At POW Day, that difference was calculated at a reduction of 24,197 lbs of CO2 for the four participating resorts, according to Paul Marshall, spokesperson for Ski Utah.

“With a tree absorbing an average of 48 lbs of CO2 annually, POW Day saved as much CO2 as 184,000 trees would absorb in one day. With a healthy forest density of 75 trees per acre, this is equivalent to 2,455 acres of trees, or all of Snowbird,” Marshall said.

This was the first year Ski Utah tracked results, which they did thanks to people registering via the SNOCRU app, and they hope to increase those numbers each year. But, there’s no need to wait for next POW Day to make a difference; each time riders carpool to Snowbird with three or more people, they are keeping 40 pounds of carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere.

“There is a carbon fee to come ski. To come up these canyons, to run the chairlifts and the buses,” Arens said. “So, the best thing that we ask of our employees and guests is to offset that by coming up together and reducing Snowbird’s carbon footprint.”


Photo courtesy of Chris Segal


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A New Moab: From Cozy to Commercial

Twenty-seven-year Moab Local John Williams says “I don’t think there’s any going back to how it used to be.” His tired eyes are fixed on a placid, mid-December Main Street, “Moab is on the rise and it’s going to continue to be on the rise.”

Visitors both domestic and international have come to recognize Moab as a charming place of lodging amongst the expansive almost alien landscape of eroded sandstone and red rock icons. The isolated desert community rests along the shore of the Colorado River near an overlying rim, and serves as an access point to Arches and Canyonlands National Parks, the La Sal mountains, and a seemingly endless idiosyncratic natural landscape.

While consisting of only 5,130 permanent residents in 2013, Moab accommodates over two million incoming tourists annually, generating a burgeoning tourist economy that former Moab City Councilwoman Kristin Peterson approximates at $263 million. As awareness of the peerless gem of southeastern Utah grows, so too does its commercial trajectory — with no sign of exhaustion.

Williams has owned and operated outdoor expedition and rafting company, Navtec Expeditions , since its small-scale foundation in 1987. He has experienced Moab’s profound growth first-hand, remarking that “The last two years have been the biggest in the travel industry in Moab that I’ve ever seen. Seasons are extending — we even ran trips clear through November last year.”

With the ubiquitous advertisements and trademark Delicate Arch license plates, it is easy to conceive of tourism as a tacit fact of nature in the Moab area, though that couldn’t be any farther from the truth. What initially existed in obscurity as a small-scale agricultural community mushroomed in size after the eventful early 20th century discovery of high deposits of uranium and other valuable materials, and became known near the 1950s as “The Uranium Capital of the World.”

In the early 1980s, the mines had subsided with the conclusion of the Cold War and mounting environmental concerns, leaving the once flourishing industrial community deflated and in rapid decline. Local governments stridently shifted attention to showcasing the region’s natural wonders, particularly its immense oportunities for  outdoor recreation, thereby revitalizing — even rescuing — Moab for years to come. “Moab has been a tourist town since the uranium industry went under,” Williams stated, “it’s all we have — we need it here.”

Moab’s emergence as a tourist hotspot is a double-edged sword however, and many residents fear displacement as the town becomes progressively more commercialized, and thus more expensive to live in each year. To better understand the extent and implications of this resort-town transition, I travelled to a vacated, snow-covered Moab to speak with the individuals whose lives hang in the balance. Largely unoccupied in the languid lull of the off-season, these local residents were more than happy to share their perspectives.

Marie, or “Moonbeam” as her friends call her, is an 11-year Moab resident and owner of Star Shine Gifts, a metaphysical gift shop on Main Street. She, like virtually every other small business owner I spoke to, notices that “the season starts earlier and ends later,” growing busier each cycle. She recognizes that “Moab is transitioning into a resort town ­— all that’s needed is a bigger airport.” When asked of her conceived worst-case scenario, she emphatically stated, “The worst would be the arrival of big-box retailers” similar to Walmart.

Like many locals who relish Moab’s small town atmosphere, Marie fears that monetizing the area threatens to diminish its natural tranquility.“There are things that you can’t put a price on,” she says, “like clean air, and clean water, and dark skies — peace and quiet. These are beyond priceless.”

Co-owner of Amber Waves Salon and lifetime resident, Morgi Croasmun, suggests that locals can cope with growing commercialization by working to “keep it small town,” by “supporting local businesses first and foremost.” This trajectory, she feels, is inevitable. “If we don’t keep growing, we’ll stop where we are or regress.”

When asked about Moab’s skyrocketing cost of living, she admits that it has grown tougher to afford to live in the town, “especially rent-wise. We make good money through a certain period of time when the tourists are here, but it becomes more difficult through the off-season.”

While local residents and policy-makers were successfully able to block the suffocating induction of Walmart into the town in 2007, largescale commercial developments, particularly in lodging, have multiplied in recent years. Three major hotels, two of which were commissioned by Hilton Worldwide, began construction just last year. Another major resort near the iconic Lion’s Back formation is also in the works, threatening to interfere with access to the popular Sand Flats hiking area.

More troubling still are the soaring property values and increasing cost of living — 11 percent higher than the national average and continually rising— a new fiscal environment that 73-year Moab local and former miner, D, fears is threatening his ability to live in his home town.

Exasperated, D said, “The old people that have lived here can’t afford to pay the taxes. We’re all on a fixed income now. Rent is going up every month — how the hell are we gonna make it here? We can hardly even do it now.”

Reflecting similar anxiety of Moab’s commercial future, another longtime local who chose to remain anonymous shared that she has “good friends in Aspen. The same thing that happened there, and places like Vale and Telluride, is happening here in Moab.” Low-income service workers in Moab, she projects, will no longer be able to afford to live in town, and will ultimately have to live elsewhere and commute — a lifestyle that grows less sustainable each year as the cost of living in neighboring communities like La Sal, Monticello, Blanding, and Bluff increase correspondingly. “I feel a privilege, a huge privilege, that I knew Moab before all of this.”

“That’s one of the big problems we have: housing,” Williams observes, “there’s just not enough good, low-income housing here.” While some low-income housing units do exist in Moab, many residents that I spoke to felt that it wasn’t nearly enough to adequately accommodate the town’s struggling service worker foundation as they face displacement with the encroaching commercial future.

Many locals, however, are optimistic about the new face of Moab, and feel that with proper reception it can potentially be the best thing for the town. Rebecca McAllister, owner and operator of Moab Made, recognizes that “it’s more expensive to live here, but also more sustainable. Tourism has brought a lot of job opportunities that would not be here otherwise. It’s built the economy, and allowed people to live in the middle of nowhere.” Her business is representative of coexistence and cooperation with Moab’s new direction, exclusively selling the work of over 75 local artists.

She, like many other Moab locals, have come to accept the inevitable, and “rather than using our energy to fight it,” she says, “we should spend our energy on handling it wisely and gracefully.”

Moab’s growing tourist dimension seems to be elapsing other, less sustainable uses for the better, as the Bureau of Land Management has just last month declared 451,000 acres protected and non-leasable, preventing surface disturbance like mining or oil drilling in scenic areas such as the Moab Rim Trail, Corona Arch, and Indian Creek.

Although John Williams has observed the severe impact as a result of increased recreational activity, he feels that many tourists “just don’t know what the dos and don’ts are — they wouldn’t do it if they knew better.” Cherishing, rather than exploiting, Moab’s natural resources for monetary gain may be the key to conserving the region as it progresses into the future, as long as the land is treated responsibly and consciously.

Whether this encroaching Aspen-ization of southeastern Utah’s luminescent desert oasis is the area’s conservational salvation or a mechanism for displacement and gentrification is uncertain, but “the future is upon us,” Williams says, “and we have to embrace and deal with it the best we can.” Only time will tell if Moab’s small-town infrastructure and delicate natural environment can cope with the demands of its emerging epoch. This seasoned local warns, “there’s a certain limit to what we can carry here, and we’re getting pretty close now. We are going to have to adjust.”



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Grandeur Peak: A Grand Adventure Year-Round

Winter in the Wasatch brings crisp mornings glinting from a fresh layer of frost. It’s dark and sunless until close to 8 a.m., making the brisk air sharp in your lungs without the tempering warmth of the sun. If you are anything like me, your summer is filled with hiking, biking, and climbing. Then, at sign of first snow you immediately retreat into hibernation mode. Mornings and weekends once filled with adventure are now spent indoors binge watching Netflix and eating an assortment of Holiday-themed comfort foods. However, winter hiking is a great way to get through the winter blues and has many perks that summer hiking doesn’t provide: no bugs, no crowds, and no smog. Grandeur Peak is the ideal snowshoe or hike if you like a challenging trail with spectacular views of the valley and neighboring mountain ranges, without the near death experience. While this trail isn’t the most difficult or treacherous, it’s still no walk in the park. With an elevation gain of roughly 2,600 feet and approximately five miles round trip, the hike finishes at 8,299 feet.

There are two ways to approach this hike: from the steeper west face, accessed from Wasatch Boulevard at about 2900 South on Cascade Way via Frontage Road, or from Mill Creek Canyon beginning at the Church Fork picnic area via 3800 South in East Mill Creek. There is a small toll fee of $3 if you are entering Mill Creek Canyon, so keep this in mind.

The west face hikes begin just out of the parking lot. Walk up the dirt road and take the first right fork. This trail is a little less marked than the Church Fork trail, but the rule of thumb is “just stay right”. The trail begins on the Bonneville Shoreline Trail and (depending on snow levels) is a bit icy and rocky for the first mile. Wear waterproof hiking boots and bring trekking poles. You’ll spot scrub oak, sage brush, snow, more snow and a deer or two. Grandeur Peak is a dog-friendly trail, so feel free to bring your four-legged friend with you. You’ll indefinitely meet a few other furry friends along the way.

About a mile in, the trail gets significantly steeper. If you are snowshoeing, wear rolling or mountain terrain snowshoes. These have larger decks and more traction, which makes them better suited for icy, steep terrain and deep powdery snow. About two miles in, the mountain becomes a true winter wonderland. Nothing but bright white, glistening snow for miles around. From the false summit, look down at a spectacular view of the Salt Lake Valley. It’s tempting to stop here, but don’t. The trail becomes very steep and one final quarter-mile push gets you to its peak. Here you can stop, pat yourself on the back and have lunch while taking in 360 degree views of surrounding peaks, such as the majestic Mount Olympus to the south. To descend, simply follow the trail back down the way you came. Remember to bring plenty of water and don’t forget your thermos.


Photos by Alaynia Winter


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Discover a Warm and Groovy Place for a Soak in Monroe

One thing to know about me: I hate being cold. I absolutely loathe it. If I could be wrapped in a heated blanket all through winter I wouldn’t object. Unfortunately, this is not an option, so instead of becoming a hermit all winter long I’ve found that visiting one of the many hot springs in Utah is a much better way to stay warm and have fun.

When I moved here from Pennsylvania five years ago I was determined to take advantage of as many hot springs as I could. One of my favorite springs in Utah, and one that I love returning to, is Mystic Hot Springs in Monroe.

The first thing that sets Mystic apart from other hot springs is its accommodations. Along with tent camping spots and cabins, the resort has some very funky, and very cool, vintage converted buses to spend the night in. Each bus is different; some are set up with bunks to be party buses, and others are cozy for two.

My boyfriend and I stayed in the Ripple bus and spent most of the day soaking, napping, and eating. Mystic is a well-kept secret. It’s never ridiculously crowded and there are so many different pools you never have to wait around to get a tub all to yourself.

The heart of this small town feels like a bubble of calm. There are no loud noises or lights to intrude on the tranquility of the campsite. There’s nothing better than getting into a hot pool at 12 a.m. after relaxing by the fire after dinner. Above, the stars shine brightly due to the lack of light pollution.

It’s not a typical resort with fresh towels and room service, but for what it lacks in modern amenities, it makes up for in atmosphere. The resort has been around for a long time, and when “Mystic Mike” Ginsburg purchased the place back in 1996, he was able to keep the 70’s charm of the resort despite new cabin builds and renovations.

Mystic Hot Springs attracts a diverse group of outdoorsmen and women. It’s a place that invites musicians, artists, story-tellers, hippies, and soul searchers to come and relax. The owners leave personal touches such as chocolate mints, incense, and handwritten welcome letters for each new guest. It’s little things like this that make visiting Mystic worth the drive every time.



Photos by Esther Aboussou


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Get ready for POW Day

If you’ve ever skied or boarded Big or Little Cottonwood Canyon on a Saturday, you know the frustration of the Disneyland-esque lines up to the resorts: Never-ending, and sometimes longer than the actual time spent having fun.
Protect Our Winters (POW) and Ski Utah have come up with a solution that they call POW Day. On Friday, Jan. 13 (the snowiest day in Utah according to 50 years of data) anyone carpooling with three or more skiers/riders per vehicle or anyone riding a UTA bus to the resort will be rewarded. They can expect priority parking, POW Day beanies from Discrete, and an opportunity to ski or snowboard with a POW athlete such as Caroline Gleich, Forrest Shearer and Brody Leven. The event will take place at Alta, Snowbird, Powder Mountain, and Sundance beginning at 8 a.m. The POW Tent, at the base of each participating ski area, will give out raffle tickets and check in carpoolers and UTA riders. From 2:30 to 4 p.m., there will be a party with giveaways, DJs, and speeches about climate change.
Paul Marshall, spokesperson for Ski Utah, said this event which began last year was created to address problems such as congestion in the canyons and inversion from carbon emissions.
“We’re trying to increase tourism but also protect this pristine product that we have,” he said. “We think taking these kind of steps and helping change habits by incentivizing people will help change their habits for the future.”
Plus, POW and Ski Utah want everyone to know how easy it is to use public transportation, considering everyone with a season pass in the Cottonwoods also has a free UTA pass. UTA has improved their bus service this year, meaning all day service to resorts from Powder Mountain to Sundance.
Also this year, POW Day teamed up with SNOCRU, a snowsports app that connects you to your friends while on the mountain. At the check-in tent, Ski Utah will help check people into the app to see just how many carbon emissions they will have reduced that day.
“This will give us a true number and something we can build off for years to come,” Marshall said.
While they did not track everyone who participated last year, Marshall said all 500 beanies were distributed, and they have doubled that amount this year.


Photo courtesy of Ski Utah


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Weekend escape: Bridger Bowl, MT

For the last six years, I’ve had a low-priority objective of trying out new ski areas in Montana. After people filled my ear with good things about Bridger Bowl just north of Bozeman, I figured it was time to explore a new hill.

Bridger is only a 20 minute drive from Bozeman. The mellow paved road is a plus for those of us without four-wheel drive vehicles, or with a minivan like yours truly. Bridger Bowl is often overlooked by the larger Big Sky Ski Resort further southwest, but the short drive and cheap price beat out Big Sky in my mind. The key is the little ski area vibe. While little resort gems dot Montana, Bridger Bowl offers that same feeling, plus big slopes. As expected, there are rarely lift lines, but it has a few resort-like amenities with reasonably fast lifts and nice day lodges for eating and resting.

The big terrain I was told about did not let down, and it’s immediately obvious why Bridger is known for its ridge terrain. Booting up just a little from the top of the lifts gives access to almost always untracked snow in steep cliff areas, trees, and couloirs. This ridge terrain is technically backcountry, but it’s easily accessible. An entire lift at Bridger requires that skiers wear a beacon because of increased avalanche danger.

The wide swath of terrain to explore and frequent good snow, or “Cold Smoke” as they call it there, will keep me coming back for more to explore. If you’re ever in the area, ski Bridger Bowl for a relatively cheap $57 (compared to SLC resorts around $80).

Going to a new ski area for the first time is a fun mini adventure in itself. It’s always enjoyable to explore a new place and try to discover little moments of gold in between runs. The views of the Absaroka Range towards Yellowstone National Park and the Crazy Mountains towards Central Montana were amazing. At the end of the day, skiing Bridger Bowl marked skiing eight of the 16 bigger ski areas in Montana, a nice halfway point for an objective I hope to finish some day.


Photos by Chris Hammock


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