Photo credit: Jerome Wilm
Are you feeling adventurous this winter, even if skiing/snowboarding is not your thing? The good news is, Utah has plenty of alternatives to choose from. This article has some ideas for everyone, whether you are a trendsetter, an adrenaline junkie or a laid-back nature lover.
Where: Any Ski/Snowboard Resort
This is a relatively new sport that has been gaining a lot of popularity in the recent years. Skiboarding, also known as skiblading or snowblading, uses skis that are a lot shorter and wider than usual. They are also much easier to maneuver as compared to traditional skis, have a faster learning curve and allow for plenty of tricks if you are brave enough to ace them. It’s a great choice for any thrill seekers who yawn at the very mention of traditional winter sports and are looking for some alternatives to spice things up a bit. When choosing the location for your skiboarding trip, look for resorts with great terrain parks.
Where: Beaver Mountain, Brighton, Eagle Point, Snowbasin, Sundance
Skibiking, also know as snowbiking or skibobbing, is another fun winter activity that will give you a good adrenaline rush, yet is not too risky to try for first-timers. It involves going downhill on a bike with two skis in place of wheels. Traditional skibikes or bobbers will also have two skis for foot support, while the hybrid ones or peggers don’t have these extra skis. Several resorts in Utah (listed above) allow skibikes, but some require a leash, like Brighton and Sundance.
Skibiking enthusiasts say this sport is very easy to learn and you can have a lot of fun with it. It also puts less strain on your body than skiing and snowboarding, which could be a factor if you can’t do any of the latter because of injury, disability, age or just because those traditional sports are too intense for you.
Skibikeve has been around for more than 50 years in Europe, but were only introduced to the U.S. market in the 90s, and are still not mainstream enough for you to be able to easily buy or rent one. If you really want to give this sport a go but have no idea where to start, here’s a good article on places to buy skibikes. You can also try building one on your own, but keep in mind that many resorts won’t accept self-made skibikes. Here’s another great site that provides updates on resorts that allow the sport, any special requirements these locations have and other useful info for skibikers.
Did you ever want to ski or snowboard up the slopes, avoid lift lines and easily learn the aerial tricks that you thought could only be done by the pros? You can do all that and more with snowkiting. It was called winter’s newest extreme sport by the New York Times just a few years ago, but has grown in popularity tremendously since then. Utah is considered the nation’s hot spot for this activity, so if you are into all things extreme, you should definitely check it out. And for those already comfortable with either skiing or snowboarding, snowkiting will only take you a couple of hours to learn.
Many places provide instruction and equipment these days, although all you really need if you already ski or board is a kite, harness and bar. Powder Mountain is a good place to start, offering lessons for different skill levels and group sizes, from $75 per person for a two-hour beginner session. You can find a list of other great snowkiting locations in Utah here.
Where: Soldier Hollow (MAP)
What: Tubing, Cross-Country Skiing, Snowshoeing
Soldier Hollow has several 1,200-foot-long tubing lanes with a lift service to quickly get your lazy self right back up the hill. The resort limits ticket sales to make sure the lanes don’t get overcrowded, so if you are going on a weekend or during a holiday, it’s better to buy tickets in advance. Tubing lanes are open from noon to 8 p.m. on weekdays, 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Saturdays and holidays, and 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. Sundays. Large stadium lights are on after sunset, which could be even more fun if you want to give it a try, although it can also be the best time to freeze your butt off. The cost is $20 for two hours, including tube rental and lift ride.
If you find downhill skiing a little too extreme or expensive, you might want to try the cross-country type. Soldier Hollow has this as well, with well-groomed Olympic courses open from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. daily. The price is $18 for a full day or $15 after 2 p.m., and different discounted season passes are also available.
If you prefer more slow-paced outdoor activities that will let you enjoy the scenery, take photos, watch the animals and do whatever else it is people do in those situations, Soldier Hollow has snowshoeing opportunities for nature enthusiasts like you. You can get more info on these and other activities the resort offers from its website. You can also find a bunch of other snowshoeing locations on this site.
Where: Gallivan Center (MAP)What: Ice Skating
While Salt Lake City has plenty of indoor ice rinks open all year round, it’s just that much more fun to skate outdoors in the winter. The rink at the Gallivan Center downtown is a great place to showcase your triple axel skills. The price of admission is $8 and includes skate rental. The rink is open from noon to 9 p.m. Mon-Thu, noon to midnight Fri-Sat, and noon to 7 p.m. Sun.
Where: Snowbasin, Gorgoza Park (MAP)
If all other winter sports fail you, you have to at least give tubing a try. It’s not that scary, you know. In fact, most tubing hills have dedicated lanes and lifts, so all you have to do is take a smooth ride down the hill, then up… then down again. Enjoy! 😉
Besides Soldier Hollow already mentioned above, Snowbasin is a great place for tubing as well. It charges $5 per ride or $30 for an unlimited daily ticket, and its tubing hill is open 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., Sat. and Sun. You should also try Gorgoza Park located near the Jeremy Ranch in Park City. Prices here range from $8 for a single ride to $33 for a four-hour ticket. The park is open from 1:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. Mon-Fri, and noon to 8 p.m. Sat-Sun.
If you like a little less control and a little more “adventure,” try sledding instead. Sugarhouse Park is a great place to do this thanks to its central location, great scenery and a variety of hill sizes. You can sled or tube here from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. and it’s free, but don’t forget to bring your own “equipment.”
If you live in Fort Union, Sandy or elsewhere South of the city, Mountainview Park can be another great spot for sledding. The hill is not extremely steep but is not the boring type either, and there’s plenty of room to go pretty far if you get a good push from a “friend” and if your sled is the right type (it does make a difference, people!).
Did you find this article useful? Are you already into some of these sports? Do you have your favorite spots that are not listed here? We’d love to hear about your experiences!
Want a little more insight into some of these sports? Here are a couple of videos that should give you a better idea.
Some of the sources for this article include: