Utah is one of the best ski destinations in the world, and a wonderful place to live, especially if you love snow. But what do you do if you don’t ski, want a family activity that doesn’t involve hitting the slopes, or just want to have a great date night after you take the skis off? Not to worry, Utah abounds with winter activities. You don’t need a lift ticket to have a great time during the winter.
Sledding and Tubing
Starting with what may be the obvious alternative, Utah has many good places for sledding and tubing. All you need is an inexpensive sled or tube and a good hill. Anyone who has lived in your area through at least one winter can probably point you in the right direction. A popular spot in Salt Lake City is Sugar House Park, a regional public park that is open from 7 am to 9 pm in the winter.
If you are looking for something more commercial, Soldier Hollow Tubing in Wasatch Mountain State Park near Midway boasts 1,200-foot sliding lanes, the longest lanes in Utah, with lift service. Reservations are encouraged and online ticketing is available. Cost of a two-hour session for adults is $24, a youth ticket (6-12) is $22, a child (3-5) is $12, and a military discount is available at $20 per ticket.
In addition to skiing, the Olympic Park offers things to do for all ages and activity levels ranging in cost from free admission at the museum to $175 for a bobsledding experience.
The Winter Comet Bobsled, an advanced activity for those 16 and older who weigh at least 100 pounds, offers a thrilling ride of over 60 mph with a professional pilot down the 2002 Olympic track.
The Park has three ropes courses. Discovery Adventure Course ($15) is a beginner course for those five years of age and older is designed to challenge younger and smaller individuals, with small spaces to crawl through and smaller elements to climb over. Adult participation is recommended for children younger than seven. For an intermediate experience, try Canyon Adventure Course ($20) for ages seven and up with log traverses, swinging elements and problem-solving features up to 25-feet above the ground. Summit Adventure Course ($20) is an advanced course for ages 13 and older with heights up to 55 feet, where strength, agility, balance, and coordination are tested.
For a less strenuous activity, take a guided tour of the Park, or spend time in the museum. Guided tours are $10 (seniors $5, two and under free) and offer a one hour look into the inner-working of the venue. The tour includes a ride on a shuttle bus to the top of the world’s highest Nordic ski jumps. The Alf Engen Ski Museum in the Joe Quinney Winter Sports Center includes a collection of ski history, an informative avalanche exhibit, a virtual ski jump where visitors can experience the thrill of skiing down the K120 Olympic Jump while staying warm and dry inside, and a display of contributions made by the U.S. Forest Service to the development of winter sports.
Utah has two Olympic ice rinks that are open to the public year-round with public skating sessions and hockey lessons, the Olympic Oval and the Ice Sheet.
The Olympic Oval is a 400-meter oval rink where more Olympic World Records were set than anywhere else. Sessions are only $5 for adults, $3.50 for kids and seniors, and skate rental is $3.
The Ice Sheet at Weber State University was built as a curling venue and offers curing clinics in addition to ice skating. Sessions cost $4 for adults, $3.50 for children (3-17), $3.50 for students and seniors, and $2.75 for military.
Heber Valley Activities
Beyond the Soldier Hollow snow tubing, there is so much to do here, from exploring enchanting ice castles and taking a scenic train ride, to tasting cheeses and relaxing in a geothermal spring.
As soon as the cold sets in the Ice Castles in Midway are built, and they remain as long as the temperature allows. When you purchase tickets online you are asked to choose an arrival time with a 30-minute window. Once inside the castle you may spend as much time as you like. It is not necessary to print your ticket, as the QR code contained in the confirmation email can be scanned from your phone. Boots are recommended, as well as a sled for pulling small children.
The general admission (ages 12+) price for online purchase is $13.95 and the child (4-11) ticket is $8.95. Tickets at the door are $18 for general and a child is $12. Check the website for weather dependent events and appearances, like the Enchanted Frozen Sisters Princesses greeting guests outside the castle for photos and fire performances.
The Heber Valley Railroad offers family-friendly and date night themed train rides year round, like The Princess Train, Super Hero Train, Dinosaur Train, St Paddys Train, Valentines Special, Chocolate Lovers, Easter Bunny Train, Wild West Days, Masquerade Train, and The Wizard Train. Monday Night Trains include sing-a-longs and live music. Friday Night Trains have different themes each week. Admission prices vary depending on theme, length of ride and package. For instance, The Princess Train is a 90-minute ride with general admission of $15. The Monday Night Train is a general admission of $8 or a family pass (up to 6 passengers) for $35. The Valentines Special is $50 general admission and includes cozy seating, a rose for her, cheese from Heber Valley Artisan Cheese, fruit, chocolate, and sparkling cider. Rides that include other activities, such as lunch, rafting, and zip-lines have additional costs. Check the website for the extensive range of activities and schedules.
The mission of Heber Valley Artisan Cheese is to help others experience the difference of the farmer’s touch. They pride themselves on their fully integrated dairy farm to creamery approach for a farm-to-table experience. Cheese tasting events are held at the plant every second Friday of the month.
Homestead Crater is geothermal spring within a 55-foot tall, beehive shaped limestone rock on the Homestead property. The crater formed when melting snow on Wasatch Mountains seeped into the earth and the earth’s interior heated the water. A hole at the top of the dome allows fresh air and sunshine in, and the water stays at a constant range of 90 to 96 degrees Fahrenheit. There are custom-built decks and soaking areas, as well as activities like snorkeling and paddle board yoga classes. Self-guided crater tours focusing on the history, geology and archaeology of the crater are available.
Things to Do at Ski Resorts Without the Skis
Is the rest of the family hot on hitting ski slopes, but you not so much? You may not have to stay home or find an alternative activity location. Many resorts offer day passes. For instance, in addition to the usual selection of available spa services, Cliff Spa at Snowbird Lodge offers a day pass for $25 that gives you access to yoga and fitness classes, workout equipment, separate men’s and women’s dry saunas, solarium relaxation area, rooftop hot tub and heated pool, and the eucalyptus steam room, with robe and sandals included.
With such an extensive range of fun things to do in Utah during the winter, there is only enough room in this blog to briefly touch on the subject, but hopefully this gives you a starting point to find new things to do and places to explore.
Do you have a favorite winter activity or place to go? Let us know in the comments below.