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Your guide to Brian Head
Welcome to Brian Head
No one is quite sure how Brian Head got its name (one rumor suggests it’s a nod to Democratic presidential hopeful William Jennings Bryan, who died in 1925), but one thing is certain: This place is all about snow. At an elevation of 9,800 feet, it’s one of the highest towns in Utah, and is routinely blanketed in more than 360 inches of powder every winter. The town’s eponymous ski resort opened in the 1960s, and a steady flow of snow bunnies has been drawn to its slopes ever since.
Despite breathtaking scenery and world-class terrain, Brian Head Resort has a reputation as an under-the-radar gem with short lift lines. Skiing and other winter sports are the main attraction here, but Brian Head is also within driving distance of two national parks, Zion National Park and Bryce Canyon National Park. In the summer, hikers trek through the surrounding Dixie National Forest and offroaders pick up trails in town, where all-terrain vehicles are allowed on the streets. When it comes to scenery and natural splendor, tiny Brian Head goes big.
The best time to stay in a vacation rental in Brian Head
Winter in Brian Head means cold, snow, and winter fun that can linger into May. Spring and fall are brief, and while summer days are warm and typically sunny, they can also bring sudden cloudbursts and even hail. Brian Head is a laid-back summer base for hiking and other outdoor activities, including kayaking or paddle boarding in manmade Bristlecone Pond in the center of town. You can swim, too, but be warned — the chilly water is not conducive to a lazy float.
Top things to do in Brian Head
Brian Head Ski Resort
Take your pick of two mountains at this resort, Giant Steps and Navajo, crisscrossed with 71 runs, terrain parks with more than 20 features, and eight chair lifts. Don’t feel like strapping in? Tubing might be more your speed, or you can just watch all the alpine activity from your perch in the saloon. In summer the resort offers scenic chair lift rides and activities like archery and ziplining.
Cedar Breaks National Monument
Located fewer than five miles from Brian Head, the centerpiece of Cedar Breaks National Monument is a brilliantly colored canyon. The half-mile-deep geologic amphitheater ripples with crenulated formations in gorgeous hues of orange and white. Thanks to its remote location, this park is also a favored spot for stargazing after the sun sets and supreme darkness sets in.
Brian Peak Lookout
A quick drive from the town center will carry you to the very top of Brian Peak, where you’ll stand 11,307 feet above sea level. A small, open-air stone structure with a wooden roof sits atop the mountain, from which you can see as far as Arizona and Nevada. Bonus points if you can rouse yourself for a sunrise viewing. Note that the access road is only open in summer and fall.