This Western getaway was made for winter weekends

Dec 13, 2023

Home to a renowned ski resort with cozy lodges, winter experiences that are tried and true (such as snowshoeing) and new (winter fly fishing, anyone?), as well as plenty of good food to fuel up on, Utah Valley is a winter destination that can be customized to your tastes.

Even better, it’s pretty easy to get there. Utah Valley is situated in north central Utah, part of the Wasatch Front. It includes Provo, which sits on I-15, about 45 miles south of Salt Lake City and I-80. You can fly direct into Provo Utah Airport from more than a dozen cities (including Los Angeles, Nashville and Tampa, to name a few).

Read on for ideas on how to customize your winter weekend getaway to Utah Valley.  

There’s skiing at Sundance, of course… 

Former owner Robert Redford purchased the land for the eventual Sundance Mountain Resort in 1969 (the same year the actor stared in "Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid"). The acclaimed resort located about 16 miles north of Provo offers year-round natural beauty—but winter is when the magic happens.

Snow-topped mountains, fresh powder and cool mountain air make a day on the slopes irresistible. Whether you plan to traverse the hills on a snowboard or skis or hop on a trail for cross-country skiing, you can rent your equipment on-site. If you’re skiing for the first time or just need to brush up on your skills, book a lesson with the onsite ski school. For a different, but still exhilarating chance to soar across the mountain, check out the resort's Winter ZipTour. This ziplining experience brings you as high as 180 feet above ground as you take in a bird's-eye view of the scenic, snowy landscape.

The resort is home to an art studio, where you can sign up for classes to learn ceramics, jewelry, painting and more. There's also a spa, ideal for a massage after the slopes. You can choose to stay in a full mountain home or in the resort's rooms and suites, where features like homey fireplaces and stunning mountain views will complete the winter ambiance.

There are multiple dining options at the resort, whether you're on the go or looking for a leisurely night out. Grab a drink at the resort's Owl Bar, a restored bar from the 1890s—allegedly frequented by real-life Butch Cassidy—moved from Thermopolis, Wyoming to the resort. For a romantic evening, the Tree Room restaurant offers mountain cuisine in an intimate setting and features Native American art from Redford's own collection. 

But in winter, there’s so much more 

Utah Valley's glistening, snowy landscape provides opportunity for boundless winter fun. Grab your snowshoes and head out for a hike to see waterfalls, rivers and mountain views. One option is the Fifth Water Hot Springs trail—about 4.5-miles out-and-back—which features natural hot springs along the path (a warm respite from the cold—provided you can pull your clothes back on quickly post-plunge). The Sundance Nordic Center has gear to rent and offers a "Night Owling" experience—that is, a guided nighttime snowshoeing tour to call and locate owls—on select dates December-March. 

More adventurous travelers might be interested in trying winter biking. Listen to the sounds of snow crunching under the fat tire bike along an otherwise quiet and peaceful trail. Here's a guide on what to wear and where to go for a day of riding.

Experience something new with a more unique activity, like winter fly fishing. Wasatch Guide Services offers half-day and full-day guided trips, supplying all the necessary gear to spend time fly-fishing for trout on the river. (Just be sure to bundle up!)

Adding to the seemingly endless list of ways to take in Utah Valley's nature, Rocky Mountain Outfitters offers guided winter horseback riding tours from the Soldier Hollow Stables. The winter tour lasts one hour and is available to ages 8 and up. In December, they offer a horse-drawn wagon ride that brings you to see holiday lights (and it's said a certain Mr. and Mrs. Claus may be in attendance).

Warm up with good food and cozy lodging  

The first order of business after an exciting day in the snow: a warm cup of hot chocolate. If you're in Provo, the Taste Café has a couple of options for you. One is their sipping chocolate—a thick, European-style beverage topped with whipped cream. Of course, they’ve also got the classic version, which they whip up with their Taste Artisan Chocolate.

Once warmed up and ready to fuel up, you'll have a lot of cuisine options to choose from. Bombay House has been a local staple since 1993; its expansive menu features items like lamb coconut kurma and chicken tandoori. If you fancy French fare, Bistro Provenance in downtown Provo has dishes like steak frites, duck a L'orange and of course, the option of crème brûlée for dessert. Sushi Up in Orem (about five miles north of Provo) has dozens of sushi rolls to choose from, plus entrees like a sashimi rice bowl and teriyaki chicken. 

Beyond the celebrated local ski resort, you’ll find options for a restful night’s sleep both mountainside and in town. The Hyatt Place Provo is well appointed and located downtown. For a one-of-a-kind stay, check into the Hines Mansion, conveniently located in downtown Provo. The Victorian-style home is over a century old and has eight uniquely designed guest rooms with amenities like a jetted tub. 

Stewart Mountain Lodging offers cabins and homes near Sundance that range from cozy to luxe. Depending on the rental, amenities can include fireplaces, hot tubs and stunning views, which all add up to dreamy conditions for a winter's night in. Visit Explore Utah Valley for a full list of accommodation options for any budget.

Ready to go? Start planning your winter getaway to Utah Valley with these activity ideas

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