Discover Brian Head Ski Resort
Brian Head, located atop Parowan Canyon near Cedar City, is not the first place along the Wasatch Front we think of when the snow starts to drop. But the resort often gets storms that miss northern Utah and offers an excellent green-to-black mix of terrain perfect for families and mixed-age groups. Couple that with thin crowds and a friendly town to relax and play in, and you’ve got the recipe for a great winter road trip. Plus, imagine flying down snow with Southern Utah’s red-rock cliffs in the background.
Good Eats on the Road
Don’t let the boss hear your keys jingling as you escape from work early on Thursday afternoon and load up for your 4-hour drive south. Treat yourself to a tasty meal on the way down at Provo’s Station 22, serving hipster staples with a Southern twist. We love the Memphis chicken sandwich, but you’ll find a wide range delicious burgers and a (what?) vegetarian poutine. 22 W. Center St., Provo, 801-607-1803, Station22Cafe.com
Check in at The Grand Lodge
Once you’ve made the long and winding drive up Parowan Canyon, check into The Grand Lodge. The lodge is a full-service hotel with a spa and the town’s best steakhouse (Leany’s). Plus, the hotel’s Lift Bar & Patio is one of the area’s best spots to get a hot toddy by the fire. Do so. Now. 314 Hunter Ridge Drive Brian Head, 435-677-9000, GrandLodgeAtBrianHead.com
Ski Brian Head or take lessons at Navajo Peaks
Brian Head is actually two mountains: Brian Head and Navajo Peaks. Navajo is home to the resort’s beginner runs as well as an innovative, terrain-based ski school. Its instructors run students through a course of the varied terrain they’ll actually encounter on mountain. Brian Head Peak is mostly blues and blacks for those who like to rip; there’s also some interesting tree skiing on the right side. It’s a small, fast mountain you can explore in no time, and then take the day to find your perfect groove.
Gear Up at Georg’s Ski Shop
Founded in the ‘60s by its namesake Georg Hartlmaier, a German immigrant who was the resort’s first mountain manager, the quirky Bavarian-themed ski shop is still a family-run place where you’ll find great ski advice, gear and a whimsical selection of Bavarian trinkets. 612 UT-143, Brian Head, 435-677-2013, GeorgsSkiShop.com
Beers & Barbecue Dinner at The Last Chair Saloon
Kansas City industrialist John Grissinger bought Brian Head a few years back. The soft-spoken fellow loves him some barbecue. On Friday and Saturday nights, he cooks up a mess of chicken and ribs and serves them up to hungry skiers for, get this, $5 a plate. Find the saloon on the third floor of the Giant Steps Lodge.
Party with the Stars
Nearby, Cedar Breaks National Monument sponsors wintertime Dark Sky Star Parties. Bundle up and make the short drive to star gaze and remind yourself exactly how big the universe is. NPS.gov/cebr
First Bites at Giant Steps Cafe
Fuel up at Giant Steps Cafe, serving great breakfast sandwiches and hot coffee in a quick, casual setting in the lodge.
Get Totally Tubed
Take the morning and get your runs in on the mountain but break off at lunchtime to get the whole family together for some tubing fun at the Navajo Tube Park. And, unlike tubing back home at the park, there’s no hiking! Enjoy a tow up the mountain on the park’s rope line.
Steak Your Claim
Make your final night’s dinner one to remember with a killer steak and nice bottle of wine at Leany’s Steakhouse in the Grand Lodge. The porterhouse for two (or a very hungry one) is a fine cut of dry-aged beef, with two generous sides.
Live Music at the Last Chair Saloon
Brian Head’s main bar presents live music every Saturday night during the season. And this isn’t the usual bro in the corner strumming out “Rocky Mountain High.” The resort’s proximity to Vegas and its Vegas clientele draw an eclectic mix of music. Be sure to check the lineup before you go.
Take a snowmobile trip
The area on the edge of Cedar Breaks National Monument is loaded with established trails across the Cedar Mountain Complex, many of which are regularly groomed. Thunder Mountain Sports offers guided snowmobile tours throughout the season. 539 N. Highway 143, Brian Head, (435) 677-2288, BrianHeadThunder.com
Dunk yourself in hot springs
On the way back, if you can manage it, stop at Meadow Hot Springs, just four miles south of Fillmore on I-15 in the teeny town of Meadow. The springs are located in a field on private property but the landowner allows access to well-behaved hot springers like yourself. GPS: 38.863938, -112.505879