Family Ski Resort Guide | Brighton Resort

By Local Lexi Sep 8, 2021
Brighton Resort’s intimate feel fosters fun and connection for families. The local vibe and friendly atmosphere at this ski area are ideal for instilling confidence and independence in youngsters.
Family Ski Resort Guide | Brighton Resort

Brighton Resort is Utah’s oldest ski hill. Since the installation of a humble rope tow in 1936, families have been enjoying this cozy mountain perched atop the heights of Big Cottonwood Canyon. Today, that sense of nostalgia remains and parents are often comfortable letting their children range free among the tree-lined slopes of the Majestic and Crest Express chairlifts. Brighton was one of the first resorts to welcome snowboarders and has been a cultural haven for shredders ever since. For a deep dive into Brighton's colorful history—click here


Brighton offers some of the largest night skiing acreage in the mountain west with over 250 lights illuminating 24 runs. Their robust night skiing schedule makes it an easy option for families who want to teach their kids to ski or just grab a couple hours of turns after school. At Brighton the focus remains on locals with affordability and approachability a notable part of the resort's guest experience.


The terrain of Brighton encompasses gentle slopes perfect for true beginners, steep, wide-open powder bowls, swooping groomers and plenty of nicely spaced tree runs. Brighton is often considered: “The Place Where Utah Learns to Ski and Ride” and their well-staffed Ski & Snowboard School contains friendly instructors determined to show students why Brighton is the bomb. 

Brighton Resort is located at the top of Big Cottonwood Canyon just beyond Solitude. Approximate driving times (in favorable driving conditions) and distances are listed below: 

Salt Lake City: 30 miles – 45 minutes
Ogden: 68 miles – 1 hour, 20 minutes
Provo: 57 miles – 1 hour, 20 minutes
Logan: 112 miles – 2 hours, 10 minutes
St. George: 260 miles – 3 hours, 40 minutes

In a 5th Grader’s Words:
“We saw a moose at Brighton; we snowboarded a lot, and there were very nice people snowboarding there, too. We saw a lot of chairlifts in one area and there were some people in crazy suits and crazy snowboarding outfits.” -Mikey, Age 10


Brighton's Terrain & Mountain Stats

Skiable Acres: 1,050 Acres
Vertical Drop: 1,875 Feet
Number of Runs: 66
Average Snowfall: 500"
Terrain: 21% Beginner, 40% Intermediate, 39% Advanced, 5+ Terrain Parks
Chairlifts: 6 and 2 Magic Carpet Surface Lifts
Night Skiing: Yes, 4-9PM, Monday-Saturday on 4 lifts (Explorer, Majestic, Crest Express and Snake Creek Express) For more info click here

Deals at Brighton 
Up to two kids 6 & under can ski free with a pass-holding or paying adult, info here! With the purchase of 1 or more Adult or Young Adult Unlimited Season Pass, Brighton will offer discounted Youth, Child & Grom "add-on" passes. Brighton often offers bargains and flash sales, be sure to check their bargain page before you visit. It's possible to score big savings on night skiing if you purchase well in advance.

PRO TIP: There are green or blue runs accessible from the top of every chairlift at Brighton, so it’s a fun place for families of different ability levels to ski together.

Brighton is a compact resort that is perfectly suited for families who want to explore the mountain together or venture off. The resort harbors a cozy sense of nostalgia, harkening back to a time when the focus of skiing was on family, learning and fun. Brighton stands out for its consistently deep snow thanks to its high base elevation. Brighton's location captures the brunt of the big snowstorms that pick up an extra punch of moisture over the Great Salt Lake before moving into the Wasatch.

The easiest terrain can be found near the Explorer chairlift and magic carpet surface lift. Kids love the winding groomers lined by perfectly spaced trees along the terrain accessed by the Majestic chairlift. Kids enjoy riding this lift as it soars above the many terrain parks, keeping them entertained. Runs to investigate include Hawkeye, Mary Back and Lost Maid.

For runs with a bit more amplitude and length, head up Great Western Express, which serves up blue and green terrain. Thunder Road and Tantamount are runs that access Brighton’s countless terrain parks.

Advanced and expert terrain can be enjoyed off the Great Western and Milly Express chairlifts. Mt. Millicent includes Brighton’s longest groomers, wide-open bowls, steeps and big bands of cliffs. Powderhounds typically head here for first tracks and snowboarders love the playful, jibby terrain. Nice tree skiing is located off both Great Western and Snake Creek. Head down the rolling undulations of Elk Ridge Run off Great Western and take your pick of runs to the left.

Brighton operates an extensive night skiing program from 4–9PM, Monday through Saturday. Night lessons are available and Brighton offers food through the evening hours to keep night patrons full and warm in addition to Molly Green's 21+ bar (sorry, no children allowed upstairs in the bar). 



Big Cottonwood Canyon can experience road delays in the event of big storms, holiday crowds or necessary avalanche mitigation. You should always check road conditions in inclement weather and NEVER attempt a drive up either of the Cottonwood Canyons without proper tires and 4WD, AWD, or chains. Consider traveling during off-peak periods and use public transit or carpooling. It is not permitted to park overnight in a vehicle at Brighton or anywhere in Big Cottonwood Canyon.
In times of heavy snowfall, the Utah Department of Transportation (UDOT) will implement a mandatory Traction Law. It is required by law to ensure you have appropriate traction devices or tires for winter driving. For current road status, you can check the UDOT Twitter Account.

Tickets are issued for drivers who defy the requirements. For this reason, it's a great choice to ride the UTA Ski Bus! 


The UTA Ski Bus service allows skiers to avoid driving and helps reduce canyon and parking congestion. In the winter months, the Utah Transit Authority (UTA), runs daily service from November or December through April. Route 972 services Big Cottonwood Canyon at 30-minute intervals during peak hours from the Fort Union Station. Check the UTA website for a current schedule and read our Guide to Ride the Ski Bus.

Brighton's parking lot is small so a successful program has been implemented to require parking reservations on all Fridays, Saturdays, Sundays and holidays prior to 12PM. Brighton passholders may hold up to 2 complementary parking reservations at a time. A parking reservation is not required after 12PM, however do note it can be difficult to find a parking spot on the weekends around this time slot, consider heading up a bit later. Parking reservations can be made online in advance. 
Reserved ADA parking spaces have recently been expanded, find them in front of the Brighton Center and Milly Chalet. 


Brighton is truly a no-frills resort and its base area is very straightforward, making it a great place for families with kids. Start with hot coffee or espresso brewed daily at the cozy Blind Miners Cafe in the Brighton Center at the base area. Lessons, rentals, restrooms, and the gear shop can all be found here. The neighboring Milly Chalet offers easy access to the Milly Express chairlift along with restrooms and indoor/outdoor dining. The newly constructed mid-mountain Snake Creek Lodge contains the Sidewinder Grill and offers a refuge on the snow located near the Snake Creek ski lift where the Sunshine and Pioneer runs intersect. 



With over 175 friendly and knowledgeable instructors, the Brighton Snowsports School prides itself on a reputation as "The Place Where Utah Learns to Ski and Ride." There's a large selection of classes, workshops, daily group lessons, private lessons and multi-week camps for riders of all abilities. If you are renting gear, arrive at least an hour early to complete the rental fitting and note that advance reservations are highly recommended. Check Brighton’s website for a current offering of workshops for kids and adults. If you take a lesson during a weekend or holiday, a parking code will be included.

Pro Tip: Please note that advance reservations for equipment rentals are recommended to guarantee availability and faster service.

Kids' Daily Lessons
Reservations for daily lessons are recommended for 48 hours in advance and it is imperative to arrive on time. Instructors specializing in child development will lead fun and focused lessons to create a positive learning experience. Group lessons are offered for children 4 and up. Inexpensive rental packages can be added. Private lessons are required for children 3 years in age. Lessons for kids are offered in 1 hour, half-day, or full-day blocks.

Adult Daily Lessons
Reservations for daily lessons are recommended. Designed for ages 13 and up, Adult Daily Lessons are tailored for all ability levels. Several different packages, rental equipment and pass deals are offered. Group lessons are 2 hours in length and a lift ticket is not included. Private lessons for varying time blocks offered and reservations are highly recommended. Private lessons for adults are offered in 1 hour, half-day, or full-day blocks.

Night Lessons
For ages 8+, 2-hour night lessons are a great way to beat the crowds and enjoy discounted lift tickets. Students will meet in front of the Snowsports School at 5:55 PM. Reservations are not required and lessons are available on a first-come-first-served basis.

Intro Package
Designed for first-timers ages 13+ this 2-hour lesson includes gear rental and a learner's lift ticket to the Explorer and Majestic chairlifts.

Camps & Programming
Brighton offers a handful of camps, workshops and lessons in a weekly series for children and adults with the same instructor. Learn new skills and confidence while exploring the mountain, examples include Freeride and freestyle camps, women's camps and more. Click here to learn more about the current programs and camps on offer at Brighton. 


Everything you need to get your day in gear can be found in the Brighton Center. The rental shop and sports shop are both located here. Should you need any repairs or gear tuning, the tune shop is located on the second floor of the Brighton Center. 

Equipment Rentals
A comprehensive fleet of rental equipment is available at Brighton. A diverse lineup of gear (including women’s specific) is available for beginners, park rats, powder lovers or all-mountain cruisers. A plethora of reasonably-priced package options can be tailored for the perfect day (or night) of skiing. Multi-day rates and group rates for 25+ individuals are available. Reservations are recommended to ensure availability to rent gear. Brighton does not rent goggles or outerwear. 

Brighton Mountain Store
Located on the 2nd level of the Brighton Center, this shop stocks a full lineup of essentials for skiers and boarders. The latest styles, gear, accessories and camera essentials can be found here. This is the perfect spot to grab Brighton logo gear.
The Burton Store
If you are on a board and keen to try the latest tech, swing by the mid-mountain Burton Store at the base of the Snake Creek chairlift. This is the only Step On Demo Center in the country and provides snowboarders with the opportunity to try Step On boots and bindings to demo the newest and hottest snowboards for just $20. Snacks, drinks and basic essentials can also be purchased here.
The Brighton Store
Located in a charming old A-frame near the roundabout at the entrance to Brighton Ski Resort lies the Brighton Store. Here you can purchase snacks and great logo gear for your adventures in any season. You'll find a mix of groceries and essential items along with famous to-go fried chicken. 



One of the reasons Brighton mainly attracts locals is the general lack of nearby lodging. The only slopeside lodging is the Brighton Lodge, a rustic yet charming and comfortable alpine retreat. Just yards from the Crest Express chairlift, this 20-room lodge provides a continental breakfast and very affordable rates, including dorm rooms. Guests will enjoy ski-in/ski-out access to the slopes day and night. The nostalgic atmosphere and tradition of this lodge make it a worthwhile experience for a weekend getaway or a family vacation.

Some vacation rentals near Brighton can be reserved and there are many lodging options down canyon at Solitude Mountain Resort and the Silver Fork Lodge and Restaurant. It is also fairly easy to find affordable vacation rentals down in Cottonwood Heights and Sandy along the UTA Ski Bus line.
PRO TIP: If you hope to book a vacation rental near Brighton, do so well in advance.

The focus at Brighton is on family, fun and snow. For this reason, there are just a handful of dining options and they all provide hearty food at a reasonable cost. Most families opt for the Alpine Rose, a cafeteria-style eatery serving ski hill staples such as breakfast burritos, burgers, chili and grilled foods. On warm spring days, the Alpine Rose will fire up the BBQs on the outdoor patio. The Alpine Rose remains open late to provide dinner service for night skiing and offers a good variety of to-go snacks. There is a brown bag area located on the lower level of the Brighton Center near the Blind Miner for families who opt to bring their own lunches. 

The Milly Chalet, adjacent to the Milly Express chairlift, also serves breakfast and lunch with a newly updated and feature menu. This is the perfect place to indulge in a hearty meal with a mountainside view. For a quicker grab-and-go option near Milly Chalet, sidle up to Doyle's Dawgs, an iconic hot dog stop. Honor the legacy of Brighton's founding family with a variety of hot dog styles and toppings.
For fuel on the mountain, don't miss the newly constructed Snake Creek Lodge which houses the Sidewinder Grill. The menu features smash burgers, savory cheese curds, and more to enjoy in the mountain air. A large patio is great for dining outdoors in fair weather. The mid-mountain lodge can be reached from the Snake Creek or Great Western chairlifts.
Blind Miners Cafe in the Brighton Center serves up hot coffee, espresso and hot cocoa alongside tempting pastries and snacks. The location is perfect to warm up before or after a lesson.

Parents may opt to try the famous nachos and a Bloody Mary in the 21+ bar, Molly Green's in the A-frame chalet next to the Majestic lift. This bar has a fantastic atmosphere with excellent taxidermy, darts, shuffleboard, and a full bar and liquor menu; children are not permitted in the bar.



Brighton does not offer childcare; however, lessons are available for kids three and up.


In the lower level of the building that houses Molly Green's bar is the Brighton Urgent Care Clinic (facing north towards the parking lot). The experienced and professional Brighton Ski Patrol can transport injured skiers or boarders directly to the clinic for treatment. There is an X-ray machine and technician onsite alongside a physician and nurses. Transit by ambulance down the canyon is readily available in the case of acute emergency. 


For a memorable visit, consider these unique points of interest when planning a trip to Brighton. 

Brighton Night Skiing
With over 200-acres of illuminated terrain, Brighton has some of the most expansive night skiing in the west. Night skiing is not to be missed and Brighton offers a number of package deals, lessons and specials so check their website for current deals.

The Brighton Store
This historic shop has been greeting visitors to Brighton for decades. Located at the front of Brighton Loop, you can grab nifty souvenirs, snacks, and drinks here. The soft-serve ice cream is quite delicious.

Brighton’s Vintage Snowboard Collection
Take a moment to walk around the Brighton Center and admire the collection of vintage snowboarding gear. This tribute to the sport of snowboarding is a throwback to the radical days of the sport’s tumultuous birth.

Visit Brighton's Website to Learn More - Click Here


Ski Utah Resort Histories | Brighton - Click Here
A Night in the Life of a Brighton Snow Cat Driver - Click Here
Randy Doyle and the Legacy of Brighton - Click Here