There’s a reason that Utah is one of the more popular destinations of the United States for Australian skiers and snowboarders – it’s home to thousands of ski runs across 15 internationally-renowned ski resorts, along with the kind of mountain hikes that are at the very top of people’s bucket lists.
If you’re looking for hiking inspiration, we have ten of the very best snow laden ski runs and red canyon trails to help you combine your ski holiday with hiking adventure.
Just call us your Fairy Godmothers – here to wave a wand and show you the way to the magic of Utah.
1. Angel’s Landing, Zion National Park
One of the most iconic hiking trails in the world, and you may just be lucky enough to experience it with a trip to Zion National Park in Utah.
You’ll know Angel’s Landing by the chains up top, bolted into the rocks to help you along the narrow spine of a ridge line. While anxiety-inducing, we promise the views are well worth it, as you’ll get to a 360-view of the canyon once at the very top – and the post-hike drinks will taste much better once you’re safe and sound at the bottom.
For those who aren’t so keen on the chains, they can still hike most of the way up to Scout’s Lookout and enjoy the views from up top. They’ll just have to get past Walter’s Wiggles, 21 tight and steep switchbacks. All up, the hike should take between three and six hours, but it’ll be some of the most unforgettable hours you’ll ever have.
2. The McConkey Bowl, Park City
The McConkey Bowl is named after two of skiing’s most famous extreme sport lovers; Park City local Jim McConkey and his son, the late Shane McConkey, one of the sport’s best-ever skiers and base jumpers.
Take the McConkey Express to get to the McConkey Bowl, full of double black diamond terrain that Shane would be thrilled to experience. It’s well worth the adrenaline rush, and you can catch your breath back on the high-speed chairlift back to the top.
3. Queen’s Garden/Navajo Loop, Bryce Canyon
Bryce Canyon is known for the towering red hoodoos that have to be seen to be believed. Often covered in a dusting of snow, you can best see them on the Queen’s Garden/Navajo Loop, one of Utah’s most popular hikes for a reason.
With the hike being about 6km in total, it starts at the rim and descends along ridges into the canyon to wander among the towering hoodoos. Just about anyone can do the walk thanks to it being relatively low-key, although stunning; so even the most nervous hikers will be able to enjoy the views.
4. Homeward Bound, Deer Valley
Deer Valley is all about luxury. From the ski valet to the impeccable grooming, the true meaning of a ski holiday becomes apparent here. As a result, one of the resort all-time favourite runs is also the one that perfectly meanders its way all the way down the mountain, leaving you feeling relaxed and free.
Get there by riding the lift to the top of Bald Mountain. Pause for a moment at the top to enjoy the view and take a photo. Then cruise your way down the winding Homeward Bound run, gently dreaming of the luxury you’ll be enjoying at the bottom.
5. Jupiter Bowl, Park City
When the locals go skiing, this is where they go. Park City gets more than 10 metres of snow every season, and Jupiter’s Bowl is in the perfect position to offer the tantilising promise of untracked powder – even days after a storm. There are plenty of tree runs to explore here, and you may even feel as though you’ve arrived in a completely different resort.
For those with even more enthusiasm, you can boot-pack up to the summit of Jupiter Peak, ready to reward those who earn their turns. There are two really iconic lines here, Machetes and Puma Bowl; see if you can spot a local hucking it off the rocks or navigating a chute.
6. Chip’s Run, Snowbird
Snowbird is known for being steep, deep and fun across all 3000 feet of the vertical; but there are also some of the longest cruiser laps to be found at this great resort. Chip’s Run is the favourite, one of those perfect groomers that run from the top of the mountain to the very bottom.
This is the kind of run you take at top speed, first thing in the morning, when the corduroy is fresh and you have all that energy in your legs and the coffee is hitting your bloodstream. We can feel the breeze whistling past our helmets now.
7. The Narrows, Zion National Park
The Narrows is one of the most unique hikes you’ll ever find. It starts at the Riverside Walk at the Temple of Sinawava in Zion National Park, and takes you through the Virgin River; depending on the time of year and how much snowfall there’s been, you’ll be hiking and wading through the river itself, surrounded by canyon walls that have been carved away by the river over thousands of years.
You’ll need supplies for this hike, including the right shoes and waders for the river, but everything is available for hire locally. The best part is that you can hike as much or as little of the trail as you’d like – all 16 miles, or just a section.
8. Powder Run, Brian Head
Brian Head is a favourite resort among Utah locals. Right between Zion and Bryce, it’s the perfect stopover between the two national parks, and combines the deep red rocks of the parks with beautiful powder snowfall.
And while there are no lift lines to be seen, you’ll find plenty of runs across the 650 skiable acres across two connected mountains, Giant Steps and Navajo.
The little Utah birds tell us that their pick of the bunch is Powder Run, off the Alpen Glow triple chair. It’s the perfect pitch to make the most of the 900cm of snowfall the resort sees every season, but rarely gets much skier traffic, so you can still find freshies; it’s also well-protected by trees, making it perfect to enjoy on a cloudy or stormy day.
9. Sunset Point to Sunrise Point, Bryce Canyon
We’ve saved one of the best for one of the last. Sunset Point to Sunrise Point is a walking trail that runs along the top of Bryce Canyon. The nature of the walk – quick, easy and accessible – doesn’t give away just how spectacular the views are. You’ll look out over the Bryce Canyon Amphitheater to see the hoodoos, and on a clear day, you might see all the way to Navajo Mountain 80 miles away.
Bonus points if you’re staying at Bryce Canyon Lodge, the only accommodation in the national park. It’s located just behind Sunrise Point, and you can take a quick stroll right from your room if you want to.
10. Mary’s Bowl, Powder Mountain
Powder Mountain is a mecca for some of the best snowfall in the state, and powder hunters love to descend on the lifts here – especially because the annual snowfall is over 15 metres and the lift tickets are limited, meaning you have more access to the slopes.
The powder hunter tell us to head to Mary’s Bowl for the best freshies to be found. Intermediate skiers will appreciate the wonderfully gentle glades as an introduction to tree skiing, and experts will love a cruisier run with all the privacy of a more advanced run.