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YOUR ZION + SOUTHERN UTAH ADVENTURE

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Ultimate Guide to Brian Head, Utah ; A Year-Round Destination in the Desert

Brian Head, Utah stands out…literally! This resort town rises above the desert landscape of southern Utah with an elevation of 9,800 feet. The elevation makes Brian Head, Utah an awesome place to escape the summer heat when the surrounding area is scorching, as well as an amazing ski destination when it snows in the winter......and don't forget about that beautiful fall color.

How to Get to Brian Head

Brian Head sits in a fantastic location to explore southern Utah and is conveniently located to both Bryce Canyon and Zion National Park. It’s just over an hour to drive from Brian Head to Bryce Canyon National Park and about an hour and a half from Brian Head to East Zion.


Closest Airport to Brian Head, Utah

While the closest airport to Brian Head, Utah is actually St. George Regional Airport, that airport has very limited flights. Luckily, Brian Head is right between Las Vegas and Salt Lake City, so you have a couple bigger airport options. Las Vegas International Airport is only 3 hours from Brian Head, and Salt Lake City International Airport is 3.5 hours from Brian Head.


When to Visit Brian Head, Utah

The best thing about Brian Head is that it truly is a year-round destination! While Zion in the summer is extremely hot, Brian Head is much cooler thanks to its higher elevation. And in the winter, Brian Head is the place to play in the snow in southern Utah.


Brian Head is also a really great place to see the first signs of fall foliage in southern Utah and it is spectacular!


SUMMER IN BRIAN HEAD

Summer is honestly so nice in Brian Head! The average temps are in the high 60s or low 70s, and it’s just such a lovely escape from the desert heat. Thunderstorms are common in the late summer in Brian Head though, so be sure to check the forecast, especially if you’re exploring outside.


Things to Do in Brian Head, Utah in Summer

I absolutely love Brian Head in the summer to escape the heat. We visited Brian Head for the 4th of July last year, and it was seriously so much fun. The celebration included a concert, food vendors, shopping booths, and, of course, fireworks!



Even if you don’t visit for the holiday, you’ll discover so many awesome things to do in Brian Head, Utah during the summer.

Hiking in Brian Head

There are tons of trails to explore around Brian Head, and the mild temps make them comfortable in the desert summer. Here are a couple of my favorite hikes in Brian Head:

  • Twisted Forest Trail - This trail is 1-mile out and back trail. It has a decent amount of elevation gain as you make your way to a stark forest of  the most magical twisted bristlecone pines and expansive views of Cedar Breaks in the distance. The road leading to the hike is dirt and can be a little bumpy.



  • Hidden Haven Waterfall - Just downhill from Brian Head is this short hike to a unique waterfall running over blocky rocks. While it’s fairly family-friendly, flooding has washed out some parts of the trail. Definitely visit in the spring if you want to see the waterfall flowing! Check out this blog post for more amazing waterfalls in southern Utah!


Explore Cedar Breaks National Monument

Just 5 minutes south of Brian Head is this hidden gem in southern Utah, Cedar Breaks National Monument. Also known as the “Circle of the Painted Cliffs,” the landscape of Cedar Breaks is a naturally-formed rock coliseum featuring colorful arches, hoodoos, and canyons.


Cedar Breaks is at even higher elevation than Brian Head – around 10,000 feet – so it’s the perfect place to hike when the rest of the desert is too hot. The Alpine Pond Hike is a 2-mile loop that really showcases the beauty of Cedar Breaks, including the ancient bristlecone pine groves.



Hike Ashdown Gorge

An excellent alternative to The Narrows in Zion is Ashdown Gorge. Just 30 minutes from Brian Head, this hike is the perfect summer water hike. The slot canyon section is especially pretty, and if you time your hike for a return in the late afternoon, you’ll catch beautiful shadows and golden colors on the canyon walls.


You can turn around at any point, but I highly recommend at least going out past Flanigan Arch for about 10 minutes until the trail forks to the left. Take this fork for half a mile or so, and you’ll be rewarded with two amazing waterfalls.


Find more details about hiking Ashdown Gorge here!


Adventure Zone at Brian Head Resort

On the weekends, visit this family play paradise on the mountain at Brian Head. The whole family will have a blast with all the Adventure Zone activities, including a 300-foot zipline, a bungee trampoline, summer tubing, and a rock climbing wall. Plus, you can try your hand in the batting cage and on the disc golf course. Enjoy a scenic chair lift ride for a relaxing break from the fun.


Local tip: Tickets for the Adventure Zone at Brian Head start at $15. Buy your tickets online in advance for the best prices.


Brian Head Mountain Bike Park

If you love mountain biking, the bike park at Brian Head is a fantastic place to spend a summer day on the singletrack. The mountain features more than 100 miles of downhill trails, and you’ll also have access to 100 more miles of cross-country trails nearby. Brian Head is really a secret mecca of mountain biking that you must visit!


Local tip: You must purchase a ticket for the Brian Head Bike Park, and the earlier you buy, the cheaper the tickets will be.


WINTER IN BRIAN HEAD

Brian Head gets an average of 218 inches of snow each year, so you can enjoy all sorts of snow sports in the winter.  Bring layers, especially if you plan to visit nearby southern Utah destinations, since Brian Head is significantly colder than other places like Zion in the winter.


Things to Do in Brian Head, Utah in Winter

While you might think the southern Utah desert is the place to find warmth in the winter, Brian Head is actually a ski destination. This mountain town gets plenty of snow for all your favorite winter activities!


Skiing at Brian Head Resort

Hitting the slopes with snow-dusted red sandstone hoodoos in the distance is a special experience…there’s truly no other resort like it! Brian Head has the highest base of all of Utah’s ski resorts at 9600’ feet and features 71 runs with 1,320 feet of vert.


Compared to major ski resorts, the lift tickets at Brian Head Resort are an absolute steal, so it really is a hidden gem for skiers and snowboarders.


I grew up skiing in Brian head and this year was the first year taking my kids. It was a pretty awesome experience.


My daughter had already gone snowboarding once a few weeks prior with a friend so she had the beginner skills. My youngest, 8 year old, was totally new so I put him in ski school for the morning.


Even though both kids did lots and lots of falling they still loved the experience. I'm thinking next winter might include passes for these two.


Snow Tubing at Giant Steps

Snow tubbing without all the work of climbing back up the hill?......yes please! My kids couldn’t get enough of riding the escalator up then flying down the mountain in the tube…and I loved it, too! The tubes are fast, so you can get a ton of trips up and down the hill.


We have gone tubbing in Brian Head a few times now. The first time my kiddos we much smaller but no matter the age, the kids loved the snow tubbing


Tickets for snow tubing are $25 per person for a 1.5 hour session, and you can buy them online or at the ticket office.


Snowmobiling in the Backcountry

Another awesome winter family adventure in Brian Head is snowmobiling! Thunder Mountain Sports offers a 1.5 hour snowmobile tour through the backcountry around Brian Head that was an experience my whole family loved. I had a great time driving the snowmobile, and the kiddos really enjoyed the ride…and stopping to play in the snow sometimes. The views along the way and from the Bear Canyon overlook were incredible, too.


Read more about our snowmobiling experience and winter family fun in Brian Head & Cedar City here!


Snowshoeing in Cedar Breaks

If you’ve wanted to try snowshoeing but don’t have the gear or know how, Cedar Breaks National Monument offers guided beginner snowshoe tours throughout the winter season…and they’re free! The 1-mile round trip snowshoe experience is led by rangers and includes snowshoes and poles to borrow for the trip. You can sign up for a Cedar Breaks National Monument snowshoe tour here.


You can also rent snowshoes from Georg’s Ski Shop if you want to go on your own snowshoe adventure in Brian Head.


Note: UT-148 closes in the winter, but you can still access Cedar Breaks from Brian Head on UT-143.


Ice Skating at the Resort

Lace up your ice skates and glide around through trees on the unique figure eight rink in a forested mountain setting at Brian Head Ice. The skating season runs from late November through February, and tickets are $20 per adult and $15 per kid. Skate rental is an additional $5 if you don’t have your own.


PRO TIP - This rink is only open for a very limited time in the heart of winter. Call ahead to see if it will be open.


Visit Duck Creek Village

About 45 minutes away from Brian Head is Duck Creek Village, a quaint town which sits on the edge of a mountain meadow in Dixie National Forest. My grandparents had a cabin in Duck Creek when I was growing up, so I have fond memories of winters playing in the snow and sitting by the crackling fire there. The quiet and solitude of Duck Creek really makes a great relaxing getaway from the bustling resort of Brian Head.



There are a couple of fun snow tubing hills in Duck Creek, and I also love snowshoeing at Navajo Lake, which is never crowded. If you’re looking for a little adventure, I also highly recommend renting a snowmobile from Utah Offroad Outfitters and heading to Strawberry Point for stunning views.


For more details about Duck Creek and why I love it so much, check out my guide to visiting Duck Creek, Utah in the winter!


Where to stay in Brian Head

Brian Head makes a great base camp for exploring southern Utah, and you have several options for accommodations. There are plenty of cute Airbnb/Vrbo cabin & condos for rent or you can go with Brian Head ski resort hotels. The nearby town of Parowan has some cheaper hotel options which are convenient if you’re planning to drive around for some cool day trips near Zion.

  • Brian Head Lodge  The main resort on the mountain with a rustic vibe and modern amenities, including an indoor pool with waterfall and an outdoor hot tub.

  • Cedar Breaks Lodge - Another good lodge option close to the ski slopes with an indoor pool & hot tub.

  • Hotels in Parowan - The nearby town of Parowan at the base of the mountain has several hotel options about a 20 minute drive from Brian Head.

  • Hotels in Cedar City - Cedar City has even more hotel options, but it’s a longer drive of about 40 minutes from Brian Head.



On our most recent trip to Brian Head we stay in this cozy Airbnb condo. The condo was situated right in the heart of Brian Head with quick walking distance to the resort, restaurants and shops.


The condo sleeps 6 with a fully stocked kitchen. I can't wait to come back and stay this summer! I highly recommend.


Where to Eat in Brian Head, Utah

Brian Head has limited eating options. That is why a fully stocked kitchen is a must. Here is the rundown of food options:

  • Pizano’s  Casual pizza place with great specialty pies. The chicken parmesan sandwich is delicious! The food has been great every time we have been.

  • Sook Jai Thai Cuisine - I hear this place is tasty. The menu is Thai food including curries and noodles.

  • Lift Bar and Patio - Lodge restaurant with a breakfast buffet and burgers, sandwiches, salads, and more for dinner. The food is very mediocre.

  • Mountain Peak Coffee - Local coffee shop with an excellent selection of sandwiches. I was so excited they were open on a Monday morning in the winter!


Note: Many of the resort restaurants are only open seasonally (either summer or winter). Check out this Brian Head Resort dining guide to see what’s open during your visit.


Tips for Visiting Brian Head

  • During ski season, a free Brian Head shuttle runs from the resort through town, making it super easy to get around. The shuttle also runs during popular summer events.

  • Many places in Brian Head are only open seasonally (or have different hours in different seasons)...always check before you go, so you aren’t disappointed.

  • Brian Head has lots of fun events throughout the year. Take a peek at this Brian Head events calendar to see what’s going on during your time there.

  • If you’re visiting Brian Head while exploring more of southern Utah, remember that weather in Brian Head will be significantly cooler than other places like Zion. Make sure to check the proper forecast to be prepared. Bring layers!


I hope this post inspires you to add a stop at Brian Head on your visit to Southern Utah!



Happy Adventuring,

Arika




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4 Comments


salmawisoky85
May 15

I love how Drift Boss combines racing and drifting.

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Mark Duke
May 12

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Ro Berti
Ro Berti
May 08

The zipline is so great, I also want to experience this feeling. In addition, the game poppy playtime chapter 3 is also an extremely interesting online game.

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Lamb Herman
Lamb Herman
Apr 24

Thunderstorms are common in the late summer in Brian Head though, so be sure to check the forecast, especially if you’re exploring outside. snow rider 3d

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