Wilderness with luxury in Utah
There is still time to see the sights of Utah under the summer and fall sunshine – while keeping the attractions of winter in mind.
The sprawling Zion Ponderosa Ranch in Kane County offers a very comfortable introduction to the Utah wilderness, with a wide selection of accommodation and activity choices. It covers 4,000 acres and borders the east boundary of Zion National Park. Guests can venture into the backcountry of the park right from the ranch or travel just 10 minutes to the east gate entrance.
This year Zion Ponderosa has announced an expansion of its services, including the addition of 70 camping sites, 20 glamping sites and 22 cabin suites. It has a host of lodging options that also includes vacation home rentals, Conestoga wagons, western wagons and RV services. As for adventures and activities, the ranch offers ATV and jeep tours, a climbing wall, zip-line and horseback riding amongst others. It has the most on-property activities of any resort in the region.
At the other end of the scale in terms of size is Basecamp 37°, which is offering its own glamping (glamour camping) options in Kane County. Basecamp 37° has opened four luxury tents that are oriented along an arc, providing each glampsite with unobstructed views of the surrounding landscapes. The roomy, well-appointed tents are powered by solar arrays to allow for lighting and charging phones, laptops, cameras, etc. The safari-style tents feature luxury beds and linens, hot showers, multiple grills, and more.
Two washrooms with showers are an easy walk. It is located 13 km east of Kanab in the Grand Staircase near Bryce Canyon and Zion National Park.
Those who like their accommodations to be mobile will be pleased to know that a KOA Journey campsite has opened at Bear Lake and is the sister campground to the Bear Lake KOA. It features pull-through RV sites with 50-amp services, premium tent sites and is well lit after hours for check-in services.
Bear Lake is a deep, 32 km-long natural lake straddling the Utah/Idaho border. It is nicknamed the “Caribbean of the Rockies” because of its turquoise water and white-sand beaches. KOA offers a heated pool and a wading pool for kids, as well as a playground
with a jumping pillow. On summer week-ends, hosts serve up a hungry
bear pancake breakfast. The campground also rents bicycles. A drive along Bear Lake Road, which rings the lake, reveals many hiking, biking and four-wheeling trails.
Logan Canyon in the Cache Valley is regarded as one of the top places in the United States to see and enjoy the colours of fall. The contrast of the crimson maples and yellow aspens against the deep greens of the pine and juniper trees is spectacular. Timing and colour intensity vary from year to year, but the colours are normally at their peak during late September and early October. Highway 89 in the Cache Valley is dubbed the scenic route to the Tetons and Yellowstone.
Skiing hard to beat
Skiing is always a draw in Utah, where the snow in the Rockies is some of the best on the continent, and the sun is a regular presence.
At Powder Mountain Resort, the installation of two new lifts accessing over 1,000 acres of new terrain has been recently completed. This is the largest lift-serviced resort expansion in North American history. Additionally, the resort is capping the number of season and day passes to be issued. This will increase the amount of acreage per skier, making Powder Mountain the largest and most spacious ski area in the United States.
The mountain back-country beckons where there are no lift services. At Whisper Ridge Cat Skiing, access to the pristine wilderness is provided by snow track vehicles. Nestled deep in the Wasatch Mountains, 90 minutes north of Salt Lake City International Airport, Whisper Ridge Cat Skiing is a premier backcountry powder skiing/boarding destination. It offers over 24,000 hectares of private ski terrain, eight custom PistenBully snowcats and 10 mountain-top yurts. Skiers can spend the day on world-class terrain and the night in one of their yurt villages.
Park City/Deer Valley Resort
Deer Valley Resort in Park City, UT, has revolutionized the ski industry by providing the first-class services akin to a five-star hotel. The resort offers 21 chairlifts, 101 ski runs, six bowls, 12 restaurants, three elegant day lodges, 2,026 acres of alpine skiing, 300 annual inches of powder.
Amongst those services is the opportunity to ski with any of seven Olympic snow sport athletes employed by the resort. The athletes are available to ski with individuals, families and groups for exclusive half- and full-day memorable adventures as part of the Ski with a Champion program at Deer Valley. For example, the resort’s Ambassador of Skiing, Heidi Voelker, is a 12-year veteran of the US Ski Team who competed for gold during three Winter Olympics and garnered six top-ten World Cup finishes.
Other athletes in the program include Shannon Bahrke, Fuzz Feddersen, Kaylin Richardson, Jillian Vogtli, Chris Waddell, and Trace Worthington, each a champion in their respective skiing disciplines. Deer Valley Resort has a skiers-only policy – that is, there is no snowboarding allowed on the mountain.