Why Winter in Utah is Tops

Why Winter in Utah is Tops

Local Lexi

By Local Lexi \ January 26 2021

Why is Utah so excellent in the winter? Let us count the ways...

Many folks lament the turn of the seasons and dread the onset of winter. However, Utah's unique offerings make winter one of the best times of year. Here, we have some ideas about how to bide your time and make the most of the snowy season and shorter days.


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Solitude's Nordic Center on a sunny day

WINTER ACTIVITIES

If you stop to consider the number of activities offered up in Utah’s sprawling winter wonderlands, you begin to realize how lucky we are to have access to such a wide array of fun diversions. Here’s a few fail-proof and fun activities to enjoy the outdoors 



UTAH'S GREAT SNOW

There’s a reason one of Utah’s tourism slogans is “The Greatest Snow on Earth.” There's a pretty funny story about the history of how that slogan came about and you can read about it here. But according to our highly respected local forecaster, Evan Thayer of Open Snow's Utah Daily Snow Report, it’s the quantity, quality and frequency of Utah’s snow that sets it leagues apart.

QUANTITY 
Utah mountains frequently receive large amounts of snow each winter with a fairly consistent base from top to bottom. Even in drier years, Utah's snowfall total often exceeds the average snow total for hundreds of resorts across America and Canada. If it isn’t dumping as frequently as we’d like, the coverage is still impressive and skiers and snowboarders can expect a large variety of terrain to be open even in lean years.

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Just another Tuesday in Utah...

QUALITY
Utah snow weighs in at about 7-8% water content for the average storm. While not as dense as “Sierra Cement” and not as light as what you’d see in Taos, New Mexico, this 7-8% range is ideal. It’s light enough to dole out explosive face shots, but dense enough to support the weight of a skier or snowboarder. In deeper storms, this gives a legendary feeling of weightlessness unique to Utah snow. Our climate also promotes “right side up” storms where the storm starts warmer with wetter, denser snow and subsequently cools down and finishes out with a layer of drier and lower density snow. This is the ideal formula for face shot nirvana. 

 

FREQUENCY 
Thanks to Utah’s unique location, topography and the typical weather pattern from the northwest, the state rarely goes without a storm per week. It’s close enough to the Pacific Ocean so the access to moisture is ideal but  located far enough inland to avoid the denser snow produced by maritime climates. According to Evan, Utah enjoys cold continental air masses and is perfectly positioned to benefit from a diverse set of weather patterns. Our mid-latitude locations grant Utah access to both the Northern and Southern branches of the jet stream. This dependability gives travelers confidence when booking trips to Utah and treats the locals to a regular refresh.



UTAH DISTILLERIES & MICROBREWERIES

Yep, you read that right. Utah booze is great! While many misconceptions remain about Utah’s teetotaling past, nowadays you can’t take a walk without running into a new distillery or microbrewery. When the weather is sunny, I enjoy pedaling my bike from the Sugarhouse district to downtown Salt Lake City and hopping from patio to patio sampling some of the finer IPAs. I also try to support local distilleries when making craft cocktails at home because our local options are so delicious!

My favorites include High West Distillery and Saloon's Campfire, a divine blend of scotch, bourbon and rye whiskeys. This smoke show of a spirit isn’t for the faint of heart but I view it as a flavor to savor. For the lazy mixologist, simply procure High West’s Barrel Finished Old Fashioned and finish off with a couple of Luxardo Maraschino Cherries—YUM!

 


Park City based Alpine Distilling makes a mean bottle of gin and as someone who loves a G&T, their Alpine Gin can’t be beat. In fact, it’s one of the globe’s most decorated gins having won numerous awards and international accolades including a top US Gin in the World Spirit Awards, the London Spirit Awards and honors from Women’s Wine & Spirits.

 

 

If you fancy something a bit more casual, check out the beer selection at local favorites Squatters or Wasatch Brew Pubs. Don't miss Snowbasin's 80th Anniversary Pale Ale from Roosters Brewing Company.

 

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WINTER WALKS

Utah's incredible access to the outdoors leaves visitors and locals alike fulfilled and feeling closer to nature. One of my favorite winter pastimes is hiking, walking or running on one of our many trails or urban thoroughfares. Here's a list of our favorite places to meander.

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Visiting Salt Lake's Allen Park is like playing a game of whimsical I Spy

  • Tracy Aviary & Botanical Gardens
  • Liberty Park
  • Bonneville Shoreline Trail
  • McLelland Trail 
  • Jordan River Parkway
  • Gilgal Gardens 
  • Allen Park
  • White Pine Nordic Center
  • Round Valley
  • Ogden Nature Center
  • Lundstrom Park Trail
Also, peep our list of best snowshoeing trails and winter hikes.

EXPLORING UTAH'S SMALLER RESORTS

The central Wasatch gains the market share of Utah's winter hype. However, if the adventurous are willing to take the road less traveled, Utah's smaller resorts offer a wealth of good times, unique experiences and the opportunity to just get away from it all. Here's a run-down of Utah's lesser-known resorts and why you should go. 

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Approaching Cherry Peak's day lodge on perfectly sculpted groomers


CHERRY PEAK – RICHMOND, UTAH 
Inexpensive, down to earth and accessible, Cherry Peak is an awesome place to play. With winter tubing lanes, non-existent lift lines and excellent night skiing, Cherry Peak is the perfect place for families, learners or those looking to check out a new zone. Explore Cherry Peak's terrain park, glades, learning area and powder steeps. 


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A powder day at Beaver Mountain leaves our crew making a beeline for Harry's Dream lift


BEAVER MOUNTAIN – LOGAN CANYON, UTAH 
Family owned and about as friendly as can be, a trip to Beaver Mountain is like a stroll down memory lane. Endless groomers, terrain parks, powder stashes, trees and a top-notch learning zone with new magic carpets make Beaver a little slice of heaven in Logan Canyon. The colorful culture and history of this place make a trip to Beaver worth the drive. Powder at this hometown hill often lingers for days after a storm, thanks to the area's cold smoke temperatures and big dumps.


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Crowds are seldom seen on the slopes of Northern Utah's Nordic Valley


NORDIC VALLEY – OGDEN, UTAH
A world away from it all, Nordic Valley is a cinch to get to, but the slower pace of life in Ogden Valley allows skiers and shredders to check out and connect with each other and Nature. With a huge amount of night skiing terrain, Nordic Valley is a perfect weeknight escape. With a brand new 6-person high-speed lift for the 2020–21 season, Nordic Valley is excited to offer guests new terrain and expansive views of Ogden Valley. An added plus, Nordic Valley is one of Utah's most affordable resorts so it's a great place to try out skiing or snowboarding or sign up for a lesson! 


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Guests enjoying celebratory brews after a successful Powder Friday at Eagle Point

EAGLE POINT – BEAVER, UTAH
Buzz along Utah's I-15 Interstate Highway and pull out at Beaver, a town so small you could blink and pass it by. Most, simply stop and fuel up on gasoline, not realizing how close they are to the beguiling and powder-filled Tusher Mountain Range and Eagle Point. This high elevation resort is unlike any other as it's only open Friday through Monday (excluding busier holiday periods). Keep an eye on the storm track and if it's been dumping down south, you'll want to head down to Beaver on Thursday evening to take advantage of their legendary "Powder Fridays." Having been closed all week, guests can enjoy the fruits of multi-day storms on Friday mornings. It's a bit like skiing at a country club. Oh, and the Canyonside Bar and Grill has slopeside hot tubs...book your trip!


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Stop and admire the beauty of Brian Head Resort's scenery

BRIAN HEAD RESORT – BRIAN HEAD, UTAH
Near the Southern Utah town of Cedar City, Brian Head Ski Resort boasts Utah's highest base area elevation. Nowhere else in Utah offers skiing alongside red rock views. The cold desert air delivers bone-dry powder and astonishing views. With terrain parks, learning areas, huge groomers and multiple aspects and base areas, Brian Head is ripe for exploration. Night skiing and a tubing park offer additional diversions. 

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