Where to ski in Utah: Solitude Mountain Resort

Solitude Mountain Resort is one of those ski resorts that grows on you. The first time I skied Solitude was as part of a demo day experience, and I only traversed part of the mountain. Still, I enjoyed it. The next time I visited, my teenage son and I zipped all over the mountain during an epic powder day…hard to dislike that! The third time I skied this Big Cottonwood Canyon resort, the snow was so-so, but hidden stashes remained, and the true peace and tranquility to be found here won me over.


What to expect at Solitude Mountain Resort:

Let’s start with what not to expect: don’t expect crowds, as Solitude really does live up to its name. You also don’t need to expect the usual high lift ticket prices. Even if you opt to buy tickets at the window or online, instead of getting a M.A.X. Pass, Solitude lift tickets are on the reasonable side, comparatively speaking. And I have visited during a long holiday weekend.

Instead, at Solitude, you can expect a local vibe, despite the presence of a base village with lodging for out-of-town guests. There’s an emphasis on off-piste (off the run) skiing and even backcountry skiing (out of bounds), which means the mountain ‘skis bigger than it is’. What do I mean by this? At 1200 acres, Solitude is not considered a very large resort, but if you include all the glade skiing, powder bowls, and off-piste options, which exist depending on snow conditions, it’s very large indeed.


The lifts at Solitude are spaced out enough that some traversing will be necessary at times, but the newest chair, Summit, is not only fast but offers incredible views as you ascend. The village is compact, with condo-style lodging, an inn, a few restaurants, gear rentals, and a snow sports shop, and extremely cozy.

How to plan your trip to Solitude:

I love skiing Utah resorts because so many of them are within an easy commute of Salt Lake City and the international airport. Solitude was within 45 minutes of downtown during my visits. From the base of Big Cottonwood Canyon, it’s only 12 miles. On one trip, because my son and I were skiing multiple resorts during my second time at Solitude, we stayed at the entrance to the canyon, at Residence Inn by Marriott. It was comfortable, convenient, had an excellent complimentary breakfast, and was only about 25 minutes from the Solitude parking lot. I highly recommend this hotel if you want to stay central to both Big and Little Cottonwood canyons.


If your ski trip will be solely at Solitude and/or Solitude and its neighbor, Brighton, definitely stay in the Solitude Village. I stayed two nights at the Inn at Solitude on my third visit and loved the proximity to the mountain. My fourth-floor balcony literally overlooked the Apex Chair, and the heated, outdoor hot tub and pool soothed sore muscles each evening. The Inn at Solitude is just steps from The Hungry Squirrel, which became my go-to apres-ski watering hole, and there are spa services on-site, too. St. Bernard’s restaurant, directly inside the inn, offers an Alpine-style buffet dinner with charcuterie, hot soups, roasts and cobblers every night, and serves an equally satisfying buffet breakfast each morning. The atmosphere is warm and relaxing; we enjoyed drinks in the Library Bar seating area outside the dining room before our leisurely meal. St. Bernard’s was a definite highlight of our time at Solitude. You also get access to Club Solitude by staying at the Inn at Solitude, which has additional pools, a lounge area with video games and a movie screening room, exercise spaces and saunas.

As noted, the village is small, but has what you need (eliminating any need to commute down the canyon for food or supplies). You can find a very small convenience store right at the entrance to Solitude by the real estate office; this is not a grocery store by any means, but does have wine, beer, convenience items and toiletry items. If you are staying in the village and want a second option in addition to St. Bernard’s, head to Honeycomb Grille for excellent American bistro cuisine or to the small pizzeria. Every option is within walking distance of everything else.

You’ll be ski-in, ski-out at Solitude, and only a five-minute drive from Brighton. There are buses that connect the two as well (and you can ski between them…more on that in a minute).

Getting your bearings at Solitude:

There are two base areas at Solitude, at Solitude Village and Moonbeam base area. It’s nice that both have parking lots, to spread out day guests, and both have base lodges with ticket sales and food services. Moonbeam is home to the snowsports center, which is where to go if you’re taking a lesson or dropping off kids for lessons. There are some food venues there, as well as bathrooms.


The village has additional food services, a rental shop and tuning shop, and all the lodging options (which include condos in addition to the inn). A good lunch option can be found at Last Chance Lodge, right on the snow at the edge of the village, where you can find excellent made-to-order tacos and a salad bar. Hang tight though, because the absolute best lunch spot is at mid-mountain (read on to find out where).

Skiing Solitude:

If you enjoy skiing off-piste, Solitude is heaven. The Summit chair drops you off at the entry to Honeycomb Canyon, named, it turns out, not after Utah’s honey production, but after the many mines that dotted the canyon a century ago. Multiple gated chutes connect with the bowl, giving skiers and snowboarders a very long and powdery run to the base near Eagle chair. There’s also a front face at Summit, plenty of tree skiing, and groomer runs for intermediate level.

Tip: if you’re a beginner, pay attention to notices at the base of each chair. Solitude is very good about placing signage where beginner terrain will be lacking, so you can know before going up.

Additional glade skiing is excellent off the older (and slower moving) Sunrise chair, and lots of nice blue groomers can be found off Moonbeam and Eagle. If you’re willing to hike, even more bowl skiing opens up, and backcountry skiers will be happy too: just look for the signage indicating when you need your own backcountry shovel, avalanche beacon, and probe to continue. (This is a good indication that you may need to hike out of the run, too.)


Overall, look at signage no matter your ski ability, and be ready to ask for advice from locals…there will be plenty of skiers and snowboarders around who are familiar with the mountain. If you have a M.A.X. pass or combined ticket for Solitude and Brighton, know that you can ski between the resorts via the Solbright run. And, er, if you accidentally ski that run and end up at the wrong base area without a combined ticket, the nice lifties will let you return via the lift…once.

If you’re an intermediate to advanced skier and want to open up more terrain for yourself, book one of Solitude’s Hidden Tracks mornings. Operating as snow and weather permits, Hidden Tracks is an opportunity to ski with a local instructor who can show you all those hidden stashes and glades you might have missed. And there are a lot! During my Hidden Tracks experience, my guide Josh described skiing off-piste at Solitude as ‘a game of gates’. What he meant: there are gated entrances to off-piste terrain all over the place! These gated areas are maintained by ski patrol for safety and opened and closed at their discretion. Once you know where they all are, as well as which ones will require boot packing (or hiking) to get to the great snow, you’ll be an informed skier who can continue to enjoy these gates the rest of your trip. Have adventurous teens? This session is ideal for them to know their options!

At a mountain like Solitude, which has so much backcountry and side country terrain, Hidden Tracks is well worth your time and money. And while it’s not a lesson, if you’d like instruction or pointers during the morning, your guide will be happy to accommodate you.


Tip: definitely plan to eat your lunch at the Roundhouse mid-mountain between the Moonbeam and Eagle lifts. This circular lodge has a lot of history, and serves just two types of food: Wasatch mountain food (Utah-inspired soups, stews, and burgers), and Himalayan mountain food (wonderful curries and rice dishes). The food is excellent, and we found there was plenty of room…no hunting for a table at lunch.

Solitude lift tickets:

As with all ski vacations, ease the burden on your wallet by planning your lift ticket purchase ahead of time at Solitude. If you only plan to spend a few days, buy multi-day tickets online ahead of time to save money off the approximate $85 adult day pass price. There’s also a Solbright day pass, which gives you access to all of Brighton, too. Personally, I think you’ll be busy enough at just one or the other, but the flexibility is nice.

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Disclosure: We skied Solitude as guests of the resort, for the purpose of reviewing the M.A.X. Pass option. All opinions are my own.