Wednesday, February 6, 2019

Plan An Adventure At Mount Nebo


At 11,928 feet, Mount Nebo has the highest peak of the Wasatch Mountain Range, followed by Mount Timpanogos' peak which stands 179 feet lower.

Mountain Nebo’s peaks are close enough to the Wasatch for a day’s trip, and yet far enough off the beaten path so as not to feel so crowded. The stunning views it offers, both from the hike and the summit have made it one of the most favorite attractions in the area.

In the fall, the turning and falling leaves along the Nebo Loop can only be described as epic. For a moment, you might think you are in a magical world! The trail leads to a wilderness area, from which the visitors are encouraged to absorb and enjoy nature.

Well, that explains why Mount Nebo has always been recognized as a ‘source of life’ since the early settlers’ days.

With over 3000 feet gain, it is considered a strenuous hike and it would be better if you were well prepared for it. The first 8-9 miles are not that harsh and most visitors cover it without much of a hassle. Beyond that point, an elevation gain comes all at once in two short sections – making it a complete thigh-buster.

Be prepared to carry your own water pack since there are no natural water sources along the trail. Also, make sure that you keep an eye out for the storms that sometimes hit the summit. They can be quite harsh – and there have been some funny incidents in which they were reported to chase visitors off the summit. You can best avoid them by starting your hike early in the morning.

Along the trail, it is highly likely that you will come across wildlife, bighorn sheep and deer – which are a frequent sighting in the area. You better keep an eye out for them too.


Mount Nebo Trailhead 

Take the exit 250 for UT-115 toward Payson and head south on Main Street for 0.8 miles, then turn left on 100 North. Follow 100 North for approximately 0.5 miles and turn right on the 600 East.

Once on the Nebo Loop road, drive for about 24 miles until you reach the Nebo Bench/Monument Trail on the right. But instead of pulling into the Monument Trail, turn left and follow the Mona Pole Road for 0.4 miles. You will come across a trailhead and a decent camping spot right across the road.

You can start hiking from there, or you can follow the fence-line for another 3 miles to a second parking area – slightly closer to your destination.


Nebo Summit

From the trailhead, follow the signed trail 089 up the mountain. It is hard to miss since it follows the fence line. The North Peak should be the first objective and you should be able to see it to the west.

As you follow the trail, it meanders up losing a little elevation, before beginning to gain elevation once more and leaving the fence. The trail leads south along the North Peak ridge briefly and then contours off the west to Wolf Pass.

At Wolf Pass, you can enjoy stunning views toward Ephraim and also catch your breath before the final trek.

The final trail climbs steeply on the ridge and leads to a false summit – from where the ridge transverse begins. The trail is rocky steep and can be quite treacherous. It is not a surprise that most visitors hiking the trail tend to turn back at this point. Nonetheless, it is worth it continuing to the actual summit – especially if it’s your very first time.


Other scenic attractions along the Nebo Loop

For 37 miles, the Nebo Loop climbs up through narrow forested canyons, open land of ridges, plateaus, and trails – including an overview of the Nebo Creek in the East and Utah Valley/Lake in the Northwest.

Other highlights that are hard to miss along the Nebo Loop scenic way include, the Devil's Kitchen and the Payson Lakes. Many visitors heading to Mount Nebo often extend their vacation by heading to these two locations.


Devil's Kitchen

The Nebo Loop road heads due north along the valley, past several farm buildings and into the Uinta National Forest where all development stops. From there, you will pass the Jenkins Flat Interpretive Site and a junction with a side road heading to the southern Mount Nebo Trailhead.

The elevation increases at the head of the valley as the road becomes narrow and winding. Just a little bit further, you will first overlook the Salt Creek Valley and the San Pitch Mountains, before reaching the parking area of the Devil's Kitchen geologic area.

The access trail is just a quarter mile long and leads to a railed viewpoint on the edge of an eroded ravine containing a collection of pointed conglomerate formations. Devil's Kitchen has been called ‘overwhelming’ because the rocks are quite a sight – which are made even more colorful when they contrast with the dark greens of the enclosing trees.


Payson Lakes

Even before you start the tedious hike towards Mount Nebo, you can still enjoy the view of the dramatic peak while you drive along the northern side of the uneven terrain. Nebo Bench Trail off the summit is located a little further along the drive.

Along the northern side of the road, you will come across more viewpoints such as the 10,913 foot Bald Mountain, Utah Valley, and Beaver Dam. Further up, you will come across the three Payson Lakes – which is the only sighting that requires a day use fee. You can, however, save your cash by parking along the Highway and walking a short distance west.

Beyond that, the road begins its descent a few miles north of the lake and drops steeply down into Payson Canyon. After a short, level stretch along the valley floor, you will eventually emerge at the South-east edge of Payson.

Wednesday, January 30, 2019

What To Do at Cascade Springs in American Fork


Cascade Springs is a gorgeous open space of trail systems located in the Uinta National Forest, east of American Fork Canyon and west of Wasatch Mountain State Park. Cascade Springs is not far from the city of Provo, Utah.

A series of loops take you through cascading waterfalls, small pools of fresh water, lush vegetation, and opportunities to see wildlife. It is a fantastic place to spend an hour or two with the family, friends, or a loved one. The beautiful and peaceful area serves as a great spot to get romantic with a significant other, observe nature, reflect on life and do activities like read or take scenic photographs where seven million gallons of water a day cascade down this wonderful landscape.


Hiking Trails

Lower Pools Loop at Cascade Springs

The lower loop introduces visitors to the open space and is the most easily accessible. The Lower Pools Loop is also the most popular among the guided paths in the Cascade Springs loop system. The paved trail walks visitors through a series of maze-like configurations where guests are treated to crystal clear pools and photogenic waterfalls. An impressive number of trees and plants species call Cascade Springs their home. The Lower Loop is also handicap accessible.

Middle Cascade Springs Loop

The middle portion of the trail is slightly steeper than the Lower Loop but still very accessible. A combination of paved and wood boardwalks take guests deeper into the Cascade Springs wilderness. Trail markers will lead you to the Middle Loop which begins at a wooden bridge situated by a waterfall. It’s a great place to take a short break as the rushing streams run through this section for most of the year. From there you can progress up the hill to the left or right (it's the same loop so you will return to the same location regardless).

Upper Cascade Springs Loop

The Upper Loop, like the name implies, is the most difficult yet not all too strenuous. The trail does require climbing up some wooden steps but the slope is gradual and not too intense. Here, travelers can witness the origins of where the springs start to trickle down the slope and feed the plants and wildlife below. The Upper Loop is a terrific spot to witness new plant growth. Visitors can also see the remains of a 2003 wildfire that got close to the area from this vantage point.


Wildlife

There are countless opportunities to watch and photograph wildlife around Cascade Springs. The crystal clear pools provide amazing opportunities for kids to watch brown trout and native cutthroat swim among its shallow depths.* The native fish are believed to have originated from the Provo River, located nearby.

A variety of other mammals call Cascade Springs their home. They are less frequent yet it's still possible to spot beavers, otters, deer, moose or elk in the area, especially near dawn or dusk. These animals tend to be more shy of people, so the best chances to see them are in a secluded, quiet areas.

As you would expect with an area so richly dense with trees and plants, a number of birds and insects also get on about with their day. Hawks can be spotted from above while wild turkeys may roam the grounds. Several different types of hummingbirds also greet guests with their beautiful sounds.

*Please note, while it’s okay to watch the trout no fishing is allowed within the grounds of the open space.


Geology

The geology of Cascade Springs goes back impressively to 30,000 to 10,000 years ago when coarse-grained glacial sediment was first deposited from glaciers that covered higher elevations on the Wasatch Mountain Range. The sentiment deposits contribute to the abundance of water that flows through Cascade Springs to this day, where mountain runoff along with water that seeps out from the ground contribute to the remarkably lush and fertile soil where plant life thrives.


How to Plan

Like any place you visit outdoors, it is always recommended to pack plenty of water and bring extra clothing. Even in the middle of the summer, temperatures can vary in the wilderness and because Cascade Springs is not only at higher elevations, but also densely wooded, a jacket and pants is a very good idea.

All three of the loops take approximately 15 minutes each to complete. So, if you intended to walk all three plan for at least 45 minutes to complete, with an hour or two being more highly recommended since you will want to watch the native trout in the ponds, take photos of the waterfalls, and hopefully see wildlife.


Directions

If traveling from the Utah Valley on I-15, take the Highland/Alpine Exit, number 284. Travel east for about eight miles on State Route 92 before reaching the entrance station of the National Forest. Please note there is a small charge for National Forest access. 

From there, follow the Alpine Scenic Loop up American Fork Canyon. At the summit of the Alpine Scenic Loop, which is approximately 17 miles from the entrance station, take the Cascade Springs turnoff. Cascade Scenic Drive winds another six miles before reaching a parking area by the trailhead.

Cascade Springs can also be accessed from the east through Wasatch Mountain State Park. Follow the directions posted in the town of Midway to reach Cascade Springs Drive. Continue about eight miles until you reach the lower parking lot.

It’s important to note that the Alpine Scenic Loop road is extremely narrow. The road is not recommended for vehicles longer than 30 feet or vehicles with trailers, as the switchbacks are tight and can lead to trouble. The area is also occasionally closed in the winter due to weather.



Cascade Springs is not often reported in traditional tourist guides, but is definitely worth a visit. The incredible landscape is a great place to cool down and relax for a couple of hours. The waterfalls make for a great photo op, while the wooded terrain features moderate temperatures even in the heart of the summer. You can cool down further by soaking your feet in the natural water pools while fish swim by.

Since you will likely already be traveling up the Alpine Scenic Loop in the Uinta National Forest, why not take a pit stop at this hidden gem?

Monday, January 28, 2019

Utah Culture & History: Native American Tribes


Utah is home to some of the Americas' original Native American tribes and cultures. There are five major tribes that have all maintained their strong legacies. They include the; Dine (Navajo), Goshute, Paiute, Ute, and Shoshone. Since the ancient days, Utah was well known for its sacred places, dwelling sites, and fascinating rock art messages.

Utah’s tribes still actively live bound by their ancient cultures. They usually invite visitors from other cultures to view them as they come together during the tribal and other gatherings.

If you are looking forward to viewing some free exhibits of their traditional crafts displays such as beadwork, baskets, and carvings, you can get them on display at the Chase Home Museum of Utah Folk Arts.


Preserved remains of Ancient cultures – Rock Art & Remains

Utah is well known by American culture lovers as a home of intriguing Native American rock art. It comprises two types; the pictographs – painted on stone, and which even after thousands of years still remain colorful, and the petroglyphs – which were incised into stone walls and boulders.

Because the exact meanings of the rock arts are still unknown, they have often been assigned to different time frames and cultures based on elements of artistic style. The Native American rock art varies widely, from themes depicting successful hunts, to mythic figures which are considered to represent deities and ceremonial practices.

The rock art is also seen to represent other scenes such as domestic life, common and fantastic animals, among other things.

The place where the ancient cultures made their homes and resided, often referred to as habitation sites can be quite obvious. For instance, there are granaries which are well preserved – mainly because of their weatherproof positions below the cliffs.

In southern Utah, you will find many sites where stone dwellings and places of worship have been well preserved, stabilized, and are interpreted to modern-day visitors.

But that is just a mere section of all of it. When you check the Utah Museums page, you will find several other collections and interpretive opportunities scattered in museums statewide. If you are looking forward to spending some quality time in Utah exploring the ancient culture, the local visitor information centers should give you the required head start on getting information related to any specific area of the state.

However, keep in mind that all the Native American relics are protected by the federal law, and touching or taking any of them is strictly prohibited.


Southeast Utah

You will find Wolf Ranch in Arches National park which has some of the finest rock art in the region. The Newspaper Rock is filled with a panel consisting of hundreds of figures and designs crafted onto the southwest-facing cliff.

The ‘bulletin’ stone board has over 350 distinct ancient petroglyphs dating to more than 800 years ago. A perfect example is the figures riding horses and shooting arrows – which are considered a portrayal of Ute Indians who obtained horses in the 1600s. There are also other more recent images attributed to the Ute culture which date from the 19th Century.


The BLM administered site is on State Route 211, and you can easily access it from US 191.
Another place of interest is the Edge Of The Cedars State Park and Museum in Blanding. It interprets the remnants of the ancient Puebloan village with its ceremonial kivas dating between 700 and 1220 A.D. The park strongly showcases the Indian civilization, its transition, and how it flourished in southeastern Utah. The museum houses a collection consisting of various ancient artifacts and pottery – which makes it the regional archaeological repository for southeast Utah.

More remnants of Pueblo culture dating between 300 A.D and 1300 A.D. may be seen on the Trail of the Ancients, which is a 100-mile loop route in the southwest of Blanding.

Grand Gulch Primitive area, accessible via south of the junction of state routes 261 and 95 is another sighting containing hundreds of cliff dwellings. The BLM, however, requires visitors to obtain a permit before being allowed into the rugged area. The area is only accessible on horseback and through hiking trails.


The Hovenweep National Monument near the Colorado border offers visitors solitude as they get to enjoy the sightings consisting of ancient fortress and tower ruins. There are five prehistoric rock art panels near the town of Bluff which are shown on the Bluff walking tour map.

Monument Valley was set aside as a Navajo Tribal Park in 1959. The park is a repository for Navajo archeology, Navajo arts, and crafts. A simple self-guided scenic drive will give you an overview of the park’s most famous formations. If you are looking forward to an in-depth exploration into the Tribal Park, you will require to hire a Navajo Guide at the visitor center.


Southwest Utah

A trip toward the southwestern side of Utah will lead you to Ansazi State Park and Museum – where you will get to see a preserved ancient village of one of the largest Ansazi communities.

Although the village remains largely unexcavated, there are many artifacts that have been uncovered and are on display in the museum.

There’s even a life-size, six room replica of an Answanzi dwelling which gives the visitors a perfect idea of how life was almost a thousand years back.

Also in southwest Utah, there are more petroglyph sites in BLM-administered Parowan Gap, 10 miles northwest of Parowan and Johnson Canyon, 9 miles east of Kanab. You can also find pictographs at Sand Springs, 20 miles northwest of Kanab.


Eastern Utah

There’s the Range Creek Canyon that shelters pristine Fremont Indian rock art and ruins in the rugged Book Cliffs. The federal government purchased the area in the year 2004, and it is now open to limited public visitation. Little is known about the Fremont people and archeologists are still actively studying the place in order to piece together the mystery of their culture.

At Dinosaur National Monument, there are more rock sites. Although some are quite obvious, there are others that require both maps and a willingness to hike.

Dry Fork Canyon is on the lower portion of the Red Cloud Loop north of Vernal and has some of America’s most impressive petroglyph panels.

If you decide to tour these sides, Nine Mile Canyon, a BLM national Scenic Backway is a place you should not miss. The Canyon walls are covered with petroglyphs and pictographs, and will no doubt leave you with one of the best experiences. You should, however, take time to pick up a copy of a detailed self-guide brochure before you embark on this trip.


Central Utah

There’s the Fremont Indian State Park and museum located at the Hw 89/I-70 junction which is 24 miles southwest of Richfield. It has a wide collection of Fremont Indian artifacts from nearby Five Fingers Hill. Follow the short, maintained trails and they will lead you past several impressive panels of rock art figures.

The interpretive center focuses on the evolution of Fremont Indian Cultures between 500 A.D and 1300 A.D.


Northern Utah

It's not much of a tour, but you will be impressed by the rock art created by members of Fremont Culture which was found on the Islands of the Great Salt Lake, and other areas of northwestern Utah’s Deserts.