Utah’s BEST…Family Friendly Ski Retreats
- Posted On
- Jan 30, 2018
By Monique Beeley
Planning a family ski vacation can be a bit daunting for a variety of reasons: it’s too expensive (lodging, lift tickets, food, lessons, travel), unsure of the quality of the kids’ ski programs, and is the terrain family-friendly? These may be just a few concerns at the top of the list. Well, we have two resorts in Utah that are PERFECT for your next family-friendly ski trip.
Whether it’s a just a day trip or a weekend road trip, Brian Head and Beaver Mountain Resorts are calling all families to their mountains for a truly authentic and memorable family ski vacation. You remember…the kind we had when we were kids that to this day still brings a smile to our face.
No other resort in Utah stirs up the same feeling of nostalgia for me as Beaver Mountain Resort. This is where I learned to ski and fell in love with the sport at a young age. I grew up in a ski family – we skied religiously every weekend – creating wonderful mountain memories.
My first return to Beaver was two years ago with my daughter, who was at the time 6, and my niece who was 11. Driving into the parking lot, I was overwhelmed with memories of my youth and spending so much time at this resort. We gathered our gear and walked up to the ticket office, which to my surprise, looked just the same as it did in the 80’s & 90’s. We walked inside and I was greeted by a friendly & familiar face that I hadn’t seen in 25 years: Marge Seeholzer, resort owner and friend of my family growing up. Beaver Mountain has been family owned and operated since 1939. We chatted for a bit, then the girls started to get anxious to hit the slopes. First stop: Little Beaver, the beginner lift. My mind was racing as we approached the top, everything looked and felt so familiar. I watched as the girls raced down the hill feeling a sense of gratitude for being able to share this wonderful place that was such an important part of my childhood with my daughter.
Lodging: The Beaver Mountain Yurt, which sleeps 16+ people can be rented nightly for $250. Garden City/ Bear Lake is 20 minutes from the mountain and offers a variety of lodging options, and winter is their off-season, so the rates are 20-50% lower than in the busy summer months. Logan which is 40 minutes, offers a variety of options, from national hotel chains to historic B&B’s and everything in between.
Explore the Area: Logan Canyon, in the heart of the Uinta-Wasatch-Cache National Forest, is an outdoor recreationalist winter paradise, with miles and miles of trails for snowmobiling, snowshoeing and cross-country skiing. Stop in Epic Recreation for gear rentals and guided tours. The annual Bear Lake Monster Winterfest is Jan 27th and is a great family friendly event, featuring a chili cook-off, fishing tournament and the Monster Plunge for those daring enough to plunge themselves into the icy waters.
Terrain: 35% Beginner, 40% Intermediate 25% Advanced
Drive Time: 2 hours from Salt Lake
Average Snowfall: 400”
Elevation: Base 7,160’ Summit 8,860’
Terrain Parks: 2
Little Beaver, All Day - $25
Little Beaver, 12-ride - $30
We love Brian Head Resort in Southern Utah for it’s amazing red rock vistas, small town vibe, family-friendly atmosphere, no lift-lines, tubing hills and night skiing. The base of the resort sits at 9,600 ft., making it the highest mountain resort in Utah. Cedar Breaks National Monument is nearby providing breathtaking red rock vistas. No other mountain resort is as primly located in the heart of Utah’s National Parks, which make great side trips for those wanting some variety. The Resort is divided into two areas; Navajo Peak is the perfect beginner/kid’s area, where you may even feel comfortable letting the kids do laps on their own, and then Giant Steps, which offers a full range of terrain options and terrain parks.
For beginner’s the Brian Head University program can’t be beat. This unique program includes: 3 lessons, gear rentals and lift tickets all for $299…and if you don’t learn in the 3 days, they will provide a full refund.
The Town: Trade in the sights and sounds of the busy city for the quiet and picturesque vibe of this high elevation authentic small town. Lodging options range from two full-service hotels (swimming pools & spa services); Cedar Breaks Lodge & The Grand Lodge, and a variety of reasonably priced condos and cabins. The town is home to 7-restaurants; Pizano’s Pizzeria is a must for the pizza loving family, and for those looking for some home-style BBQ, Giant Steps Lodge at the resort is THE place, where you will find the owner, John Grissinger, personally preparing his famous Kansas City mouthwatering BBQ.
Explore the area: Cedar Breaks National Monument offers free guided snowshoe tours (including rentals + hot chocolate) Saturday’s Jan-March; reservations required. Dixie National Forest offers miles of trails for snowshoeing and cross country skiing, and if you need gear stop into Georg’s Ski Shop for rentals. Snowmobiling is a popular activity around Brian Head and Thunder Mountain Motorsports is the local guide that can take you out for an epic tour.
Apres’ Ski & Nightlife: The Last Chance Saloon at Giant Steps Lodge is a great family friendly Après’ spot for music (live music every Saturday), food (John’s famous BBQ mentioned above), and drinks (full bar menu + kid options). Dark Sky Star Parties are conducted throughout the winter by Cedar Breaks National Park rangers and astronomy volunteers. Cedar Breaks was the first National Park Service unit in Utah to be designated as an International Dark Sky Park. Night Skiing and Tubing is a great way to continue the fun into the evening hours for those high-energy kids!
Before heading up Scenic Byway 143 to Brian Head, be sure to stop in Parowan for one of their Best of the West Cinnamon Rolls, because you are on vacation and who doesn’t love a gooey, sticky, sweet, cinnamon roll …right? Twenty-five businesses are featuring their own interpretation of Parowan’s self-proclaimed famous Cinnamon Roll. Look for The Sweet Tour signs in the local store fronts and stop in for a yummy cinnamon treat.
Terrain: 30% Beginner, 35% Intermediate, 35% Advanced
Drive Time: 3.5 hours from Salt Lake City
Average Snowfall: 360”
Elevation: Base 9,600’, Summit 10,920’
Lifts: 8 Chair Lifts + 2 Surface Lifts
Terrain Parks: 3
Tubing Hills: 2
Weekday: Adult $38 Child $27
Weekend: Adult $59 Child $43
Night Skiing: $20