Family Ski Resort Guide | Brighton Resort

By Local Lexi Sep 8, 2021
Utah’s oldest resort keeps the focus on fun, snow and family. The feel-good vibe at this ski area is ideal for fostering the confidence of riders at Brighton.
Family Ski Resort Guide | Brighton Resort

Brighton Resort is Utah’s oldest ski area. A tow rope was installed in 1936 and families have been enjoying this special place ever since. Today, that sense of nostalgia remains and parents are often comfortable letting their children range free among the friendly tree-lined slopes of the Majestic and Crest Express chairlifts. Brighton was one of the first resorts to welcome snowboarders and has been a haven for shredders ever since. For a deep dive into Brighton's colorful history—click here

With some of the most expansive night skiing in the west, Brighton is an exciting place to experience at night. The night skiing scene is a fun and easy way to switch up your routine and grab a few laps after school. Brighton is a no-frills affair with the focus remaining on affordability, family, and of course, snow.

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. One of the reasons Brighton is so affordable and attractive for families: up to two children 10 and under ski and ride for free with a passholding adult!

Brighton Resort is located at the top of Big Cottonwood Canyon above 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


Skiable Acres: 1,050 Acres
Vertical Drop: 1,875 Feet
Number of Runs: 66
Terrain: 21% Beginner, 40% Intermediate, 39% Advanced, 5 Terrain Parks
Chairlifts: 6 and 1 Magic Carpet Surface Lift
Night Skiing: Yes, 4:00-9:00 PM, Monday-Saturday on 3 lifts (Explorer, Majestic, Crest Express) For more info click here
Deals for Kids: Up to two kids 10 & under can ski free with a pass-holding or paying adult

Brighton is a compact resort that is perfectly suited for families who want to explore the mountain together or venture off. 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. The resort harbors a cozy sense of nostalgia, harkening back to a time when the focus of skiing was on family, learning and fun. You won’t find six-pack chairlifts or fine dining here, just hearty food, good times and consistently deep snow.

Brighton is located at the top of Big Cottonwood Canyon above Solitude Mountain. Its high base elevation means the resort is perfectly positioned to capture 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. Have a look at our buddy Huck's day exploring the beginner terrain with an instructor at Brighton!

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 all five of Brighton’s terrain parks.

Advanced and expert terrain is best accessed via 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 4:00 – 9:00 PM, Monday through Saturday. Night lessons are available and Brighton operates the Alpine Rose cafeteria through the evening hours to keep night patrons full and warm in addition to Molly Green's bar. 



Big Cottonwood Canyon can experience road delays in the event of big storms 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 4-wheel drive or chains. For current road status, you can check UDOT Cottonwoods on Twitter.

Pro Tip: Don't plan to get away with renting a cheap and crappy rental car. Just trust us on this, you're going to need a 4WD or AWD vehicle. It can snow an inch per hour up Big Cottonwood Canyon and unprepared visitors often cause hours-long traffic jams by sliding off the road. If driving down steep grades in a howling blizzard with whiteout conditions isn't your jam, consider public transport or one of the many shuttle services.

Consider riding the UTA Ski Bus to avoid driving and help reduce canyon and parking congestion. In the winter months, the Utah Transit Authority (UTA), runs daily service from November or December until March or April. Routes 953 and 972 service Big Cottonwood Canyon at 15-minute intervals during peak hours from West Valley, Midvale, Downtown, Cottonwood Heights and Sandy. Check the UTA website for a current schedule and read our Guide to Ride the Ski Bus.

On weekends, holidays, and powder days (considered to be 6 or more inches of snow overnight), Brighton Resort's parking lot often fills quickly. Families may consider avoiding travel during peak hours, arrive before 8:00 AM or after 1 PM. Also consider Brighton's expansive night skiing operation, this is a great choice for families who want to fit a little action in after school or don't want to worry about parking. Click here for current parking information.

ADA parking is available near the base area at the Brighton Center. 

Pro Tip: You can check Brighton's resort cams for an update on the current parking situation. On weekends parking tends to fill or exceed capacity relatively early in the day. You can avoid peak periodsbefore 8 AM or after 1 PMfor a better chance at scoring parking or simply utilize public transit. For Brighton's webcamsclick here.


Brighton is truly a no-frills resort and its base area is very straightforward, making it a great place for families with kids. There is a cafeteria at the Alpine Rose and hot coffee or espresso brewed daily at the Blind Miners Cafe.

Head to the Brighton Center to meet for lessons, grab rentals and purchase any last-minute essentials. There is additional seating, restrooms and food at the Milly Chalet but there are no lodges on the slopes of Brighton's mountain. 



Brighton offers a huge selection of lessons, classes, workshops 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 required. Check Brighton’s website for a current offering of workshops for kids and adults. 

Pro Tip: Please note that advance reservations for equipment rentals are REQUIRED.

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 8 and up. Kids 10 and under will receive a free lift pass while ages 11 and 12 must purchase a lift ticket separately. Inexpensive rental packages can be added. Private lessons for children ages 4-7 are only available when accompanied by a parent or guardian chaperone to assist in lift-riding and “hand-ons" help when needed. Children between the ages of 3-7 must book a private lesson. Private lessons for kids are offered in 1, 2.5 and full-day (5 hour) blocks.

Note that Brighton also offers SnoGo snow bike lessons and rentals. 

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, 2.5 and full-day (5 hour) blocks.

Thursday Night Lessons
For ages eight through adult, 2-hour night lessons including a pass are offered on Thursday nights. Students will meet in front of the Snow Sports School at 5:55 PM. Reservations are not required and lessons are available on a first-come-first-served basis.

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. 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. Brighton does not rent goggles or outerwear; however, a plethora of reasonably-priced package options can be tailored for the perfect day (or night) of skiing. Multi-day rates and group rates are available. Reservations are REQUIRED to rent gear.

Brighton Mountain Store
Located on the second 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.



One of the reasons Brighton mainly attracts locals is the general lack of lodging. The only option nearby 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. 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.

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 near the base of the hill. 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.

The Milly Chalet, adjacent to the Milly Express chairlift, also serves breakfast and lunch. A new menu featuring BBQ and smokehouse fare has lately been spicing things up. This is the perfect place to grab a hot chocolate, a quick snack or take a rest between laps in Milly Bowl.

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, excellent taxidermy and a full bar and liquor menu; children are not permitted in the bar.


Brighton does not offer childcare; however, ski lessons are available for kids three and up and snowboarding lessons are offered for children four and older.


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.



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
Night Skiing in Utah - Click Here
Where Do Kids Ski Free in Utah? - Click Here
IKONIC Utah: 5 Resorts & 1 Pass - Click Here