Nuts and Bolts: Utah's southernmost ski resort, Brian Head (tel. 866/930-1010; www.brianhead.com) offers its own twist on skiing in the Beehive State. There's more sun, for one thing, allowing the lifts to run until 4:30pm. (Not that it doesn't get cold here: The base is Utah's highest at 9,600 feet). And the scenery is a world away from the Wasatch, a jaw-dropping jumble of red rock, white snow, and blue peaks lining the horizon. Plus, it's just a three-hour drive to Las Vegas, making it just the spot for a ski-and-sin getaway.
Brian Head is on the small side at 600 acres, but it's nicely laid out, especially with the 2009 addition of a skier bridge that links the resort's beginner area, Navajo Peak, with the more advanced terrain at Brian Head Peak. Families will love the abundance of relatively gentle runs and the fact that it's hard to get lost here. More adventurous skiers and riders will find several challenging slopes, especially in the side country. The snow conditions were among the best in the state as of mid-February, thanks in large part to avoiding a rare winter rainstorm that hit many resorts in northern Utah in January. Many stashes of powder go untouched for days or weeks after a storm due to a relative dearth of crowds.
Cedar Breaks National Monument is just a few miles away from Brian Head (it's visible from the slopes), offering a quiet (and free) spot to snowshoe and cross-country ski. Most facilities close for the winter, but a volunteer-staffed warming yurt is open on weekends.
And now there's a second resort in the neighborhood: Formerly Elk Meadows, Eagle Point (tel. 855/324-5378; www.skieaglepoint.com) opened in the rugged Tushar Mountains this season after an eight-year slumber. Located about an hour's drive north of Brian Head near Beaver, Utah, Eagle Point features a wide variety of terrain in its nicely timbered 400 skiable acres. New ownership has a long-term plan that calls for a base hotel, expanded terrain, and additional lifts.
What's New: The resort is catching its breath after a flurry of projects that came online last season, including the aforementioned skier bridge as well as the slick new Grand Lodge at Brian Head. For 2010-2011, the big changes are at the ski school, where there is a renewed focus on adults and a new Burton Learn to Ride program featuring beginner's snowboards from the manufacturer. Also new: a ski-and-stay package with the Westin Casuarina Las Vegas starting at $164 for one night of lodging and two full-day adult lift tickets.
Big Deal: The Grand Lodge at Brian Head is offering a ski-and-stay package starting at $199 per night for lodging and lift tickets for two people. Not to be outdone, Cedar Breaks Lodge and Spa has a three-night, four-ticket package for $340.
Winter room rates at motels in Cedar City, 30 miles northeast of the resort, are almost criminally low: most double rooms run less than $75 per night. There are also ski-and-stay packages that will save you money on lift tickets, which typically are less than $50 to boot. As of President's Day weekend, midweek lift tickets are available for a mere $22 from Terrible Herbst service stations and car washes in Las Vegas.
At Eagle Point, the deals might even be sweeter: a one-bedroom condo and two lift tickets runs just $150 midweek ($175 for a two-bedroom), and you'll find a number of ski-and-stay deals with motels in Beaver, about 20 miles west.
Quotable: "Up here you have to have layered systems for everything. Some days the most important thing is sunscreen." -- Brian Head spokesperson Jon Christoffersen
Talk with fellow Frommer's travelers on our Winter Sport Forum.