Plan Now For Next Winter

Seniors participating in Life Elevated Utah having fun and acting silly for the camera. Credit: Harriet Wallis

Gary and Sandy Nielsen have run Road Scholar programs in Utah for about 20 years. They’re experts at planning and organizing week-long programs including Hopi pottery, dinosaurs and rock hounding in summer—and the very popular senior ski program in winter.

But several years ago as the demand for more senior ski weeks kept growing, Gary and Sandy responded with an idea of their own. They created new, small group ski weeks especially for seniors, and they base the programs at Powder Mountain. It’s ski weeks with all the trimmings.

Gary and Sandy cookin’ up Eggs Benedict for breakfast. Credit: Harriet Wallis

Gary invited me to experience the program. As I entered the little lodge’s great room, the first thing I saw was an inviting table with every beverage a tired skier could want: refreshing lemon water, coffee, tea, cocoa, a selection of wine with nice glasses, and plenty of cold beer in the fridge. Such enormous hospitality! As the skiers came in, they chose a beverage and settled into the sofas to retell the day’s adventures. And that was just the beginning.

When it came time for dinner, we gathered around a beautifully set table and enjoyed huge portions of roast salmon, fresh asparagus, baked potatoes, and a crisp tossed salad. There are seconds! Then came dessert: steaming homemade peach cobbler topped with vanilla ice cream. Gary and Sandy love to cook. Every meal was just as spectacular.

“When Gary and Sandy run a program, I know it’s going to be good,” said Henry, a repeat skier.

About The Programs

Gary explained how the ski weeks work. “Powder Mountain is known as ‘Utah’s Best Kept Secret’ and through our nonprofit organization called Life Elevated Utah,” we have been running week-long ski programs for older skiers between the ages of 60-90+ for the past few years.

“We stay right at the base of the mountain in a comfortable 1980s style lodge. This is a true ski-in, a ski-out experience in which our older skiers simply love. We only have five hotel rooms, each with a private bathroom. The rooms have great views of the slopes looking out from each room’s patio doors.

“Our programs are six days of skiing Monday-Saturday with programs beginning and ending each Sunday. We provide transportation to/from SLC Airport, cover seven nights lodging, prepare three delicious meals a day for our small ski groups in our kitchen in the lodge. We help set up ski lessons, mountain tours, and many other ski amenities,” he said.

“I know they really care about me,” said Kathy, a repeat skier. They make sure every detail is just right. This program has just the right number of people, but not too many. I used to do all the ski trip planning when my family was young, but this is so much better. They take care of everything.”

Life’s Lessons Achieved

Gary was one of five children, and it was a family rule that when you turned eight years old you learned how to cook dinners for the family. The cooking lessons stuck, and along the way he developed a specialty catering business. “Chef” is in his soul.

Travel planning has also been in his soul since he was young, and he’s skilled at it. He has degrees in Recreation Management, specializing in travel and tours, and a degree in Business Management. It all fits together.

Looking To Next Season

This really is a best kept secret. Gary and Sandy don’t have a website. So,  to get information for next year’s Powder Mountain senior ski weeks, email [email protected]

Seniors like to ski with seniors, but finding a program is as difficult as looking for a Yeti. Interestingly, Road Scholar has eliminated all western downhill ski programs for 2021. Just one ski eastern Road Scholar program continues.

Small group of seniors on big Powder Mountain: 8,400 acres with 154 trails. Credit: Harriet Wallis


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