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Home of Brighton Ski Resort and Solitude Mountain Resort, Big CottonwoodCanyon was carved by the meandering Big Cottonwood Creek, which begins near Brighton and flows all the way down the canyon, through the Holladay/Murray and Cottonwood Heights neighborhoods, and empties in theJordan River. Big Cottonwood Canyon is connected to Park City via Guardsman's Pass, which is closed in the winter and offers excellent snowshoeing and off-track cross-country skiing. Whether you're staying at Brighton or Solitude, in Little Cottonwood Canyon, or somewhere in the city, be sure to spend some time exploring this spectular, winding canyon and treating yourself to everything its two resorts have to offer.

GETTING THERE AND GETTING AROUND

The mouth of Big Cottonwood Canyon is served by the I-215 Belt Route as well as by ski buses that leave from (or stop at, if you’re riding the bus from Salt Lake) the park-and-ride lot located there. The park-and-ride is a great meet-up spot, and, because you're headed into a canyon, carpooling or taking the bus is a helpful way to avoid parking hassles at the top. A shuttle service is offered between Solitude and Brighton, which share a boundary and offer a two-resort pass. 
 

BIG COTTONWOOD’S SUPER PASS BONUS

The Ski City Super Pass is your golden ticket to all the snow Ski City has to offer. With a Super Pass in hand, you save on direct-to-lift access to the resort(s) of your choosing—Alta, Brighton, Snowbird, and Solitude. In Big Cottonwood it gets even better, because the pass allows you to ski both Brighton and Solitude, which share a boundary and are connected via the Sol-Bright Run, on the same day. The Super Pass also includes a ride on TRAX light rail and UTA ski buses, plus discounts on ski, board, and equipment rentals. Click here for details and pricing.

EAT

Brighton’s dining scene, like the resort itself, is all about the basics: burgers grilling on a deck outside the lodge, a pitcher of beer in the sun. However, Molly Green’s on the top floor of the cheekily named Brighton Manor (it’s merely a simple A-frame) offers a little more, chiefly a cozy fireplace with a magnificent view. You must try the nachos, which deserve their worldwide reputation of deliciousness.

Solitude has the usual resort cadre of on-mountain burgers, sit-down spots by the fire, and pub grub. But no other Cottonwood resort has The Yurt, a truly unique dining experience. You’ll snowshoe down a snowy moon and lantern-lit trail to this snow-covered Mongolian-style tent in the woods. Once inside, you’ll be among only 24-max guests sat each evening for a five-course epicurean experience. 

DRINK

At Brighton, Molly Green’s is your best bet if “bar” is what you have in mind at the end of the day. But the outdoor patios at Millicent Chalet or The Alpine Rose Cafeteria are the spots for end o’ day beers and boasting. Pop your weary legs up on a chair and grab a pitcher as the shadows grow long on the mountain.

Solitude is a locals’ hill (’cause ticket prices!), and us locals like to wind up our days at the Thirsty Squirrel,a toasty warm, basic bar with a menu of small bites and pub grub. For those who like to dress for dinner, stop into the Library Bar and warm yourself by the fire and its vast wine and whiskey list.  
 

PLAY

For more than 70 years, Brighton has provided a quality mountain experience at a great value. Fantastic conditions, big-time powder, three terrain parks, an outstanding ski school, and superb grooming add up to maximum ski and snowboard fun.Brighton also has over 200 acres of lighted runs making it one of the West’s best spots for night skiing, which is a decidedly different experience than taking runs in the daylight. Check out life under the lights. 

The aptly named Solitude Mountain Resort is known for its peaceful, Alps-esque setting—think cozy lodges, short lift lines, and heaps of pristine powder, but also incredibly diverse terrain, including everything from cruiser groomers to steep tree runs.After spending the day exploring all this skiable magic, the Ice Rink, located in the heart of Solitude’s ski village, is agreat way to get the family together after a day where dad was off on the double blacks, mom was skiing trees, and the kidlets learned the ropes in ski school. 
 

STAY

Brighton Lodge, a 20-room hotel at the mountain’s base, offers probably the most affordable ski-in, ski-out rooms in Utah and is a great option, especially for families (kids under the age of 10 stay free). Also consider Silver Fork Lodge, just down the canyon from Brighton, which offers a shuttle service back up to the lifts. Both are rustic and basic, perfect for those who came here chiefly to ski and board. Silver Fork also offers one of Utah’s best breakfasts, and its famous sourdough pancakes are made with a 70-year-old starter.

Solitude’s lodging landscape is populated with numerous town homes and condo-style rentals, while its main proper hotel is the Inn at Solitude.With its Bavarian trimmings, the Inn is a full-service lodge, and staying here has its privileges, namely early lift access for day’s beginning and guest-only wine tastings around the fire at day’s end.  
 

PAMPER

Solitude Mountain Spa offers signature facials along with a fullmenu of massages and other treatment options, including a deep-tissue massage for those who spent the day on the steeps in Honeycomb Canyon.
 

FOR THE KIDS

Brighton is for the kids. Really and truly. To explain: many a Salt Lake native got his or her start skiing or boarding at Brighton, partially because of its wide range of beginner and intermediate terrain, but mostly because kids ages 7 and under ski for FREE anytime with a paying adult. Yeah. Free.

At Solitude, while your oldest kids are off in ski school, your littlest ones can join Solitude’s Play Academy,where your under-5-year-olds will enjoy tall-tale telling, snow-angel and snowman making, and other high-mountain entertainments.

Words: Jeremy Pugh