Brian Head, Utah
What’s not to love about Brian Head? Here’s a laid back village where people and nature happily coexist. Located at the 9,700 foot elevation, Brian Head is the highest town in Utah which means summers are darn pleasant and winters are blanketed in a snowy wonderland. Mother Nature blessed the town with incredible mountain terrain for nearly every type of outdoor activity and surrounded it with Utah’s famous red rock scenery. Right outside your hotel, condo, even yurt you can go mountain biking, hiking, skiing and snowmobiling – the options are endless and friendly locals invite you to enjoy them all. Mountains of memories are made in Brian Head.
Brian Head History
The story behind Brian Head begins with the most basic element of folklore: the naming of the place. No one really knows the origin of Brian Head’s unique name, but the stories of the names are often as interesting as the people that tell them.
Brian Head was originally known as Monument Peak and was used by early surveyors and expedition leaders as a point of reference. The name changed in the early 1900s. Exactly why the name changed, however, is subject to conjecture.
One story claims that famous explorer John Wesley Powell saw the peak above all the other mountains and named it after an official in the Geological Survey Office by the name of Bryan.
Another story claims that residents of neighboring Parowan changed the name in 1890 to Bryan Head in honor of an American politician named William Jennings Bryan. Still another claims that the wife of a United States government official visited the area, didn’t like the name of Monument Peak, and wrote letters to prominent government officials to change the name to Bryan Head (the spelling now obviously having changed to “Brian” Head).
As Brian Head area grew, so did industry. Soon the area was teaming with farming, grazing and logging. There was even a small section of town known as Little Ireland that became famous for its butter and cheese.
Early day in Brian Head included hotel, restaurant and dance hall that were operated by Minnie Adams Burton. “Minnie’s Mansion” became the gathering place for people from all around. On the 24th of July, an annual celebration commenced at Minnie’s that brought sheep and cattle herders from miles around for huge breakfasts, horse racing, potato sack races, fireworks and dancing.
In more recent times, local resident Burt Nichols saw something in the beautiful slopes surrounding the town, and in 1964, he opened the Brian Head Resort with one chairlift, a T-bar and a warming house. The town of Brian Head incorporated in 1975. In 1990 Brian Head Resort was able to expand their season when they added snow making technology and terrain parks for snowboarding. That same year, Brian Head became a premier mountain bike destination utilizing the over 200 miles of existing livestock trails that lend to superb mountain biking downhill. In late 2007, the resort completed an expansion effort that increased their ski-able terrain to over 650 acres including a new snow making system and an interconnect bridge.
Must See & Do
Skiing & Boarding
Brian Head Resort receives over 360 inches of famous Utah powder every year. The resort features Utah’s highest base elevation of 9,600 ft with a lift served vertical drop of 1,320 ft from Brian Head Peak. Brian Head has over 650 acres, with eight chairlifts, 71 runs and three terrain parks for all ability levels.
With two tubing hills located at both Giant Steps and Navajo Mountains, this is a winter activity almost anyone can enjoy. Surface lift whisks you to the top of the hill with 600 ft. and 550 ft. long courses, you’ll be swooshing down the mountain and be back at the top in no time at all. For quality assurance and to secure a tubing session, please call 866-930-1010 for reservations or check www.brianhead.com
Snowmobile tours are available in Brian Head to the Cedar Mountain Snowmobile Complex, considered one of the most scenic snowmobiling areas in the west. The complex has over 160 miles of pristine trails and wide open play areas. Trailheads are located at Brian Head and Cedar Breaks. Check the Guides and Outfitters for tours.
Experience incredible mountain biking at the Brian Head Mountain Bike Park and Activity Center, voted “one of the best, unique and most unusual mountain bike vacation resorts” by Mountain Bike Action magazine. Bikers can access over 200 miles of single and double track trails, with a wide array of options in trail length and technical ability.
Scenic Chair Lift Rides
In the summer, the mountain bike chairlift at Brian Head Ski Resort (chair #2) is also available to hikers and sightseers in search of Utah’s famous red-rock vistas. Bring a jacket, the view is fabulous but it’s definitely cool at 11,000 feet. Open on weekends, generally early July through mid September. Go to www.brianhead.com for chairlift schedule and cost.
Off Highway Vehicle (OHV)
Dirt roads and trails left from the pioneer days ribbon through southern Utah’s landscape making for some of the best off highway riding in the state. There are over 400 miles of designated trails in the high mountain passes of Dixie National Forest area of the Markagunt Plateau. OHV rentals and tours are available with local outfitters (add link to Guides and Outfitters page). Check with local Visitor Centers, the Dixie National Forest, 1789 N Wedgewood Dr, Cedar City (435) 865-3700, and Bureau of Land Management, 176 DL Sargent Dr, Cedar City (435) 865-3000 for designated trails and maps.