Government Shutdown Opens Opportunities

Wed Oct 09, 2013

Huntsman World Senior Games Athletes may not see Zion or Bryce up close, but Park closures open opportunities to experience an amazing number of hidden natural wonders.  

Zion National ParkSt. George, UT – October 3, 2013 – Imagine you’re finally visiting Paris only to find that the front doors of Notre Dame are closed.  Luckily back doors, adjacent cloisters and rarely visited gardens and burial grounds are open.  In fact, they’ve always been open, but most missed these beautiful gems that hid in the shadows of the great tourist-thronged nave.  And while you hope for the day when the great doors open again, by darned, you’re going to visit the little gems.  

Behold the tiny, often unseen, gems of Southern Utah and the Huntsman World Senior Games…

-          Route 9 through Zion Canyon is still open.  While you're not supposed to stop or to recreate, you can still take in some incerdible vistas along this beautiful route.

-          The Giant Screen Movie “Treasure of the Gods” in Springdale is open and magnificent.  Plus, other shops, art exhibits, riverside hotels, picnic areas and trails in and around Springdale and Rockville are still open.  In fact, outfitters in these and other towns offer excursions to some of the most beautiful and scenic vistas on earth. 

-          Bryce Canyon can still be seen from a private overlook owned by the famous Best Western Ruby’s Inn just outside of the park entrance to Bryce Canyon.  In addition, helicopter rides, horseback excursions and other adventures can still be experienced in and around Bryce Canyon. 

-          Cedar Breaks is still open to view, but without any assistance from Park staff. 

-          Brian Head, a small ski city adjacent to Cedar Breaks is also open with numerous trails for hiking, biking, and ATV and horseback adventures.  Brian Head also has great lodging and some pretty good restaurants, too. 

-          Kolob Reservoir is an amazing alpine lake that can be accessed from the north through Cedar City, and from the south through the city of Virgin.  Not only are the lake, the beautiful pines and quaking aspen groves worth seeing, the drive that gets you there is absolutely amazing. 

-          Eagle Crags Trail can be accessed by driving only 5 minutes from Springdale.  It offers rarely seen vistas of Zion National Park.

-          Gooseberry Mesa is a world-famous mountain biking and hiking trail that offers beautiful vistas, views of Zion, and the unique experience of the white and red slick rock of many parts of the Zion Park region.

-          Canaan Mountain Wilderness is a true wilderness setting offering the solitude of red sandstone cliffs and towers.

-          Snow Canyon State Park showcases dramatic sandstone formations similar to those found on Zion's east side as well as amazing lava tubes.  This park is very close to St. George and can be accessed through the city of Ivins, near the famous Tuacahn Amphitheatre. 

-          Coral Pink Sand Dunes State Park, located east of Zion National Park is a virtual ocean of red and pink sand dunes.  There are several opportunities here for ATV and other recreational adventures. 

-          Pine Valley is an idyllic forest area just north of St. George that is usually accessed from Highway 18 through Veo.  (Crawdad Canyon is in Veo with a beautiful one-mile hike along a hidden canyon creek.  Totally worth the visit).

-          Valley of Fire State Park can be accessed just off of I-15 in Nevada.  It is one of the most beautiful collections of sandstone in the world, and much of it is accessible to hiking, scrambling and climbing.  

So, yes, Huntsman World Senior Games Athletes and Official Fans don’t relish that the great doors of Zion and Bryce Canyons are closed for the time being.  But the closure has created an opportunity to do, see and experience some of the natural wonder of Southern Utah that they may never have experienced otherwise.  Outside of the Huntsman World Senior Games competition, socials, dances, entertainment opportunities and ceremonies, be sure to experience these hidden gems of Southern Utah.  

Check with local residents, law enforcement and/or professional outfitters not only for direction to these remarkable off-the-beaten-path gems, but for insights into safety and other important details like trail difficulty, distances, weather, elevation, accessibility and hydration needs.