Our Favorite Things for 2014- The UAJ 99



Burr Trail Grill and Outpost

Boulder is sometimes referred to as an “end of the road town.”  That can’t be true as long as it has the Burr Trail Grill and Outpost going for it.  The crowds begin to build at the Grill around two, after another spectacular day exploring the Trail, Monument, or Mountain, by foot or by pedal.  Snag a chair on the deck, order a well-deserved microbrew and locally-grown Boulder Burger, lean back, and enjoy the view.  The next morning, head to the Outpost and grab a latte, a piece of CC’s homemade blueberry crumb cake, and an earful of local politics.  At the juncture of Highway 12 and the Burr Trail. –Maggie Hughey AbuHaidar


Outdoor Utah Spoiler

Mike Lee sees Obama and the health care reform he’s led as a disaster, and he led the crusade in Republican Congress to let the government go off the fiscal cliff and close Utah’s national parks. For this he earns a unique distinction on my 2013 list: Least Favorite! Regardless of one’s opinion, its wrong to disrupt government, cause extensive damage to the economy, and ruin the fall vacation plans of climbers, bikers and hikers for political advantage. “Obamacare” had been enacted through democratic process. Lee’s crusade amounted to nothing more than “sour grapes.” He couldn’t accept losing a hard-fought battle in congress. –Tyson Bradley


Après on the Cheap: Tailgating – Much is made about “après skiing” in travel magazines and ski-town tourist pamphlets, as if dance clubs and restaurants are more important than skiing itself. But if high-pressure systems rule, and warm, sunny afternoons prevail at the ski resorts, then the tailgate of your own car is absolutely the best place to be. Grab a portable grill, a cooler of beer, a couple lawn chairs and a Frisbee, then crank Journey on your car stereo and you’ll be the envy of every passerby en route to their $100-a-plate dinners at the trendiest establishment in Park City… only this après won’t cost you a damn thing. –Jared Hargrave



Romantic Sunset 

The National Parks in Utah are world-famous for a reason. They’re exceptionally beautiful, architecturally staggering, and exotic in all their canyon-filled glory. But because of this, they’re also extremely crowded, no matter the time of year. Beat the crowds with this insider tip: the West Rim in Canyonlands is vacant when the sun goes down, which makes it perfect for enjoying a romantic and secluded sunset. Pull into the park from the North end just as the crowds are leaving, and find your spot on the West Rim drive. Back it on up and pop the hatch, then settle in to enjoy the view all to yourselves. –Whitney James


Public Bike Park

Utah has some pretty amazing (and free) public bike parks to shred on two wheels. Think: I Street, Tanner, Ogden, Moab. But for aspiring gravity riders or injury-prone freeriders (like myself), the Trailside Bike Park in Park City is a slice of dirt-loving paradise. Tabletop jumps and wooden features were built with Goldilocks in mind – always manageable and always a good time. The low-consequence flow trails and pump tracks are mellow and smooth to dial in better bike handling skills, which translates into being a better biker all around. It’s fun for the whole family, even if your family happens to be a few close friends and a cube of cold beer. 

Stephanie Nitsch




Not the oldest or the most luxurious resort in Utah, but my favorite for providing a true big mountain experience. This relative youngster at 42 years old has the famous red and blue 125-person Garaventa tramcars, 6 high-speed quads and 3,000 feet of vertical. Not flats nor traverses nor double fall line runs, but vertical – the double black diamond, leg-burning steeps for which Utah is famous. Top to bottom steeps and thousands of acres of it – located in the snow vortex of Little Cottonwood Canyon. It’s true that the architecture is pure Soviet bloc style and the nightlife is nonexistent, but in the end nobody really cares because they are content after a satisfying day spent on Utah’s biggest hill. –Ron Penner


Quaint B&B: Under the Eaves Inn, Springdale

The cutest part of the cutest town in Utah, Under the Eaves is a strange and wonderful place. The lovely, historic home has rustic charm to spare, with no TVs or phones in the rooms, and the hosts, Mark and Joe, are like the friends you always wished you had in southern Utah. Right in the heart of Springdale, the tiny Inn feels like a miniature resort, with a lovely backyard garden and several single-room bungalows for visitors looking for some privacy. If you’re not camping in Zion, you should be staying here. –Andrew Scarcella


Playing Fetch in Park City

Need a place for your pooch to run around and meet other single dogs?  Located just north of Historic Old Town on Park Avenue, the field at the Park City Library is like Match.com for dogs.  An area slightly larger than a soccer field, little Fido can chase all the tennis balls, Frisbees and Black Labs he or she wants.  Remember to pick up after your pet (poop bags supplied by the City), be kind to others and spade or neuter your pets.  Park City, aka Bark City, is a dog friendly town where dogs typically outnumber owners.  Ruff Ruff. –Alex Stoy


Alta Lodge

The Alta Lodge may not be much to look at.  Its street entrance is a bus stop and you have to drag luggage and skis down 3 flights of stairs and through 3 doors just to check in.  The lockers are plywood, the halls narrow and dark, and the hot tub overflowing.  Then, you have to share your dinner with strangers.  If you’re anything like me, you go to bed the first night wondering why your husband brought you there.  But, the next morning, you wake up and ski—and it all makes sense.  You have the kind of powder day that leaves you hoping for road closures and maximum interlodge.  The kind you need to share, whether it’s with the Minneapolis CEO in the hot tub, the liftie in the Sitzmark, or the old Boston couple at dinner.  They have stories to share too.  And they come back, during the same week, year after year, to create new ones.  The Alta Lodge caters to the old school and I, for one, hope that its rough exterior keeps the softer, corduroy-seeking urbanites heading up a different canyon to the St. Regis. –Maggie Hughey AbuHaidar


Timpanogos Corn Paradise

In corn snow there is no run I prefer over the Southwest Face of mighty Mount Timpanogos. It falls directly from the South Summit, 11,722, toward the Happy Valley, and typically develops smooth, consolidated spring snow during any extended high pressure period after Feb. 1. The SW aspect gives you just enough time to climb to the summit from Aspen Grove before it softens. When a blanket of thick snow extends from valley floor to mountain top, it’s also be the longest run in the entire state of Utah. Let it snow! –Tyson Bradley



Potential New Hobby: Fly Fishing – I’m a lifelong skier, and as such, I can expect my knees won’t last forever. Inevitably, as old age degrades my body, I’ll have to find a new outlet for outdoor adventure. So I imagine myself participating in less impactful sports. Road biking? Please. Bird watching? Boring. Golf? Hell no! Fly fishing? Now that intrigues me. I’ve been on the river a few times last summer, casting lines into the current as the sun glistened on the water and I found… something. The feeling is hard to put into words. Now I’m far from ready to hang up my beloved skis, but it’s nice to know there’s an outdoor future for those potential reconstructed knees and aching bones. –Jared Hargrave




Activity with Kiddos

There’s only so much hiking you can put the kids through on your trip to the national parks of Utah. At some point, the beautiful scenery begins to look all too familiar. That’s not the case in Capitol Reef National Park. Lesser known than it’s big boy companions like Bryce Canyon, Capitol Reef has a few quirks that make it more than worth a stop. The park is filled with historic Mormon fruit orchards dating back to the 1800’s that still produce – and they’re open to the public. Pick some fruit and then check out the American Indian petroglyphs, also an unusual sight. Between the lush green valley basin and the historical significance of the area, Capitol Reef is not to be missed. –Whitney James


Use For Old Gear

Your old gear deserves a new life…and a touch of artistic ingenuity. While some equipment might stand a better fighting chance at second-hand stores or recycle centers, other parts are perfect contenders for rainy day arts and crafts projects. It’s a DIYer’s dream when you can make “feather” earrings from bike tubes. Cufflinks from chain links. Belt buckles and clutch purses from skateboard decks. The ideas are limited only by the scope of your creativity and the size of your glue gun. And if you happen to know a good use for contaminated brake fluid, I’m all ears. –Stephanie Nitsch



Lone Star Taqueria

Do you get hypoglycemic after a long day in the hills like myself? This timeless favorite speaks to my foodie needs and desires with fresh fish tacos or stomach stretching burritos that are so dense my arms become tired holding them? For almost 20 years Lone Star has been the best value for the money of any restaurant in the Valley (excepting buffets), and the quality of the goods consistently competes with anything, either low or highbrow. It’s our own little slice of Baja here in Utah. During meal times be prepared for longer lines, tight seating and challenging parking. Located near the mouth of Big Cottonwood Canyon. Find an alternative on Sundays. –Ron Penner



Way to Escape Humanity: Kaiparowits Plateau, Escalante

As remote as Escalante is, and it IS, the upper plateaus of the area are even more so. Most intrepid souls travel down Hole in the Rock Road for the world-class slot canyons on the easterly side, but those looking for a more spicy adventure should head west towards the looming Kaiparowits Plateaus. Rising as much as 2,000 feet above the valley floor, the plateau has a sparse network of trails, some of the best views in Southern Utah, and exactly zero people. –Andrew Scarcella



Fantasy Canyon

Though only 10 acres in size and hidden amongst oil derricks and wild horses, Fantasy Canyon will blow your mind and make you think you are hallucinating.  The weird and unusual formations of the ‘Boxing Bear,’ ‘Flying Witch,’ ‘Mickey Mouse,’ and ‘Gargoyle’ will make you scratch your head at the erosional forces of Mother Nature.  A walk through this “Devils’ Playground” may be short-lived, but it is worthwhile to see before wind, rain, snow and human influences wither this place down to the very sediment that has created it.   –Alex Stoy



Samak Smoke House

If you’re headed into the Uintas and looking for some last-minute provisions, bypass the Sinclair Station, the Subway, and the Summit Inn.  Head, instead, to the Samak Smoke House, just a few miles east of Kamas on the Mirror Lake Highway.  Samak has backpack-worthy, hand-cut, cherry-wood-smoked beef and turkey jerky and trout.  It’s also the go-to spot for box lunches, fishing licenses, maps, and ‘free advice’ on your way up to Bald Mountain.  Or on your way back down. –Maggie Hughey AbuHaidar



Down Stairs

Stairs Gulch is an extraordinary avalanche slide path / ski run where good snow and safe conditions are as elusive as they are mind-blowing. Falling at 30-40 degrees for 5,000 feet of northwest-facing, fall line skiing from the rugged wilderness toward the city, it is an incomparable experience. Access via Broads Fork is entirely on skins, and not terribly difficult, yet the shot is amazing. No one who has skied it will forget the awesome thrill, and those of us who have can’t wait for that combination of low-altitude coverage, avalanche stability, and cold, windless fluff that makes it perfect. –Tyson Bradley



Yurt Necessity: Down Booties – You’d think beer would be at the top of my list for favorite yurt necessity, and you’d be almost right. But what would really ruin a yurt trip is if I forgot my down booties. There’s truly nothing better after a long day of ski touring than taking off those ski boots and slipping your sore dogs into a warm, soft pair of down booties. The best types have ankle-securing elastic to trap heat, and grippy outsoles for trips to the outhouse. Trust me, if you go on a yurt/hut trip or even winter camping, your feet will find heaven in a pair of feathery down booties. –Jared Hargrave


Bragging Rights Hike 

Angels Landing. This is the hike of all hikes in the state of Utah, or at least the one with the most bragging rights. Leave the kids at home and board the shuttle in Zion National Park to reach the trailhead for this adrenaline-inducing climb. You’ll first hike a grueling approach up winding switchbacks and stairs, before reaching the scary part. The landing itself is jut of rock extending only a half mile out into the middle of Zion Canyon, and in sections it is only several feet wide with over a thousand foot drop on either side. If you’re fearful of heights, pay close attention to the chain that helps you stick to the rock. Bring a camera; you’ll want to show your friends the proof when you’re enjoying a cool après-hike beer. –Whitney James



Adult Beverage Container

The Stanley Flask, you may remember Stanley products by its telltale green thermos design, a 2-quart vacuum bottle that your father probably once owned (especially if he was anything of an outdoorsman). While the classic thermos still anchors the company’s line of food and beverage storage containers, Stanley has brought the same stainless steel, utilitarian functionality to a line of flasks. A wide-mouthed opening is easy to fill, and its carrying capacity fits a full 8 ounces of liquid – a bold upgrade from the standard 2.5-ounce pocket flask. Let your group nip at its contents multiple times without running dry before that celebration toast at the summit. –Stephanie Nitsch


White Rim Trail

This is my favorite bike trail for many reasons, whether done in a day or over many – the views, the camping, the solitude, the sun, the wind, the clouds, the distractions, the ease, the difficulty, the hiking, the climbs, the descents, the sand….  This gem in Canyonland’s Island in the Sky District has over 6,000 feet of climbing in a 102-mile loop, more than 80 miles are on a four-wheel drive road that parallels the Colorado and Green rivers. The camping is by reservation, thereby limiting user numbers and guaranteeing a pre-determined campsite. Group sizes are limited to 15 and vehicle assistance is nonexistent in this desolate paradise. Be sure to bring an adequate supply of drinking water as none is available. –Ron Penner


Tourist-dodge: Bryce Canyon Backcountry

Bryce Canyon is so accessible, and let’s face it, developed, it’s hard to even imagine a part of the park that isn’t overwhelmed by swarming tourists. Keep driving past the main lodge, however, and you’ll discover a gloriously untraveled backcountry that’s every bit as beautiful as the main attraction. Lack of water sources and long distances between camps keep the amateurs at bay, preserving this pristine high-alpine desert area for the select few who brave it. –Andrew Scarcella


Davy Crockett Delivers the Mail

Yes, that’s his real name.  If you don’t believe me it might be harder to believe he runs more miles and vertical feet in one year than most of us to do in a lifetime. For instance, in 2013, Davy ran a total of 3,202 miles.  As the crow flies, that’s about 800 miles more than the distance from Los Angeles to New York City.  He’s run across the Grand Canyon and back 14 times.  He’s run up and down Mount Timpanogos about as many times as words written here.  He’s also finished the Pony Express 100-miles, a race he hosts, 7 times.  Mr. Pony Express, delivering the mail step-by-step, mile-by-mile and always, with a smile.  –Alex Stoy




Running With Ed

Utahns love to sweat, party, and support a good cause.  Why not do all three at once?  Running With Ed (RWE), a 38-mile, 10-leg running relay, makes its way through scenic Park City every spring, raising money for public education.  Part-road and part-trail, with side-splitting climbs, screaming downhills, and a smattering of shorter, flatter, family-friendly legs, there’s something for everyone on your 5-man team.  Add in teachers shedding feathers, a Backcountry guy carrying a canoe, OK3’s tricked-out short bus, and the rockin’ after-party, and you might even forget that you’re doing a good deed.  Park City Education Foundation’s 5th Annual RWE leaves the starting line on May 17th. -Maggie Hughey AbuHaidar


Scaling Sundial

For many of us, the single most recognizable icon of the Wasatch Range is the Sundial reflected in the waters of Lake Blanche. Hikers and mountain runners frequent this amazing wilderness shrine like a ritual. 3,000 feet of ascent and 3 miles lead to the picturesque picnic site. It’s also the approach to the North Face / Ridge climbing route on the Sundial. I call it the Global Warming Arete, because it stays cool and pleasant even on 100-degree July days in SLC. Great aesthetics and fun moves up to 5.8 make up for some loose rock on this Alpine Rock Classic.

Tyson Bradley


Cloud 9 Paragliding

Ever wonder what it feels like to soar like an eagle or zip across a snowy field on skis using the power of wind?  Well, Cloud 9 has the gear and knowledge to bring you high in the sky and back down to Earth safe and sound.  Cloud 9 is the nation’s premier paragliding facility offering lessons in paragliding, kite boarding, snow kiting and for those who seek the ultimate adrenaline rush, you can work your way up to speed flying.  Or maybe, you want to take it easy and enjoy the feeling of flight?  They offer tandem paragliding flights.  What goes up must come down.  That’s how Cloud 9 rolls.  –Alex Stoy



This local ski manufacturer has been cranking out my favorite skis for over 20 years. Voile started with the revolutionary “fat” ski, the Tele Surf, my go-to skis for a decade and has stayed on the leading edge ever since. My best memories in the backcountry have been riding their playful wood-core skis, whether Carbon Surfs, Insanes, Vectors, Chargers or Drifters (haven’t tried the V-8s or Busters yet). Their skis have consistently proved durable and reliable when it matters most, on long trips abroad or in the Wasatch. They also make my favorite snowboard, the innovative Splitboard, which opened up the backcountry to us snowboarders who could finally trade the snowshoes for “tractor skins”. Thank you Voile for the fruits of your labors. –Ron Penner


Post Hike Snack

There’s nothing like a pastry-filled café to replenish your sandy body post-Utah adventure. Check out Cafe Soleil in Springdale, right outside of Zion National Park to get your fix. Between the coconut banana bread with lime glaze and the sit-down menu, they have the best food in the area for rewarding the weary hiker. Just one look at their Mediterranean pizza and you’ll be on your way! The café is undergoing a major redesign early 2014, so expect even better things to come in time for peak adventure season this spring. cafesoleilzionpark.com –Whitney James


Mountain Man Uniform: Plaid Flannel Shirt – Clothing styles come and go, but for ski bums and self-stylized mountain men, one thing remains constant – the plaid flannel shirt. Nothing tells the world that you’re of the high-altitude persuasion quite like a lumberjack look. And if you pair a beard and trucker hat with your flannel, you’ll look badass enough to pose in an REI catalog. In fact, any outdoorsy type, male or female, should have enough plaid shirts in their closest for every day of the week. And if next year the plaid fad disappears, store your flannel shirts in a dry, warm place, because plaid always comes back into fashion. Now go, mountain men, and wear your outdoorsy uniform with pride! –Jared Hargrave

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