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Skiing the Cottonwood Canyons near Salt Lake City, Utah

  • Written by Lindsey Huster
  •  / 
  • 5 min read
  •  / 
  • Last updated 2 months ago

Snow sports and Salt Lake City go hand in hand.  Skiing, snowboarding, heli-skiing, snowshoeing, and snowmobiling; just to mention a few options. There are numerous resort options within an hour's drive of SLC. This post will focus on the four ski resorts in the Cottonwood Canyons.

Big and Little Cottonwood Canyons

It won’t take long for you to start hearing about Big Cottonwood Canyon (BCC) and Little Cottonwood Canyon (LCC) upon arriving in Salt Lake City, Utah. These canyons are truly the way to experience the landscape of the area…. breathtaking scenery, world-class ski resorts, epic hiking, superior rock climbing, excellent mountain biking, serene picnic areas and so much more!

Alta Ski Resort

Alta Ski Resort is one of the oldest ski areas in the country and is located just 32 miles from Salt Lake City International Airport. Located at the top of Little Cottonwood Canyon, you can experience what locals refer to as “Alta Magic.”

Alta Magic refers to everything from the beauty of the mountain, to the historical roots of tradition, to the welcoming town of Alta that will you have you dreaming of never leaving! Alta Magic is easy to find on the mountain with an average snowfall of over 550 inches per season. It’s not hard to find “the greatest snow on earth,” which Utah is known for.

  • acreage - 2200
  • base elevation - 8530 ft.
  • summit elevation - 10,550 ft.
  • vertical drop - 2020 ft.
  • lifts - 10
  • runs - 116
  • beginner terrain - 25%
  • intermediate terrain - 40%
  • expert terrain - 35%
  • *Alta is a skier-only resort; no snowboarding is allowed
Alta Ski Resort trail map
Alta Ski Resort trail map

Click HERE to download Alta maps

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Brighton Ski Resort

Brighton Ski Resort is known as the most laid-back resort in the area and it’s located just 35 miles from Salt Lake City International Airport. Located at the top of Big Cottonwood Canyon, Brighton offers a small mellow town with a carefree attitude.

Brighton is described as a no-frills resort, but don’t let that fool you. The terrain is top-notch and is known for its extensive backcountry access. This resort is where most Salt Lakers learn to ski. It offers lower ticket prices, and free skiing to kids 10 and under, and the mix of terrain makes it enjoyable for everyone in the family/group! Be sure to visit Molly Green’s for food and/or a beer to round out a great day on the mountain.

  • acreage - 1050
  • base elevation - 8755 ft.
  • summit elevation - 10500 ft.
  • vertical drop - 1745 ft.
  • lifts - 6
  • runs - 66
  • beginner terrain - 21%
  • intermediate terrain - 40%
  • expert terrain - 39%
  • *offers night skiing
Brighton Ski Resort trail map
Brighton Ski Resort trail map

Click HERE to download Brighton maps

Snowbird Ski Resort

Snowbird Ski Resort is known for its steep terrain, Utah’s only aerial tram, and North America’s only ski tunnel. It’s located just 29 miles from Salt Lake City International Airport and neighbors Alta in Little Cottonwood Canyon.

Award-winning Snowbird offers an extreme day on the mountain and draws in skiers and snowboarders from all over the world. It is often at or near the top of “the best” lists. “The Bird” has the longest ski season in Utah and typically opens in mid-November and closes in late May. It has been known to be open as late as July 4th! It should be noted that this long season is mainly due to the ownership of the land. Neighboring resorts must close because of their agreement with the National Forest Service.

Snowbird truly is a four-season resort and you can find adventure here 365 days a year. Regardless of the intended visit, be sure to ride the tram to the summit to experience the mountain from top to bottom.

  • acreage - 2500
  • base elevation - 7760 ft.
  • summit elevation - 11000 ft.
  • vertical drop - 3240 ft.
  • lifts - 11
  • runs - 169
  • beginner terrain - 27%
  • intermediate terrain - 38%
  • expert terrain - 35%
  • *offers Powderbird Heli-Skiing
Snowbird Ski Resort trail map (Peruvian Gulch and Gad Valley areas)
Snowbird Ski Resort trail map (Peruvian Gulch and Gad Valley areas)
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Snowbird Ski Resort trail map (Mineral Basin area)
Snowbird Ski Resort trail map (Mineral Basin area)

Click HERE to download Snowbird maps

Solitude Ski Resort

Solitude Ski Resort is often referred to as Utah’s best-kept secret and offers both extreme and serene. It’s located just 30 miles from Salt Lake City International Airport and neighbors Brighton in Big Cottonwood Canyon.

Solitude is just as it sounds; peaceful - and you may even find yourself alone on the mountain from time to time, in absolute solitude! Known as a family-friendly resort for the mix of terrain, it offers the opportunity for learning and improving your skills with 90% of runs being intermediate or expert! You’ll find it all here with groomers, moguls, and powder skiing.

  • acreage - 1200
  • base elevation - 8005 ft.
  • summit elevation - 10,035 ft.
  • vertical drop - 2030 ft.
  • lifts - 8
  • runs - 77
  • beginner terrain - 10%
  • intermediate terrain - 40%
  • expert terrain - 50%
  • *check out Solitude Nordic Center for snowshoeing, snow skating, and cross-country skiing
Solitude Ski Resort trail map
Solitude Ski Resort trail map

Click HERE to download Solitude maps

Many more ski resort options

There are 14 ski resorts in Utah and most of those are within an hour's drive of Salt Lake City! Currently, we have skied 7 of the resorts and hope to check off at least 3 more this season.

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Resorts we have skied

  • Alta
  • Brian Head
  • Brighton
  • Snowbasin
  • Snowbird
  • Solitude
  • Sundance

Resorts we plan to add this year

  • Deer Valley
  • Park City
  • Powder Mountain

Maybe next year?

  • Beaver Mountain
  • Cherry Peak
  • Eagle Point
  • Nordic Valley
Map of the ski areas near Salt Lake City, UT
Map of the ski areas near Salt Lake City, UT

Utah Ski Resort image and info can be found HERE.

Check out our YouTube channel

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Where do you ski?

  • Do you ski in Utah? What is your favorite resort and why?
  • Do you ski elsewhere? Tell us about your local/favorite resort(s).

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