I’m a travel writer. In my industry there’s a widely accepted method for finding a great restaurant in a city you’ve never been to. Look for the restaurant where the locals are lined up out the door, and go there. You may not know what the restaurant serves, but by the time you leave, you’ll understand why people are willing to wait. It works every time.
When I first moved to Salt Lake City last September, I didn’t know which of the twelve ski areas within an hour’s drive of the city I should visit, so I started asking nearly every person I met which resort they rode at. Most of the people I met during the day worked in the service industry: convenience store clerks, grocers, gas jockeys, and waiters. Nearly all of them rode at the same ski area: Brighton.
Everyone liked Brighton. Even people who had season’s passes to other ski areas told me they liked Brighton. I had to find out why, so I bought a lift ticket and went up there a couple of weekends ago.
On my first ride up the chair I asked a couple of young snowboarders what they liked about the hill.
“It has some of everything,” said one.
“The parks are awesome,” said the other, “and our season pass is only $600.”
As I spent the day exploring Brighton’s 1,050 acres, I began to understand what they meant. The terrain off of the Milly Express was great big-mountain stuff – lots of steeps and little cliffs to jump off. Pretty much every lift had a nice wide groomer for families to meander down. There were evenly-spaced trees off to the sides of the runs where I could do a bit of exploring while my girlfriend stayed on the corduroy where she felt comfortable.
Then there are the terrain parks – six of them with every feature you can imagine – and an immaculately sculpted halfpipe.
Brighton might not have the big-mountain feel of Snowbird or the glitz and glam of Deer Valley, and there aren’t any trams, gondolas or ritzy restaurants. However, it is a mountain with a simple purpose: fun.
Brighton is a playground. It gives you the most bang for your buck in Big and Little Cottonwood Canyons, and that’s why the locals love it. If you don’t believe me, walk into any ski or snowboard shop in Salt Lake City and ask the employees where they like to ride. I’ll bet you a lift ticket that 2 out of 3 will have an answer that begins with the letter ‘B’.
You usually can’t go wrong when you follow the locals.