Family Ski Resort Guide | Brian Head Resort

Family Ski Resort Guide | Brian Head Resort

Local Lexi

By Local Lexi \ October 26 2020

Utah’s two most iconic landscapes meld into a scene unlike any other at Brian Head Resort. Stark blue desert skies contrast with distant red rocks and the white snow below your feet; this is a special place. As Utah’s southernmost ski area, Brian Head is located in the Dixie National Forest near Cedar City, just four hours from Salt Lake and three hours from Las Vegas. A weekend trip to Brian Head is ideal for families who want to pair their adventure with any of the three National Parks nearby. With fewer crowds visiting parks in the winter and the southern location of Brian Head, the feeling of escaping the masses can easily be accomplished. Brian Head’s reasonable rates and affordable lessons make this family affair all the more attractive.

The novelty of skiing while spying red rocks in the distance is reason enough to visit Brain Head Resort. On clear days, it’s feasible to see all the way into Great Basin National Park in Nevada. Brian Head Resort is surrounded by a small village offering everything you need to comfortably spend a few days exploring the resort or nearby scenery.

Perched at 9,800 feet, Brian Head encompasses Utah’s highest elevation base area and the peaks in the area trap storms tracking in from the south. The laid-back atmosphere at this resort complements the sprawling terrain best suited for beginners to strong intermediates. In addition, the affordable rates make this an unbeatable destination for families. Many hotels, vacation rentals and condos near the slopes can be booked in the town of Brian Head or near each base area.

Brian Head Resort is located in Southern Utah near Cedar City and three of Utah’s National Parks. Approximate driving times (in favorable driving conditions) and distances are listed below: 
Cedar City: 33 miles – 40 minutes 
St. George: 84 miles – 1 hour, 30 minutes 
Provo: 200 miles – 3 hours 
Salt Lake City: 245 miles – 3 hours, 30 minutes
Ogden: 280 miles – 4 hours
Logan: 325 miles – 4 hours, 50 minutes


In a 5th Grader’s Words:
“The runs are good and they have the best park. They have the best powder. Oh yeah, they have the best grooming, too. It’s the best ski resort I have ever been to.” - Klay, Age 10

TERRAIN & MOUNTAIN STATS

Skiable Acres: 650+ Acres
Vertical Drop: 1,320 Feet
Number of Runs: 71
Terrain: 30% Beginner, 35% Intermediate, 35% Advanced, 3 Terrain Parks
Chairlifts: 8, 2 Surface Lifts
Night Skiing: Yes, Schedule Varies

Brian Head Resort is composed of two main peaks, Brian Head Peak and Navajo Peak. Navajo Peak is primarily devoted to terrain for beginners and intermediates with gentler pitches and many well-groomed and undulating trails. The views here are unparalleled. Those enrolled in lessons or just getting started with skiing or snowboarding will want to start here on the Pioneer chairlift or either of the surface lifts located adjacent to the Navajo Lodge. Warm up on First Time and take a few laps on You’re Ready before moving over to the Navajo lift for longer pitches and equally fun terrain for learners. If you’re up to the challenge, try Brave beneath the lift line.

To explore additional blue or green trails, drop onto the other side of Navajo Peak and sample the trails off the Wildflower lift. The trails over here are a bit steeper than what you’ll find off the Navajo lift. Sugarloaf or Sun Dog are nicely groomed trails with excellent views of Brian Head Peak. This is a great place to gain confidence off-piste alongside the wide groomers.

To access the terrain on Brian Head Peak, you can either park in the lot adjacent to the Giant Steps Lodge or ski over from Navajo Peak using the ski bridge to the Alpen Glow lift. Note there is a bit of flat terrain here, so families with young children may want to use the complementary Brian Head village shuttle to transfer between the two mountains. Brian Head Peak contains the most intermediate and expert black diamond terrain at the resort.

Learners or intermediates will want to begin on the Blackfoot lift, cruising down Heavenly Daze or Desbah. The freestyle terrain park is also situated here. The longest intermediate runs are located off Giant Steps Express. Check out Hunter’s Run, Sunburst and Bear Paw.

Experts and intermediates will enjoy exploring the terrain off The Dunes and Roulette chairlifts. The Straight Up black diamond beneath the Roulette lift or the Wild Ride along the resort boundary provide space to roam and stunning views. Many black diamond tree runs and short shots can be located to the right of The Dunes lift and strong skiers or riders won’t want to miss Engens either. There are backcountry gates at Brian Head; as always do not venture beyond the boundary without proper backcountry equipment, knowledge or a current avalanche forecast. It’s best to chat with ski patrol first to get further insight on snow conditions and terrain.

Brian Head does offer night skiing on Fridays and Saturdays in addition to peak periods from 4:00 to 9:00 PM on Chair #3, Blackfoot. Check the Brian Head website for info and further details.

Pro Tip: Don’t miss the Snow Tube Park at night. Kids love the fast, wide lanes and the sensation of night tubing guarantees a unique experience.


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PARKING & PUBLIC TRANSPORTATION

There are three parking areas at Brian Head Resort. Families with beginners will most likely want to start from the Navajo Lodge Learning Center where the easiest runs and the Winter Sports School is located.

The main base area with a large parking lot is located at the Giant Steps Lodge. The greatest amount of terrain is located here. There is another small parking lot at the base of the Wildflower lift and a lot to grab gear at Georg’s Ski Shop. A ski bridge over the road connects the Wildflower lift to the Alpen Glow lift (a little scooting is required).

Brian Head Resort provides a complimentary village shuttle, simplifying travel for families between the area’s shops, ski lodges and stops in town. For more information, visit the town’s website.

As far as transit to the resort goes, the Brian Head Express Shuttle is an independently owned shuttle service that offers a daily round-trip shuttle from Cedar City.


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BASE AREA & MAIN LODGE

Driving up UT State Route 143 from Parowan, guests will first reach the Navajo Lodge and Learning Center. This is where you’ll want to stop if you’ve booked lessons with the Winter Sports School. Equipment and rentals can be found at High Mountain Outfitters and food is available at the Navajo Lodge Grill. This side of the mountain is best for beginners and intermediates. The highest concentration of green-rated trails, as well as the Snow Tube Park and lift ticketing, are located here.

Up the road several minutes lies Brian Head’s main hub and the Giant Steps Lodge. This lodge also offers lift ticketing, equipment rentals and repair, the Giant Steps Grill and the Last Chair Saloon. The terrain park and the majority of intermediate and expert terrain are located here.

Finally, there is a small parking lot adjacent to the Wildflower chairlift and a small cluster of condos near Georg’s ski and snowboard rental shop. It is possible to ski between the two distinct mountains of Brian Head Peak and Navajo Peak using the Wildflower chairlift and the ski bridge above the roadway.

Pro Tip: There are some flats to traverse between the Alpen Glow and Wildflower lifts so if you have young children and need to transfer between the two peaks, it’s best to just catch a ride on the complementary Brian Head village shuttle.

Lodging is available near all the base areas in addition to options in the town of Brian Head and in the subdivisions on Navajo Peak.


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BRIAN HEAD WINTER SPORTS SCHOOL

The Brian Head Winter Sports School and Kids’ Camps are located in the Navajo Lodge and Learning Center adjacent to great beginner terrain. In contrast to bigger and busier resorts, Brian Head charges very reasonable rates for their lessons and equipment and it’s a fantastic place to learn the sport or brush up on a few fundamentals or specific techniques.

Pro Tip: In all cases, Brian Head recommends making reservations for the Winter Sports School with a minimum of five days in advance. Availability is not guaranteed during peak periods. Reservations made less than five days in advance will increase in cost by 10%. It’s best to book early at Brian Head!

Private Lessons
Brian Head offers private lessons for all ages in 2.5 and 6-hour blocks for beginning through advanced skiers and riders. It is highly recommended that children 4 and under be placed in a private lesson to maximize their progress.

Adult Group Lessons
If you are new to the sport or a seasoned skier or rider, Brian Head offers lesson packages for 2.5 hours including a full-day lift ticket and rental equipment for adults and teens (ages 13-19). Morning or afternoon lesson blocks are available

Brian Head University
If you plan to ski Brian Head a handful of times, the resort generously offers the Brian Head University Program for skiers or snowboarders ages 7 and up who have never ever tried either sport. The package includes 3 group lessons, 3 lift tickets, and 3 days of rentals. Upon graduation, students are awarded with a diploma and a free winter season pass in conjunction with a handful of other discounts and benefits. Reservations are required and this program is not offered during peak periods. This program is ONLY for ages 7 and up who have never tried either skiing or snowboarding.

Mountain Explorers (Kids Group Lessons for Ages 7-12)
Brian Head extends lessons in four different ability levels for skiers and snowboarders. Note that advanced snowboarding lessons are only offered in a private lesson format. Lessons are offered in half-day or full-day blocks; the advanced skiing lesson is only offered in a full-day format.

Tiny Tracks (Kid’s Ski Lessons for Ages 5-6)
Kids will gain confidence as they develop skills through simple instruction and plenty of positive feedback. Children must be potty trained to participate. Brian Head specializes in teaching youngsters to snowboard with the help of a Burton Riglet board. This safe and approachable piece of equipment is forgiving in that it is edgeless and without bindings. Kids can stand atop the grippy foam platforms along the board to safely gain the sensation of snowboarding. Lessons are provided in full-day (includes lunch) and AM or PM half-day blocks.

First Tracks 
(Kid’s Private Ski Lessons for Ages 3-4, Private Snowboard Lessons for Ages 3-6)
If your child is still too young for Tiny Tracks you may consider placing them in a First Tracks private lesson for skiers aged 3-4. Private snowboard lessons are offered for children ages 3-6. Though private lessons are available for all ages, they are highly recommended for kids 4 and under so that a one-on-one instructor can better attend to their needs and comfort. Morning or afternoon lessons are offered in 2.5 hour blocks.


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SKI SHOPS & EQUIPMENT RENTALS

Equipment rentals at Brian Head can be found at both Giant Steps and Navajo Lodges in High Mountain Outfitters. The two convenient locations ensure quick and easy access to the slopes once your rental process is complete. The rental shops at both base areas also have logo gear and provide professional ski and snowboard tuning and repair services. Complimentary overnight ski and board storage is offered at both shops.

All ski packages include skis, boots and poles. All snowboard packages include boots and a board. Half-day or full-day rentals are available. In addition, helmets and wrist guards can be rented. 

Don’t miss the chance to visit Georg’s ski shop at the base of the Wildflower chairlift. In the back of the shop, you’ll find an eclectic collection of ski memorabilia and maybe you’ll find one of the family members to spin yarns about the days of yore. Georg’s Ski Shop has ski and snowboard rentals and a huge selection of gear in addition to gifts, logo wear and cool souvenirs.

LODGING AND DINING OPTIONS

Brian Head Resort partners with the town of Brian Head and Cedar City to offer a wide variety of vacation rental properties, hotel rooms and package deals. To view current deals and availability it is best to check directly on Brian Head’s website. The small town of Brian Head also has a handful of hotels, lodges, cabins and many condominiums.

Best Western Premier Hotel & Spa has a great indoor pool and hot tub to keep kiddos smiling. Located near the Navajo Mountain base area, the lodge offers a complimentary shuttle to the resort, dining and an outdoor patio with a fire pit.

Another great option for families are the rental units near Georg’s Ski Shop. These vacation condos can accommodate up to two families and most provide ski-in/ski-out access to the slopes. All guests will be provided with a 20% discount on equipment rentals at Georg’s Ski Shop (holidays excluded).

Dining at the ski hill can be found at either of the big lodges. For full-service dining in the evening hours, there is the Cedar Breaks Lodge or The Grand Lodge.

Giant Steps Lodge harbors the Giant Steps Cafe on the second floor. Expect casual, sit-down dining with menu options such as burgers, grilled chicken, pizza, salads and soups. Here you will also find a slopeside patio that is the perfect place to bask in sunny weather.

For après, or pub fare, head into the Last Chair Saloon on the third floor of the Giant Steps Lodge. On Saturday nights, there will often be live music, home-cooked BBQ, and a festive atmosphere. Grab a meal or a pint with a great view of the slopes.

In the Navajo Lodge, the Navajo Cafe provides a place to kick up your feet and a menu of ski resort fare including burgers, sandwiches, chili, and salads. A Starbucks café is located on the main floor of the lodge with hot cocoa, specialty coffee, and pastries.


CHILDCARE

Brian Head does not offer childcare, but kids as young as 3-4 may be placed in a private ski lesson and children ages 3-6 can be placed in a private snowboard lesson. For children 4 and under it is highly recommended to book a private lesson.


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POINTS OF INTEREST

For a memorable visit, consider these unique points of interest when planning a trip to Brian Head Resort.

Brian Head’s Monthly Star Parties
Check the calendar and book a trip to Brian Head during one of their monthly Star Parties held at the Navajo Base Lodge. Thanks to its remote location and dark skies, clear nights at Brian Head guarantee amazing stargazing. During Star Parties, a ‘Dark Ranger’ from the Cedar Breaks National Monument will lead a short talk and point out constellations like the Orion Nebula, star clusters, galaxies, and the winter Milky Way. Star Parties last about 2 hours and telescopes, fire pits, and hot chocolate are provided. Dress warmly!

Visit a National Park
Brian Head Resort is located in the epicenter of some of America’s finest National Parks. The parks are less crowded in the winter and the sight of snowy red rocks, a short hike, a scenic drive, or a geology lesson is a welcome distraction for families. Bryce Canyon and Zion are each about 1.5 hours away and Capitol Reef is around 3 hours to the northeast.

Brian Head Tubing
Brian Head Resort’s robust snow tubing lanes guarantee endless winter fun. Be sure to book tubing ahead of time, as it often sells out. Six groomed lanes allow patrons to experience high flying fun in a safe environment. A surface lift returns tubers back to the top of the hill ensuring enough energy for lots of laps. Night sessions are available.
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