Are you a hard-charging skier who looks for some of the most insane terrain in the west? Or are you a brand new skier trying to get comfortable on the slopes? Or are you somewhere in between—you enjoy shredding soft snow, but want to check out some snowshoeing before a late afternoon hot tub and beer? Well, it doesn’t matter who you are because we have the perfect place for you. Enter Solitude Mountain Resort.
With less bravado than its neighboring Little Cottonwood Canyon, Big Cottonwood Canyon houses this gem of the Salt Lake City mountains. Whether you’re coming on a family trip or are just here for some solo shredding, there’s something for everyone at Solitude Mountain Resort. Here's what your weekend trip could look like this winter.
Whether you’re starting from the Salt Lake City International Airport or driving from home, head on up Big Cottonwood Canyon. Solitude is about 35 minutes from the airport or downtown Salt Lake, making it an easy jaunt up to the mountain.
While driving up the canyon, look around—it was created by glacier and steam erosion over thousands of years. Those of us that live in Utah take these gorgeous roads for granted. But it’ll be over before you know it because you’ll suddenly be at the base of Solitude.
Pro tip: Make sure your car has snow tires! The Cottonwood Canyon police have cracked down during storms, for safety reasons of course, and you won’t be allowed up the canyon (or down!) if you don’t have 4x4 or chains on your tires when it’s dumping. And it snows a lot up there. More info on safe canyon travel can be found here.
Head over to The Inn at Solitude to check in and park your car in their free parking. This fine hotel with Bavarian charm is ski-in/ski-out, making it the perfect place to stay. Here you can wake up in the morning in your comfy bed and stare out the window at the slopes you plan to slay all day. Then slide on those ski boots and head on outside where there’s a complimentary locker room with your skis waiting for you.
It’s time to ski. You've dropped off your kiddos at the Solitude Ski & Ride School and now you have the day all to yourself. Start right by your hotel at the base of the Apex lift, which will whisk you up to groomers, powder, and everything in between. This mountain has it all. Enjoy a few corduroy runs off of Moonbeam and Eagle before heading up Powderhorn to check out the more challenging black diamonds like Diamond Lane and Concord. Then head out the gate and give Parachute or Milk Run a shot—but be sure to listen to the signs about impending cliffs!
The hunger hits and it’s lunchtime. So where to? On day one, we recommend Stone Haus Pizzeria and Creamery. Ski down to the village to find this little spot. It’s only grab-and-go during 2020–21 season due to COVID, but the food is still as tasty. While Stone Haus is known for its pizzas, we tend to lean towards their sandwiches for ease of eating on the go our in a quiet place outside. You can’t go wrong with their Italian Beef and Cheese Sandwich, which boasts roast beef, provolone cheese, giardiniera peppers, horseradish aioli and beef au jus. Stay fueled up to keep going for the rest of the day.
Now that you’re aptly nourished, it’s time to explore the bigger parts of the mountain at Solitude. Most famous for their Honeycomb Canyon area, this part of the ski resort is huge and is loaded with exciting terrain. For those looking for something a little more mellow, head out the traverse from the top of the Summit chair and dive into the pillowy ungroomed bowls at the beginning. For those looking to get a little rowdier, keep going on the traverse to discover everything from tree skiing to steeper bowls to gnarly cliffs. And for the truly nuts, you can hike up Fantasy Ridge from the Summit chair and descend some wild lines. (For those that are choosing this third option, make sure you have the proper training and equipment please!) The Honeycomb area drops you back to the Honeycomb lift, which kicks you back on the frontside of the mountain. Easy!
If you’re not feeling quite as assertive after a solid lunch and green circles are more your game, the Link chair and Moonbeam Express provide some fabulous and easygoing runs to coast all afternoon long.
Don’t admit it to anyone, but your legs are tired. And that’s reasonable. With 1,200 acres of skiable terrain and a 2,500-foot vertical drop, Solitude can tire you out! It’s a good thing you’re staying at The Inn at Solitude, which has a killer hot tub perfect for refreshing those quads after a fun day.
One of the most important topics on a vacation is food. But things get a little complicated during these COVID winters, so here are some hidden secrets. After a soak (and a maybe a nap), head on over to the Honeycomb Grill—some of the best upscale food in Big Cottonwood Canyon. The food is contemporary and everything is locally sourced and made with fresh and sustainable ingredients. Our recommendation is to start with the Poutine—beef short ribs, bacon, gravy and cheese curds on yukon and sweet potato steak fries (c’mon, you earned it)—and have the Bison Burger as your main dish. The burger comes with Solitude famous Honeycomb fry sauce because hey, it’s Utah. Honeycomb Grill offers grab-and-go food for the whole family, best designed for eating in your beautiful hotel room.
The best part of skiing and snowboarding is that you’re outside. And especially right now, that means you can socialize with your friends you’ve been separated from for so long. Today, sign up for a snowshoe or nordic skiing lesson with your crew and explore 20 kilometers of stunning wilderness. There are lessons or tours available and rentals are easy to snag over at the Solitude Nordic Center, a quick jaunt from your hotel. The views will be stunning and it’s fun for the whole family.
Head back over to Moonbeam Lodge grill for your last bite of food before your weekend is up. And because you worked so hard on those skate skis, you definitely need that Housemade Mac & Cheese (with bacon!) you’re smelling. And the kiddos should definitely order The Works Fries, so you can sneak bites of their French fries with chili, cheese, onions, jalapenos and sour cream. You can even snag a grab-and-go Barrett's Brew (exclusive to Solitude) from the Argenta Pub to pair with your lunch. Because the sun is out and it's a beautiful day at the mountain.
As you pack the car to head back down the stunning Cottonwood Canyon, you’ll realize that this is the kind of weekend you adore. You explored and discovered new terrain around the resort, breathed the fresh air, ate delicious food, got plenty of exercise, but—most importantly—shared the experience with the ones you love. And that is the best reason to go skiing.
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