Looking for an epic spring break with ALLLL the recreation on a reasonable budget? Me too! I love providing adventure for my family but I’m admittedly not the best planner. Here’s my best attempt at planning so we can enjoy spring break with one another and make the most of what Utah has to offer. The goal is to get in three days of adventure with a variety of activities that will keep everyone engaged. Skiing, mountain biking and hiking all in the same trip. Let's dive into the plan and feel free to hijack it and tell your spouse that you came up with the idea!
Early wake up and head south to Brian Head Ski Resort. It’s only about 3 ½ hours from Salt Lake and not too far off of I-15 which will be key for keeping the trip going in the coming days. Brian Head offers a unique experience with skiing in that you're not only on the mountain with pines and aspens but you can see red rock as well. Super cool vibe and a different visual than we get in northern Utah.
If you plan on heading there closing weekend you can even jump in on some live music at the Last Chair Grill & Brews. The great news is that lift tickets won’t break the bank either. If you're planning on early April you can find tickets for as low as $29 bucks! With eight lifts spinning and a variety of terrain you can keep the whole family happy and having a good time. The ski bridge splits the terrain between Navajo Peak and Brian Head Peak. Navajo Peak offers green and blue runs while Brian Head Peak is primarily blues and blacks. They also have their “Training Grounds” terrain park so you can show the kids how not to slide on the boxes and rails and how dad used to be able to do “daffy’s” and “spread eagles” off of jumps.
Lifts start spinning at 10am and close at 4pm but they also offer night skiing until 9pm if you’re up for it! This leaves you a fair amount of time to settle in with a coffee on the drive and get a full day of skiing in. Leave by 6am and you will get your fill of time on the mountain.
As far as lodging goes you have a few choices. I’m guessing the kids will be spent after a day of skiing and not too keen on hopping back in the car for more driving. If that’s the case you can take your pick of places to stay, but I know a pool gives dad bonus points. You can grab a room at Cedar Breaks Lodge for about $120 and yes… it has an indoor pool. Restaurant on-site as well which will make it easy for getting up and going on day two!
Time to pack up the skis and hit the road. We are heading south again… but it’s close, don’t worry. Head about 90 minutes south just outside of St. George to Snow Canyon State Park. It’s only $10/vehicle and you can purchase your pass ahead of time HERE. This is an awesome spot and has some great hikes that the kids will love. Snow Canyon is a small park and from my experience isn’t overly crowded and still packs a punch considering its size. The lava tube trail is relatively easy, short, and offers the opportunity to get in some exploration. It’s an out and back hike that totals 2.3 miles. Along the way, you will find some cave-like structures that were created by lava. The dark black rock and chance to scramble through varying terrain are a great change of pace from the relatively flat single track to keep the kids engaged.
Other hikes in the area include the Petrified Dune Trail and Whiterocks Amphitheater Trail. Both are short hikes as well and offer some added variety and terrain in Snow Canyon. Keep in mind, if you have dogs you will need to leave them home. Also, don’t be the dad that gets lost in the wilderness. Download Trailforks or All Trails so you can be a navigating pro with your phone.
There are a wide variety of places to stay in the St. George area and day three may dictate where you decide to go. If you’re looking to keep the price low, don’t forget to check those Marriott or Hilton hotel points if you have any. There are plenty of hotel options that you can find that would work for this. Obviously, Airbnb or Vrbo works well too, and can offer some unique experiences.
Time to grab the mountain bikes! Depending on your riding ability and level of comfort Southern Utah offers a huge variety of trail systems and with some research, you can find something for everyone. If you stay in the St. George area and are looking for a fun bike park with a large variety of riding for all ability levels Snake Hollow Bike Park is great! It has large pump tracks, beginner to expert jump lines, and quite a few skill elements are offered along the way.
If single track is more your thing, check out the Bearclaw Poppy Loop. It’s a green trail on the climb up and only about 260 feet of vertical gain over two miles. The downhill is on a blue trail that runs parallel to the climb up. Good news is that this is downhill only and you can let it rip! This is a super fun trail that keeps you on single track and feels like a pump track built into the terrain. Total round trip distance is about four miles from the parking lot. Pack some snacks and water and you should be good to go. Don’t forget the sucker if you have little ones as a reward!
If you’re looking for a change of location, head over to the Hurricane/Virgin area. These trails typically offer some longer distances and you would want to do some research before heading out or have trailforks on your phone. Don’t forget to check on total elevation gain and look at the difficulty rating if you are new to the area. If you are comfortable on the bike and have some time built up in the saddle it’s hard to pass up Gooseberry Mesa. These are largely black trails and may not be as family-friendly due to the technical nature and longer distances. They do offer some epic views and fun technical riding if you enjoy that aspect of mountain biking.
Close by is the Margarita Trail connecting into Guacamole OR Holy Guacamole. This is a much shorter loop and can range from 4-7 miles from the parking lot with some options to take on a blue OR black trail after a reasonable climb on a green. If you’re looking for more direction swing by a local bike shop and get the goods.
One option if you’re looking to spend a bit extra on a hotel is the La Quinata in Springdale. The rooms are great and the pool has some features the younger kids will dig. You can also cut the price nearly in half if you head back toward Hurricane or Washington.
All in all, your trip can run you less than about $500 for the whole family and you can get in all the adventure that Utah has to offer in one weekend. Just a friendly reminder that despite what or how we plan I’m always a fan of just going with the flow. If the kids are having the time of their lives in one location it just may be worth hunkering down and making the most of it. There is also a ton of value to getting them out and exposed to a variety of activities. The good news is that if one is a flop, you have another planned the next day to rebound with. Hit the road and maybe we will see you along the way!