As the hot summer still beats down on Utah and we’re regularly hitting the high 90s and 100s, many of us have thoughts that turn to cooler weather. And by cooler weather, we mean snowy and cold. And snowy and cold in Utah, we mean the ski season. “Going Local” is going to highlight northern Utah’s biggest attractions in a series of blog posts, and we’re starting with what is definitely a local favorite: Solitude Mountain Resort.
Tucked up in Big Cottonwood Canyon, Solitude’s secret is in the name. It often gets passed up for some of the bigger local names, but that is exactly what makes it appealing. In the experience of our company, VIP Limousine, Solitude is devoid of annoying lift lines and crowded slopes. The chairlifts are mere steps away from the parking lot surface, and there is no interruption besides a lift ride separating one from enjoying the slopes.
Solitude is highlighted as one of the more family-friendly resorts in Utah. The mountain has a high degree of beginner and intermediate terrain, with a dedicated learning area or “bunny hill” near the main lodges. The gentle chairlift and slope are excellent for those who are wanting to try skiing or snowboarding for the first time, which are also good for building confidence. Expanding beyond this area to other slopes and lifts yields yet more gentle and undulating terrain as well, so the transition from beginner to beyond is easier.
This does not mean, however, that Solitude is boring. One look at the craggy peaks above tells any visitor that this place is anything but. Those undulating groomers are great for ripping quickly down the various faces of the resort. A glance to the left off of Eagle Express, the first high-speed quad chairlift in Utah, reveals some great drops coupled with a fantastic view. A ride up the new Summit Express lift is also very revealing in regards to Solitude’s terrain…in part because not only is one not always going up (there are portions where the lift actually descends due to terrain features), but also the chutes and cliffs belie the friendly-looking beginner slopes.
Turning right at the top of the Summit Express leads to a hidden gem: Honeycomb Canyon. A long, steep, varied section of the resort tucked away behind the façade seen from the parking lot, this canyon is beset by avalanche danger. This also means that it is often swamped with that famous Utah powder. Consider it lift-accessible backcountry. Once at the bottom, the Honeycomb Return chairlift brings any and all powderhounds back up to the ridge above the Eagle Express.
Solitude has only a recorded 1,200 acres of skiable area, but the layout and altitude make it ski bigger than it actually is. The lift layout easily manages uphill traffic and access to various points of the resort. Plus, a trip down the SolBright connector allows a transition between Solitude and its neighboring resort, Brighton. Passes are available which cover both areas in one deal, expanding the skiable area and allowing visitors a taste of two different areas.
Accessible in the winter by Utah Transit Authority bus lines, personal car, or your local private car and limo service, Solitude is also open for summertime activities. New ownership under Deer Valley Resort has not dampened Solitude’s family-run character established by its former owners, the DeSeelhorst family. The company has done some upgrading, including some work on the lodges and installing the new Summit Express chairlift, but it remains distinctly different from its more famous sibling resort on the Wasatch Back. We at VIP Limousine really do believe that Solitude Mountain Resort is a great escape.