We wanted to find somewhere nice and cosy with snow all around for the Christmas holidays. We also wanted somewhere close enough to our home in LA that we could do it in a road trip. Utah fit the bill perfectly. With its amazing scenery and snowy mountains it is the perfect winter destination. We love it so much we have Christmassed (it’s a verb) there twice. Here’s what’s not to miss when you visit Utah.
Zion National Park
First stop was Zion National Park, one of my favourite places in the United States, nay, the world! This place is magic. Sometimes when you’re in a really amazing natural landscape you can just feel its history. It makes you feel small but also part of something ancient and universal. You would normally never hear me waxing philosophical – its Zion, it’ll get ya!
Any hike you do in Zion is going to be amazing, but if you want a good challenge for a spectacular view the hike to Angels Landing is our recommendation. The winter hadn’t hit too hard yet so it wasn’t too snowy. This one would be impossible (and closed) if there was a lot of snow. It took us about 4 hours, but we took lots of photo (and fitness) breaks. At the top you are going to be pulling yourself up the rock face with chains, so this one is for the bold… and reasonably fit! But the hike itself is really fun and the view is totally worth the exertion. Plus we saw 4 deer!
There is tons of accommodation right near Zion National Park, so there is plenty to choose from. We were feeling a little fancy though, so we decided to stay in the park at the Lodge. The accommodation itself is sweet and simple, but you are paying for the views and the atmosphere, which, if you can afford it, do it! If you can’t, don’t be sad friend, last year we stayed outside the park and it still had amazing views.
Next stop was Park City. We were looking for somewhere wintry and Christmassy (an adjective) and Park City was the perfect spot! However if you’re not going to ski/snowboard be prepared for a lot of confusion and questions from people! We really just wanted to enjoy the location and weren’t looking to spend hundreds and hundreds of dollars. The other winter activities are equally expensive (dog sledding $450!), so we mostly just relaxed and explored. If anyone wants to pay me for this blog we can bring you more recommendations for pricey activities… anyone?
One activity we found that wasn’t crazy expensive ($25) was the Alpine Coaster. Right by the ski slopes on Park City Mountain, it is fun for the medium (and above) thrill seeker and runs over the slopes giving you an adrenaline rush and amazing views without getting a wet butt (I am bad at snowboarding).
We decided to go searching for moose and the place that came most recommended was the Big Cottonwood Canyon Road in Wasatch Mountain State Park. We went for a drive with tremendous optimism. I’ll cut to the chase… no moose, mooses? Meece? Yet what we did find was an amazing winter wonderland. This is the perfect spot for a walk or DIY bobsledding. It was quite romantical (also a word) to wander through.
Outside of Park City, Log Haven is a secluded cosy restaurant. Deep in the mountain, away from everything, it offers a beautiful escape and wonderful food. Our favourite was the goose pasta, yummo.
We took a little day trip out to Antelope Island. Your normal Park City visitor might not take the time to drive out there, but if you’re a wildlife lover this is a must do!
When you pop it into Google it is going to say 2.5 hours from Park City, however its only about 1.5 hours to the entrance to Antelope Island, then it’s up to you how much you want to drive around the park. If you’re pressed for time go ahead and take the 80/15 from Park City, if you’re not, the 84 is definitely worth the extra few minutes, with lots of farms and mountains, rather than cities and highways.
Wildlife Watch Here
Animals do as they please so I guess we can’t guarantee exactly where they’re going to be, but it’s reasonable to suggest that they are going to be hanging out at Fielding Garr Ranch. We also saw some porcupines here and heard owls and coyotes. Plus if you like a bit of American ranch history have a wander through the old ranch house.
All in all we had a tremendous festive and cosy Christmas break in Utah. Where did you spend your festive season?
Written by: Taryn
Trip enjoyed by: Chris and Taryn