Eagle Point: Your Own Private Ski Resort
On most occasions, I’m just passing through Beaver, Utah. It’s a quick stop along I-15 to grab some sweets and supplies at The Creamery, and then it’s back on the road to red rock country. But this trip was different, as I had planned to make Beaver my base camp for a family getaway to Eagle Point Ski Resort.
Leaving the farmlands in the rear view and snaking up the Beaver Canyon Scenic Byway (Utah Route 153), the snowy remnants of the previous week’s winter storm dripped from the canyon walls. With increasing elevation the canyon gave way to a set of mountain meadows. Snowmobiles buzzed by my periphery, and the landscape morphed into rolling alpine scenery (Read: Explore the Tushars on Snowshoe). It was there that the first views of Eagle Point’s five chairlifts came into view.
Eagle Point Then and Now
Eagle Point was born from the merging of two earlier ski areas, Mt. Holly and Elk Meadows. With modest beginnings, the Mt. Holly Ski Area was established in 1972. Unlike many larger ski areas, Mt. Holly had two lifts, a double chair and T-bar. Geography was the key component for those who skied there. Both then as Mt. Holly and now as Eagle Point, the resort attracts most of its clientele from nearby Southern Utah, Las Vegas and increasingly Southern California.
In 1985, the adjacent Elk Meadows Ski Area was created with three lifts, a Poma triple, Poma double chair and platter lift.
From 1988 onward, the two resorts joined forces and were marketed as one. A shuttle bus served as the primary transport for skiers and riders from Mt. Holly back up to Elk Meadows. Around that same time it became possible to ski from one to the other via a mid-mountain tunnel constructed under Highway 153.
Around 2009 the resort was rebranded as Eagle Point. Over the next few years, the Canyonside Lodge was remodeled and the Lookout Warming Station atop the Lookout Lift was built. With the construction of Aspen Crest at Eagle Point — a private ski-in, ski-out community — the resort has also upgraded its residential portfolio. Now visitors and residents can focus their attention on what Eagle Point values most — affordable "skiing, riding, fresh powder and connecting as a family."
"We are a change from the current modern-day ski experience. We don’t have lift lines and [we] offer a one-of-a-kind, throwback friendly vibe."
– Scott Curry, Eagle Point’s Director of Marketing
Ski Slopes All to Yourself
Open to the general public from Friday to Monday during the winter season, Eagle Point is different from most other ski areas. “We are a change from the current modern-day ski experience,” says Eagle Point’s director of marketing Scott Curry. “We don’t have lift lines and [we] offer a one-of-a-kind, throwback friendly vibe.” It really does feel like you are skiing at your own private resort.
Being three-and-a-half hours from its nearest metro areas (Salt Lake City and Las Vegas), Eagle Point sees a maximum capacity of 1,000 skiers on its busiest days, and a couple hundred on most other days. This makes economics the most important part of keeping the resort afloat.
When I arrived at Eagle Point on a Tuesday in February, it was virtually empty. Technically, the resort was closed. But thanks to my network of friends, I had been invited to participate in an "As You Wish" event. The resort arranges about four to six of these gatherings each year, during which Eagle Point is reserved for private use. This meant that our group had exclusive access to the entire 650 skiable acres, five lifts and the breathtaking scenery of the 10,000 ft. Tushar Mountains (Read: How to Summit Three 12,000-footers in the Tushar Mountains).
The "As You Wish" program starts at $15,000, which includes lift tickets, rentals and resort staff for up to 200 people. But you certainly don't need to rent the resort to enjoy the solitude of Eagle Point. Daily lift tickets for the 2023-24 ski season start at $40 for kids (7+) and seniors, and $50 for adults. And you can save even more if you buy early online. Plus, kids six and under always ski and ride for free.
"Unlike most high-end ski resorts which only offer a small percentage of their lodging options as ski-in and ski-out, at Eagle Point, most of the condos, studio cabins and houses are of that variety."
A lone lift attendant greeted me with a warm smile as I boarded the empty string of chairs to the top. It felt like an early ups scenario, yet it was close to 10 a.m. The sun hit my face, the serenity was surreal. When I disembarked, I did so without intention. I just let my intuition guide me. I had nowhere to be, no one to see and zero pressure from anywhere.
As the morning progressed, I began to see some of the 60 or so other people sharing this “As You Wish” experience. Some I knew, others I met on the slope or on the chairlift. I skied solo, I skied with others.
The steepest terrain, both groomed and ungroomed, was located just off the Lookout lift. I thought to myself how much fun it would be to ski there alone with a fresh snow. Rumor has it that on powder days you can ski first tracks into the latter part of the afternoon.
“Powder is the only thing that brings people down from the Wasatch,” says assistant director of the ski patrol, Jesse McMullin. “It’s powder, but we don’t need to fight for it.“
"Rumor has it that on powder days you can ski first tracks into the latter part of the afternoon."
Switching It Up
Just after noon, I switched things up. Joined by my wife and daughter, we headed for the upper reaches of the resort. After a bite to eat with a few new friends at the Skyline Lodge, we dedicated a couple hours to teaching my daughter how to ski. With a hula hoop for support and wide open terrain, we felt both alone and at ease once again.
It was all smiles and sweeping vistas.
“If you look at the upper side (of the resort) it’s a wide, gentle, consistent grade,” says Curry. “When you bring a family, the feeling of anxiety fades away — no judgments, uncrowded and long visibility down runs.”
With no real plan for any of our days and a great group of friends both old and new, we split our time between skiing, lounging and après-ing. Unlike most high-end ski resorts which only offer a small percentage of their lodging options as ski-in and ski-out, at Eagle Point, most of the condos, studio cabins and houses are of that variety. With a four-year old in tow, this very accessible home base made it easy for us to hit the slopes for a couple hours, grab lunch at the lodge and then have a rest.
In the evenings, the Canyonside Bar offers a low-key hangout spot for anyone 21 and over. But our ski crew had also come bearing it's own entertainment, including a few DJ’s who brought their decks and speakers. With the stars twinkling above a house nestled in the aspen trees, we chatted and danced. And in the moments before a bright moon shed its light, we basked in the darkness of the night before ending another tranquil day at Eagle Point.
Our three-night stay at Eagle Point was short, but sweet. It was the perfect amount of time to experience this quiet ski destination in the Tushar Mountains (Read: An Insider's Guide to Hiking in the Tushars). While existing in the family/beginner realm, the resort clearly sets itself apart from other major ski destinations by giving its clientele what they want via good value in a ski-in, ski-out atmosphere.
The future is bright for this Southern Utah resort as they are chock full of plans, including "expanding the resort with a disciplined attitude to keeping our vibe,” says Curry.