When the temps drop in January and February, more adventures pop up in the winter wonderland that is Heber Valley! Some unique and one-of-a-kind experiences happen during the frostiest times of the year and, although short-lived, provide some spectacular views, magical moments, and unbelievable experiences.
Plan your visit to Heber Valley during the coldest months of the winter season and be astounded by the truly amazing Ice Castles experience that is hand-crafted and erected each January and February. This award-winning frozen attraction is built using hundreds of thousands of icicles hand-placed by professional ice artists and engineers.
The castles include LED-lit sculptures, frozen thrones, ice-carved tunnels, slides, fountains, archways, and more, and take hundreds of hours to build, resulting in a unique and different structure every year. It is a life-sized fairy tale experience and visitors rave about it each year. Guests can arrive in style on a horse drawn sleigh ride to add a touch more magic to the experience. The Ice Castles is expected to open mid-January and remain as long as the weather permits.
Once the lakes freeze over, the expansive reservoirs become a frozen tundra to explore. With three lakes in Heber Valley, each offers a unique area to visit.
Strawberry Reservoir tends to freeze earlier in the season due to its higher elevation. Also, being a bit more remote, it is less populated, making it an ideal destination for a quiet day on the ice. Bigger fish are said to be caught out at Strawberry and the best ice fishing tends to be earlier in the winter season when the ice is thick enough to safely go out. Cutthroat and rainbow trout are both popular to catch at this reservoir.
Jordanelle State Park doesn’t always freeze completely in the winter season. This winter season, Rocky Mountain Outfitters is offering a family-friendly horse drawn sleigh ride at night throughout the state park amid a mesmerizing light show. Bundle up, bring a blanket and a hot cocoa, and enjoy the 30 minute ride in the open wagon. This is a perfect outing for kids, couples, and families.
Deer Creek State Park typically freezes over in January and hosts regular ice fishing enthusiasts from locals to tourists, and even those who just want to pull off when passing to walk out on the frozen ice. New this season, The Lakehouse at Deer Creek has partnered with the luxury lodging property, Zermatt Utah Resort & Spa, and select fishing guides to offer a very unique ice fishing experience. Guests staying at Zermatt Resort are met by a professional, experienced fishing guide for an ice fishing excursion on the picturesque Deer Creek Reservoir. The guide takes that day’s fresh catch to The Lakehouse at Deer Creek restaurant while the guests return to their luxe accommodations for some leisure free time. Guests then head to The Lakehouse for a delectable dinner prepared by the renowned chef and team, featuring their very own catch of the day. This excursion and dining experience is unlike anything you’ve done before and does require a reservation in advance. Contact The Lakehouse directly to book!
Glide along and take some turns at the charming, scenic Midway Ice Rink. Being Utah’s largest outdoor ice rink, located on the foothills of the Wasatch Mountain back range, the ice skating scene is something to behold. The manager is a former competitive figure skater who now teaches dance classes and, you guessed it, ice skating. With her previous aspirations of being a chef, she incorporates her love for cooking into the food and beverage options offered at the rink. She offers gourmet hot chocolate with all the fixings, crafted coffee beverages, hot cider, and hot tea, along with a selection of warm and delicious food options. Sit inside the warming hut and gaze through the windows onto the ice rink as you enjoy a warm drink, then lace up those skates and get back out on the ice for some more fun. This is a wonderful activity to add onto the end of a day or even pre-dinner. And it is ideal for all ages and all abilities - whether it be something fun for the kids, a family outing, or even a fun date night on the ice.
Each January, Heber Valley Artisan Cheese (a local family-owned dairy farm) hosts its annual Local Ice Sculpture Exhibition at the family Kohler Creamery. The ice displays are beautifully carved and delicately cared for under perfect conditions in preparation for the event. Each ice sculptor begins preparing the icy creations weeks before the event. 2022 event dates are January 21st and 22nd. So, dress warm, come explore, and vote for your favorite carved design. Then pay a visit to the creamery to warm up with a scrumptious grilled cheese (yes, made with cheese from the creamery), house made daily soup, or hot cocoa. Free live ice sculpting demos happen on both days. And consider adding the 11:00 am dairy farm tour to the experience and make it a full day in Midway. This event is free and open to the public.
Looking For Other Activities During Your Stay
We’re known as a winter wonderland for a reason! Heber Valley is an outdoor recreation and adventure mecca located less than an hour from a major international airport (SLC). And our location is prime for the best access to all things outdoors and fun. Below are a few suggestions of additional winter activities to consider during your visit to our alpine town.
Ski: Come ski the “Greatest Snow on Earth” at Deer Valley Resort or Sundance Mountain Resort. Being only 10 minutes from the Jordanelle Gondola at Deer Valley and a short 20 minutes from Sundance Resort makes Heber Valley an ideal destination for your winter ski trip.
Snowmobile: With hundreds of trails and thousands of acres for guided excursions or open range riding, you will find all the open space you need to explore, play, and let the adrenaline rush take over. Looking for a guide? Check out our preferred guides here.
Nordic Ski: Whether you’re looking for the open backcountry or groomed tracks, we’ve got it all. Soldier Hollow Nordic Center, the venue from the 2002 Winter Olympic Games, still hosts athletes from around the world with annual competitions and championship events. Soldier Hollow also offers cross-country skiing groomed trails for visitors. Come ski the trails that the professional athletes train and compete on.
Snow Tubing: While you’re at Soldier Hollow, you won’t want to miss tubing down Utah’s longest snowy lanes! At over 1,200 feet long, the snow tubing hill is a perfect daytime or nighttime activity. Advance reservations are required for this 2-hour activity and hot cocoa and food options are available for purchase on site.
Snowshoe: Looking for something a little more slow paced? We’ve got that too. Strap on a pair of snowshoes and hit any of the nearby trails. Some are more popular for locals and visitors, while others are a bit more remote and will be untouched after a fresh snow storm. Whatever your preference, this activity is a great cardio outing in a peaceful natural setting.
Dog Sledding: Working with local outfitters, you can enjoy a day of mushing through the backcountry while a pack of expertly trained dogs pulls the sled through the snow-covered land. You will stay warm inside the sled while the professional musher works with the pack to glide along through the snow. This activity is perfect solo or as a family.
Railroad: If you need to plan a low-key activity but don’t want to just sit in your hotel room, we suggest a ride on the historic Heber Valley Railroad. This slow-moving engine pulls the train through the pristine valley as it snakes through the fields and crosses over the Provo River toward Provo Canyon. You will have excellent views of Mt. Timpanogos, as well as scenic views of the valley that most do not experience. This 90-minute ride is perfect for a downtime activity in your itinerary.
Crater Swim: After a grueling day on the trails (skiing, snowshoeing, snowmobiling), head over to the one-of-a-kind Crater at Homestead Resort for a therapeutic dip in the warm water. Inside this cave lies a geothermal pool that stays a constant 95 degrees all year round. The top is covered almost completely by a limestone dome formed from thousands of years of snow and ice melt. Be sure to call ahead and make a reservation. This activity tends to book up early in the season.
Star Gazing: On a clear night, or mostly clear night, the Heber Valley offers a stunning view of the night sky. Jordanelle State Park is a dark sky certified location and Wasatch Mountain State Park is in the process of becoming dark sky certified. With the smaller population and vast open space of the valley, it is easy to get away from the majority of the population and town lights and find a spot to gaze at the milky way, stare into the star-studded night sky, and maybe even catch a glimpse at a shooting star.
Of course we have ample lodging and dining options to fit any wants, expectations, budgets, and needs. And we offer a variety of spas and treatments to soothe your body and your soul. Basically, for a perfect winter vacation, we have it all here in Heber Valley. And all within a short ride from the airport. Getting here is easy. It’s leaving that is the hard part. Start planning your winter trip today and let us know if we can help! 435-654-3666