Southwest Utah Winter 2023
With record snowfall blanketing Utah’s mountains, the ski areas are having a banner season. Southern Utah’s two ski resorts are no exception, Eagle Point Resort located east of Beaver Utah and Brian Head Resort near Parowan have snow depths not seen in several years. At the time of this writing Eagle Point has a base depth of 70″ with Brian Head at 78″. Skiers are singing hallelujah, this summer we’ll all be singing this tune when our watershed are full.
Let it Snow!
As impressive as these depths are, northern Utah resorts are more than doubling these impressive numbers with Alta boasting a base depth of 153″! The Rocky Mountains are doing well collectively, which means we could see Lake Powell and other critical reservoirs seeing water levels go up this summer. It will take more than a single record-breaking season to put an end to the drought, but this winter is making a nice dent.
Southwest Utah Winter Events
Cedar Breaks Snowshoe Hike with a ranger / Every weekend through February beginning January 21, 2023.
- Ranger Led Snowshoe Hikes at Cedar Breaks National Monument. Two walks will be offered each Saturday & Sunday with an afternoon walk on Fridays beginning at the junction of Hwy 143 and Hwy 148 (weather permitting). National monument entrance fee applies ($10 per person). Snowshoes and poles will be provided for participants; reservations are required. The walks are about 90 minutes in length and involve a 1-mile walk with a formal ranger program about halfway through the walk.
- Due to limited parking and equipment, reservations are required for the guided walks. Reservations can be made by emailing CedarBreaksInfo@nps.gov or by calling (435) 986-7120. Requests for reservations will be confirmed by the Friday prior to the scheduled walk. Visitors are encouraged to make their reservation as soon as possible as space is limited. Programs may be canceled due to weather.
Plenty of water
Snacks of your preference
Warm, layered clothing
Interagency pass or credit/debit card to pay the entrance fee.
*Snowshoes and poles are provided*
Kanab Feb 17-19 – Balloons & Tunes
- This year we are expecting 40+ Hot Air Balloon Pilots and bands. We are hoping for perfect weather so our pilots can launch all three mornings!
- Hot Air Balloon Launches will take place at the former Coral Cliffs Golf Course in Kanab each morning at 7:30am (weather permitting). Starting Friday afternoon join us on Main Street for a one-of-a-kind vendor fair and listen to our bands followed by a Lantern Festival.
- Saturday morning will start us off with another Balloon Launch (weather permitting), a vendor fair throughout the day and into the evening, and to end the day join us on Center Street for a Balloon Glow at 7pm and band entertainment!
- Don’t forget, there will be one last Balloon Launch on Sunday morning (weather permitting), so be sure to stay all weekend!
- Balloons and Tunes Roundup Festival 2023 | Visit Southern Utah
Bryce Canyon Winter Fest / Feb 18-20
- The Bryce Canyon Winter Festival has something for everyone. There will be Free clinics, demos and tours. Events may be subject to change due to snow and weather conditions, but the Bryce Canyon Winter Festival will be held regardless of snow conditions. Bryce Canyon Winter | Winters in Bryce Canyon (rubysinn.com)
- Ice Ribbon is now open.
Brian Head – 78” base depth
- 4 – Munchkin’ Rail Jam (12 > under) A park competition just for little rippers ages 12 and under! We’re ready to see your best tricks on boxes, rails, and more. The competition is open to all skill levels and for snowboarders or skiers. It will be at the Giant Steps base area. Competition schedule details coming soon.
- Winter Events | Brian Head Resort
Apre Ski Party every Friday and Saturday at Last Chair Grill & Brews to keep the party going with drinks and a $10 all-you-can-eat buffet available from 4:30-6:30.
Eagle Point – 70” base depth
Road Trip to Bryce Canyon
I recently took a road trip to Bryce Canyon from Hurricane Valley (west of Zion National Park) to shoot winter photos of Bryce. I’ve been watching the weather closely since early December waiting for a storm to dump fresh snow that would be followed by a day of clear sky, which is exactly what I got. The snow was pristine, and trees frosted perfectly.
I planned my route to take me over mountain passes where I knew the snow would be ideal for what I wanted to capture. At first, I thought of driving through Zion National Park but by taking this route I would miss driving over a high mountain pass where I the snow would be deep. I decided highway 14 via Cedar City would have the best opportunities to shoot deep fresh snow in meadows with freshly frosted trees.
Scenic Byway 14
The route delivered more, and less, than what I had expected and hoped for. Less because I was unable to pull off the road to shoot places I really wanted to get. Snow was piled high covering all the turn outs and shoulders where I wanted to stop. Although it was a disappointing not be able to get the photo, I enjoyed the scenery and savored the moment.
The Zion overlook at the top of Highway 14 was the only turn-out than had been plowed, probably as a snowplow turnaround, so I pulled over to get a shot of the valley blanketed in snow. It wasn’t a great time of day for the shot considering the sun was in my face, but I fortunately had a polarizer filter with me. Before reaching Hwy 89 at Long Valley, I made one other stop at the junction of highways 148/14 where I was able to get a few shots of a popular area for snowmobiling where a snowcat was packing down a trail in the distance.
All routes to Bryce Canyon are scenic routes and considering the main route is Highway 12, Utah’s only All-American Road, the journey should be as much of the experience as is the destination.
Red Canyon in the Dixie National Forest is one of the main highlights of the drive to Bryce Canyon coming from the west, and today was no exception. With blue sky above the canyon could have aptly been called the red, white, and blue Canyon, an All-American Canyon on an All-American Road! I was looking forward to this part of the drive anticipating that there would be deep snow on the red hoodoos and hills.
Bryce Canyon National Park
I arrived at Bryce Canyon late afternoon, just in time to catch light and shadows on the hoodoos near the rim. The light is fleeting this time of year as the sun is to the far west near the horizon away from the frontside of the amphitheater with the forest canopy on top partially blocking the sun with shadows covering the upper sections of the amphitheater in the late afternoon.
I set up at Sunset Point and worked my way across to Sunrise Point and walked down the Queens Garden Trail just a bit. I still had the next morning for sunrise, so I called it a day once the shadows covered the amphitheater. I considered staying for Blue Hour but have learned that it’s better at sunrise.
I’ve shot sunrise from every major viewpoint in the main amphitheater except Inspiration Point, which is what I decided to do. I now know why Inspiration Point isn’t the ideal place for Sunrise. Bryce Point, in my opinion, is the best place for sunrise. The light just isn’t as good at Inspiration Point and there aren’t as many good positions and angles. I set up at the mid-point. I imagine the upper viewpoint would have been better, but the snow was deep and frankly, it was five below and I just couldn’t talk myself into making the trek with all my gear knowing that my hands would be frozen by the time I’m done. Okay, that’s an admission to being a wimp! I used to be much tougher before moving to St. George.
As I was returning home, I decided to stop at Kolob Canyons since it was late in the day and there were a few high clouds behind the cliffs. With recent snow just two days earlier and colder than normal temperature I figured the mountains would still have a nice layer of snow on them. The light was good and the sun low, the snow was just as I had hoped. I made a few stops along the scenic drive and shot with my 70-200mm lens. It capped off a fruitful trip of capturing the white-capped red rock of southwest Utah.