Photos By Rachael Hodson
Are you getting restless for the snow to fly? Do you need something to distract your attention for a few days? Get out of the city for a weekend and head down to Southern Utah. Here is our pick for a great two-day vacation.
Stunning hiking, biking and relaxation await you in Brian Head. Tucked away in the heart of scenic southern Utah you will find this alpine oasis. With the highest base elevation in Utah, get your lungs ready for a serious workout. Shockingly beautiful Brian Head offers some of Utah’s best mountain biking and hiking. Although the lifts close for the summer on September 26, the trails are still accessible from the scenic Highway U-143, which wraps around the side of the mountain towards Cedar Breaks National Monument.
The new Vista Hiking Trail at Brian Head Ski Resort is a must-do while visiting in the fall. Cool mountain air, red rocks, sweeping vistas and the changing fall colors will leave you refreshed and renewed. The bike trails are well marked, and even the easiest Color Canyon Trail is a good challenge for those of you with little experience. Brian Head is known for their exhilarating array of trails: single track, downhill, cross country and now a new park, which boasts many challenging elements for the die-hard biker. The Dixie National Forest surrounds the ski area and gives you access to a dizzying amount of trails. Don’t miss Brian Head Peak Road; here you can access the old rock shack and take in unreal 360 degree views at 11,300 feet! Park in the parking lot just below the shack and hit the Bunker Creek Trails. Shuttle service and a map are essential as many of the trails interconnect and wind downhill for miles. Bike rentals and shuttles are provided through Brian Head Resort (weather permitting), Georg’s and Brian Head Sports.
To find more great trails, stop by the Brian Head Chamber of Commerce to pick up their new bike and hiking trail guide.
After a hard day playing, head into Pizanos Pizzeria for some surprisingly good thin crust pies. The owner, Tony Cocchia, brings a little bit of Italy and lots of attitude to the tiny town of Brian Head! If you’re in the mood for Mexican, try authentic food and margaritas at Mi Pueblo, just down the highway. Although there is plenty of lodging to be found, the all-inclusive Cedar Breaks Lodge is far above the rest. A beautiful salt water pool, which boasts two spas, sauna and steam room, will give your aching body the relaxation it deserves. The lodge has two restaurants, a spa, a gift shop, comfortable rooms and pleasant staff. Breakfast at the lodge is the way to go, but stock up at the store across the street for picnic foods before you hit the road. The new Grand Lodge is also fantastic and has amenities like an outdoor deck featuring two fire pits, an indoor swimming pool, first–class dining and a spa.
Take an afternoon ride four miles out of town on the historic PatchWork Highway SR143, a recently designated National Scenic Byway, to visit Cedar Breaks National Monument. Cedar Breaks was rated by USA Today as one of the “Top 5 Places to See Fall Colors”. Don’t miss the 2-mile roundtrip Spectra Point Overlook Trail. Keep your children close as you hike out to an ancient forest, and one of the most colorful and breathtaking scenes in all of Utah!
Head home the long way through the picturesque Dixie National Forest towards Panguitch and make a beeline over to Bryce Canyon National Park. If you haven’t been to Bryce before, don’t miss the moderately strenuous Navajo Loop that begins at Sunset Point and descends 520 feet through a slot canyon known as Wall Street. Continue hiking the trail as it winds through the breathtaking “Amphitheater” and back up the switchbacks to Sunrise Point. You can easily fill a weekend with excitement and adventure with Utah as your backyard!
Cedar Breaks Lodge
223 Hunter Ridge Road
314 Hunter Ridge Drive
Brian Head Ski Resort
329 S. Highway 143
Equipment & Shuttle:
Georg’s Ski Shop
612 S. Highway 143
259 S. Highway 143
406 S. Highway 143