This Is The Utah Bucket List Resort Few Visiting Skiers Ever See.

Brighton is a held in high regard by senior skiers for its friendliness and its powder. Credit: Brighton
Brighton is a held in high regard by senior skiers for its friendliness and its powder.
Credit: Brighton

I kept hearing three sounds at Brighton on December 22, the first day of Winter, 2015. Early morning trail runs were knee deep. As more people arrived, I entered the forest. There were places where depths reached my thighs.

Sound One: Teen-fueled screech of Yippee! HooHaw! YowWee!

Sound Two: Less frequent and muffled thunder of avalanche bombs.

Sound Three: My quiet laughter in moments of pure joy.

Jon's tracks through the trees on his early morning run at Brighton. Credit: Jon Weisberg
Jon’s tracks through the trees on his early morning run at Brighton.
Credit: Jon Weisberg

Brighton is Utah’s oldest resort. It was started in 1936 and is at the end of gorgeous Big Cottonwood Canyon road, 14 serpentine miles, including two linked hairpin turns. It’s next to Solitude, and both can be skied for a slight ticket premium.

Brighton is a local’s favorite and known for its boarders. But it has a longstanding following of older skiers and should be on our collective bucket list.

Snow and Terrain

  • Big Cottonwood Canyon is a natural snow machine, funneled toward Brighton. It reliably receives 500″ most seasons; trading position for deepest dumps with neighboring Solitude, Alta, and Snowbird; often drawing the envy of Deer Valley and Park City. By road Park City and Little Cottonwood areas are a distance; by crow, they’re wing beats away.
  • The area has 1,745′ of vertical, rising from 8755′ to 10,500′. Advice to older skiers not accustomed to higher elevations: take it easy and stay hydrated.
  • Brighton offers the full suite of green, blue, and black terrain spread over 1000+ acres, all reachable by high-speed chair. There are 66 runs and an endless selection of glades. Parts of Millicent Bowl are steep, open, and wide.
  • The Sol-Bright trail connects Brighton and Solitude for those who want to ski both resorts. This requires purchase of the premium Sol-Bright lift pass.

Lot to Lift Access

  • The area is shaped like an amphitheater, with parking lot positioned as stage. Wherever you park, you’re not far from lodge or uphill conveyance; no tiring hikes from car to lift. A very nice arrangement.
  • Like many Utah resorts, Brighton is not far from the airport, making a good same day option for those arriving early. Brighton also offers reasonably priced morning- and afternoon-only tickets.
  • If you’re not staying at the mountain — there are only a few options — there are many places in the Salt Lake Valley, some as close as 20 minutes. Next door, Solitude has lodges and condos.


  • Two words: FRIENDLY and HELPFUL. People go out of their way to make you feel welcome. It’s real.
  • Brighton is old-in a good way. Lifts are modern, ski shop and rental shops, respectable. Other than coffee and roll in Brighton Lodge, I was unable to sample its fare. I’ll do that on another visit and update this report accordingly.

Bottom Line

  • Day pass (for 70+): $50; season pass, $525.
  • Excellent and easily accessed terrain.
  • Watch for boarders.

Trail Map

Brighton is at the end of Big Cottonwood Canyon, a natural snow machine. Credit: Brighton
Brighton is at the end of Big Cottonwood Canyon, a natural snow machine.
Credit: Brighton


  1. Avatar Jan H. Brunvand says:

    Remember that a senior season pass at Brighton is $100 cheaper if you buy it early in the season. We usually buy our passes right away in the spring online, then go to REI for the photo and pass printing in Sept. That avoids lines at the Brighton office on opening day.

  2. Arhhhh, Brighton. Loads of trees to protect us Seniors from cold and flat light on frequent powder days. Warm restaurants to warm up
    at the bottom of the lifts on those cold early January mornings, the new Blind Miner for coffee and more in the centre, the Alpine Rose above the centre for hearty brekkie fare popular with staff , newish spacious Milly Chalet at the base of the Milly lift and my favourite Molly Greens at the base of Crest for a leisurely lunch and full service bar, upstairs above the brown bag area.
    Excellent snow quality always, the envy of visitors from nearby resorts not in the Cottonwood Canyons. Very good grooming on runs with spectacular views on sunny days, even though groomed runs aren’t as long and steep as some at the bigger resorts.
    Friendly, and uncrowded slopes except early on big powder days when sometimes you may have to wait in a line for a couple of minutes if Little Cottonwood Canyon gets closed. Still expect to get 8 or more powder runs by morning tea time. Many of the seniors here get out at 9 and are on the bus down the canyon at lunchtime. Mid morning on weekends can get busy on Snake and Crest lifts for a short while.

    Ten days time and I’ll be there to pick up a pass booked preseason for ten weeks for the tenth consecutive year. Don’t even mind the 24 hours door to door travel from downunder, not much anyway. And so what if travel insurance for a 70 year old is more than the airfare or nearly three times the cost of a season pass. And even then is only valid within the ski area boundary.

    Video taster from last year:

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


Subscribe now to continue. SUBSCRIPTION IS FREE!

Already a Subscriber? Enter your email above to confirm your subscription and continue reading. Thank you!


Cookies must be enabled on your device for new and existing subscribers to gain access.

Subscribers also get access to restricted content like our

BEST SKIS FOR SENIORS list; DISCOUNT DEALS; and our weekly digest email.