Logan Canyon a Best Bet in Winter
Once or maybe twice a year, U.S. Route 89 between Logan and Bear Lake is closed because of winter conditions. The other 363 days, the road through Logan Canyon is a well-plowed gateway leading to a variety of outdoor delights. In the wintertime, those pleasures include one of the best places to snowmobile in the West and a beloved, family owned ski resort.
Ski the Beav
Nearly every day for 50-plus years, Marge Seeholzer has driven the 89 to Beaver Mountain Ski Area, 27 miles east of Logan, Utah, in the Wasatch-Cache National Forest.
Founded by her in-laws Harold and Luella Seeholzer, Beaver Mountain opened in 1949 with just a 1,000-foot tow rope and warming lodge, used now as the ticket office. Today, the “Beav” boasts three triple lifts, a double lift and a magic carpet, with 828 skiable acres, 48 runs and two terrain parks.
The resort is bigger than when it started but small enough to stay personable, which is exactly how Marge Seeholzer likes it. Marge and her late husband, Ted, took ownership of the family business in 1997.
“We pride ourselves on the personal feel here,” she says. “Everybody knows everybody.”
Marge works the ticket office most days — “my kids made me start taking a day off” — and enjoys seeing families return each year. “I’m seeing the third generation coming through and I love it,” she says.
Most Beaver Mountain skiers live in the Logan area, including lots of Utah State University students, but a smattering drive down from Bear Lake. Last year, more snow-hungry Wasatch Front skiers than usual made the trek to Beaver Mountain.
“We started getting people from Ogden and Salt Lake as word got around that our ski conditions were better than most,” Marge says. “That made me quite proud. We are probably the only resort left in the state that does not make any snow at all. Our groomers do an excellent job of turning the snow over and keeping it refreshed.”
Because they don’t manufacture snow, the resort has no set opening day. It generally operates from mid-December through mid-April, closing for Christmas Day at Marge’s insistence.
On a busy Saturday the resort hosts around 2,000 people. Even then, lift lines rarely hit 15 minutes. Beaver Mountain has a ski school and rental shop, plus a ski lodge with a reputation for great food at a reasonable price.
Nine minutes down the road from Beaver Mountain Ski Resort, snowmobiling enthusiasts can find a different kind of winter thrill at Beaver Creek Lodge. The lodge sits on 95 private acres, with a backcountry snowmobiling permit for an additional 242 square acres. It’s consistently rated one of the top 10 places to snowmobile in the West by SnoWest magazine.
“This is one of the best snowmobile areas on earth,” says Bryan Lundahl, who with his wife, Helen, has owned and operated the lodge for 27 years. He says some guests have been coming for more than 20 years, and some from as far away as Norway and Iceland.
Beaver Creek Lodge has on-site snowmobile rentals for guided and unguided tours. There are 240 miles of groomed runs, but if you hire one of the lodge’s guides, don’t plan on riding the trails. “They’re too boring,” Lundahl says. Beginners can take a tame ride down to Hardware Ranch elk refuge, while most guided rides cater to medium to extreme riders.
The 11-room lodge fills up quickly, but day users are welcome, too.
“We are a one-stop shop,” Lundahl says. “When you fly to Salt Lake City and drive to Beaver Creek, you don’t have to get in your car again. We have lodging, food and snowmobiling.”
With more than 400 inches of annual snowfall, Beaver Creek offers snowmobiling from Dec. 10 to mid-April.
Snowshoeing and More
If snowmobiling or skiing don’t fit your budget, there are less expensive ways to enjoy Logan Canyon in the winter. Try an activity offered by Stokes Nature Center such as backcountry snowshoeing or a free guided naturalist hike the first Saturday of the month. Rent gear, like snowshoes and cross-country skis, directly from the Outdoor Rental Shop at USU and find a well-marked trail to follow. Or, book a night in the Mongolian-style Blind Hollow Yurt, operated by USU Outdoor Programs.