Family Skiing at Brian Head: Utah’s Secret Ski Resort

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Are you looking for the perfect Utah ski resort with great snow, good terrain, is affordable, and has lots of ski-in ski-out lodging?  It’s a long wish list and for years I thought that it was impossible to find all of those things at one place…until we discovered Brian Head.  Located in Southern Utah, Brian Head is one of Utah’s best-kept ski secrets and absolutely amazing for families.  I’m going to share exactly why we loved our time there so much and how you can make the most of your visit as well.

family skiing at brianhead utah powder day

Brian Head Stats

8 Lifts
72 Runs
650 Skiable Acres
Base Elevation 9,600 ft (highest in Utah)

Summit Elevation 11,000 ft

family skiing at brianhead utah powder day

Brian Head Lift Tickets

Adults As low as $19 online or $108 at the window
(prices are cheapest online the farther you book in advance)
Kids 12 and under FREE

Our Time in Brian Head

We recently took a family trip to Brian Head over Spring Break.  We got a great deal on a ski-in, ski-out condo (for just $250/night), so we invited Grandma and Grandpa as well as some aunts, uncles, cousins, and some friends to round it all out.  All in, there were 7 adults and 13 kids in our group and it was such a blast.  Brian Head is set up really well for all ages and it was easy to manage a large group there.  We had kids ranging from age 17 down to an 8 month baby who was hanging out in the lodge.  

family skiing at brianhead utah powder day
Part of our ski group

Considering that it’s in Southern Utah and we arrived mid-March, we were anticipating being in full spring skiing mode with slushy slopes and sunny skies. What we got was the exact opposite.  The base was fantastic and honestly, we couldn’t believe how much snow there was there.  Our first day, just had light snowfall so we really got a good feel for the resort and skied EVERYWHERE!  That evening, the snow started to fall harder and we got about 6” overnight.  That storm in no way prepared us for the nearly 2 feet that fell before the lifts would close.  It was one of the most epic powder days ever!  

family skiing at brianhead utah powder day

Living just outside of Park City, we ski a lot, but it’s been a really long time since I’ve seen a storm like this.  It was coming down so hard at times that we had to go inside and take a break because the visibility was so bad that I couldn’t see the kids even in their neon clothes – this is the best kind of problem to have on a ski trip.  We were getting fresh powder all day long and everyone was in heaven.  According to our local friends, when it snows at Brian Head, big dumps like this are pretty common, and since it’s a smaller and less crowded resort, the snow stays good for a long time.

Even better was that the next day the sun was shining.  We learned that storms don’t usually linger long at Brian Head, which means more Bluebird days.  Even better, the lack of crowds means that you’ll still be finding fresh stashes of snow days after a storm.

While the powder skiing was great, the resort won us over long before that.  The setup is so amazing for families.  We ended up with a pretty large group while we were up there and yet everyone felt like it was great for them.  It’s pretty hard to find a ski resort that works as well for a 17-year-old expert skier and an infant at the same time.  We’ll showcase some of our favorite aspects of Brian Head below.

Where to Stay at Brian Head

Brian Head is one of the most affordable ski resorts for lodging in Utah.  Truthfully, I was SHOCKED at how low the prices were for ski-in, ski-out lodging at Brian Head.  While it may be tempting to stay in Cedar City or Parawon, we recommend you stay right on the hill, and to stay in lodging with your own kitchen.  Here are some of our top recommendations for where to stay at Brian Head:

Snowshoe Village Condo
Ski Condo with Jacuzzi and Pool
Giant Steps Ski in Condo
Brian Head Family Ski Condo

The Layout of Brian Head

The Layout of Brian Head can be really confusing.  We thought we had it figured out by looking at the trail map online before we arrived.  When we got there, we realized that the resort spans both sides of the highway and we were suddenly really turned around and confused.  

When you look at Brian Head, it’s simpler if you look at it in terms of the 2 base areas.  The Giant Steps base area and lodge and the Navajo base area.  

Giant Steps Base Area

The Giant Steps Base area accesses the most terrain on the mountain.  The majority of the skiing here is for intermediate and expert skiers.  At the base you’ll find a large lodge, a tubing hill, a rental and retail shop, and a restaurant. 

family skiing at brianhead utah powder day

At the base, you’ll find the Giant Steps high-speed quad, as well as the Blackfoot triple lift.  Both will get you higher up on the mountain so you can spread out and access more terrain, or you can just ski right back down the base, with plenty of great terrain along the way.  

While Giant Steps is clearly set up for experienced skiers (mostly blue and black runs), there is a bit of easy skiing off of the Blackfoot chairlift.  It’s not as great for first-timers as the Navajo base area, but if you have a new-ish skier who can already stop and link turns, they can find good skiing on the Blackfoot Lift at the Giant Steps Area.

family skiing at brianhead utah powder day
Notice the lack of line at the Giant Steps lift. This was in the middle of Spring Break at 2pm.

The Giant Steps lift has tons of fantastic intermediate terrain off of it.  We loved that there were blue and black runs right next to each other, so it was really great for our group since we had several different ability levels skiing together.  Best of all, most of the runs funneled back to the base area so it was easy to keep track of all the kids.

For advanced skiers, our absolute favorite was the Roulette Lift.  This is where you’ll find lots of really steep sections, and lots of rock jumps, and wide-open tree skiing.  

family skiing at brianhead utah powder day
Rock jump on Roulette

If you head over to the other side at The Dunes, you’ll feel like you hit a secret section of the resort, since it’s never crowded.  The runs are wide open and we only saw a few other skiers over here, so it was a great place for the kids to have some fun going fast without having to worry about other skiers.  If you love to have solitude on the mountain, this lift is a really fun place to go!

family skiing at brianhead utah powder day
Hiking to untracked snow above The Dunes

The Alpinglow lift has some black terrain right under the lift, but it seems to be mostly a connector lift, since it’s an essential connector between the base areas.  There is an easy green catrack (with a bit of a slope) both going from and coming to this lift.  

Navajo Base Area

The Navajo Base Area is designed for beginners and it’s really fantastic.  As both a ski mom, and a former ski instructor, there are so many things that I LOVED about the Navajo area of Brian Head.  At the base you’ll find the ski school, a lodge, a rental and retail shop, and a restaurant.  While the Navajo side of the mountain is smaller than Giant Steps, it was much more crowded on this side.  Lift lines during spring break were about 10 minutes long while they were almost non-existant on the Giant Steps side.  Even with that, a 10 minute spring break lift line is still really short!

family skiing at brianhead utah powder day
Ski school meeting area at Navajo

Pioneer Lift is what would be considered the bunny hill at Brian Head.  It’s a short, 2 person lift that is a good place to learn the basics of getting down the hill.  The hill was a bit tricky for some beginners because there is a big flat area in the middle that most new skiers will have to shuffle through. The thing I really didn’t love about this lift is that there is no safety bar on this lift, which can be a little disconcerting with beginners (I was skiing with both a toddler and preschooler there).

family skiing at brianhead utah powder day

Next to the Pioneer lift is a surface lift/magic carpet.  When we were there in late spring, the lift was buried down below the snow level, so everyone had to remove their skis to walk down to the lift, and then put their skis back on at the top.  The kids we were skiing with have a good amount of beginner experience, but for a first timer, this could potentially be a little tricky until they master getting their skis on and off (which often takes more than a day for kids).  I’m assuming that earlier in the season when there is less snow, you can just ski on and off the lift like most magic carpets, which would make this much easier.

family skiing at brianhead utah powder day

Navajo Lift was the shining star of the Navajo base area.  It is a high speed quad and the terrain that it access is AMAZING!  Typically bigger and longer lifts mean more difficult terrain, but that wasn’t the vase here.  Truthfully, this lift was the stuff of DREAMS for learning how to ski.  The slope of this hill is really gentle and it has a pretty sustained pitch the entire way.  What I loved most about this lift was that it’s pretty long so it’s great for practicing learning how to ski.  It’s probably about 3 times as long as the Pioneer lift, so it gives beginners much more time on the snow for about the same amount of lift time (Navajo is high speed and Pioneer is a very slow lift).  Once new skiers know how to stop and turn a little, I would take them directly here to practice their skills. Along the sides of the runs, you’ll also find some really incredible tree skiing which is great for intermediate skiers.  This is perfect if you have a beginner and an intermediate/advanced skier together so they can both find something to have fun on at the same time.  We also loved that Navajo has a safety bar on the chair.  

family skiing at brianhead utah powder day

Connecting the Navajo and Giant Steps Base areas of Brian Head

To ski between the Navajo and Giant Steps areas, you’ll need to use the Wildflower and Alpenglow chairlifts to connect.  The Wildflower has some of the best solidly intermediate terrain on the mountain, so if you don’t need immediate lodge access, taking laps on Wildflower is an absolute BLAST and its never really crowded.  There is a small terrain park up at the the top, which the kids LOVED!  One cool thing to note about the Wildflower lift is that it goes over the road, so you will ski over a bridge to get back on the lift. All of the kids had so much fun skiing over the cars!

Brian Head Shuttle

Brian Head has a shuttle that goes between the two base areas.  We took it when we first arrived to take some of the kids to the Navajo area while the rest skied at Giant Steps.  What we didn’t realize was that while the base areas are just down the road from each other, the shuttle stops at lots of properties to pick up guests as well.  From Giant Steps to Navajo, the shuttle went around to several resort properties pickup up other guests, and the ride between the two base areas took us about 15 minutes.  While it was probably really convenient for other guests to get a pickup at their condo, it was kind of a pain for transportation between the two base areas which are only a mile apart.  While the wait wasn’t horrible, it also wasn’t ideal with little kids, so to move around the resort later on, we just skied between the two areas or drove our car between the bases. 

How Hard is the Terrain at Brian Head?

The terrain at Brian Head was a bit easier than at other Utah ski resorts.  Overall, it is less steep than a lot of Utah resorts.  A black at Brian Head was a bit easier than most other resorts, though the blues were on par with most Park City ski runs.  There are no double blacks here (except an out-of-bounds area, which wasn’t incredibly steep without a MAJOR hike), so it really doesn’t compare to resorts like Alta or Snowbird.  

family skiing at brianhead utah powder day

What is the Lodge at Brian Head Like?

We had several little kids in our group, including a baby, so we always had one adult and some kids in the lodge at any given moment. While the lodge was pretty crowded around lunchtime, it was pretty open the rest of the day. We had plenty of room to spread out and we felt welcome staying here the whole day. This made the trip so much easier for everyone to have a little bit of a home base on the mountain.

family skiing at brianhead utah powder day
Lunchtime lodge crowds at Giant Steps

While our condo was ski-in, ski-out, hanging out at the lodge made it much easier for kids to take a break from skiing for a run or two and to easily just join everyone after their break. There are also lockers available in the lodge if you have things you need to keep secure during the day.

family skiing at brianhead utah powder day
Hanging out in the lodge with the younger kids

What are the Weather Conditions Like at Brian Head

The weather at Brian Head can change rapidly, bringing cold temperatures and heavy snowfall, just like we experienced.  Everyone that I talked to said that Brian Head often gets strong winds which combined with cold can make for a really cold day.  A face mask or balaclava is a mush when skiing here.  Dress in layers and be prepared for all conditions by checking the weather forecast before your trip and bring extra warm layers just in case.  When we left home the weather for the long weekend looked great, so we were shocked to get as much snow as we did.  

family skiing at brianhead utah powder day

Food Options at Brian Head

I was pleasantly surprised by the food options at Brian Head.  There was typical resort fare of pizza, soup, burgers and french fries, but the thing that surprised me were the prices.  I could get a large pizza for just $23.  At our home resort, they charge $9.50 per slice.  If you have more time, head into the “bar”.  While it’s called a bar, it’s really more like a quieter sit down restaurant.  Prices were around $12-16 per meal, but if you want a quiet and uncrowded lunch, it’s worth paying a couple of dollars more.

family skiing at brianhead utah powder day
No lines for food right at noon! AMAZING!

If you’re looking for restaurants that are open for dinner, your options are more limited, which surprised us considering the large amount of on mountain lodging.  Up near Brian Head we found a pizzeria, a grill and a mexican restaurant.  For more options, you’ll need to drive down into Parowan or Cedar City.  Our best suggestion is to get lodging with a kitchen so you can eat in and enjoy a slow evening together!

Other Activities at Brian Head

If you’re looking for other things to do near Brian Head our first suggestion is to check out the tubing hill.  It’s right at the Giant Steps base area and has 7 lanes, making it perfect for racing your friends down the hill.  Our kids had a blast and it was a big enough change of pace that even after a long ski day, they had plenty of energy left for tubing, thanks largely to the magic carpet taking them back up the hill.

family skiing at brianhead utah powder day

If you’re wanting to explore more, head to Cedar Breaks National Monument.  It’s just down the road and it stunning in the winter.  There are often Dark Sky programs there on weekends, so make sure to check their calendar and reserve your spot on the tour.    Reservations are required, but tickets are FREE.

Getting to Brian Head

The most convenient way to reach the ski resort is by flying into Las Vegas. From there, the resort is a three-hour drive.  Brian Head is 3 hours and 45 minutes from Salt Lake City.

If you’re coming from St. George, Bryce Canyon, or Zion National Park, the drive is about one and a half hours. Cedar City is just 35 minutes away, and for those not driving, there are round-trip shuttle services available from Cedar City directly to Brian Head Resort.

Written by Jessica Averett

Hi, I'm Jessica! After meeting my husband on a chairlift, we now live in the mountains of Utah with our 5 kids. As a former ski instructor and mom, I'm here to help you make your family ski trips as easy, and FUN, as possible!