If you want to have a unique winter vacation experience, head to Southern Utah this season. While, admittedly, most of the tourism declines in the winter months, there are still plenty of activities do enjoy. We usually get enough snow in the higher elevation regions to support snowmobiling, snowshoeing and cross-country skiing. But the lower elevation parts (such as Capitol Reef National Park) sometimes stay snow-free all winter – so you can play in the sun.
This is the Lodge at Red River Ranch’s Official Wintertime Fun List. It’s everything we want to do in winter in Southern Utah:
Snowshoeing and Cross-country Skiing – these are the best ways to explore the magic of a winter landscape while preserving the sense of stillness. There are thousands of places that are perfect for snowshoeing and cross-country skiing. If you enjoy going there any other time of the year, try going there in winter. We recommend places like Bryce Canyon and Cedar Breaks. The snow draws a contrast to the cool rock formations.
Downhill skiing – Brian Head and Eagle Point Ski Resorts near Cedar City are great places to squeeze in few runs. These two resorts aren’t as large as some of the resorts up north, so they’re not as crowded. Try shaking it up by night skiing, or by taking the kids tubing. There’s lots of good clean snow, sun, and fresh air at Brian Head and Eagle Point.
Snowmobiling – find a place that rents snowmobiles and tear it up. Snowmobiling can loosely be compared to ATV riding on the snow. If you like other motorsports, this could become a new favorite winter pastime. Snowmobiles let you cover lots of ground and have lots of fun. Designated motor vehicle locations, national forest, or BML land makes the best riding ground for snowmobiles.
Ice Fishing – one nice thing about ice fishing is you can fish in a tent. Fishing enthusiasts know that the end of summer is not the end of the fishing season. Any season is fishing season. With the right gear, and a good lakeside location, you can catch ‘em all year long. We recommend places like Fishlake, Johnson Reservoir, and the lakes on Boulder Mountain.
Tree Hunting – Christmas trees are an annual tradition for us at the Lodge at Red River Ranch. But we like to find our own. For a small fee, you can get permission from the National Forest Service to harvest your own Christmas tree. We usually end up finding ours in Dixie National Forest.
Exploring the National Parks – all five of Utah’s national parks are open year round, and there’s no reason not to go. The crowds are gone and you practically get the place to yourself. Winter unveils a different side of our national parks. Snow actually extenuates the natural beauty of places like Bryce Canyon. But if you don’t like the idea of playing in the cold, head to Capitol Reef or Zion National Park. These parks receive don’t get much snow. Try taking a winter tour of the parks on horseback.
Scenic Driving – as long as the roads are clear, you can take winter tours of many places in Southern Utah. Highways 12 and 89 are two of our favorite. Head to places like Natural Bridges National Monument, and Monument Valley. You can also do the Grand Circle Tour, which covers all the national parks in Utah and also the Grand Canyon.
Like we said, there’s plenty of fun to be had in winter. We hope you’ll give Southern Utah a chance this year. We think you’ll have a good time.