A face-full of Wasatch powder. (Solitude/Facebook)
Solitude Mountain is one of the most aptly named resorts in America. Both the marketers and loyalists tout non-existent lift lines and expansive terrain – promoting a day of “solitude” in the Utah mountains.
Resort sits near top of Big Cottonwood Canyon with two base areas – day parking Moonbeam and overnight Solitude Village. Bought by over-the-ridge neighbor Deer Valley in 2015, Solitude has since gotten a new and realigned high-speed (Summit Express), and upgrades inside lodges and restaurants – with promise of more.
Terrain/Lifts. Total vert just over 2,000 feet with 1,200 skiable acres spread across two cirques, and divided into distinct sections. Novices should stick to lower mountain off Moonbeam (only 18 percent of hill is green). Classic groomers roll off Sunrise, Apex, Eagle and Powderhorn lifts. Upper front serves up a few cruisers, but specializes in delivering skiers and riders to the steep, deep and gnarly. Tons of short, steep lines between trails to explore, and plenty of trees in Headwall Forest off 10,035-foot summit, or if you slalom through Black Forest into Honeycomb Canyon. That’s where Solitude sets itself apart: Honeycomb Canyon feeds all parts of the powder hound’s soul, with traverses (or short hikes) off the summit leading to glades, chutes, bowls and cliffs on both sides of the backside steep canyon. Return access requires a couple of chair rides on which to rest weary legs.
Deals. Multi-day tickets cut day rate, and season pass tops at $979, including days at Deer Valley and Brighton. SolBright ticket ($99) permits crossover to neighboring Brighton Mountain. Stay at resort properties in Solitude Village and cut ticket costs. Solitude part of M.A.X. Pass network.
Eat/Drink. Nothing on the mountain but skiing fare at base restaurants. Wander into the village and find everything from pizza to filet miñon. Target the Thirsty Squirrel bar for aprés-ski drinks and chatter. Lounge upscale at the Library Bar in Powderhorn Lodge, or strap on snowshoes for half-mile trek to The Yurt for four-course meal.
Stay. One hotel – the Inn at Solitude – surrounded by condos, townhouses and private home rentals in village. Down below, town of Sandy and Salt Lake City jammed with overnight options.
Play. Expansive Nordic center winds out of village with all levels of trails. Snowshoes can be rented for those who need more stability, and there’s an ice rink in the village.
Travel. A shuttle from Salt Lake City airport gets you on the slopes in about an hour. It’s 20 miles up Big Cottonwood Canyon; public transport is preferred, with loading spots around the city and at mouth of canyon. Parking can be limited.
Insider Tip: First-timers should check out trail map ahead of time, as lifts link up oddly. Warm up below, and then plan to do multiple runs on a particular section of the mountain to avoid having to take more than one lift or making lengthy traverses.