Climbing management plan in the works for Arches National Park

Arches National Park, located in eastern Utah, not far from Moab, is a very popular destination for climbers and hikers who come to explore the unusual rock formations and deep canyons. The park is famous for its more than 2000 natural rock arches carved out of the sandstone by millions of years of weathering and erosion.

The most famous of those formations is Delicate Arch, a 52 foot tall monument that actually appears on Utah’s license plates. The geological phenomenon seems aptly named, as even though it is made of rock, it is also easily damaged. This was illustrated all too clearly back in 2006 when rock climber Dean Potter scaled the Arch and his ropes left grooves in the sand stone face.The park service quickly responded by restricting climbing within the park, much to the dismay of the climbers who frequented the place.

Now, more than four years after Potter’s controversial climb, the park service is finally working on a formal plan to manage climbing within Arches. That plan has a few basic goals that include protecting the park’s natural resources for future generations to enjoy, while still allowing climbers access to those resources in a safe way that doesn’t damage the rock. The plan also strives to protect the plant and animal life in the park, while engaging the climbing community in a cooperative stewardship program that helps to protect those natural resources as well.

The management plan has a long way to go, as it has just entered the public scoping period in which the park service calls for input from the general public. Moving forward, they’ll also try to define a code of ethics for climbers in the park, clearly define routes, institute a permitting system, and plan out their rescue operations considerations, amongst a host of other issues.

Arches is indeed a spectacular destination for outdoor enthusiasts looking for amazing scenery while they hike or climb. This plan will ensure that visitors to the park will continue to have access to the great natural resources available there, while using them in a safe, ethical way. If you have an opinion on the direction that this plan should go, be sure to weigh in with your thoughts now. You’ll find more information on how to do just that by clicking here.

[Photo credit: Palacemusic via WikiMedia Commons]

Outside in Aspen delivers outdoor fun June 11-13

Outside magazine and the Aspen Chamber Resort Association (ACRA) have announced the first annual Outside in Aspen adventure weekend set to take place in Aspen, Colorado June 11-13. The three day event will be filled with hiking, mountain biking, kayaking, and other outdoor activities, with a host of professional adventure athletes, such as Olympic gold medalist Tyler Hamilton and mountaineer/photographer Jake Norton, on hand to take part in the fun.

The festivities get underway on Friday night with a welcome party at the Sky Hotel which will be used t for the Leave No Trace organization. Then, on Saturday the Base Camp will open, which will serve as the adventure headquarters for the weekend’s activities. Visitors will gather at BC to meet up with guides who will take them rock climbing, trail running, cycling, fly fishing, and much more. Then, following a full day of active outdoor pursuits, it’ll be time to head over to a pool party at the Hotel Jerome. An after party at the Belly Up Aspen, will round out the evening.

On Sunday, it’s back to Base Camp for another full day of outdoor fun. The weekend will be capped by a panel discussion moderated by Outside editors, with adventure athletes fielding questions from the crowd and discussing issues in the adventure community. Lunch will be served following the panel discussion, with a gear give away soon there after.

In order to make Outside in Aspen as affordable and accessible as possible, special packages are being offered through Stay Aspen Snowmass, where you can get two-night lodge packages starting at $99. Additionally, the Outside in Aspen Activity Package is available for $250 and includes entrance to the welcome party, half day outdoor activities on both Saturday and Sunday, access to Base Camp festivities throughout the weekend, and entrance to Saturday’s Pool Party as well. The package also includes admission to the adventure athlete panel discussion on Sunday, and includes lunch after that event too.

For a great weekend of outdoor fun and adventure, plan on being in Aspen on June 11-13. It is sure to be a great time. Register here.

South by Southeast: Picking a beach in Thailand

The allure of Thailand’s islands and beaches is immense. Sugar white sand. A wealth of activities, from diving to rock climbing to sailing. Raucous beach parties. But all these pleasing options can actually cause a big headache. With literally hundreds of beach and island choices, spread between Thailand’s west-facing Andaman Coast and the eastern-facing Gulf of Thailand, visitors will be hard-pressed to choose where lay their towels. Not to mention many of us have limited vacation time and budgets.

So how do you properly choose the right beach for your upcoming Thailand adventure? It was exactly the problem I faced last month as I began the last leg of my trip through Southeast Asia. Fortunately, I had the luxury of time on my side. I would check out as many beach spots as I could. From the upscale to the budget, from peaceful to packed, I was on a mission to uncover Thailand’s perfect beach. It was truly a dreadful task, I assure you dear reader, but I suffered through my investigation as best I could.

So did I finally uncover the perfect beach in Thailand? If you’ve ever wanted to take a Thai beach vacation, keep reading below for South by Southeast’s handy guide to picking the perfect stretch of sand.Finding the perfect beach in Thailand is all a matter of what you’re looking for, whether it’s partying till dawn, partaking in some active pursuits or getting in touch with your inner castaway. To help you figure out what’s best for you, consider the following categories:

Get Away from Me, World
Thailand’s islands and beaches are firmly on the tourist trail these days, but there are still a few spots you can get “off the beaten track.” For the best chance of success, consider sticking to the Andaman Coast, particularly the islands closer to the Malaysian border, like Ko Adang and Ko Bulon Lae as well as Ko Chang (the one on the Andaman Coast, not the Gulf of Thailand). Though there are still visitors, these are the types of islands where it’s still possible to grab a quiet bungalow, get lost and have a swim on a deserted beach.

I’m on a Budget
With all the exclusive resorts going up on islands like Ko Samui these days, you might get the impression that finding a beach paradise in Thailand is going to be expensive. But it’s not. For backpackers watching their dollars, check out islands like Ko Phangan, which manages to maintain scattered bungalows that are a downright bargain. Another good choice is Ko Tarutao, a protected national park island where you can score a tent or longhouse for less than $10/night.

The Active Adventurer
Does sitting on the beach make you antsy? In addition to nice stretches of sand, Thailand’s beaches are also the perfect place to enjoy a variety of active pursuits, ranging from kayaking to rock climbing to scuba diving. The limestone rocks at Railay are among the best spots in the world to try to some climbing. Is diving more your style? Check out Ko Tao or the Similan Islands, home to teeming schools of fish, turtles and sharks. And for kayakers? Head for either Ao Phang Nga or Ang Thong National Marine Parks.

I Came Here to Party!!!!!
Thailand is home to some world-class nightlife, and the country’s beaches and islands certainly don’t disappoint. For all the fire twirling, dance music and whiskey buckets you can handle, check out the islands of Ko Phi Phi, Ko Phangan and Ko Samui. Some travelers hate these islands. Others think they’re paradise. We’re not here to judge…just give you the facts. Check out this account of Ko Phangan’s infamous Full Moon Party from Gadling writer Stephen Greenwood for more info.

From raucous Full Moon Parties to deliciously deserted beaches, Thailand has the beach for you. With all this choice, the problem isn’t finding what you want – it’s trying to pick. Have any favorite island experiences or tips that we missed? Share them with us in the comments.

Gadling writer Jeremy Kressmann is spending the next few months in Southeast Asia. You can read other posts on his adventures “South by Southeast” HERE.

Gadling TV’s Travel Talk 002: Google goes Trans-Siberian, BA Strike, Aircruises, S.F. in 24 hrs and more!

Gadling TV’s Travel Talk, episode 2 – Click above to watch video after the jump

Travel Talk is Gadling’s version of a travel show. In each episode, we’ll discuss hot travel news; share fun, useful tips for both traveling and bringing your travel experiences back home; spotlight exciting travel destinations; and much more.

In this week’s episode – we discuss Google’s new project on the Trans-Siberian Express, break down the latest looming British Airways strike, discuss Seymourpowell’s lofty Aircruise concept, and discuss the latest blunders from Ryanair and the TSA.

Bruce is back for another travel tip; we’ll also show you the best spots in San Francisco in a new segment called 24 hour turnaround and show you what it’s like to rock climb in the California Wilderness.

If you have any questions or comments about Travel Talk, you can email us at talk AT gadling DOT com.

Be sure to tune in next week, for Episode 3 of Gadling TV’s Travel Talk with special coverage of Virgin America’s Fly Girls Premiere!

Download the Show: Travel Talk – 002 (HD!!) // Travel Talk – 002 (iPod / iPhone / Zune formatted)

Subscribe via iTunes:
[iTunes] Subscribe to the Show directly in iTunes (M4V).
[RSS M4V] Add the Travel Talk feed (M4V) to your RSS aggregator and have it delivered automatically.

Moscow to Vladivostok on Google
Seymourpowell’s Aircruises (+video)

Hosts: Stephen Greenwood, Aaron Murphy-Crews, Drew Mylrea
Special guest: Bruce!
Travel Hero: Mark Beaumont

Produced, Edited, and Directed by: Stephen Greenwood, Aaron Murphy-Crews, Drew Mylrea

Music by:
Ben Rector

The Pacific
“Live In A Dream”

Poll of the Week!


Permits now required for Yosemite’s Half Dome

Hiker’s planning on making the trek to the top of Half Dome in Yosemite National Park this summer will have to add a permit to their list of required gear. Earlier this week, the National Park Service announced that permits will now be required on all Fridays, Saturdays, Sundays, and federal holidays for all hikers climbing above the subdome. The new guidelines further stipulate that a maximum of 400 permits will be issued on those days, which are when the summit cables are in place.

Hikers can obtain their permits as little as one week in advance of their climb or as far out as four months, but they are not available at the park itself. Instead, they will need to be obtained from the National Recreation Reservation Service for the price of $1.50 which covers the nebulous “processing fee”. Demand is expected to be very high, so those interested in making the hike to the top of the iconic granite dome are encouraged to nab them early.

Backpackers who have already obtained the necessary wilderness permits for Yosemite can add the option to go to the top of Half Dome at the time they pick up their paperwork with out the need to go through the normal reservation process. Rock climbers taking the hard way to the summit are allowed to descend the trail without the need for a permit either. I guess they figure you’ve earned it at that point.

The move to the permitting system came about following four deaths in four years on the trail. It is an attempt to make conditions on the route safer by limiting the amount of traffic. Traditionally, during the busy summer months, as many as 400 people will crowd onto the trail on weekdays alone, and those numbers swell to 800 on a typical weekend, and as high as 1200 on holidays. By limiting the numbers to just 400 a day, not only does the trail become safer, the impact on the environment is reduced as well.