Our Favorite 99

Car Camping: Utah’s West Desert

When I need to get outside for a night or two of moon
worship/stargazing, the West Desert trumps all. Throw the sleeping bags in the
car, stop by Caputos for some tasty options and go West good reader. I put on a
favorite CD knowing that when its over I am there. The West Desert is not like
driving to a national park, it does require a time investment to find areas
suitable to one’s tastes. Some like the Salt Flats, others the Great Salt Lake
shoreline, and many like the canyons and ridges of the Basin Ranges. Whatever
your preference, the expansive sky and vast landscape will bring out the
Existentialist in everyone. –Ron Penner

 

Non-Profit 

SheJumps is a local non-profit formed by a group of
like-minded females with a passion for the outdoors.  Co-founders Claire Smallwood and Lynsey Dyer
have spent the better part of their lives in the ski world, and SheJumps is
aimed at getting more women into the sport.
These gals have teamed up with a variety of local organizations to
promote recreation and sportsmanship among an up and coming generation of young
people.  From their SheJumps into the
Canyon partnership with the Boys and Girls Club of Salt Lake, to the women’s
specific avalanche classes, it is clear that there is something for
everyone.  Check out their mission at
shejumps.org and see for yourself what these rad chicks are up to.

Sean Zimmerman-Wall

Mt. Timpanogos

Timpanogos

Commonly known as Timp, Mt. Timpanogos in the largest
massif in the Wasatch Range. Topping out at 11,752 feet, second only in height
to Mt. Nebo, and with a summit crest over 6 miles long with 5 major summits,
Timp is an alpinists mountain winter or summer- the Queen of the Wasatch. In
summer hikers can access the peak by two popular trailheads at Timpooneke and
Aspen Grove. In winter and spring, hardy skiers gain big vertical and attempt
gnarly couloirs and faces such as the SE Ridge, and the Grunge Couloir (60
degrees!). Timpanogos towers over the Utah Valley to the west, and over the
Heber Valley to the east, and contains over 10,500 acres of federally
designated wilderness. Despite being the most popular mountain to climb in
Utah, solitude is easy to come by. Wildlife, wildflowers, lofty summits, steep
descents on corn snow, and easy access make this our favorite mountain
playground in the State.

-Paul Oelerich

 

Place to Hunt for Sheds:  Middle Fork Wildlife Management Area

Like incorporating a new chicken recipe into your
repertoire as yet another way to cook chicken, hunting for shed antlers is yet
another way to enjoy the outdoors. Plus, looking for sheds has the bonus
treasure-hunting aspect. The Middle Fork of Ogden River is surrounded by
integrated sections of national forest and state land. Usually, people hunt for
sheds in the late winter to early spring, but Middle Fork’s 10,000 acres is
closed until mid-April. When it does open, the most frequent recreational use
is from horseback riders, so the meandering hiker has exclusive pickin’s. With
some strategic scouting you may score from the triumvirate of Utah’s mule deer,
elk and moose that range here throughout the winter. –Paige Wiren

 

Cotton Bottom Garlic Burger.

GarBur at the Bottom

One of my favorite places to stop and unwind after a day
in the mountains is the Cotton Bottom Inn. Known around the world for its
garlic burgers, the Cotton Bottom is nestled at the base of the Cottonwood
Canyons and to some locals who grew up in the area, a rite of passage. You have
to be at least 21 and for me it was worth the wait. It may look out of place
standing next to the highbrow eateries across the street (Tuscany & Franck’s),
but a peek inside and you will find some of the clientele could easily frequent
all three. Bikers in leathers, skiers in their bibs, and white collared suits
all comingle in the Cotton Bottom. Most days it’s a two-person show, one in the
kitchen and one working the bar, so initiative is key. Place your order, “A
garlic with cheese, please,” and kill time by playing a round of pool or
picking tunes on the jukebox until served. The garlic burger comes on French
bread with lettuce, onions, tomatoes and mayo, pickles are left on the side and
you may load up with the ketchup and mustard set on the tables. One and one
half garlic infused patties cooked medium rare on a seasoned grill, are the
star. Bite after bite chased down by the always on tap Coors or a variety of
other draft or bottled beverages will complete any day of skiing, biking,
climbing, hiking, running or work. And don’t worry if it doesn’t taste too
garlicky, by the morning your pores will be oozing it. –Louis Arevalo

 

The Bird is the Word

Snowbird is Utah’s highest, steepest, and often deepest
ski resort. It has plenty of rugged off-piste chutes, bowls, woods, headwalls
and such to keep skiers coming back, year after year. Seasons can be long,
often starting with a massive Lake Effect storm in early November. In ’84 I
skied Little Cloud in late June, and you downloaded the tram afterward.

The Bird can also be a great place to work. I forged many
long-term friendships with co-workers and skiers I met. We were mostly there
for the same reason…to ski the best snow and lines we could, and enjoy a life
that revolved around recreation.  Most of
us were single, in our twenties or early 30s, and looking to indulge in a
little fun time after school and the before the onset of careers and families.
We bonded during waist-deep powder runs on Nirvana, South Chute, Rat’s Nest,
Jaws and the like.

Tyson Bradley

 

Local Knowledge: Escalante Trailhead Cafe

Imagine you’re about to go canyoneering in Grand
Staircase/Escalante National Monument somewhere along the Hole in the Rock
Road, when ominous storm clouds start brewing on the horizon. Uncertainty
creeps in and you wonder if it’s wise to wedge yourself into a sandstone drain
pipe when rain is imminent. That’s when it’s time to visit the Escalante Trailhead
Cafe. The establishment is a coffee shop/deli run by locals who know everything
about this canyon country, because they’re guides. Add in a library of maps and
guide books, along with computers hooked up to the Internet for further
research, and you’ve got ground zero for go-juice and informative beta wrapped
up in one damn cute, little cabin on the edge of town. Shoot, paying a visit to
the Escalante Trailhead Cafe is almost a cleansing ritual before descending
into the darkness of a slot, where a bit of certainty is served with a sandwich
and a smile. –Jared Hargrave

 Natural History Museum of Utah

Utah is a really
rad state and that’s probably, in part, because if its geologic, natural, and
human history. Salt Lake City’s Natural History Museum of Utah is a walk
through history, beginning at, well, close to the beginning, and ending at
what’s happening with humans, wild animals, and the land in Utah today. I’m a
dinosaur geek, so I could spend forever in the museum’s dino section. Though
you might not want to move into the museum to hang with those ancient guys and
gals like I would, I bet you could spend an hour or so wandering among the dino
bones and skeletal recreations. Watch out for Gryposaurus and Stegosaurus! –Meghan Hicks

 

Hydration Container: Innate Trad flask

Innate Flask

Stylish, suave and curvy. All the traits I look for in a
flask, rolled into the complete package. Innate’s Trad flask adds a touch of
feminine style to an otherwise masculine canteen for a fine balance that has
won over the lips of many men and women. Or maybe that was just the bourbon
talking. Its curvaceous aesthetics will woo you into a love affair that you
never knew could exist between you and a carafe, especially when it’s nuzzled
in a side pocket against your shapely legs or firm derriere, as if it was meant
to be. –Stephanie Nitsch

 

Pictograph & Petroglyph Hunting

I freely admit that I have dragged my family along in
search of elusive pictographs and petroglyphs. I counter that we have seen some
fantastic rock too. My favorite is the Barrier Canyon Style, although the San
Juan Anasazi (Basketmaker II & III) petroglyphs have immense appeal too.
For me, rock art is a direct link to those who lived in the desolate areas and
it reflects ancient people trying to make sense of the harsh environment. The
art varies from skillful brushstrokes to crude but creative rock pecking. The
pursuit takes us to areas we would not normally visit and gives us a different
avenue for exploring the desert with a cultural tie-in. –Ron Penner

 

Scenic Byway

Utah State Route 24 covers a decent swath of the state
from Salina on south toward Capital Reef and then east to just shy of Green
River.  There is a variety of opportunities
that greet the adventurous driver along the way.  Leaving Salina the route traverses through
Sand Ledges Recreation Area and on down toward Fish Lake.  Further south you intersect the small towns
of Loa and Torrey before entering the heart of Capital Reef.  The quite solitude along this byway is
unmatched and taking a week or so to camp along the way is advised.  Countless overlooks dot the shoulders and a
few extra batteries for the camera are necessary to capture the grandeur of the
surroundings.  Before the road dumps out
onto I-70, take a night in Goblin Valley and see the unique rock formations
that make up the namesake of this park. –Sean
Zimmerman-Wall

 

Castleton Tower

The iconic desert tower if there ever was one, with
apologies to the Mittens of Monument Valley. Castleton has served as the
backdrop for numerous western movies, and has been climbed by an estimated 10’s
of thousands. First climbed in 1961 by Layton Kor and Huntley Ingalls, it is
among the most popular climbing destinations in the world. The Kor-Ingalls
Route is noted to be one of the Fifty Classic Climbs in North America. The
tower itself juts 400 feet into the desert sky from its base, and climbing routes
of varying difficulty surround the tower. When I first climbed the North
Chimney last fall, I found the 5.8 rating to be stout, as the first two pitches
were long, steep and pumpy. I was seriously worked, and ready to throw it in as
the temperature in the shade was definitely cool, and my arms- noodles.
Standing on the 40 foot wide summit however, the desert panorama was unreal as
the setting sun set the LaSals aglow, and the reddish glow of the desert warmed
my bones. A big rappel off the north face in the twilight was unforgettable,
and dinner and beers at the nearby Red Cliffs Lodge that night beyond
satisfying. –Paul Oelerich

 Good, Clean Fun:  Contra Dancing

If you like to socialize and enjoy dancing, but have no
interest whatsoever in the conventional adult sundown scene, try contra
dancing. Evolved from 17th-century court dances, contra looks like fancy square
dancing and is an experience that expresses that romantic idea of “the way
things used to be.” Directed by a caller and set to live music, dancers turn,
tap, bow and clap in the all-ages milieu. Dance moves are structured into sets
of alternating partner moves so that by the end of the night you’ve connected
with every man or woman at the congenial shindig, which means having danced
with the senior set, with parents packing babies on their back, and that guy in
the kilt with bells on his ankles. How often do you get to do that? The Wasatch
Contras meet at the Montessori Community School, 2416 East 1700 the third
Saturday of every month. –Paige Wiren

 

Sport Climbing Destination – St. George

It’s the perfect cold season climbing area. Camping west
of town where the landscape falls into the Great Basin is worthy. There is also
the option to book a reasonably priced rental property. St. George offers several
vacation properties and when split a few ways the cost is minimal. This is a
great option providing a warm place to cook and hang out during the long, cold
nights. The arid scenery may appear bleak at first, but look a little closer
and you will discover pockets of superb climbing lay hidden within its folds
and the reason it’s a favorite. Utah Hills, Woodbury, Welcome Springs and more
offer everything from vertical, technical, steep and powerful sport climbing on
the most bulletproof limestone in the state. Need a change from the rock type?
Try one of the many sandstone (Snow Canyon State Park) or basalt crags nearby.
Toss in rest day activities of mountain biking, golf at one of four courses in
town, or a gaunt into Zion National Park, and you may recognize that Saint
George offers something for everyone…or everything for someone. And don’t
forget to stop in The Bear Paw Café on Main Street for some of the best
breakfast fare anywhere in the State. –Louis
Arevalo

 Mt. Baldy, Treasure of the Tushars

One of the lesser-known Mt. Baldys is my favorite ski
peak in Southern Utah. Highly visible from interstates 70 and 15, this
12,000-foot Tushar Range peak has incredible ski lines on 4 aspects. It takes
most of a day to reach this remote mountain from any side, but once there you
can have great spring skiing and you probably won’t see anyone.

A volcano-like monolith, the peak has over 3,000’ of
prominence on all sides. The Tushars get 400 inches annually, and owing to its
westerly position Baldy gets even more. The lines often ski cleanly from the
top, breaking over at 40 degrees and continuing above 30 degrees for at least
2,000. It’s a serious skier’s mountain with plenty of avalanche potential.
Spring is the safest, and the views and terrain are hard to beat. As they say
at Mad River Glen “ski it if you can!” –Tyson
Bradley

 The Great Gallery Pictograph Panel

The Great Gallery- Canyonlands

Pictographs panels are everywhere in Utah, but none
impart a haunting feeling of being watched quite like the Great Gallery in
Horseshoe Canyon. Upwards of 20, human-sized figures loom from the canyon wall
with large, alien-type eyes that have stared into the desert for the last 2,000
years or more. The greatest figure of all is the Holy Ghost, a seven-foot tall,
pale painting that stares into eternity, surrounded by silent, amber attendants
on all sides. This ghost is eerie enough if you’re sharing space with several
other camera-toting tourists from around the globe. But if you’re lucky enough
to be alone with this red rock spook, a chill will run down your spine and
you’ll find yourself asking for forgiveness for any intrusion… of course that
feeling of being watched is probably just the park ranger on surveillance duty,
spying on you with binoculars from on high. –Jared Hargrave

 

Moab Yoga

Let me ask you this, have you ever come home from a Moab
weekend not sore and stiff? Most of us go there to get a move on, whether it is
by mountain biking, hiking, or trail running. This little gem of a yoga studio,
located on Center Street in downtown, opened in the spring of last year and can
now serve as your musculature’s savior. Classes of diverse levels and types are
offered daily, and they’re conveniently scheduled in the mornings or evenings
so that you can start or end your Moab day with them. Cycle a Moab Yoga class
into your next red-rock visit and I bet you’ll come home feeling less beat up.

-Meghan Hicks

 Organization That Has Your Back

More often than not, membership in any search and rescue
chapter is an unglamorous, unpleasant and undeniably demanding task in physical
and emotional ways. It’s also the most unselfish organization that cares if you
live to see another day. The charitable handouts provided by this non-profit
aren’t just a welcome sight in a time of deep shit: they’re gonna save your ass
when you’ve pushed it too far. And when you’re stranded or helpless, it’s
reassuringly comfortable to know they’ve got your back — and legs, limbs and
life.

Runner Up: Utah Avalanche Center

Stephanie Nitsch

 Spring Skiing: Corn

Sweet, smooth, corn

To the uninitiated, corn sounds like an odd snow form. It
is rarer than powder and more fickle. Some of my most memorable runs have been
on the Emma Ridges in Little Cottonwood Canyon.
Forty-five minutes of stairstepper heaven to the ridge, 15 more to the
optimal point of descent and a beautiful sunny wait for the snow to cook to the
perfect state of delectability. The avalanche danger is nonexistent and booting
on the supportable surface allows for fast ascents and faster descents. Corn is
a state of mind wherein terrifyingly steep runs are transformed to confidence
boosting displays of perfection. –Ron
Penner

 

Spectator Event-The Tour of Utah
has gained overwhelming popularity and credibility over the last decade.  Cyclists from around the country, and now the
world, have been coming to Utah in August to participate in one of the most
difficult stage races around.  Our state
plays the perfect host venue for this six-day event, as logistics are simple
and we have a vibrant cycling community to support the race.  From the prologue, to the time trial and
crits, on through the Queen Stage, the action is never at low ebb.  For 2013, new venues such as Brian Head and
Cedar City bring the tour to smaller communities and promote the sport in a
unique way.  The final stage of epic
climbing along a circuit around Park City will bring competitors to their knees
on the steep ascents and raise some eyebrows on the high-speed down hills.  If you fancy a go at some of the courses,
join the Ultimate Challenge and see for yourself what it takes to compete on
such a high level. –Sean Zimmerman-Wall

 Wilderness

 

Wilderness

In 1964 Congress established the Wilderness Act, setting aside millions of acres of federal land
that “is hereby recognized as an area where the earth and community of life are
untrammeled by man, where man himself is a visitor who does not remain.”

In Utah, some of the largest pieces of land are
designated as such, and range from the high peaks of the Uintas and Wasatch
ranges to the deepest recesses of Canyon Country in Dark Canyon, Ashdown Gorge
near Cedar Breaks and Box-Death Hollow in the southern part of the state. These
protected lands are meant to provide opportunities for unconfined recreation,
with a minimal human imprint. In other words, places to get away and enjoy
solitude, the beauty and wonder of nature, without the benefit if motorized
infringement. We are indeed lucky to not only have such lands in close
proximity to a major city- Salt Lake, but also in remote places where the only
means of access are by foot, where you can lose yourself in the land. –Paul Oelerich

 

Give Back to the Earth Volunteer Opportunity:  TreeUtah

Trees are commonplace in our developed natural environs,
so prevalent and integral that to consider, really consider, how awesome they
are changes how you look at them. TreeUtah loves trees for their venerable and
aesthetic qualities, but also recognizes trees’ economic, environmental and
social benefits. You can volunteer throughout the year at any number of
tree-planting events, but the quintessential planting parties happen in April
on Earth Day and Arbor Day. Doing good for the planet with friends and other
members of your community really is doing good for yourself since working
together to enhance our surroundings makes you feel happy in your heart. Check
out all their volunteer opportunities at http://treeutah.org/
Paige Wiren

Karl Meltzer

The 100-mile king lives among us. The 46-year-old has
been a runner since about 1990 and has racked up, as of this writing, 34
victories in 100-mile races. This includes six wins at the revered Wasatch
Front 100. He races well at pretty much every ultramarathon distance and has
dozens of other wins under his belt. Nicknamed the Speedgoat for the manner in
which he negotiates technical terrain, the professional runner is now also a
race director for his namesake race, the Speedgoat 50k, which takes place out
of Snowbird Ski Resort every July. Finally, Meltzer’s also a successful
ultramarathon coach who has sent scores of his clients into the top 10 of big
ultramarathons. –Meghan Hicks

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