When planning a ski vacation in Utah, families are spoiled for choice. There are over a dozen major resorts in the Salt Lake City area alone, and many of them are probably on your radar. We love Salt Lake ski resorts, but before you make the decision to head to one of the big destination resorts of Utah, consider a little gem in the southern end of the state.
What is Eagle Point, where is it, and why should we go there?
Ready to get your Eagle Point ski vacation planning on? Eagle Point is a small, boutique ski resort just outside of Beaver, Utah. It’s about three hours’ drive from Las Vegas and Salt Lake City, depending on which way you’re coming on I-15, followed by a winding, steep access road that you’ll want to ascend in the daylight. I’m using the word ‘boutique’ in the sense that Eagle Point is small, personalized, and niche, not that it’s upscale…because it’s not. In fact, it’s delightfully rustic, with a rough-around-the-edges feel that makes me think of my childhood ski trips.
Why bring your family all the way to Eagle Point? The easy answer would be, price. Families can still ski Eagle Point for under $50 for an adult lift ticket (around $30 for kids), and the resort’s ski-in, ski-out condos are incredibly affordable. You could spend a week at Eagle Point for a fraction of the cost of a week at a larger ski resort. But an affordable price is not the full story.
Eagle Point is a resort that still retains the friendly, everyone-knows-each-other, hey-welcome-back atmosphere that’s been lost in many places. When you arrive at the check in desk at Canyonside Lodge, you might just be checked in by one of the resort’s enthusiastic owners, and the friendly waitress at the bar just might be your ski instructor the next day. The relatively small staff all know each other and seem to interact like family, and the small size of the resort means your kids will feel right at home in no time.
Lodging at Eagle Point:
I stayed at a condo in Wooded Ridge, which is one of the condo development options at Eagle Point. There are a few full houses to rent, but otherwise, Eagle Point is all condos, many of which are ski-in, ski-out, or close to it. A free shuttle goes back and forth between condos and both base areas every 20 minutes.
My condo slept at least five; we had a bedroom downstairs and a loft with bunk beds for three. It also had a full kitchen and living room with dining space, and ample storage space for ski gear. I loved the views of aspen trees from the outdoor balconies, and the fact that the kitchen was fully stocked with spices, cooking oil, all the pots and pans needed, a crock pot, a dishwasher with detergent, and a full-sized washer and dryer (also with detergent).
Tip: If you want to be close to Canyonside Lodge and its dining options and hot tubs, book a Canyonside area condo. You’ll be ski-in, ski-out on the Canyonside part of the resort. If anyone in your family is a beginner, however, you’ll want to start at Skyline, which will require a shuttle ride (this is explained in more depth below).
At Eagle Point, you’ll cook in your condo most of the time, so definitely stop in Beaver to buy groceries before coming up the mountain. There’s not much in the way of provisions once you’re at Eagle Point, with the exception of a small mercantile and a few dining venues (more on that in a minute). Condo renters have access to two hot tubs, which are outside behind Canyonside Lodge. There are bathrooms to change there, and a fireplace in the dining area where you can warm up after soaking.
Note: There is very limited cell service and no wifi at Eagle Point. I am told wifi is coming in 2018, but for now, plan to be off-line during your stay. Time to get out the board games!
Skiing at Eagle Point:
Eagle Point, like many Utah ski resorts, has two distinct sections, each with its own base area. The Canyonside Lodge, where you check in to your lodging, is the gateway to the expert terrain, served by Lookout lift, and a few miles up the road, the Skyline Lodge is where you’ll find the beginner and intermediate terrain, as well as the ski rentals and lessons. You’ll use the Skyline chair and Monarch chair on that side.
A ski tunnel connects the two sides, and there is a small amount of intermediate runs off Lookout chair, though not as many as we’d like. Everyone in your family really needs to be an expert skier or rider to have fun together for more than a few runs on Lookout. Gates off Lookout lead to backcountry terrain, in cooperation with the forest service, so that’s an option for expert skiers who are prepared to go outside the resort boundary.
Because the Skyline Lodge is at the TOP of the Skyline area and the Canyonside Lodge is at the bottom of the Canyonside area, getting from Canyonside to Skyline requires a shuttle ride. (You can, however, get from Skyline to the Canyonside Lodge on intermediate terrain, through the tunnel followed by a lift.) This would come in handy if the family divided up in the morning and wanted to meet for lunch.) From the Skyline side, it’s possible to ski down to most condos in the resort.
Note: Eagle Point is conservative about grooming runs. The Skyline area with beginner and intermediate terrain will all be groomed, but during my visit, only a few runs were groomed on Canyonside. This makes for a lot of non-groomed black diamonds.
Dining at Eagle Point:
For ski lunches and even breakfast, if you don’t prepare it in your condo, Skyline Lodge has the Skyline Cafe, which serves your basic ski fare. We found three options on the breakfast menu, plus coffee and drinks, and another handful of options at lunch. It’s counter service only. At Canyonside Lodge, the Outpost Grill has a full bar and dining room, with moderate pricing for burgers, wraps, and pizza, and slightly higher prices for steaks, salmon, and pasta dishes. It’s open both lunch and dinner. The food was good here, and I recommend eating out for dinner at least once during your trip, to save on the hassle of cooking in your condo.
Note: if you come back to Canyonside for dinner, remember that the free ‘mountain taxi’ shuttle only runs until 5 pm. You’ll need to drive your car or walk the short distance.
What you sacrifice in the name of low lift ticket prices at Eagle Point:
Great value in pricing comes at a cost, of course. It’s important that parents know what they WON’T find at Eagle Point, so they can make an educated decision for their family. Eagle Point does not have:
- Wifi or much cell service: you can get a cell signal at Skyline Lodge area, but that’s it for most carriers. Bring DVDs to watch in the condo, because you won’t have Netflix. You may not even be able to make a call or send a text, so plan accordingly.
- Fine dining: the Outpost Grill is friendly and has decently good food, but it is not gourmet.
- Convenient access to hot tubs or any access to a health center: the hot tubs at Canyonside Lodge are stand-alone tubs in the snow out back of the building, with a fun, low-key atmosphere. Close to your condo they are probably not.
- Terrain for advanced-intermediate skiers and riders. This is a biggie: Eagle Point has a wonderful array of beginner and easy intermediate terrain at Skyline and incredibly steep, ungroomed expert terrain at Canyonside…but not too much in-between.
- Easy access from lodge to lodge. (See explanation above.)
What you WILL get is challenging skiing at a great price, with comfortable, mostly convenient lodging and a down-to-earth vibe.
Eagle Point is located 18 windy, steep miles off I-15 past Beaver. Take the access road slowly, as it can be difficult in ice and snow. The commute on I-15 is easy from both Las Vegas and SLC.
I was a guest of Eagle Point for the purpose of review. All opinion remains my own.
Photo credit: Amy Whitley and Paul Marshall/Ski Utah