words by Melissa Fields
There are not many driving routes as ripe with recreational possibilities as the one from Boise to northern Utah. Stops along this scenic route include chances to visit iconic and mom-and-pop mountain resorts alike, soak in funky and familial southern Idaho hot springs, indulge in one of Utah’s most coveted sugar fixes and of course, ski or ride The Greatest Snow on Earth® at Utah’s Beaver Mountain, Cherry Peak, Nordic Valley, Snowbasin and Powder Mountain resorts.
Hit the Road
As a straight shot, the 320-mile drive along Highway 84 and UT 30 to Beaver Mountain
, Utah’s northernmost ski and snowboard resort and the first official destination on this itinerary, will take about five hours. A second, more leisurely approach is to exit 84 onto Highway 20 east at Mountain Home and then take Highway 93 north briefly to Ketchum, Idaho, home of Sun Valley
, one of the oldest ski resorts in the U.S. From Ketchum, travel along Highway 20 eastbound to Blackfoot, where you’ll hop on Interstate 15 south. After driving for just 40 minutes, you’ll arrive at an optional pitstop at the McCammon/US 30 exit: the cute town of Lava Hot Springs
. If you opt to skip a soak in the hot springs and continue south into Utah, exit the freeway at the Riverside/Logan exit and head east on UT 30 to Logan. Pro tip: don't forget these road trip essentials
when packing the car.Stay
Make Logan—located just 29 miles from Beaver Mountain and 17 miles from Cherry Peak
—your first Utah lodging stop. There you can choose from well-known hotel chains like Marriott’s Springhill Suites
or TownePlace Suites
and Hampton Inn & Suites
, or the locally-owned Logan Anniversary Inn
. For the second half of your stay, if you and your clan are looking for a lodging with plenty of close-by restaurants, shopping and nightlife, book a room in downtown Ogden, where options include the Hilton Garden Inn
, Home 2 Suites by Hilton
, Courtyard Marriott
and the very unchain-like Hampton Inn & Suites
, occupying a restored historic building with spectacular views of the mountains and city. For a more mountain-facing lodging experience, stay at the 15-room, farmhouse-chic Compass Rose Lodge
in Huntsville, centrally located to all three Ogden resorts. In Eden, centrally located to Powder Mountain, Beaver, Snowbasin and Nordic Valley, tuck into the rustic eight-room log cabin at Snowberry Inn Bed and Breakfast
. Or make Powder Mountain
’s ski-in/ski-out and uber-modern Horizon Cabins
your base camp.
Ski & Ride
Launch your northern Utah “Tour de Schuss” at Beaver Mountain
, a super-friendly and snowy ski and snowboard hill located 30 miles northeast of Logan. The “Beav,” as it’s often referred to by locals, has been owned and operated by the Seelholzer family for more than 80 years, literally embodying the “mom-and-pop” moniker often used to describe it. (No joke: you’ll likely meet the resort’s matriarch, Marge Seelholzer, at the ticket office window when you go.) More on Beaver Mountain's longstanding history here
. That evening, make the quick 16-mile commute north from Logan to check out Cherry Peak
. You’ll see why this resort’s cozy, log cabin-style base lodge, tubing lanes and night skiing (Just $35 for a family of four) have made it a locals’ favorite.
On day two, drive south to your first Ogden Valley
stop: Nordic Valley
. This quaint resort is renowned for its ski and snowboard school making it a great place to brush up on your technique with a lesson. And thanks to a new six-passenger, high-speed lift, lines are virtually nonexistent there.
Reserve days three and four for Powder Mountain
, particularly if snow is in the forecast. Around 500 inches of the white stuff falls on “Pow Mow’s” slopes every winter. And it’s big: 3,000 acres are lift-served with another 4,000 served by the resort’s Lighting Ridge and Raintree snowcats and is available by-your-own-steam. Best yet, Powder Mountain limits daily lift tickets sales, ensuring plenty of elbow room.
Last on the list, but hardly least, is Snowbasin Resort
, a beautiful, 3,000-acre playground with luxurious day lodges, award-winning dining, expertly groomed runs and thrilling steeps. Snowbasin was also one of Utah’s venues for the 2002 Olympic Winter Games.
Passes & Tickets
Vail Resorts’ Epic Pass
is your ticket to ride at Sun Valley and Snowbasin. The Indy Pass
gives you access to Beaver Mountain and Powder Mountain. More on the Indy Pass in Utah here
. You can pre-purchase or reserve single day tickets to all five northern Utah resorts on each’s respective websites, often at a rate better than you’d find by walking up to the ticket window on the day you want to ski or ride. Parking at all five northern Utah resorts is free.
Begin your days in Logan on a sweet note with a banana bread fritter, raspberry Bismarck or maple bacon bar from Johnny O’s Spudnuts
, a Utah institution since 1946. Or for something more substantial—like a breakfast burrito, omelet or the pizza-size cinnamon swirl pancakes—stop at Herm’s Inn
, located at the base of Logan Canyon.
When it’s lunchtime at Beaver Mountain, at least one carnivore in your posse should get a Big Beav Double Bypass Burger, an over-the-top sammie stacked with two patties, cheese, bacon, barbecue sauce and French fries.
Fail-safe spots for dinner back in Logan include the upscale and traditional Italian Le Nonne
or the homespun, Indian comfort food from Tandoori Oven
In Ogden, you’d be hard-pressed to find a more satisfying version of fried chicken and waffles than at Pig in a Jelly Jar
. Slackwater Pub & Pizzeria
serves up tasty wood-fired pies and calzones, sandwiches, homemade soups and brunch items alongside one of the most diverse beer selections in the state. For classic (and really good) brewpub fare, head to Roosters Brewing Company
. Visit Historic 25th Street’s Two-Bit Street Café
for Scotch eggs, pastas, seafood, sandwiches and steaks. Tona Sushi
offers super-fresh rolls with a thoughtful selection of small plates, noodles and entrees.
You’ve got multiple options for lunch at Snowbasin, but one you will not soon forget is dining inside or out at the John Paul Lodge
. Perched at 8,900 feet above sea level, there you can drink in panoramic views of the Ogden Valley, Mt. Ogden, the Morgan Valley and the start houses for the 2002 Olympic Winter Games downhill courses while munching on a waffle BLT, burger, salad and more.
At Powder Mountain, grab a slice or a whole pie at Sundown X Lucky Slice Pizza.
Several personality-rich watering holes reside along Ogden’s charming and easily walkable Historic 25th street; our faves include Warren’s Craft Burger
, Harp & Hound
, Funk & Dive
and The Yes Hell
. A cultivated après-ski with live music goes down daily at the Cinnabar, located at Snowbasin inside the elegant Earl’s Lodge.
On the other end of the spectrum is the Powder Keg
a beer, burgers and live music bar at Powder Mountain’s Timberline base lodge. Tell your friends at home that you sipped a Utah microbrew beneath a stuffed St. Bernard head at Utah’s longest continuously operating bar (open since the 1850s) by moseying into the Shooting Star Saloon
, located nine miles from Snowbasin in Huntsville.
The whole clan will enjoy Cosmic Bowling at Logan Lanes
(Friday and Saturday nights). Other northern Utah fun things to do include: soaking in the Crystal Hot Springs
, 30 minutes west of Logan in Honeyville; ice skating at the Ice Sheet at Weber County Sports Complex
, site of curling events during the 2002 Olympic Winter Games; fat biking, snowshoeing or cross-country skiing at Ogden’s North Fork Park
; taking a trip into yesteryear at Ogden’s Union Station
, home of the Utah State Railroad Museum, John M. Browning Firearms Museum and the Browning-Kimball Classic Car Museum; or tasting some Utah-distilled spirits at Ogden’s Own Distillery
, makers of the cheekily named Five Wives Vodka.
When you’re finally ready to head back to Boise, hop on Interstate 15 north to Highway 84. Along the way, if you’re still craving a little more snow-sliding, consider a stop at Idaho’s Magic Mountain,
an old-timey, one-chairlift ski and tubing hill tucked into the Sawtooth National Forest just south of Twin Falls.