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Love Type 2 fun? Try this grueling 14-mile hike in Utah

A hiker on a trail at Wire Pass Canyon near Kanab, Utah.
A hiker on the trail at Wire Pass Canyon, which leads to the entrance of Buckskin Gulch near Kanab, Utah.
(Brian van der Brug / Los Angeles Times)

By Rachel Schnalzer
Design and illustrations by Jade Cuevas

Good morning, fellow Escapists. Santa Barbara, Lake Tahoe and Las Vegas are classic destinations for Southern California travelers. I sometimes hesitate before including them in Escapes, instead writing about offbeat or little known activities.

But just because these destinations are well known doesn’t mean they don’t have new or innovative offerings for adventurers. In this edition of Escapes, you’ll find unique accommodations in Santa Barbara County, an illuminating way to learn more about Lake Tahoe and more.

As always, send me an email with your travel recommendations so I can include them in an edition of Escapes.

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🛶 Cooling off in Tahoe this summer? Try this nighttime paddle

Heading to Lake Tahoe this summer? Consider booking a full-moon kayak tour along the shore of Ed Z’berg Sugar Pine Point State Park on July 23 or Aug. 22.

The Sierra State Parks Foundation and West Shore Sports are offering kayak tours with state park staff, who will explain the area’s natural and cultural history as you paddle under the full moon. The tour will take kayakers from Sugar Pine Point Light, the highest-elevation operational lighthouse in the U.S., to the park’s southern border.

Tickets cost $45, which includes kayak rental, life jackets, parking and safety training. Book soon; tours are limited.

A photo illustration of a kayak and kayaker on the water.
A kayak skims the still, evening waters of Lake Tahoe.
(Mark Boster / Los Angeles Times)

🏊 Book a stay one of these Santa Barbara County accommodations

Yearning for a quick escape up the coast? Times contributor Sharon Boorstin recently profiled seven new or recently updated hotels in Santa Barbara County. “But a word to the wise,” Boorstin writes. “Demand is off the charts for weekend rooms in summer, so Friday-to-Monday travelers may face two- or three-night-stay rules, higher rates and bumper-to-bumper traffic on the 101.”

So book early or consider a midweek escape.

Here are a few of the gems she included on her list:

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  • Hotel Ynez, Solvang: Rooms at the “rustic-chic” hotel open on front patios, where for $50, you can have delivered a Weber grill and a Santa Maria barbecue kit for two with spice-rubbed baby back ribs. Amenities include firepits, a bocce ball court, a pool and complimentary bicycles.
  • Zaca Creek, Buellton: Zaca Creek, which functions as a boutique inn, bar-restaurant and wedding and event venue, has undergone a major transformation. Gone are the rowdy bar and cowboy disco. “Today they look like centuries-old stone-and-timber structures you’d find in Provence or the English countryside,” Boorstin writes. The inn features six stone-walled suites with oversize stone-walled bathrooms that are equipped with soaker tubs and rainfall showers. A “bio-lagoon” is available for guests to swim.
  • Cuyama Buckhorn, New Cuyama: Calling all cowboys. The Buckhorn is filled with chic Western touches such as cowhide rugs and cowboy hats on the walls. Boorstin recommends visitors enjoy the resorts’ 60-foot-long swimming pool, hike the Caliente Mountain Ridge Trail and try the wines at nearby Condor’s Hope Vineyard, as well as indulge in the resort’s farm-to-table meals and craft cocktails. Just be sure to save room for the complimentary s’mores.
Fire pit in the courtyard at Hotel Ynez in Solvang.
Guests can gather around a fire pit at Hotel Ynez in Solvang.
(Paul Boorstin)

🏜️ A 14-mile slog through a gash in the Earth

“One of the best hikes in America is a 14-mile slog through a gash in the Earth,” writes Times contributor David Kelly.

Welcome to Buckskin Gulch, the longest, deepest slot canyon in the U.S., which runs along the Utah-Arizona line. “The narrow labyrinth is strewn with obstacles — flooded passageways, quicksand, titanic boulders and rattlesnakes,” Kelly describes. “As a slot canyon aficionado, I had to see for myself.”

Kelly’s journey totaled about 21 miles — 14 through Buckskin Gulch and seven up the Paria River. He encountered ancient petroglyphs, towering sandstone walls and the “cesspool,” an obstacle known for its standing, putrid water, among other delights and challenges. “Buckskin began as a hike, became a slog and turned into an adventure,” Kelly concludes. It’s the very definition of Type 2 fun — miserable while it’s happening, but fun in retrospect.

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If you go, do plenty of research and be prepared for constantly changing conditions.

Hikers walk along a sandy trail flanked by the massive sandstone walls of Buckskin Gulch in Utah.
(Brian van der Brug / Los Angeles Times)

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🎰 Meet Resorts World Las Vegas

Resorts World Las Vegas is the biggest new-build casino on the Las Vegas Strip in more than a decade, Times travel writer Christopher Reynolds reports. He recently compiled a list of five things to know about the behemoth, which opened June 24. Here are a few highlights:

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  • It includes 3,500 hotel rooms: Resorts World’s opening night sold out with room rates from $479 for Friday and Saturday nights, and $149 for Sunday and Monday nights.
  • Gambling? No need to bring cash: The casino offers a “completely seamless cashless wagering experience,” Reynolds writes. The gaming floor includes more than 1,400 slot machines, 117 table games and 30 poker tables.
  • The “founding headliners” have been announced: Celine Dion, Carrie Underwood, Katy Perry and Luke Bryan will perform at the resort’s 5,000-seat theater, which opens in November.

Construction cranes atop the Resorts World hotel on the Las Vegas Strip.
Construction cranes atop the massive Resorts World hotel on the Strip in Las Vegas.
(Myung J. Chun / Los Angeles Times)

📰 What I’m reading

  • You should consider a “second city” trip in 2021, advises Sally French in NerdWallet. She suggests great alternatives to big metropolitan areas.
  • “Will travel and tourism return with California reopening?” Miranda Green asks in CalMatters.
  • It’s grizzly-viewing season in Alaska’s Katmai National Park & Preserve, Emily Pennington writes in Outside Online.
  • A tiny Tucson bakery is preserving Sonoran heritage. Sara Button writes in Afar how owner Don Guerra “has transformed the meaning of a modern neighborhood bakery” .
  • “We should look to the U.S. Civil Rights Trail to learn how to move forward,” Deborah D. Douglas writes in Condé Nast Traveler.
A grizzly bear catches a salmon in Alaska.
A grizzly bear is poised to catch a salmon on top of Brooks Falls, in Katmai National Park & Preserve in Alaska.
(Mark Edward Harris / Getty Images)

📸 Photo of the week

Goats graze on the brush to reduce fire fuel around Cuyamaca College in El Cajon, Calif.
Goats graze on brush to reduce fire fuel around Cuyamaca College in El Cajon, Calif. Photo taken in September 2020.
(Jarrod Valliere / San Diego Union-Tribune)

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🎸 Road song

The road less taken often leads to the best adventures. That’s why the Chicks’ anthem “The Long Way Around” will forever remain one of my favorite travel tunes. ✌️

Illustration of tire rotating on a road.
(Jade Cuevas / Los Angeles Times)


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