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Little Switzerland: A Winter Paradise in Midway Utah

Posted On
Jan 19, 2021
Category
Things to Do

The hills are alive with Swiss heritage and winter adventures in Midway, Utah. The town of Midway is known as “Little Switzerland,” both for its dramatic mountain location in Utah’s Wasatch Mountains and for its Germanic heritage. Whether you’re a local or traveling from out of state, Midway makes for the perfect getaway for those wishing to breathe the clean mountain air and enjoy scenic tranquility.

At the heart of the Utah Mountains, Midway has had time to perfect the art of winter. The town and its people embody that winter is more than just a season, but rather a lifestyle abounding with everything you’d expect: sleigh rides in the snow, hot chocolate by the fireplace and winter sports galore.

 

Rich History

Midway is home to Utah’s Swiss Alps, dubbed by the original Swiss settlers in the 1850s who were reminded of the green grassy valleys and the snowcapped rocky slopes of their home country. Midway continues to have a strong Swiss influence, as you can see through the architecture throughout the town and local traditions like the Swiss Days Festival in the summer. It maintains the old world charm that’s straight out of a fairy tale.

Midway has also been nicknamed “paradise land.” Originating from a summer morning in 1857, workers at a sawmill in Big Cottonwood Canyon hiked to the summit of the Wasatch mountains and viewed a high mountain valley, describing it in awe and wonder as “paradise land.” After hearing promising reports from these workers, cattlemen in 1858 drove their herds up Provo Canyon and began to establish ranches in the south end of the valley with plans toward settling Heber Valley. To this day, Midway is still described as a paradise by residents and travelers alike, for its haven of outdoor pursuits, easy access to mountain ranges on all sides and unmistakable European charm.

 

World-Class Winter Activities

Heber Valley provides some of the best skiing, snowboarding and other winter activities in the world — all set amongst the inimitable and awe-inspiring snowy peaks that Utah is famous for. In winter, abundant snowfall makes this a heaven for winter recreation, with its mountains boasting the “Greatest Snow on Earth” ™.

 

A Little Switzerland Guide

Exploring “little Switzerland” in the winter is a magical time full of curiosity and wonder. Here’s an itinerary that showcases the best Midway has to offer. 

Photo credit: @zermattutah on Instagram

First stop! Warm up by having a hot chocolate at the Zermatt Resort — accompanied by flaky éclairs from the resort’s traditional European bakery. You’ll feel like you’ve been transported to the Swiss Alps into a breathtaking small village, as beautiful pastries tempt you behind the sparkling glass displays.

When you think of skiing in the Alps, Alpine skiing probably comes to mind. However, there’s a different style of skiing that deserves a second look. It’s called cross-country, or Nordic, skiing — and it’s actually the original and oldest form of the sport that originated in Europe hundreds of years ago. Although Nordic skiing originated in Europe, you can still participate and enjoy it here in Midway. You’ll find that Nordic skiing trails are often calmer and even more picturesque than resort runs. And what’s a winter trip to “Little Switzerland” without a bit of Nordic skiing!

There’s no better place to enjoy the outdoors in the warming morning sun than at Soldier Hollow Resort. Soldier Hollow Resort is primarily known as an Olympic venue, but also has a plethora of winter activities to participate in like snow tubing, snowmobiling and you guessed it— cross country skiing. While outside, you may turn in a circle to view the ice-capped peaks of Heber Valley, and you might actually question, “Am I in the Swiss Alps or the Utah Alps?” Enjoy the morning here, appreciating the breathtaking outdoors while participating in all the activities you can do based on your skill level. You can even attend events like the U.S. Cross Country Skiing Championships to the annual Soldier Hollow Classic Sheepdog Championships.

 

Photo credit: @cafegalleriamidwaypizza

Grab a bite to eat at Café Galleria. Enjoy some alpine wood-fired pizzas which are done the traditional Italian way. The Italians have been using wood-fired brick ovens for over 200 years. The Alps are known for its combination of German, Italian and French cuisine and culture and so is Midway! Keep up with the European theme and enjoy a slice of Italian food while enjoying a perfect "al fresco" dining experience.

Photo credit: Heber Valley Artisan Cheese Farm 

For a unique activity in the afternoon, visit the Heber Valley Artisan Cheese Farm. Russel Kohler, whose family has run the farm since 1929 said in an interview, “When my great-great-grandfather and the other Swiss immigrants arrived, they brought their traditions of dairy farming and cheese making with them.” The farm has tours that are available that offer a diverse set of experiences for all ages from farm tours, tastings and classes.

Imagine ending the day as you ice skate in a beautiful outdoor rink as you admire the snow-capped mountains and breathe in the fresh winter air. The Midway Ice Rink is the largest outdoor rink in the state of Utah and it’s a quintessential winter experience all visitors should enjoy. There’s also a heated gazebo—so you can warm up and take a quick rest between all of those twists and twirls skating across the ice.

Although similar in many ways to Switzerland, Midway is distinct and holds its own. It’s found itself in the world’s spotlight many times, and for good reason! There are countless things to do in Midway and we hope you explore Utah’s “Little Switzerland” this winter.

Tags

Winter, Family, History