If you’re planning a ski trip to Utah’s Cottonwood Canyon, there’s a good chance that you’re having a hard time deciding between Brighton and Solitude. While these resorts are very close to one another, there are still some key differences.
We’ve spent time getting to know the terrain and lifestyle at both resorts. This quick guide will tell you everything you need to know to find what works best for you.
Brighton vs Solitude – The Short Answer
Brighton and Solitude are both relatively small ski resorts, separated by an only 7-minute drive. Brighton is best for low-key skiing with locals and offers more beginner-friendly terrain. Solitude is best for intermediate skiers who are looking for almost nonexistent lift lines.
That’s the extremely-over-simplified, quick answer. Adequately comparing the two resorts takes a bit more detail.
Brighton vs Solitude – Complete Comparison
There’s a lot to like about both Brighton and Solitude. They are quite close together, so there are quite a few similarities. Snow quality and accessibility are two things that both resorts have going for them. The differences come about in terms of terrain, villages, etc.
We’ve broken the various aspects of the resorts down into categories in order to more thoroughly compare them.
Best Snow: Draw
Sure, you can nitpick and note the slight 700-or-so foot elevation advantage at Brighton, but the snow quality is pretty much the same there as it is at Solitude. That’s to be expected, as the two resorts are so close that you can see right into one from the other.
If there’s any difference at all in snow, it’s that you may encounter slightly less tracked-up areas in Solitude. Brighton is the busier resort and usually has more snowboarders than what you’ll find at Solitude.
The bottom line is really that the snow quality is generally great at both resorts and it really shouldn’t be a deciding factor one way or another.
Best Terrain: Solitude
This may be the most subjective distinction between the two, but we give Solitude the nod here. Solitude is a powder hound’s dream and has a wide variety of runs. The runs offer more vertical and are, on average, a good bit more challenging than what you’ll find over at Brighton.
Even though we prefer Solitude’s intermediate to advanced terrain, Brighton does have a few things up its sleeve in this department. Brighton’s terrain park is one of them. It’s a well-known feature and it’s lit at nighttime. The tree skiing at Brighton is also very good with plenty of glades to go around.
Best for Beginners: Brighton
True beginners will almost always prefer Brighton over Solitude. It’s not that Solitude is particularly overwhelming, but it doesn’t have quite the selection of novice-friendly runs that Brighton does.
Brighton runs are all pretty tame. Even the more challenging terrain at Brighton really isn’t enough to keep expert skiers entertained for long periods of time. Beginners will have no problem staying comfortable
Best Value: Draw
Both Brighton and Solitude are a great value for Utah skiing. You’ll have a really hard time finding skiing this good with such low prices for lift tickets, rentals, and food.
And the value increases even more when you account for how easily accessible both of these resorts are from Salt Lake City. You can travel from the Salt Lake City airport to Brighton/Solitude in less than 45 minutes. There are also plenty of affordable options for lodging outside of Big Cottonwood Canyon.
If you’re looking for the cheapest possible lift ticket, Brighton has a very slight edge. The lift ticket alone really isn’t a big factor, as the difference in price is probably less than 10% at any given time.
It’s also worth mentioning that both Brighton and Solitude are a part of the MAX Pass. This is a great deal and should be taken advantage of if you plan on skiing at multiple locations. The pass gives you 5 days each at a number of ski resorts around the country, along with a select few international destinations. Here’s a link to the MAX Pass website for more information.
Best Apres Ski & Lifestyle: Solitude
Unfortunately, you’ve likely come to the wrong place if you’re looking for outstanding apres ski, food, and shopping. Neither Brighton or Solitude are particularly exciting in these areas.
That said, Solitude does offer a bit more in the way of atmosphere. Even more so in the past few years after being acquired by Deer Valley’s parent company. Solitude does have a small village, something that Brighton lacks.
Brighton only offers a limited selection of quick food. The lodge is very utilitarian and doesn’t afford many creature comforts. Ie: it does a fine job as a base, but you wouldn’t ever confuse it for luxury.
Solitude’s village does offer one upscale restaurant, St. Bernard’s. The food is good and it’s a welcome spot for unwinding. Honeycomb Grill has a good lunch and the Thirsty Squirrel is good for drinks. All of these establishments are a notch above the Brighton equivalents.
At the end of the day, skiing is the main attraction at both of these resorts. Anyone who prioritizes more nightlife and other non-skiing activities should probably consider some of the other Utah resorts like Deer Valley or Park City.
No matter which resort you go with, Brighton and Solitude both offer a ton of bang for your buck. They are a godsend for skiers who are more about the action and less about everything else. The prices are great and the crowds are minimal, especially at Solitude.
The real beauty of these resorts is found when you spend more than a single day in the Canyon. It really doesn’t make sense to limit yourself to one resort when you can easily ski both. The proximity of the two, along with the universal acceptance of the MAX Pass, makes this a no-brainer.
If you plan on skiing enough days at other resorts around the country, definitely check all of the details on the MAX Pass before your Brighton/Solitude trip. You can easily alternate days skiing at each resort while you’re there and still have access to tons of other destinations all year long.
You really can’t go wrong with Brighton or Solitude. Either way, you’re going to have access to outstanding Utah conditions at a fraction of the price. The only real downside is the lack of available extracurricular activities.
Let us know which resort you like best, especially if you choose to visit both. Help us settle the debate!