If you just read my post reviewing Utah skiing at Solitude Mountain Resort, you know that Brighton Resort is its closest neighbor, nestled right next door in Big Cottonwood Canyon outside of Salt Lake City. Both resorts offer incredible ski terrain for experts and backcountry skiers and snowboarders, both offer a friendly, local vibe, and both have enough skiable terrain for a family to be happy for days.
Brighton Resort differs in that it does not offer on-site lodging, apart from private home rentals. There’s a big base area with a day lodge and a separate lodge with gear rentals and a snow sports shop, and a smaller lodge at an adjacent base area on the other end of the parking area. The resorts are only five minutes’ drive apart, so families can certainly stay in the Solitude village if they’re looking to stay in the canyon, and can even ski between the resorts with a resort hopper pass.
So who is Brighton Resort for?
Take a look at the Brighton mountain map, and you’ll see a sea of black diamonds. Like Solitude, Brighton is big and bold, with incredible pitches, glades, bowls, and backcountry for serious, expert skiers and riders. If you’re looking for challenge and seemingly endless skiable terrain during big snow years like 2017 has proven to be, you’ve found your place. But what if you’re a beginner or intermediate skier? The good news is that there are green circle runs even at the top of the resort, a nice touch for those who get tired of always being at or near the base while they’re learning. You’ll find green runs off the Snake Creek chair, and even off the Milly chair, which also has some of the steepest, deepest runs in the resort. Intermediate skiers and riders will want to focus on the blue-friendly Crest and Majestic chairs; this is also where you’ll find a surprisingly big selection of terrain park features.
If you’re an expert skier or rider:
Trust us, you could do laps all day on the Milly Express chair, and never get tired of the terrain. Your legs will, however, get tired. This chair was our favorite, with double-blacks on both sides of the chair, hike-to terrain along the ridge, and back bowls accessible for backcountry skiers with touring skis. Of course, all of this is dependent on conditions, and it’s essential to look at signage to see what’s open. This is big avalanche country, and the mountains should be respected.
Over on the Great Western chair, some of the steepest pitches take you down wide, mogul-filled black diamonds, and there are more tree glades with powder stashes along the far end of the resort. However, some of my favorite skiing all day at Brighton was found in what I deemed the ‘peaceful powder forest’, located near the top of Snake Creek and Crest. The woods here seemed to go on and on, with lots of powder between the trees and a more relaxing pitch.
If there’s less snow, you’ll definitely find less variety, but even then, the groomers along Crest and Big Western and Milly proved excellent. I loved the rollers and gentle curves to these runs, which got great sun throughout the day. We opted to break for lunch at the base of Milly, where the newest lodge of Brighton was far less crowded and offered excellent burgers and soups.
Planning your day at Brighton Resort:
As noted above, there is no overnight lodging at Brighton, so it will probably be a day trip for you. If you’re driving up Big Cottonwood Canyon (i.e., not staying at Solitude or in a nearby home rental), plan at least 25 minutes on an average day, and up to an hour on a holiday weekend…the traffic goes slowly on really great ski days.
Tip: Big Cottonwood Canyon is 15 miles of pretty curvy, mountainous roadway, and 4×4 drive or chains ARE required fairly regularly. You can opt to take a bus from the base of the canyon, where there’s a convenient park and ride parking lot for your car.
Because Brighton Resort is a day use resort, the parking lot does fill up on busy days. We skied Brighton on a holiday weekend after a big dump of snow, and were glad we arrived just after 9 am…by 11 am, the parking lot was completely full and people were parking on the road.
Lift tickets are under $80 per day per adult, which is relatively reasonable, by ski resort standards. Better yet, you can ‘reload’ your day pass the next day for $10 less. Kids 10 and under are FREE at Brighton, which is a fantastic perk. To save money, consider a Brighton pass if you plan to ski regularly there, because it includes free ski bus access, or, if you have a pass elsewhere, see if it’s a M.A.X. Pass resort and do a M.A.X. Pass add-on for the best value. You can get a Solitude-Brighton ticket for under $100, and ski between the two resorts, but I bet you’ll have enough to keep you busy right at Brighton.
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Disclosure: I visited Brighton as a guest of the resort for the purpose of reviewing M.A.X. Pass resorts. All opinions are my own.