30 miles SE of downtown Salt Lake City

You say you want some snow? Here it is, some 500 inches of it piling up every year, just waiting for you powder-hungry skiers to make that short drive from Salt Lake City. Brighton and Solitude ski resorts are in Big Cottonwood Canyon, and Alta and Snowbird ski resorts are in its sister canyon, Little Cottonwood.

If you're skiing on a budget, stay at the more affordable Salt Lake City lodgings rather than at the resorts themselves. The resorts are so close -- less than an hour's drive -- that city dwellers sometimes even hit the slopes after a day at the office.

But this area is more than just a winter playground. Big Cottonwood Canyon, cut by ancient rivers over more centuries than you can imagine, is a spectacular setting for warm-weather picnicking, camping, mountain biking, and hiking. Rugged, glacier-carved Little Cottonwood Canyon is filled with lush fields of summer wildflowers, the brilliant hues of autumn, and then a winter blanket of champagne powder snow.