The resort is offering free-lift-ticket promotions this season, seeing it as a win-win for everyone. Skiers and snowboarders get a chance to experience the quality of the downhill sport to be had at Eagle Point. And the resort gets known by the community of skiers, many of whom will return as devoted fans. Eagle Point is handing out free lift tickets every Thursday to anyone who shows up for the whole 2012-2013 winter season. Nevada residents get 3 free lift tickets days on 1/16, 2/13, and 3/13 as well. And if you are a California resident, you can ski and snowboard for free all day all season long.
It gets better. I was there for three days, and I never saw a lift line. The slopes were active but not crowded. On one day, several inches of powder fell, then cleared to brilliant skies.
The ski/snowboard experience at Eagle Point is divided among 3 general zones each served by a different main lift. (There are five lifts all told.) You can see on the map how they break down. The beginner slopes are served by the Skyline lift, the intermediates by the Monarch lift, and the black diamond slopes by the Lookout lift as well as two snowcats. The longest run is a combination of beginner and intermediate slopes for a total of 1.5 miles. The runs are tree-lined with plenty of aspen around, making them prettier than nearby Brian Head and less prone to the extreme wind that can close the top. For downhill fun of a different sort, Eagle Point Resort also has what may be the longest tubing run in the country.
Time for a confession. I went to Eagle Point not knowing how to ski very well. This review is so strong because I had such a great time, I learned so much, I saw people having fun on the slopes, and heard what they said afterward. It isn't just the sports. It is the people. You can tell the employees are treated with respect by the direct and confident warmth they have when doing their jobs. I believe that the folks who run this resort are building something for the long term and I want them to succeed so I can go back again.
I spoke with a friend, a lifelong skier who spent a day on the black diamond slopes at Eagle Point Resort to get his impression of the mountain and the skiing. From him, I learned that there was one downside to the lack of crowds. On the most difficult slopes, if it isn’t skied enough, the powder can turn a bit crusty. Plus, bump runs need traffic so the moguls can form. He felt that some of the runs at Eagle Point have the potential to be fantastic bump runs, but they need more use to get there.
The people I dealt with at Eagle Point, from the rentals staff to the instructors to the restaurant personnel to the shuttle drivers, were universally warm and welcoming without being intrusive. I had the feeling that they all were given a great measure of autonomy, which they took to heart, acting with proprietary pride. I suspect this is the result of Eagle Point’s unique genesis as a resort, reborn in 2010 on the site of two older resorts that closed in 2002, and its surprising owners. The current owners are three friends from the world of finance and who brought Wall Street business acumen and a Midwest work ethic to the egalitarian Rocky Mountain outdoor lifestyle. I saw the on-site partner, Shane Gadbaw, park cars and shovel snow alongside his staff when it was needed. He was willing to listen to the ideas of others, unafraid of making mistakes as he learned, careful about the practicality of plans for the future, but holding a vision to build a place of lasting value to the local community as it respects the environment and serves the lovers of this winter sport.
If you have skied in Utah for a long time, you probably know about the previous resorts in this location. Mt. Holly opened in the early 70s and later became Elk Meadows before closing down in 2002. The area called the Tushar Mountains gets an average of 400 inches of snow a year and has some of the most challenging slopes in Southern Utah, so it was only a matter of time before the resort was reborn. Eagle Point is quietly building itself into the Southern Utah magnet for winter and summer mountain vacations with its ski slopes, trails, and access to the Fishlake National Forest in cooperation with the National Forest Service.
The two lodges at Eagle Point serve very different purposes. The Canyonside Lodge handles the check in for folks staying in one of the Eagle Point’s 120 condos and cabins. Some are owned by the resort. Many are privately owned but managed by the resort. Eagle Point Resort opens on Wednesday nights for check in and dinner, operates through the weekend, and closes down on Monday morning after the last visitors have had breakfast and checked out.
The Canyonside Lodge is where the Outpost Grill serves absolutely great food. Almost everything is made from scratch from the highest quality ingredients. The kitchen pulls off a nice trick of presenting familiar and comfortable dishes with touches that are brilliant. The lamb, perfectly grilled so that the outside is crisp but the inside is juicy, instead of being served with a mint jelly, comes with a mint “pesto” made with fresh mint and pistachio nuts that brings a minty accent to the lamb but with a sensational freshness. The fried macaroni-and-cheese appetizer sounded a bit too much to me, but it was so creamy/crunchy delicious that I would have been happy having that as my whole meal. Somebody in that kitchen is a genius with salads. I had one that was a mix of greens in a mustard vinaigrette that was amazing. The brown mustard was evident in the grains but it never dominated the dressing, adding a depth to the flavor without tasting “mustardy." A complementary sweetness in the salad, instead of coming from added honey in the dressing, bloomed as you ate the dried cherries mixed in with the greens and nuts.
The on-mountain Skyline Lodge is more about the equipment and the mechanics of sport. There, you buy lift tickets (if you don’t qualify for the free ones). Equipment is rented and repaired. Instructors meet you and take you out for classes and individual lessons. Upstairs, there is a snack bar (though I understand it will soon have a kitchen for making fresh pizza) with giant windows and family-style tables for a mountaintop cup of cocoa or a light meal. Lockers for personal belongings, a small retail shop and rest rooms complete the amenities there. Mostly, it is the place to get ready to hit the slopes and a resting place between runs to get warm and refuel.
Many people drive to Eagle Point. It is a few hours from Las Vegas and a bit over 8 hours from Los Angeles. The final stretch of road up from Beaver, Utah is a scenic state highway that has gone through a major improvement. Still, it is a winding road that climbs a few thousand feet over 18 miles and can be intimidating if you don’t have four-wheel drive or snow tires. If you come from far enough away to fly, the nearest airport is in St. George, Utah. The Powder Shuttle offers service from St. George and from Las Vegas for reasonable prices and they post their specials and contact information on the Eagle Point Facebook page.
All-in-all, I had a great time and really enjoyed my stay at Eagle Point Resort. The outdoor experience was lively without being hectic or crowded. Off the slopes, I don’t go for the party and nightclub scene. I prefer cooking a meal with my friends and having meandering conversations that go on into the night, so Eagle Point is a perfect place for someone like me. It is important to have a restaurant option or a bar for a change of pace, and the Outpost Grill at the Canyonside Lodge fit the bill. And finally, for me, it is a big plus that the people at Eagle Point are truly warm and kind. If this sounds like a place you would like to visit with your family or friends, don’t wait. Even if you don’t ski yet, you won’t find a better place and time to learn than right now, especially if you live in California and qualify for all-day every day free lift tickets, at Eagle Point Resort in Beaver, Utah.
Eagle Point Resort
Beaver, UT 84713
INFO & RESERVATIONS: 855-EAGLE-PT (324-5378) or 435-438-3700