Snowbird Ski and Summer Resort. P: Matt Crawley, Ski Utah
The groundhog saw his shadow, but with storms coming up this weekend, there's going to be more snow on the ground to enjoy. While winter weather seems to cloud the list of available activities, here are few outdoor suggestions to complete before the season ends.
Skiing and/or snowboarding—Utah resorts are open and between nature and machines, there’s a good snow base. And, if going skiing or snowboarding isn't possible, consider heading for the hills and simply enjoying the altitude. The mountains are beautiful at this time of year. For information on Utah's resorts visit the Ski Utah website.
Cross-Country Skiing—Cross-country skiing is nothing more than a walk in the park, which makes it ideal for all ages and physical levels. The options are to visit a prepared track or head off into the backcountry. If backcountry skiing interests you, then make sure you "know before you go." Visit the Utah Avalanche Center website. There are a number of groomed tracks. A list can be found on the Ski Utah site. Also, Utah Division of Parks and Recreation grooms hundreds of miles of trail.
Snowshoeing—If skis don’t suit your liking, consider snowshoes. Utah has miles and miles of groomed and prepared tracks, as well as unlimited access to backcountry areas. There are several websites highlighting snowshoe areas. Also check avalanche forecast.
Tubing—The easiest way to enjoy a swift ride down the mountain on a tube is to first get a lift up the mountain. There are four tubing centers in Utah—Brian Head near Cedar City, Soldier Hollow in Midway, Snowbasin east of Ogden and Gorgoza, which is located off the summit of Parleys Canyon. These areas have prepared tracks, custom tubes and lifts that haul tubes and riders up the mountain effortlessly. Of course, there are a number of areas where participants can walk up the hill.
Ice Skating—There are a number of ice skating rinks scattered about Utah, some indoors and some outdoors. The most recognized is the Olympic Oval in Kearns, site of the 2002 Winter Games. There are a number of skating programs, ranging from figure skating to speed skating offered at the center. There are also a number of public rinks.
Snowmobiling—Even if you don't own a snowmobile, a good snowmobile trip is possible these days. A number of areas offer rentals by the hour or day. Again, the DPR grooms hundreds of miles of trails throughout Utah.
Fishing—Winter is a great time to pick up rod and reel, especially if the water you choose is ice covered. Fish are a little lathargic when waters are really cold and bites are more like nibbles, but fish are hungry and not at all shy about biting. The Utah Division of Wildlife Resources has an updated fishing report on its website.
Wildlife—Winter is probably the best time to enjoy wildlife watching. Snow draws big game such as deer and elk closer to viewing areas. Also, winter is a time when bald eagles migrate into Utah. One of the best viewing areas for eagles is Farmington Bay. Best area for seeing elk is Hardware Ranch east of Hyrum. Antelope Island State Park is a great place to see wildlife, especially buffalo.
Hiking—There are a number of hiking or walking areas, such as the Jordan River Parkway that runs from the Great Salt Lake to the North to Utah Lake to the South. There’s also the 28-mile-long Rail Trail that goes from Park City to Echo Reservoir. This trail is generally snow-covered in the winter. The Bonneville Shoreline Trail along the eastern benches of Salt Lake City is also a popular walk/jogging/biking trail. There are also some nice trails on Antelope Island and while there take a drive and enjoy the wildlife.
Ice Skating -- www.skatingfitness.com/Ice-Locator-Utah.htm.
DWR -- www.wildlife.utah.gov/fishing
Snowshoe -- www.fs.usda.gov/uwcnf, www.snowshoeutah.com and www.stateparks.utah.gov.