Pack Your Beanie, Not Your Bikini: 4 Winter Vacays in Utah
Jan 6, 2021
It’s been a long year and we could all use a little pick-me-up. Planning a vacation offers an instant mood boost and something to look forward to. But summer? Pfft. That’s too long to wait. And that sweaty season is overrated anyway. Winter is waaaay better.
Whether you’re flying across a meadow with fresh pow beneath your nordic skis or surefootedly snowshoeing your way up one of Utah’s majestic mou-uns, you get a much-needed dose of the sunshine vitamin known as D. It makes you happier and healthier … two things we need right now! Not to mention you burn more calories in cold weather so you can easily keep those fitness resolutions. Sledding? 345 calories per hour. Snowshoeing? 500. Nordic skiing? A whopping 800. Stop going nowhere on the gym’s dreadmill and go somewhere amazing!
With Love From Logan
It ain’t a mountain town without Main Street. And Logan — cradled by the Bear River Mountains on the east and the Wellsville Mountains on the west — has a historic Main Street that’s quite a charmer. (Insert smiley face with heart-eyes here.) Up and down the tree-lined road you’ll find old-school diners, quaint restaurants, and unique shops. Venture a bit farther north on Main Street and there’s Comfort Inn Logan, one of the most convenient Logan hotels to stay at while you satisfy your winter wanderlust.
Skip the long lines found at other ski resorts in Utah and lap lifts at Beaver Mountain Ski Area, just 45 minutes away. Or, head the other direction to Hardware Ranch to get a close look at hundreds of elk. You can also go snowmobiling on any of the 180 miles of groomed trails in the area. New to winter sports? Discover a new passion at the Bear Lake Monster Winterfest, held every January.
Nestled in the mountains above Ogden, Snowbasin is a world-class ski resort in Huntsville, Utah. Besides long powder runs and wide bowls for your skiing or snowboarding pleasure, it is also surrounded by a network of multi-use trails for nordic skiing, fat-tire biking, and snowshoeing. But if you Google “hotels in Huntsville” you’re not going to come up with much. Huntsville isn’t a touristy town with high-rise hotels and crowds of people. Most of the accommodations are private vacation rentals or small B&Bs, many of which have price tags beyond the average budget. Instead, look for more affordable lodging in Ogden, Utah, which has made National Geographic’s list of Top 10 Emerging Ski Towns for multiple years. Choice Hotels has three convenient locations in O-Town, as it’s dubbed by locals, each less than a 30-minute drive from Snowbasin. On your off day, skate (600-ish calories per hour) at the Ogden Ice Sheet (Covid permitting) or slide around the banked turns at Wasatch Parc Snow Tubing instead. Afterward, warm up your cold, sore tush in comfortable heated recliners while watching a movie at Megaplex at The Junction. And there are several restaurants, bars, and local shops at The Junction and on nearby Historic 25th Street, a wannabe Main Street with a risqué past.
Aprés-ciate Salt Lake
Alta. Brighton. Solitude. Snowbird. Though each of these ski resorts has its own unique personality, they all have one thing in common: The Greatest Snow on Earth®. On average, Big and Little Cottonwood Canyons (where these resorts are found) receive 40 feet of that fluffy white stuff annually. Enjoy a bluebird day at the resort of your choice, then hit SLC for all your aprés needs.
Hungry? Get a table at a legendary local restaurant and brag about your sick tail grabs as you carb load for tomorrow’s outdoor adventures. Then hit the downtown nightlife scene. Feel like shopping instead of schussing? Check out local and national retailers at City Creek Center. The list of things to do in Salt Lake City goes on and on and on. (Kinda like your annoying bro-in-law but in a good way.) So plan to stay awhile and book an apartment-style suite at the new MainStay Suites in SLC’s Fort Union area. Make yourself a sandwich in your suite’s kitchen and throw it in the side pocket of your Chilcotin 20. Don’t forget your thermos of hot cocoa. Main Stay is close to the Cottonwood Canyons, but even closer (a mere 12 minutes) to Millcreek Canyon, which has great snowshoeing trails. The path to Grandeur Peak follows a stream and passes a waterfall.
MainStay Suites also offers easy freeway access for a quick drive to see the Midway Ice Castles. While you’re there, go ahead and have a therapeutic soak in the geothermal spring at the bottom of Homestead Crater — the mineral water is always an aaaah-inducing 90-96°F. (Admittedly, you do need to pack your swimsuit for this but your quads and calves will thank you!)
Wasatch out, here I come →
Wanna shred the slopes but hate the snow? Rent some sandboards and head for the salmon-colored hills instead. Winter highs in Coral Pink Sand Dunes State Park range from an invigorating 45°F in January to a balmy 57°F in March. And with thousands of acres of ever-shifting dunes, it’s also a popular place to ride UTVs and ATVs all year long. You could camp in the park, but during the winter months, we recommend booking a room in the pet-friendly Comfort Suites Kanab instead. Take a hot shower to get the sand out of … ahem, you know ... get a good night’s sleep in a spacious king or queen suite, then head to Zion National Park in the morning. The park’s east entrance is just 30 minutes away from this hotel in southern Utah.
There are many reasons to visit Zion National Park in winter. Unlike the summer months, the park is less people-y and you can drive your own car through the colorful canyon chasms. Most of the trails remain open year-round, though you’ll want to check conditions before heading out. Those at higher elevations may require crampons or snowshoes.
Utah is truly a winter wonderland. Start planning your fourth-season fun today, including a stay at a Choice Hotels property. The chain has a variety of brands to fit different budgets and needs.