Brian Head, Utah is a family-oriented mountain resort which offers first-class alpine skiing, a terrific kids programs, and a host of winter and summer activities for all ages. With a lodge at 9,600 feet, it is the state’s highest base village averaging an annual 360″ of Utah’s trademark “Greatest Snow on Earth.” Brian Head is also unique because it’s within a day’s drive of some of our most beautiful national parks which can be visited year round.
In addition to being surrounded by stunning Red Rock scenery, Brian Head is one of our favorite places to teach the kids how to ski or snowboard. In this relaxed environment, their strong children’s teaching program takes charge of kids so that parents can enjoy the slopes, spa and, much of the year, golf. The two-mountain resort has 71 runs served by eight lifts. 35% of the 650 acres is expert terrain, and the rest offers 35% intermediate runs and 30% for beginner skiers. Additionally, there are three terrain parks.
With frequent powder dumps on both peaks, the grooming staff works hard to maintain the corduroy on beginner and intermediate trails while leaving plenty of virgin snow on the glades and hike-accessed backcountry bowls. Although a blight forced Brian Head to clear cut some evergreen and aspens in the past, the slopes’ wide open and airy feeling makes them even more hospitable for parents who want to keep an eye on their kids.
Brian Head Ski School & Off Slope Fun for All Abilities
Brian Head Resort is open for skiing, snowboarding, snow tubing and other great winter activities from mid-November until mid-April. School lessons take place on Navajo Mountain and base out of the bright, sunny, clean and spacious Navajo Lodge and Learning Center. With its own magic carpet, lifts and terrain park, it is devoted to teaching beginners and nurturing a life-long love of the sport. Instructors, counselors, snacks and equipment are all at hand.
Children’s learning programs include Mountain Explorers for 6- to 12-year-olds who want to improve as skiers or snowboarders. With eight students per instructor, the children are taught at 4 levels (1st Time, Beginner 1, Beginner 2 and Intermediate). Younger kids ages 4 and 5 join Tiny Tracks to explore the skiing experience while having fun, and six students share an instructor. Children’s learning programs are available in full day or morning-only sessions and include lessons, lift tickets, equipment rental with helmet, and lunch. Private lessons are available for 3-year-olds. A list of qualified babysitters is available to parents of infants and toddlers.
Building on its reputation for running an excellent ski school, Brian Head has recently partnered with Snow Operating LLC to introduce what has been called a “game changing revolution withing the snow industry.” Terrain Based Learning (TBL), which will be included in all lessons, simplifies the learning experience into five easy steps. The use of specifically shaped and sculpted snow features enables students to more easily control their body positions and speed, and allows them to feel more confident and accomplished. Gaining skills quickly allows the students to focus on enjoying their time on the slopes.
There is snow tubing fun on a six-lane run that is served by its own surface lift, so that kids don’t have to drag their inner tube uphill on their own. The Ridge Runner Zip Line operates next to the tubing hill and is open to kids from age 6. The whole family, or just those independent minded tweens and teens, can go Night Skiing and Riding on on Fridays and Saturdays from 4 to 9pm when the base lodge turns into social central for guests and locals.
Adaptive Snowsports Programs at Brian Head
Brian Head is proud of the their Adaptive Program, which teaches traditional alpine skiing and snowboarding to any age guest with cognitive issues such as autism or ADHD, developmental disabilities and visual impairments.
To help those with a wide range of physical challenges, Brian Head uses specialized equipment and employs specially trained instructiors. Bi-ski and mono-ski equipment is available for individuals with limited leg mobility, amputations or paralysis.
All adaptive skiers and snowboarders who need, and are accompanied by, an assistant will receive a free “Disabled Assistance Pass” for their assistant with the purchase of a regular lift ticket. Reservations for an adaptive lesson are required 24 hours in advance, to ensure that an instructor is available.
Brian Head Welcomes Families in Summer
In the heart of southern Utah’s Colored Country, Brian is located 90 minutes from Zion National Park, an hour from Bryce Canyon National Park, and a couple of miles from Cedar Breaks National Monument, where you can snowshoe or hike depending on season. The resort, just 12 miles from I-15, is a great base for daytrips when you’re on a Western USA road trip and, from June to September, summer temperatures average in the 70’s.
While the snow just glistens on the farthest horizon line, you can jump on a chair lift and start hiking or mountain biking from the resort’s peaks, or play disc golf down at the base. Among many scheduled programs, the Brian Head Family Adventure is a self-guided activity that highlights earth science and natural history. With school age kids, you can use their facilities to try orienteering, or learn about petroglyphs.
Family Friendly Hotels & Condos at Brian Head Village
Brian Head facilities have been spruced up and new condominiums have opened. In addition to a housing cluster on the lower slopes, there are budget condos and swanky guest homes dotted around the mountain’s base, with a free shuttle connecting them to the base lodges. Families staying a week so that their kids can really master a snowsport will be happiest with their own kitchen facilities and extra room to spread out; they should look at condos nearest to Navajo Mountain. Check out the Brian Head Lodging site for current offers.
Where to stay for weekenders is easily answered now that a fancy, Vegas-worthy hotel has been built. The classy Grand Lodge at Brian Head (435/677-9000) puts the resort on a par with its better known Park City competitors. Not that there’s a lot of nightlife at Brian Head — there’s not — but this place is sure to please finicky relatives over a long weekend.
A fun pool with grotto features and a waterfall, an indoor and outdoot hot tub with slope views, bar and day spa provide all the services any guest could need after a day on the slopes. Large comfortable rooms have work stations, mini-fridges that can be stocked on request, microwaves and coffeemakers. With two queen beds and a large bathroom, you can fit in the whole family. Suites are available as well, and the Signature King Suite also has a queen size sofabed and fireplace. Free WiFi is available throughout. The lodge is pet friendly with a non-refundable fee of $25/D.
The popular Lift Bar and Patio has a firepit and is a fun scene with pooltables, flat screen TVs showing sports, a bar, dining area, and a large fireplace with cozy couches. Leany’s Steakhouse serves breakfast daily, and dinner on Thursdays through Sundays.
Trip Planning Tips for a Brian Head Family Vacation
Brian Head Resort is located at 329 S. Highway 143, Brian Head, UT 84719. Families in southern California find the six-hour drive well worthwhile for the top values, quality terrain and positive instruction. It’s a no-brainer weekend getaway for the Las Vegas crowd (a 3-hour drive); Nevadans and Arizonans come for the cool breezes, mountain biking and hiking terrain in summer. And for us New Yorkers who can fly into Salt Lake City (a 3-hour drive), St. George, Utah (just 90 minutes away) or Cedar City (45 minutes), it’s a bargain ski destination with no lift lines and guaranteed fun for the whole family.
Check the calendar to see when local colleges have their winter and spring breaks before booking your trip — it can get crowded at times. Additional Brian Head packages can be found at Brian Head Resort online.
Our only caveat: give yourself and the kids at least a day to acclimate to the altitude (and ask your pediatrician about the ski moms’ trick of administering one aspirin per day for the week before arrival to prepare for less oxygen.) It’s well worth taking your time to savor everything Brian Head has to offer.
This story was accurate when it was published. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question, and stay up to date with current events to ensure a safe and successful trip.