Nestled between the big mountain powder scene of Alta and Snowbird in Little Cottonwood Canyon and the Olympic legacy of Park City and the resorts of Deer Valley, Park City Mountain and Canyons, is Big Cottonwood Canyon (BCC)–a fantastic family ski vacation spot.

Topping out above 10,000′ and averaging over 500″ of the Greatest Snow on Earth, BCC is home to Solitude Ski Resort and Brighton Resort and it amazes me that this snow-socked canyon plays the third fiddle in this show.

I can tell you, were Big Cottonwood Canyon anywhere else in the USA it would be the poster child of that state and hyped as a world-class family ski vacation destination. Don’t get me wrong, Utah loves Brighton and Solitude and a lot of skiers make their way up Big Cottonwood Canyon but there’s room for a lot more.

Drive 16 miles up BCC and you come upon the first hidden gem – Solitude Resort then go up another mile and at the top of the canyon you’ll find Brighton Resort. .

The varying terrain at Brighton offers plenty of play room for beginners, tempered bowls and powder to break in the intermediate skier and all the steep and deep an expert can ask for plus a whole lot of backcountry.

The emphasis at Brighton is on the skiing and riding and while the onsite Brighton Lodge may not have a lot of amenities, it’s a comfortable, rustic hotel-style, value-plus accommodation that offers an inclusive continental breakfast and sits just a few steps from the main chairlift.

Child on the Slopes at Brighton

The views at the top of Brighton are to die for. If these were your last views, you’d go with a smile on your face – especially if you’re, standing on the Black Diamond “Doyle’s Dive.”

At Solitude you’ll find most of the Big Cottonwood Canyon lodging. The European-style village has the 50 room Inn at Solitude as the centerpiece and then spiraling around are condominiums, townhouses and luxury homes.

There’s really good value across the whole spectrum of Solitude lodging.  I bet that when you match what level of lodging you expected to get for your intended budget with what you’ll find at Solitude, you’ll be sitting prettier – or staying longer – or both.

Family at the Apex Lift at Solitude

Family at the Apex Lift at Solitude

Family-friendly is the way I see Solitude village. The center village Club Solitude has a heated pool, saunas, game room, theater and relaxing great room. There’s a village ice rink, snowshoeing, and a pizza place.

In other words —  and I know the feeling – you don’t have to worry the kids have plenty to do after skiing – plus it’s safe.

Skiing at Solitude? What I said about Brighton goes at Solitude – and by the way you can ski between them on a joint ticket.

Together, with Solitude and Brighton you get over 2,000 skiable acres and tons of off-piste and backcountry, excellent ski and riding schools for all ages, specialty programs, night skiing and après-ski family fun and activities.

Solitude, Brighton and the Big Cottonwood Canyon are only 35 minutes from Salt Lake City International Airport. You can’t miss it – but you will when you leave.

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Sub-Categories North America / Ski / Ski & Snowboard / Travel

3 responses to “Utah’s Best Kept Secret: Family Ski Vacation”

  1. Gregg says:

    Totally agree, Mike. Solitude has built a brand on no lift lines, but with the quality of skiing and terrain, it makes me even more amazed that the brand holds true. I was a passholder at Brighton in college and there are few lifts that serve better pow-day turns than Millicent and Great Western at Brighton. Amazing snow and location at both resorts.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Big and Little Cottonwood Canyons are amazing, but the current snow drought is just depressing. I just got off Solitude and I can’t tell you how many rocks I hit. Here’s hoping we get some snow and get Utah back to its typical epic ski conditions!

  3. SOTR says:

    I love this place and it is perfect for the entire family for some great skiing

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