Slipping down the Soldier Hollow tubing hill at an ever-faster speed, I couldn’t help but giggle. I had never sat in a tube and gone so fast! Friends were hooting and hollering and the night was a riot. Like children drawn to birthday cake, we made our way back to the top for another serving. I made five laps that night, each its own brand of fun.
While we live in a mecca for winter sports and activities, many of us aren’t “winter” people. For some, the thought of tearing up the backcountry on a pair of skis is as likely as winning the lottery in Utah. It — literally — will never happen.
And that’s okay. But it doesn’t mean you can’t get outside and make the most of what the Heber Valley has to offer. So, grab your friends and family, and go play outside this winter!
A Few Ideas to Get You Started
Snow tubing is a really fun winter activity that is easy for the entire family to enjoy. We’re lucky to have the longest tubing hill in Utah right out our backdoors. The hill at Soldier Hollow limits the number of tubers during each two-hour session, so reservations are recommended.
Ice skating is probably the most romantic winter activity — and tons of fun for the little ones. It always seems so enchanted: couples silently gliding by, juxtaposed with the sound of laughing children and the gentle scraping of blades against ice.
When I go skating, I usually spend a bit of time chuckling as I pick myself up from the ice.
If nostalgia is more your thing, cross-country Nordic skiing can be a lower-impact snow sport. Unlike downhill (alpine) skiing, the boots are soft and comfortable, and the skis are light and move easily up and down rolling hills.
In 2002, the Winter Olympic games were held in Utah, and the biathlon and cross-country ski events were held in the Heber Valley. Should you go cross-country skiing at Soldier Hollow, you’ll be skiing the same trails on which the world’s best athletes competed for gold!
Soldier Hollow has 19 miles of Nordic-specific groomed tracks. The mix of terrain is great for beginners and experts — and everyone in between!
If you are new to Nordic skiing, taking a lesson from an instructor in a group or private setting will help bypass some learning foibles. An instructor will teach you how to “kick and glide,” a magical motion that allows you to “coast” momentarily before the next step (or “kick”). In no time at all this new sport will take you further and further out into the wonderful world of winter!
Like Nordic skiing, most everyone can strap on a pair of flotation devices called snowshoes. Once accustomed to taking a little wider steps, the going gets pretty easy. For those summer hiking lovers, snowshoes are the way to explore, stay fit or simply get outside during the winter.
A Park of Possibilities
Just outside the Visitor Center at Wasatch Mountain State Park is winter adventure wonderland.
The Dutch Hollow Trail Complex is part of our local state park and the trails are open in the winter. It’s an excellent place to take snowshoes, and if you hike to the far end of the Overlook Loop, you’ll be rewarded with a view of the entire Heber Valley.
At the park’s Visitors Center you’ll find loads of information on local wildlife and activities. The center has maps of the area and local experts to help you find the winter trails — including Dutch Hollow. With a groomed Nordic ski track just out back and single-track trails across the street, the Visitor Center is a great winter activity base.
The park’s Winter Festival on January 15th is a seasonal highlight that encourages folks to get outside and experience winter activities. Participants are able to use a wide variety of winter equipment and get familiar with the facilities, park and winter offerings.
Winter in the Heber Valley
There are so many options when it comes to winter activities in the Heber Valley. Whether you’re looking to recreate alone, with friends or with family, the important thing is to just get outside. We live in such a beautiful place that has so much to offer… don’t let the cold of winter keep you in!