Expererience the Outdoors in Utah this Winter
In winter, Utah is best known for its 15 ski resorts including Park City Mountain, Deer Valley Resort, Alta, Sundance, Snowbird and new Woodward Park City, that proudly showcase the Greatest Snow on Earth®, however it’s the opportunity to explore a series of less-trodden alternative experiences that makes Utah such an extraordinary winter destination.
Delta has confirmed it will extend direct flying in to Salt Lake City over the winter months, starting 19 December and continuing into the spring. This new winter route will increase access to the Rocky Mountains and world class ski resorts of the north and the remarkable Mighty 5® National Parks: Arches, Bryce Canyon, Canyonlands, Capitol Reef and Zion and 44 State Parks across the state. Flights are currently available for as little as £400 return.
Here we highlight some of Utah’s top alternative winter attractions for those looking to go beyond its world class ski and snowboard resorts:
Experience Utah’s Mighty 5® National Parks in winter
Utah’s iconic red rock wonderland welcomes the majority of guests in the summer months when travellers from around the world flock to see the jaw-dropping landscapes and extraordinary rock formations lit by blazing sunshine. Conversely, Southern Utah is full of quiet splendour and solitude from December through to March. The parks are practically empty and the same veritable set of scenic landmarks can be viewed in complete tranquillity and often cloaked in snow.
Snow-shoeing in Bryce Canyon
The best way to experience the spectacular beauty of Utah’s Bryce Canyon is to hike or snow shoe down into the canyon’s amphitheatre amid the towering hoodoos and layers of snow so make sure to stay warm during those adventures. So make sure to choose best wool sweaters to stay warm during those adventures. Not only are the rock structures sensational up close, but they also offer good shelter from the brisk winter breezes. Ruby’s Inn near Bryce Canyon National Park accesses 19 miles of groomed trails and stunning views with snowshoes available to hire from $10 per person.
Bryce National Park has just been awarded official status as an International Dark Sky Park. This certification recognises the exceptional quality of the park’s night skies, where stargazing benefits from minimal to zero light pollution. Visitors can enjoy the dark night skies on ranger guided full moon snowshoe hikes from November through to March when snow depth exceed 12-18 inches.
Hike the narrows in Zion National Park
One of the most amazing things to do in Zion National Park is to hike The Narrows (see cover photo) and exploring them in winter is no exception. It may require a little more equipment but the experience of hiking one of the world’s best slot canyon routes in one of the USA’s most popular National Parks in complete solitude makes it even more spectacular. Zion’s location at a lower elevation means temperatures remain relatively mild and snow seldom reaches the canyon floor. Despite this, adventurers can expect to see frozen stalactites dangling from overhangs and clinging to cliff walls adding to the dramatic landscape.
Don’t miss: Midway ice castles and the Heber Valley
Midway extraordinary ice falls or ‘castles’ look as if they’ve sprung from the hands of an ice princess in the new Frozen 2 movie. In reality the experience is built by professional artists using hundreds of thousands of icicles. The sculptures include breath-taking up-lit fountains, frozen thrones, ice-carved tunnels, slides and more. Located about 30 minutes from the Park City area and 45 minutes from Salt Lake City, the Heber Valley is one of Utah’s premier winter playgrounds. This valley offers wide-open space for snowmobiling, snowshoeing and cross-country skiing and great proximity to Park City-area ski resorts and Sundance Mountain Resort.
Sleigh Rides and Hot Springs
For a more tranquil adventure guests of one of Utah’s most established resorts, the Homestead Resort, can enjoy a horse-drawn buggy or sleigh ride through the beautiful Heber Valley with views of the Wasatch Mountains. Afterwards, it’s possible to soak in the resort’s natural hot spring – the Homestead Crater – hidden within a unique 55-foot limestone dome.
New attraction: Woodward Park City
Park City’s new Woodward facility brings a year-round action sports resort to one of the greatest outdoor regions in the world. Woodward Park City will combine a huge indoor freestyle hall and an outdoor terrain park and tubing area, complete with chairlift. The centre is located 27 miles from Salt Lake City and is planned to open in November 2019.
How to get to Utah this winter
America As You Like It (020 8742 8299) has a seven-night winter fly-drive to Utah from £845 per person (based on two sharing), including return flights on Delta from Heathrow to Salt Lake City, seven days fully inclusive economy car hire, two nights in Salt Lake City, one night in Heber Valley, two nights in Springdale (Zion National Park) and two nights in Bryce Canyon.
Bon Voyage (0800 316 0194) has a 10-night winter fly-drive itinerary from £1,895 per person, including return flights to Salt Lake City, 4 star accommodation and 4×4 vehicle hire for the duration. The route includes one night in Salt Lake City, two nights’ at Provo Sundance Mountain Resort, two nights in Zion, two nights’ in Bryce, 1 night in Torrey (for Capitol Reef National Park) and two nights in Park City.
Ski Safaris (01273 224060) offer a 10-night Utah ski and National Parks Safaris from £1,625per person. The price includes ten nights’ three-star accommodation, return flights, transfers and car hire for the duration.
For more information on Utah, see www.visitutah.com/uk. over photo: c. Matt Hage