There are two kinds of people: Vegas people, and the rest of us.
While hordes of skiers descend upon the legendary powder-packed slopes of Park City and Deer Valley in northern Utah, the otherworldly, merely snow-dusted desert geology of the southern half of the state—with its towering hoodoos, massive sandstone formations, and deep slot canyons—remains largely overlooked by tourists.
The natural volcanic hot springs in Calistoga were originally discovered by the Wappo tribe more than 500 years ago; their rumored healing powers remain a draw today, along with venerable wineries, classy eateries, and luxury resorts. Knowing this, we have just two words to describe this gem of a town: Napa, who?
Having grown up in the southwest, I feel a deep affinity for all desert landscapes. The otherworldly terrain of southern Utah is particularly close to my heart. I have spent many winter holidays over the last 15 years hiking in Zion and Bryce Canyon national parks, as the days are usually sunny and the cold is never too bone-shattering.
Right now, two brave climbers are in the middle of attempting to free-climb the world's steepest stretch of granite, half a mile up, in the peaks of Yosemite National Park. Professional climbers Kevin Jorgeson and Tommy Caldwell began their journey on December 27 and are the first to try to reach the summit of El Capitan's Dawn Wall in Yosemite using nothing but their hands and feet. If the two succeed to the top, they will make history by being the first to do so without any other tools but their bodies.