When you think of Southern Utah, the typical things that may come to mind are probably things like Moab, Zion, Bryce Canyon, and desert life in general. It’s the place where people from the West flock in the offseasons for nicer weather and activities such as mountain biking, canyoneering and hiking. While all of these are definitely present in the southern part of the state, there is one other often overlooked activity to be done in the high desert: skiing. That’s right, Southern Utah offers up some excellent skiing in the ways of both backcountry and resort riding.
Before getting into the rundown of our weekend of skiing down south, you may want to know a few quick facts about each of the resorts:
Eagle Point, located in Beaver, Utah, likes to keep their operations on a part time level and only runs their lifts Friday through Monday. If you are really itching to ski there during the middle of the week however, Eagle Point offers a unique program that allows you to rent out the entire resort for $10,000 a day. If you have a huge family, lots of friends, or want to take your employees out for some team building, check out the “As You Wish” program. Otherwise, daily lift tickets range from $35-$60/day depending on which day you go. If you’re driving, it takes about 3.5 hours from Salt Lake, 3.75 hours from Las Vegas, NV, and about 8 hours from San Diego, CA. You could also consider flying into Cedar City and making the 1.5 hour drive from there.
Brian Head Ski Resort is located in the town of Brian Head, Utah, which happens to be home to the highest in elevation post office in the state of Utah. Brian Head is open seven days a week with adult ticket lift ticket prices ranging from $42/day during the week and $59/day on the weekends, excluding holidays. The drive to Brian Head from Salt Lake is about 3.75 hours, 3 hours from Las Vegas, NV and around 7.5 hours from San Diego, CA. If you fly into Cedar City, the drive is a little under an hour.
With February proving to be a big month for us here in Utah, we decided to make a weekend trip down to Eagle Point and Brian Head to take advantage of all the new snow. Tag along on our adventure below. We hope it inspires you to book your own trip to the southern part of our state.
6:00 pm: Once everyone finished up with their respective work duties, we loaded up the Ski Utah truck and got ready to make the drive down to Eagle Point. Seeing as our drive was going to put us at Eagle Point around 10 pm, we decided to grab some food on the road as things tend to shut down a little early at the resort itself. So, if you are planning on arriving at night, be sure to grab some food before you get there and let the lodging staff know what time you will arrive so they can be sure to accommodate you.
10:00 pm: With our quick dinner stop we were able to roll into Eagle Point after just under four hours on the road. The staff had prepared a great map for us at the front desk so we cruised over to our condo, unloaded our bags and started a fire in the wood burning stove while drinking some beers and discussing the day to come. The lodging at the resort itself consists of either condos or vacation homes, so you are provided with a much more comfortable atmosphere than your standard hotel room. Prices start around $150/night. If you’d like, you can stay down at the Comfort Inn & Suites down in Beaver City and make the half hour drive through beautiful Beaver Canyon.
7:30 am: Wake up. Time for breakfast: eggs, sausage, peppers, potatoes and salsa to get ready for the day. Eagle Point had received about 40 inches of new snow over the few days they were closed, so we were slated to have a full day of powder skiing. Pro tip/spoiler alert: if you’re debating heading to Eagle Point for the weekend and it snows that week, do yourself a favor and get there.
9:30 am: Meet at the bottom of the Lookout Quad Chair and head up for first tracks. Eagle Point’s lifts are generally divided up based on terrain difficulty and the Lookout Quad offers up the largest amount of black diamond runs. Be sure to check it out if you are looking for some more challenging terrain. Once we got to the top, we made our way over to Delano Drop for our first lap of untouched powder. All the fresh snow from the week left us with smooth, effortless turns all morning long! And, because crowds don't exist at Eagle Point, it was easy to work our way around the mountain and find plenty of untouched pow.
12 noon: After our sunny morning skiing powder, it was time to get some lunch at the Canyonside Lodge. In the lodge you can choose whether you want to be seated in the bar or the restaurant. The same food is offered in each location. Be sure to check out the sweet potato fries and the salmon BLT if you are looking for a different take on a classic sandwich. Other offerings include chicken sandwiches, salads, steak and seafood.
1:00 pm: Satisfied with our lunch it was time to head back out for more skiing. Based on our success from the morning, we decided to head back to the Lookout Quad for the remainder of the day. Much like our morning, the afternoon continued to provide us with fresh snow and beautiful skies! Be sure to take a couple of runs in the Hoodoo trees for some soft turns with excellent spacing the whole way down.
3:30 pm: As the day was coming to an end and our legs were getting worn out, it was time to head back to the Canyonside Lodge to check out the après scene. Positioned perfectly outside the lodge and just at the top of the Canyonside Double Chair are two hot tubs with excellent south-westerly views down into Beaver Canyon. Conveniently, the bar inside the lodge is happy to provide you with drinks in plastic cups. So, grab your bathing suit from the condo, a pitcher of beer from the bar, and take a seat in the hot tub to relax your muscles after a solid day of skiing.
5:00 pm: We definitely exceeded the recommended time of 20 minutes in a hot tub, but its honestly pretty hard to get out when it’s a clear evening, beer is handy, and you’re surrounded by friends. Once we finally got out, it was time to make the drive down to Brian Head, which takes about an hour and a half. On the way, we decided to make a quick stop for dinner at a Southern Utah classic: Beaver Taco, a little Mexican restaurant just off I-15. The food there is cheap and tasty!
7:00 pm: Much like Eagle Point, a lot of the lodging options at Brian Head are condos situated all around the base areas. We checked into ours and noticed that it was conveniently placed right next to one of the chair lifts. If you aren’t feeling the condo life, you could check out the Cedar Breaks Lodge, Mountain View Lodge, or even the Best Western Premier Brian Head Hotel and Spa. All of which are located just in town and provide easy access to the mountain. In terms of nightlife, there are a variety of bars scattered around Brian Head. The Last Chair Saloon in the Giant Steps Lodge oftentimes offers live music from 4-8 p.m. and hosts various events that correspond to night skiing (this particular Friday was ladies night). With the help of some local knowledge, we discovered the bar in the Best Western has a really good ski town vibe, as well as a liquor license, so you can get some hard alcohol and not just beer.
10:30 pm: One thing that is important to remember is the fact that the base elevation of Brian Head is 9,600 feet. So you want to drink a fair amount of water to counterbalance the alcohol you drink. Regardless of whether or not you are going to be drinking alcohol during your time in Brian Head, drink lots of water! Crush that water and get yourself to bed. The mountain starts turning its lifts at 9:30.
8:00 am: Seeing as we were afforded the option of a kitchen in the condo, we made some eggs for breakfast again. Another good way to get some food in you is to check out the General Store where they have things like breakfast burritos and pancakes.
9:30 am: Time to ski. Brian Head is divided up into two main areas that allow you to ski either on Giant Steps Mountain or Navajo Mountain. The former has more to offer in terms of difficult terrain options and the latter is excellent for mellow cruiser laps. Seeing as it was another beautiful sunny day and there was still fresh snow to be found, we decided to start the day on Giant Steps. Back in the 90s, Brian Head fell victim to a couple of warm winters that led to a bark beetle infestation. The beetles left the terrain at Brian Head fairly wide open, allowing you to go pretty much anywhere within the resort boundary with little to no tightly spaced treed areas. There is tree skiing, but you have loads of room to maneuver through them.
12 noon: Before heading over to the Last Chair Saloon for a BBQ style lunch (get yourself some fried dill pickle spears – you’re welcome in advance), we decided to stop into Georg’s, the local ski shop that has been around since the resort opened in 1965. Turns out it’s a great spot to get rentals, souvenirs, check out some serious skiing history, or even spend the night. Be sure to stop in there and say hello. There is a good chance you’ll be greeted by the incredibly friendly and helpful owners.
1:30 pm: After lunch, we decided to head back out and do a bit more skiing. With some more guidance from our local guide, we were able to find even more fresh snow on the Giant Steps side and then some really fun and easy groomers over on Navajo Mountain.
3:30 pm: Time to call it a day and head to the hot tub for some more après beers. The condo complexes typically have their own hot tubs, and the lodges are each equipped with some nice indoor hot tubs/pools as well. The tub at the Cedar Breaks Lodge looks particularly inviting for it has a larger sized pool and multiple hot tubs.
Sunset: Provided that you have a clear afternoon, head up the road to catch a glimpse of Cedar Breaks as the sun is going down. The road is not always open, but if it is, make the short (5 min) drive and soak in the views of red rocks with snow on them. The contrast in color from the rich reds and the white snow is really something worth seeing. If you’re not able to get up the road, don’t worry because you are still able to see some red rock while you are skiing on both the Giant Steps and Navajo sides of the resort.
We were not able to make it happen, but if you are feeling up to it, Brian Head offers night skiing and tubing on the weekends! Either of which would be a great way to keep yourself active in the evening before grabbing some dinner and/or drinks.
7:00 pm: There are a variety of dinner options in Brian Head and we decided to check out Pizanos Pizzeria, which is conveniently located in the same building as the General Store. You can either dine-in or take-out from Pizanos, and the pizza is really good. Our crew would happily recommend trying the Maui Wowie and the Meatball Calzone.
9:00 pm: Seeing as it was our last night (we cheated a little on the 48 hours) we decided to take it fairly easy since we had to get in the car the next morning. Beers and a movie back at the condo sounded like a good way to wrap up our trip!All in all, it was an awesome couple of days skiing in the desert! Eagle Point and Brian Head offer a very low key and relaxing skiing environment that you won’t find at some of the larger resorts. And, they are incredibly easy to get do with scenic drives regardless of the direction you come from. If you haven’t been yet, be sure to start looking into a trip!