With chilly temperatures, tons of outdoor recreational opportunities in the nearby mountains and canyons, and plenty of cozy in-town destinations, Logan, Utah, might just be the winter vacation spot you've been looking for. The dry climate means temps don't feel quite so frigid when the mercury drops, but it still stays cool enough to retain a solid snowpack.
Whether your idea of winter recreation includes downhill skiing at a resort, swishing down groomed Nordic trails, checking out local wildlife, or zooming along on Logan's best snowmobile trails, you'll find something to enjoy in Cache Valley in the winter months.
Skiing at Beaver Mountain Ski Resort
Just 30 miles northeast of town near the Utah-Idaho border, the Beaver Mountain Ski Resort is a cozy alternative to the giant, well-known resorts near Utah's bigger cities. This is great news for Logan-area visitors who are looking for shorter lines at the ski area's four lifts and less-pricey lift tickets, but with the added perk of Utah's world-famous snow. The area's first tow rope lift, which ran 1,000 feet up the mountain, was installed in 1949 and operated by the Seeholzer family, along with a small warming hut and ticket office. Today, its 48 runs see 400-plus annual inches of snowfall, and it is the longest running family-owned ski area in the country.
Snowmobiling in Logan Canyon
Motorheads, take note: Logan is surrounded by incredible snowmobiling destinations. The Logan Canyon Snowmobile Complex, along with its neighbors the Hardware Ranch and Monte Cristo complexes, is home to northern Utah's favorite snowmobile terrain. It boasts 180 miles of groomed, well-maintained trails, and the local US Forest Service office can provide maps and information on local ungroomed trails. Logan Canyon's Sinks Trail heads north out of Hardware Ranch and is known for its excellent access and lack of crowds. Local experts love the slightly more difficult Temple Canyon Trail, popular for its deep powder, while the Amazon Trail is perfect for beginner and intermediate riders. Rentals are available at several local shops. If don't have a hitch to tow snowmobiles, Beaver Creek Lodge is a great option. You can rent snowmobiles and winter gear on the premises and get right on the trails without worrying about transportation.
Cache Valley Ice Fishing
Hardy Utahns are experts at thriving in cold weather, and ice fishing is proof. When temperatures start to drop, smaller lakes begin to freeze solid, eventually rendering it safe for humans to venture onto the ice. Hyrum Reservoir and State Park offers opportunities to catch trout and yellow perch. There's also Newton Reservoir, where you'll find bass, bluegill, and tiger muskie, as well as Porcupine Reservoir, a prime spot for trout and Kokanee salmon. All three are less than an hour's drive from Logan proper. You can purchase the relatively inexpensive supplies you'll need (an ice fishing-specific rod and a small ice auger or drill for cutting a hole in the ice), along with your Utah fishing license, at Al's Sporting Goods in Logan.
Elk Viewing at Hardware Ranch
Want to take a horse-drawn sleigh ride to view a herd of more than 600 elk? Be sure to visit the Hardware Ranch Wildlife Management Area, was purchased in 1945 with money generated by sportsmen as a result of the Wildlife Restoration Act. Local herds of Rocky Mountain Elk were being threatened by agriculture and urban sprawl, and the wildlife management area began operating a winter feeding program, along with biological research, to keep their populations healthy. Many winters later, the elk know they don't have to head down to the valley for winter food; they stick to Hardware Ranch instead. The ranch is open to the public, and tours are available to learn more about the elk herd during the winter.
Nordic Skiing in Cache County
Cache Valley has a vibrant snowshoeing and cross-country skiing scene. Whether you're a classic skier or looking for a cardio workout on skate skis, you'll find groomed trails to suit your interests and abilities. Local nonprofit organization Nordic United works to maintain trails for human-powered recreation throughout the area, as well as updating skiers on current conditions and putting on events, classes, and races. The excellent four-mile trail up Green Canyon is groomed several times per week as conditions allow, and there's also cross-country skiing in Logan Canyon at Beaver Bottoms and Sink Hollow, and in town at the Logan River Golf Course.
Snow Tubing at Cherry Peak Resort
Utah's newest resort, Cherry Peak, began operating during the 2015-16 ski season. It has all the ski area standards, including three lifts serving runs ranging from beginner to black diamond, a ski shop, and a day lodge with a restaurant, plus a Nordic ski area. The highlight, though, is the moving sidewalk-served snow tubing area, where tubers can make endless laps in the snow. The tubing hill is open seven days a week during the winter season, and $11 per person admission includes tube rental and three hours of fun.
Written by Emma Walker for RootsRated in partnership with Utah Office of Tourism.