Once winter has arrived, Garden City, Utah, and the surrounding Bear Lake Valley is transformed into a powdery playground the entire family can enjoy. Snow sports such as skiing, sledding, and snowmobiling are available for all ages and ability levels, with lessons if needed. In addition, local museums and events keep the family entertained and educated about the area’s culture. From this list of fun family-friendly adventures, pick and choose to create the ultimate winter weekend itinerary of the season.
1. Take Ski Lessons at Beaver Mountain
As a family-owned and operated ski resort, Beaver Mountain takes pride in providing a top-notch experience for visiting families. This includes offering lessons for skiers as young as 3 years old and group or private lessons for all types of skill levels. Beginner to advanced skiers and snowboarders will appreciate the variety in types of runs with access to four different ski lifts, meaning everyone in the family can find something they like. And because this ski resort is less crowded than most, your kids will have more room to explore and practice their budding skills.
2. Sled Down the "Sinks"
What is winter fun without a good old-fashioned sled race? Within Logan Canyon, about 10 minutes west of Bear Lake, there’s a wide-open bowl known as the "Sinks." The large indentation in the earth created by a natural sinkhole is the best spot in all of Cache Valley for sledding, snow tubing, and generally playing in the snow. Rent snow tubes and sleds for the day at Epic Recreation.
3. Ride a Snowmobile
In the state of Utah you must be at least 16 years old to operate your own snowmobile. Those 16 and under can double ride on a snowmobile as a passenger. For a family snowmobiling the Bear Lake Valley complex for the first time, it’s worth looking into guided tours based on comfort and experience level. Beaver Creek Lodge, located in Logan Canyon, offers both snowmobile rentals and various half and full day tour packages. The St. Charles half-day tour is catered to beginners making a 34-mile round trip across the border into Idaho and back to Bear Lake in time for an afternoon coffee and bite to eat. For experienced snowmobilers who just want to rent sleds, both Bear Lake Funtime and Epic Recreation in Garden City offer rentals. Snowmobile and lodging rental packages can be found at www.bearlake.org/deals.
4. Ride in a Horse-Drawn Sleigh
Cozy up with the kids in a horse drawn sleigh ride through a snowy landscape. This is no ordinary sleigh ride, though, on this sleigh you’ll be able to view herds of elk grazing and passing through the grounds. From mid-December to late-February the Hardware Ranch Wildlife Management Area, about 30 miles south of Garden City, hosts elk-viewing sleigh rides Friday thru Sunday. Adults ride for $5 a person, while children (4 – 8) ride for only $3. This year the annual Elk Festival kicks off the elk-viewing sleigh ride season each December with free, fun family activities at the ranch visitor center.
5. Participate in the Annual Monster Polar Plunge
Come up with a clever group costume and enter the family in the Monster Polar Plunge as part of Bear Lake’s Winterfest held every January. You’ll have to jump in the freezing lake at the State Park Marina, but the group with the best costumes will win a prize. Not into plunging into cold water? You can still participate in the fishing competition, chili cook-off, or outdoor expo at this annual celebration of winter.
6. Visit Stokes Nature Center
The Stokes Nature Center, located near the mouth of Logan Canyon, focuses on environmental and wildlife education for all ages. In the summer the center hosts camps, nature programs, and workshops, and an outdoor concert series. Although much quieter in the wintertime, check the event calendar for activities such as winter wreath-making, guided nature walks through Logan Canyon, and guided snowshoeing trips that provide a wealth of information about the area’s wildlife.
7. Experience history at the National Oregon/California Trail Center
Travel back in time to the pioneering days of the Wild West by experiencing a simulated exhibit at the National Oregon/California Trail Center in Montpelier, Idaho (about 30 miles north of Garden City). The entire family can take part in reenacting a pioneer wagon company headed west on the Oregon Trail during the pioneer era of the mid-1800s. This includes being guided by live pioneer actors and a wagon master in period costume, sitting around a fire in a pioneer encampment, and riding in a computer-simulated wagon ride.
Originally written by RootsRated Media for Utah Office of Tourism.