Brighton Ski Resort
Brighton Ski Resort (801/532-4731 or 800/873-5512, www.brightonresort.com, 9 a.m.-4 p.m. daily mid-Nov.-mid-Apr., night skiing 4-9 p.m. Tues.-Sat. early Dec.-Mar., $62 adult daytime lift ticket) is a long-time favorite with local families for the excellent skiing and friendly, unpretentious atmosphere (no Euro-village resort atmosphere here—it's all about being on the mountain).
It's also the most snowboard-friendly of the Cottonwood resorts and is the only place near Salt Lake City with a real night-skiing program. The resort, which is in the Uinta-Wasatch-Cache National Forest, does not have a commercial summer season; however, there are plenty of places to hike in the area.
This is Utah's oldest ski resort, dating from 1936, when ski club members built a "skier tow" from half-inch wire rope and an old elevator drum. Two years later, a T-bar tow was erected, and in 1946, the area's first actual chairlift traveled up Mount Millicent. Brighton is now owned by CNL Income Properties Inc., a Florida-based real estate investment trust. Boyne, USA, which also owns Crystal Mountain Resort in Washington and Big Sky in Montana, operates the resort.
Terrain and Lifts
Brighton skiers and boarders are serious about their mountain time, and the resort has cooperated by making all of its terrain accessible by high-speed quad lifts, which climb as high as 10,500 feet for a 1,875-foot vertical descent to the base. In addition to the more than 60 runs and trails at Brighton, you can hop on the Sol-Bright run to visit Solitude ski area; a lift there will put you back on a trail to Brighton. Although a lot of the territory is suitable for beginners and intermediates, Brighton does offer some difficult powder-bowl skiing and steep runs.
Absolute beginners can step onto the Magic Carpet and be gently carried up to the Explorer area, which is also served by a slow-moving (and thus easy to mount and dismount) lift. Beginners with a few runs behind them and cautious intermediate skiers and boarders should venture onto the Majestic lift, which serves a good network of wide, tree-lined green and blue runs. More advanced folks will prefer the bowls in the Millicent and Evergreen areas. One of the things that makes Brighton so popular with snowboarders (besides the fact that they're welcome here) is its lack of long runouts. It also has an open-backcountry policy, though it's unwise to head off into the backcountry unless you're with a Salt Lake native who grew up skiing and boarding here.
Brighton's terrain parks are among the best in the West. Snowboarders looking for a challenge should head up the Crest Express quad and play around the My-O-My and Candyland terrain parks. Just down the slope from these areas are two more terrain parks and a half pipe.
Brighton has a ski and snowboard school, rentals, ski shops, a couple of cafeterias, and a sit-down restaurant in the lodge. Many Utah residents learned to ski at Brighton, and its snowboard classes are considered to be especially good.
Adults ski for $62 a day, $55 half-day (morning or afternoon), and $34 at night. Seniors over 70 pay $35, children ages 8-12 may ski for $29, and kids 7 and under ski free with a paying adult.
Adjacent to the slopes is resort-owned Brighton Lodge (800/873-5512, $125-175), which offers accommodations with a heated outdoor pool and spa (restaurant adjacent). It's much smaller than most ski-resort lodges, and very casual. A few hostel rooms (twin beds or bunks and shared bath) are available for $129; regular rooms go for $149. If you want a more posh setting, stay just down the hill at Solitude. A short walk from Brighton's lifts, off the Brighton Loop Road, Brighton Chalets (801/942-8824 or 800/748-4824, www.brightonchalets.com, winter rates $125 and up) rents out a range of cottages and chalets. Each chalet comes with a furnished kitchen, fireplace, and cable TV and sleeps at least six people.
Slope-side restaurants include the Alpine Rose cafeteria (801/532-4731, ext. 252, 8 a.m.-4 p.m. daily year-round, open until 9 p.m. Mon.-Sat. mid-Dec.-mid-Mar., $5-10), a good lunch spot; the Millicent Chalet (801/532-4731, ext. 219, 8 a.m.-4:30 p.m. daily, $6-12) at the base of the Millicent quad; and Molly Green's (801/532-4731, ext. 206, 11 a.m.-8 p.m. daily year-round, open until 11 p.m. Mon.-Sat. mid-Dec.-mid-Mar., dinner $9-18), a bar and grill with table service.
Getting to Brighton Ski Resort
Brighton is at the road's end, two miles past Solitude in Big Cottonwood Canyon. From Salt Lake City, take I-80 East to I-215 South. Take I-215 to Exit 6 (6200 South) and follow 6200 South, which becomes Wasatch Boulevard. Follow the signs to Big Cottonwood Canyon; Brighton is 16 miles up Big Cottonwood Canyon.
UTA buses and Canyon Transportation shuttles service all resorts up Big Cottonwood Canyon.
© W.C. McRae and Judy Jewell from Moon Utah, 9th Edition