It is common knowledge that Utah is one of the best places to ski or snowboard. However, Utah’s not-too-cold winters and outdoorsy attitude mean that there are many fun ways to play in – and out of – the snow. Whether you don’t enjoy skiing, or you are just taking the day off, here is a list of fun winter activities in Utah.
Sledding is one of Utah’s top family activities because it is inexpensive and fun for all skill levels. You just need to purchase a sled from Walmart, Target or anywhere that sells sporting goods and then ask around to find the best local sledding hills. Hills at public parks like Sugarhouse Park in Salt Lake City are popular.
For serious sledding thrills, try a commercial sledding hill like Soldier Hollow, Gorgoza Park or Brian Head. These hills provide tubes, groomed hills, lanes and rope tows so you don’t even have to walk back to the top. You typically pay a per-person fee to tube all you want during a two-hour session.
Soak up the Olympic spirit
Utah’s Olympic legacy allows us to see or try practically all of the sports of the Winter Olympics. If you’re adventurous, you can ride in a bobsled or ride a ski-jump inspired zip line at Utah Olympic Park in Park City. The ropes courses are also open year-round. For those who prefer something calmer, the Olympic Park has two museums devoted to the history of skiing in Utah and the 2002 Olympic Winter Games.
Utah is home to two Olympic ice rinks that are open to the public year-round. The Olympic Oval in Kearns where long-track speed skating events were held and the Ice Sheet in Ogden where the curling competition was held. Both venues offer open skating hours, as well as opportunities to learn and play hockey and curling. I think it’s so cool that we have the opportunity to skate where the Olympians skated and enjoy a variety of winter ice sports. Indoor and outdoor rinks can also be found throughout the Wasatch Front and in some of Utah’s other communities as well.
Visit Heber Valley
Heber Valley is loaded with winter activities, and it’s a short drive from Park City, Salt Lake City or Utah County. Here are a few of the winter activities you can enjoy on a weekend (or longer) in Heber Valley.
- The Ice Castles are an enchanting place for families to explore
- The Homestead Crater is a geothermal spring where you can swim, soak or SCUBA year-round.
- Heber Valley Railroad runs scenic and family-friendly themed trains year-round.
- Heber Valley Artisan Cheese offers cheese tasting and cheese making events.
- Soldier Hollow has cross-country skiing, biathlon and snow tubing courses.
- Snowmobiling is a popular winter activity at Wasatch Mountain State Park.
- Local outfitters offer snowshoeing, sleigh rides, horseback riding and year-round fly fishing.
Enjoy the ski resorts without the skis
If you have friends or family who are going to ski or snowboard, you don’t have to stay home because there are a lot of fun things going on at Utah’s big winter resorts.
For example, Snowbird’s Cliff Spa is a wonderful place to spend a day. You can get a day pass for $25 and enjoy the year-round outdoor pool and hot tub, take a yoga class or use the fitness room, which all have scenic mountain views. When you schedule a massage, facial or other treatment, a day pass is included in the price.
All of the bigger resorts have excellent restaurants, and often provide live music or a DJ throughout the winter season. Park City has great shopping on Historic Main Street or at the outlet mall. It also has restaurants and museums to fit nearly all tastes. Hotels like The Montage in Deer Valley offer a list of fun alternate activities for non-skiers.
Winter is one of the best kept secrets of Utah’s national parks.
My husband and I visited Bryce Canyon National Park last winter and if you thought the orange hoodoos were beautiful in the summer, you should see them when they are capped with fresh snow! Bryce Canyon offers fun ranger programs like stargazing and snowshoe hikes throughout the winter. In mid-February, Ruby’s Inn – just outside of the park – will host a winter festival. They’ll have an ice skating pond, snow sculpture contest, activities for kids and a lot of other fun activities.
The red rocks of Arches National Park soak up the sun year-round and winter is an excellent time to hike there. Temperatures are often a sunny 40-50 degrees (F) in January and February and all you may need is a light jacket. For me, there is no better time to make the hike to Delicate Arch.
Canyonlands National Park is just a few miles from Arches. It is at a higher elevation, so it’s chillier, but that has never stopped us from enjoying the amazing views. Moab hotel rates and crowds are at their lowest in the winter so it’s not too difficult to get those views all to yourself.
I presented some of these ideas on KSL-TV’s Studio 5 on January 14, 2015. Here is the link to my TV appearance: