Ski Southern Utah: High Alpine Thrills + Red Rock Wonder

5 DAYS
436 MILES
Skip the summer crowds and enjoy Southern Utah’s wonders in solitude

Explore the itinerary, then start planning your Utah ski vacation.

Southern Utah is well known as a destination for scenic natural wonders contained within some of the most popular national parks in the United States and the spectacular landscapes and byways that surround them. It is also home to two high-elevation ski areas that contain generous helpings of what we call (with authority) The Greatest Snow on Earth®. Take five days to combine the thrills of skiing and boarding with exploring the wintertime wonders to be found in Utah’s red rock country.

Day one you’ll travel to, Springdale, the scenic village located on the edge of Zion National Park, where you’ll outfit yourself for a wintertime scramble upriver in the famous Zion Narrows. This daylong outing will give you a unique and nearly solitary experience within the towering walls of Zion Canyon.

Day two begins with the bucket-list hike up to Angels Landing, which during the winter months is often still accessible. Then, you’ll make the scenic drive to Brian Head Resort and ready yourself for the ski (or snowboarding) adventure the next day.

Day three is all about clicking into your skis at Brian Head and enjoying the unique views of snowy slopes and red rock landscapes off in the distance. As an afternoon option, check in with the folks at Thunder Mountain sports for a guided snowmobile tour through aspen groves and winter wonderland meadows to a lookout above Cedar Breaks National Monument.

Day four you’ll enjoy a drive along Utah a portion of the All-American Road: Scenic Byway 12 and quickly see why it earned its distinction. Your destination is Bryce Canyon National Park, which, at up to 9,000 feet above sea level, becomes a winter playground among an incredible vista of snowcapped hoodoos. Gear up for a snowy hike down into Bryce Canyon or a cross-country ski excursion along the canyon’s rim.

Day five, you’ll end your tour at Eagle Point Resort in the Tushar Mountain Range. This unique resort is known for the hidden stashes of powder that exist days after a storm and a low skier count that means it almost feels like you’re riding lifts in your own private ski area. Plus, no moguls. The friendly village is also the gateway to exploring the Tushars on snowshoes. Cap it all off with sunset in a hot tub on the patio.

Itinerary by Jeremy Pugh. Read more about Jeremy's experience

Day 1 175 Miles
SPRINGDALE AND ZION NARROWS IN WINTER
  • Springdale
  • Springdale Dining
  • Narrows in Winter

The beauty of Springdale is, well, its beauty. The splendor within Zion National Park doesn’t stop at the park boundary and the town at its gateway is a beneficiary of the spillover beauty. The main drag is a collection of small art galleries, bed and breakfasts and restaurants and bars. You’ll also find the outfitters who can gear you up for a wintertime exploration of the famed Narrows within Zion. For this unique expedition, you’ll need special dry suits or high waders to keep you warm and dry as you walk up the Virgin River beneath the giant cliff walls covered in ice and snow. 


SPRINGDALE

The town of Springdale slows in the winter season, which in Southern Utah is mild. The off-season here is quiet and blessedly uncrowded offering a peaceful retreat geared toward restful relaxation and reflection. Some lodging closes in the winter.

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SPRINGDALE DINING

As a hub for travelers exploring Zion National Park and the southern Utah scenery, Springdale has a selection of dining options from the fine dining at 9 East to the easy Mexican flavored menu at a locals’ favorite watering hole, the Bit and Spur. Some restaurants close for the winter.

NARROWS IN WINTER

A winter excursion in the Zion Narrows, offers a unique glimpse of this natural wonder filled with icy water falls and blessed solitude. Don’t let the idea of cold drive you away, when properly outfitted, your excursion is a once-in-a-lifetime journey. 

Day 2 100 Miles
ANGELS LANDING TO BRIAN HEAD RESORT
  • Angels Landing in Winter
  • Brian Head Resort
  • Big John’s BBQ

Angels Landing is a bucket-list excursion in Zion National Park that is packed with hikers in the high seasons of spring, summer and fall. In winter, however, the hike (while still popular) is much less crowded. Be sure to check with park rangers about snow and ice on the trail before attempting the final imposing “chain route” to the very top. Take the morning for this spectacular hike and then make the drive to Brian Head Resort, which is surrounded by Brian Head town, a friendly village at the base of the ski destination. 


ANGELS LANDING IN WINTER

Pack layers and check with the park rangers before you go, but don’t be daunted, the summit is easily attainable in winter (weather and trail permitting). The hike to the top of Angel’s Landing is worth the effort. 

BRIAN HEAD RESORT

One of two resorts in Southern Utah, the town and resort of Brian Head is located a whopping 9,800 feet above sea level and offers great skiing and snowboarding for all levels. The small town is a friendly place that offers convivial après-ski scene all winter long. 

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BIG JOHN’S BBQ

Brian Head Resort’s owner John Grissinger hails from Kansas City and brought his love of BBQ to the slopes. You’ll find John behind the smoker at the Last Chance Saloon serving up a mess of ribs and chicken every weekend during the ski season.

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Day 3 1 Miles
MORNING SKIING; AFTERNOON SNOWMOBILING
  • Brian Head Resort
  • Snowmobiling to Cedar Breaks
  • Brian Head’s Dark Skies

Spend the morning exploring the varied ski terrain around Brian Head. Be sure to admire the unique views from Brian Head Peak of the red rock in the distance. After lunch, take a guided snowmobile excursion to an overlook above Cedar Breaks National Monument to view the monument’s sandstone spires all covered in snow. By night, the town of Brian Head’s various watering holes host live music and good food. Take a break from the action and enjoy a guided tour of the plentiful stars in the Southern Utah sky led by Cedar Breaks’ Dark Sky Rangers. 


BRIAN HEAD RESORT

One of two resorts in Southern Utah, the town and resort of Brian Head is located a whopping 9,800 feet above sea level and offers great skiing and snowboarding for all levels. The small town is a friendly place that offers convivial après-ski scene all winter long. 

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SNOWMOBILING TO CEDAR BREAKS

Miles of snowmobile track surrounds the Brian Head ski area and guided tours around the area offer an exciting way to get into all that beautiful country.  Thunder Mountain Motorsports, for example, offers a variety of guided group tours of the miles of snowmobile tracks in the mountains above Brian Head. The tours are punctuated with a view at the rim of Cedar Breaks.

BRIAN HEAD’S DARK SKIES

On the edge of Cedar Breaks National Monument, which is a designated Dark Sky Park, the stars above Brian Head are a stunning reminder of the universe beyond our planet. Rangers from the monument lead guides tours of our solar system and beyond.

Day 4 75 Miles
SCENIC HIGHWAY 12 TO EXPLORE BRYCE CANYON IN WINTER
  • The All-American Road Scenic Byway 12
  • XC Ski Bryce Canyon
  • Winter Hiking in Bryce Canyon

Don’t just drive through Bryce Canyon National Park. Instead, unlock the secret to Bryce’s wonders with a winter trek to the canyon floor where you will stroll below the impossibly slender hoodoos towering above — and have it all to yourself. There are many outstanding scenic byways to choose from in charting your course to the park, and there are two great ways to explore the park once you get there. The first is to access the Nordic trail system on the canyon’s rim just outside the park and the second is to equip yourself with traction assistance or snowshoes (depending on conditions) and poles and hike down into the canyon. Outfitters at Ruby’s Inn, just outside the park.


THE ALL-AMERICAN ROAD SCENIC BYWAY 12

Discover two national parks, the vast Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, and the tranquil beauty of Boulder Mountain along with national forest lands and state parks unlike anywhere else. While you can complete the whole drive on one scenic three-hour tour, even a four-day itinerary only cracks the surface.

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XC SKI BRYCE CANYON

The groomed cross-country trails that start at Ruby’s Inn are a fantastic way to see the edges of Bryce Canyon National Park. Both track and skate tracks run along the canyon rim and offer stunning views (along with some great cardio). 

WINTER HIKING IN BRYCE CANYON

Bryce Canyon is best enjoyed from down in the canyon. The trails often packed down are easy to navigate with traction devices like YakTrax or snowshoes (if there is fresh snow). 

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Day 5 85 Miles
SKI EAGLE POINT AND SNOWSHOE IN THE TUSHAR MOUNTAINS
  • Eagle Point Resort
  • Eagle Point Village
  • Snowshoeing Eagle Point

Eagle Point is a modest hill in the Tushar Mountain Range atop a stunningly scenic winding mountain road. The resort is only open Thursdays through Sundays which means powder dropped from storms that hit early in the week are still waiting for you on the weekend. A variety of condo-style rentals with kitchens to cook in make it perfect for a family or friends getaway. The ski area holds a variety of terrain for all skill levels including some of the steepest pitches in Utah. A well-kept secret, Eagle Point is the perfect punctuation point on your five-day sojourn.


EAGLE POINT RESORT

It’s a cliché but the phrase “best-kept secret” fully applies to Eagle Point’s 40 runs and side country. The resort is a throwback and home to a group of friendly locals who know that its terrain hides stashes of untrammeled powder days after a storm. 

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EAGLE POINT VILLAGE

The village around Eagle Point is a mishmash of vacation rentals topped with a day lodge at the peak and a main lodge at the base. One bar, one restaurant and the best place to watch a sunset in Southern Utah—the “hot tub garden” on the patio. 

SNOWSHOEING EAGLE POINT

The Tushar Mountains remain blessedly uncrowded any time of year and the scenery is pure edge of the world type stuff. Eagle Point offers guide and outfitting services as well as shuttles to some of its best snowshoeing terrain.

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