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Brighton Ski Area, Utah

Brighton is a no-frills resort that averages 500 inches of snow a year, which makes local skiers and riders very happy campers.

Founded in 1936, Brighton is Utah’s oldest resort. It still retains its old-time charm, even though there have been many modern updates. The people here are low-key and friendly and it just feels like home.


The views from the summit are spectacular and include the Great Salt Lake and Mt. Timpanogos, soaring to 11,700 feet. The resort’s two “sides” offer distinctly different experiences. The Majestic side is a forest of evergreens with winding and twisting narrow trails. In fact, Brighton offers the most extensive tree skiing of the four Cottonwood Canyons resorts. You can spend all day in the woods, coming out only for meals and lift rides. The Millicent side is more like what you’d expect out West with bowls, cliffs and wide-open spaces. Brighton has wide forgiving intermediate runs, a fact that makes the mountain attractive to Utahans just learning to ski and snowboard.

Brighton has some true expert terrain, but it is not nearly as exhaustive as the other Cottonwood Canyons resorts. It does, however, provide access via its open-boundary policy to some of the best backcountry terrain in Utah. If our expert rating included the out-of-bounds terrain, it would deserve at least four, if not five, stars. We recommend that out-of-staters head into the backcountry with a local guide. And always stop by the ski patrol shack to get the latest news on avalanche danger and words of wisdom for the conditions of the day.

Brighton was one of the first Utah resorts to embrace snowboarding and, as a result, snowboarders remain quite loyal. The combination of exciting terrain, fabulous terrain parks, lots of snow and low prices adds to the resort’s popularity with riders.

Brighton Ski Resort, Big Cottonwood Canyon, UtahThe neighboring resort in Big Cottonwood Canyon is Solitude. Together, these two resorts offer an incredible variety and depth of terrain. Brighton and Solitude offer a joint lift ticket allowing you to ski/ride both mountains, so make sure to inquire if you are interested. Brighton also has night skiing and riding with 20 lighted runs that include the parks and pipes.

The huge Brighton Center houses lift ticket sales, rental and retail shops as well as restrooms and lockers. Its cleanly utilitarian, Western appearance is appealing—a cross between log cabin and military barracks. There isn’t much to do here once the lifts close, but Brighton regulars like it that way.

Vacationers who want to taste the region’s wide variety of skiing, riding and off-mountain activities may want to consider staying in nearby Salt Lake City.