Cedar City: A Weekend in the Red Rock Winter Paradise of Southwest Utah

When most people consider Utah, they typically think of one of two things: quintessential red rock desert, or world-class skiing. Located in the southwest corner of the state, the red rock winter wonderland of Cedar City offers the best of both worlds!
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An easy 2.5-hour drive from the international airport in Las Vegas or a 45 minute drive from the St. George Regional Airport, Cedar City is an easy-to-access destination no matter where you’re traveling from. 

This story was created in partnership with Visit Cedar City

Day One: Marvel at Petroglyphs and Ice Skate Under the Stars

On your way into town, begin your adventure with a stop at the Parowan Gap Petroglyphs. Stroll through the geologically fascinating “gap,” a 600-foot-deep notch naturally formed in the landscape, and view the myriad petroglyphs that adorn the rocks throughout the gap. This natural gallery contains chiseled figures of animals, humans, and geometric designs dating back more than 1,000 years!

After leaving this archaeological gem in the peaceful Escalante Desert, make your way up to Brian Head, otherwise known as the winter playground of Cedar City. As the sun sets, head to Brian Head Ice, the local outdoor ice rink set against a backdrop of snow-covered trees. Skate until the stars come out, and then head inside and warm up with some hot cocoa!

As your first day of adventure winds down, check into your room at the spacious Brian Head Lodge, and enjoy dinner at The Lift, the cozy on-site restaurant with plenty of options to satiate after a day of play.

Day Two: Snowmobile through Cedar Breaks National Monument & Ski at Brian Head Resort

From your accommodation, make the five minute stroll to Thunder Mountain Motorsports, where your first activity of the day begins: snowmobiling! Meet your highly knowledgeable guide, and then set out for several hours through the jaw-dropping scenery of Cedar Breaks National Monument. Cruise through extensive aspen groves, zoom across a high plateau, and take in the breathtaking view of the monument’s signature vibrant red and orange rock. 

This geologically distinct landmark (similar to Bryce Canyon National Park but without the crowds!) is also an ideal cold-weather destination for snowshoers and cross-country skiers, as the road through the monument is groomed for these activities in the winter.

After your morning adventure, refuel with the most authentic Mexican food in Brian Head at Rosale’s, and then make the two minute walk to the base of Brian Head Resort. If you need to rent gear, the friendly staff at Giant Steps Lodge or at Georg’s Ski Shop will make sure you’re all set to hit the slopes with everything you need.

Whether it’s easy groomers, powder-filled tree runs, or steep sidecountry terrain you’re after, Utah’s highest elevation ski area truly has something for everyone, though there’s no doubt that the highlight of skiing here for everyone is catching views of the area’s stunning red rocks from the chairlift. Not ready to stop skiing when the sun goes down? No problem! Brian Head offers night skiing on Fridays and Saturdays, so you can watch the sunset from the lift, ski under the stars, and end the evening warming up by the bonfire at the base area. 

End your day with a slice or two from Pizanos Pizzeria, conveniently located just steps from the ski area, and then make the three minute drive (or catch the free shuttle) back to your lodge for the evening.

Day Three: Explore Historic, Arts-Forward Cedar City & Hike Amongst the Red Rocks

This morning, say “see you next time!” to Brian Head, and make the easy 35-minute drive into Cedar City. Soak up the inviting atmosphere at Bristlecone Co. as you fuel up for the day with one of their excellent coffees and healthy breakfast options. 

From here, take a stroll through historic downtown Cedar City, stopping along the way to admire the many vibrant murals located throughout town (a map of the murals can be found here). Then, spend some time at the Southern Utah Museum of Art and peruse the gallery of artwork from both regional and internationally recognized artists. 

Curious about the history of the area? You can’t miss the Frontier Homestead State Park Museum, which houses many artifacts, historic buildings, and stories from the early days of Cedar City and southwest Utah.

If you haven’t gotten your fill of the quintessential red rock of the area (we don’t blame you!), you can stretch your legs right outside of town on the Red Hollow Trail (trail conditions permitting) or the paved Coal Creek Trail, both of which offer spectacular views of the scarlet walls of Cedar Canyon. 

On your way out of town, grab lunch at Centro Woodfired Pizzeria or the Pub Craft Kitchen, then stroll around the corner for a delectable macaron or pastry dessert at The French Spot

Hooked on this little slice of southwest Utah? We are, too – thankfully, it makes for just as great of a destination in winter as it does in summer and fall, so you can return again and again all year round! 

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