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Plan ahead to enjoy spring break in Utah

Published March 23, 2012 9:31 am

Southern Utah • Motels, campgrounds are in short supply.
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2012, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

The dates of your spring break will vary depending on where the kids attend school. But one thing is certain: If you want to head to Utah's warmer recreation areas any time between now and the end of April, you need to plan ahead.

Moab's Easter Jeep Safari and St. George's Art Festival draw big crowds. If the weather is good, the Little Sahara Sand Dunes will play host to as many as 35,000 off-highway vehicle enthusiasts on Easter weekend. Families looking for a cure for cabin fever also will fill campgrounds and motels near national parks including Arches, Canyonlands, Zion, Capitol Reef and even high-elevation Bryce.

Moab bound • This year, Easter Jeep Safari begins March 31 and ends Sunday, April 8, which is Easter. Ron Brewer, information officer for the Red Rock 4-Wheelers, which sponsors the safari, said many four-wheel enthusiasts will book their room or campground spot a year in advance.

"The last I've heard, most of the motels and campgrounds are full," he said. "When it gets down to a final deadline, some people stay in Monticello or Green River and drive to Moab every day."

Brewer said registration, done online for the first time this year at http://www.rr4w.com, is a little ahead of 2011 when 1,600 four-wheel-drive vehicles registered. A big vendor show, expected to draw about 150 vendors, will be April 5 and 6 at the Spanish Trail Arena.

It's not just Jeep enthusiasts taking up space. Moab is also a popular place for mountain bikers, hikers and campers this time of year, so the town will be packed much of the spring.

While there still may be a few rooms available in Moab, rates will be high, $170 to $449 a night. It's always good to check with the Grand County Travel Council to see if there are any last-minute cancellations.

St. George • Youth baseball, softball and soccer tournaments — as well as great golf weather —make March and April among the busiest months in St. George and nearby Mesquite, Nev. Adding to the crowds will be the city's 32nd Art Festival, April 6 and 7. The event features more than 110 artists from throughout the United States and includes music and food. It is held on the St. George Town Square from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Sand Dunes • Little Sahara Sand Dunes in western Utah — north of Delta — doesn't have hotel rooms. Most people who haul their ATVs, dirt bikes and sand buggies just camp on site. Because Easter is early in April, the water may not be available, said Lisa Reid of the Bureau of Land Management, which manages Little Sahara. "Water is always available at the visitor center, but other areas are weather dependent."

Enthusiasts also should be aware that the Little Sahara annual pass program has changed this year. Instead of being good from Jan. 1 through Dec. 31, annual passes are valid one year from the time of purchase. Visitors who purchase the $120 annual pass on April 1 won't see it expire until the end of the next March. Little Sahara does not accept the America the Beautiful pass.

Popular parks • Many Utah State Parks are completely or nearly reserved for the Easter holiday. Coral Pink Sand Dunes, Dead Horse Point, Goblin Valley, Snow Canyon and Sand Hollow are completely reserved, and Escalante, Green River, Quail Creek and Green River will likely be full by the weekend.

Closer to the Wasatch Front, many recreation activities are weather dependent. But, if warm weather prevails, this can be the time of year when it is possible to ski in the mountains in the morning and golf in the valley in the afternoon.