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Big Cottonwood Canyon Travel Guide

Sports and the Outdoors


Solitude Mountain Resort. There are great single-track trails within Big Cottonwood Canyon as well as routes that connect neighboring canyons. Solitude Mountain Resort offers lift-served mountain biking with rentals available at Solitude Village. 12000 Big Cottonwood Canyon Rd., UT, 84121. 801/534–1400.

Cross-Country Skiing

Solitude Nordic Center. Accessible from Solitude Village, the Solitude Nordic Center has 20 km (12 miles) of groomed cross-country trails, 10 km (6 miles) of snowshoe trails, and a small shop offering rentals, lessons, food, and guided tours. For $18 you can use the trails all day; for $54 you receive an all-day trail pass and a one-hour group lesson with rentals. 12000 Big Cottonwood Canyon Rd., UT, 84121. 801/536–5774.

Downhill Skiing

Brighton Ski Resort. The smallest of the Cottonwood resorts just outside Salt Lake City, Brighton is nonetheless a favorite among serious snowboarders, parents (who flock to the resort's ski school), and some extreme skiers and riders. There are no megaresort amenities here, just a nice mix of terrain for all abilities, and a basic lodge, ski shop, and ski school. The snow is as powdery and deep as nearby Alta and Snowbird, and advanced (and prepared) skiers can access extensive backcountry areas. There's something for everyone here—at a fraction of the cost of the bigger resorts. Brighton has popular children's programs. 8302 S. Brighton Loop Rd., Brighton, UT, 84121. 801/532–4731, 855/201–7669, or. Lift tickets $72. 1,745-ft vertical drop; 1,050 skiable acres; 21% beginner, 40% intermediate, 39% advanced/expert; 5 high-speed quad chairs, 1 triple chair.

Solitude Mountain Resort. Offering (since 1957) Big Cottonwood Canyon's most intense ski experience, Solitude Mountain Resort has grown into a European-style village with lodges, condominiums, a luxury hotel, and good restaurants. Downhill skiing and snowboarding are still the main attractions, with steep, pristine terrain in Honeycomb Canyon attracting the experts, and a mix of intermediate cruising runs and beginner slopes beckoning the less accomplished. Day guests will enjoy relaxing after a hard day on the slopes at the comfortable Solitude Mountain Spa. 12000 Big Cottonwood Canyon Rd., Solitude, UT, 84121. 801/534–1400; 800/748–4754; 801/536–5774 Nordic Center; 801/536–5777 snow report. Lift tickets $77. 2,047-ft vertical drop; 1,200 skiable acres; 20% beginner, 50% intermediate, 30% advanced; 3 high-speed quad chairs, 2 quad chairs, 1 triple chair, 2 double chairs.


Brighton Lakes Trail. The upper section of Big Cottonwood Canyon is a glacier-carved valley with many side drainages that lead to picturesque alpine lakes. In the Brighton area you can access beautiful mountain lakes (Mary, Margaret, and Catherine) just a short jaunt from the highway. The elevation at Brighton's parking lot is 8,700 feet, so take it easy, rest often, and drink plenty of water. A beautiful hike is along the Brighton Lakes Trail past four alpine lakes and then ascending to Catherine Pass. From here you can choose to descend into Little Cottonwood's Albion Basin near Alta (but remember, you'll need a car for the 45-minute ride back to Brighton), or back along the Brighton Lakes Trail. UT. Sunset Peak. At Catherine Pass you have the option of continuing up to Sunset Peak, which, at 10,648 feet, is one of the most accessible summits in the Wasatch Range. It's another short grunt to the top, but well worth the effort for the unsurpassed, nearly 360-degree view. The breathtaking vistas include the Heber Valley, Park City, Mount Timpanogos, Big and Little Cottonwood Canyons, and even a portion of the Salt Lake Valley.

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