In operation since 1936, the low-key, family-friendly Brighton Ski Resort, 12601 Big Cottonwood Canyon Rd., Brighton, UT 84121 (tel. 800/873-5512 or 801/532-4731; www.brightonresort.com), is where many Utahns learn to ski and snowboard thanks to the highly regarded ski and snowboard school. Children 10 and under stay and ski free with their parents, and teens particularly enjoy the bumps of Lost Maid Trail as it winds through the woods. But don't let its reputation as a beginner's mountain fool you: Brighton's slopes are graced with a full range of terrain, all the powder you can imagine, and virtually no crowds. More Utahns than out-of-staters hit the slopes here -- Brighton is located just 35 miles from downtown Salt Lake City at the top of Big Cottonwood Canyon, and visitors tend to stay away because of the paucity of area lodgings. Elbowroom is plentiful on the intermediate and advanced slopes on the weekends, and you may even have them all to yourself on weekdays. Snowboarders will delight to know that this is one of the state's top snowboarding destinations. Plus, you needn't leave after dark: Brighton lights up 200 acres for night skiing.
Brighton has six quad lifts, one triple, and a Magic Carpet serving over 1,050 acres in the Wasatch-Cache National Forest. The lift-served vertical drop is 1,745 feet, accessible by hiking. Base elevation is 8,755 feet. Of the 66 runs, 21% are rated beginner, 40% intermediate, and 39% advanced. Lifts are open daily from 9am to 4pm, mid-November to mid-April, with night skiing and snowboarding Monday through Saturday from 4 to 9pm from early December to March. The resort can make snow on 200 acres, but with 500 inches of average snowfall per year, the man-made stuff isn't usually necessary.
Brighton has a beautiful day lodge, with ticket windows, restrooms, a common area, a ski rental and repair facility, and a convenient bus depot.
Lift Tickets -- Adult all-day passes cost $58; night skiing, $32. Children 11 to 12 are $30, but those 10 and under ski free with an adult (with a maximum of two kids per paying adult). Seniors 70 and over are also $30.
Lessons & Programs -- Brighton Ski & Snowboard School (tel. 800/873-5512, ext. 209), in the Alpine Rose building, offers both private and group lessons. Group lessons cost $40 for adults and private lessons start at $75 for 1 hour. Night skiing lessons cost $40, including a lift ticket. The ski and snowboard school also offers a variety of workshops and clinics, including a telemark series as well as adult parallel, senior, children's, and women's workshops.
Where to Stay & Dine -- Brighton Lodge, at the ski resort (tel. 800/873-5512, ext. 120; www.brightonresort.com), has 20 units, ranging from dorm-style rooms (which sleep up to four) to luxurious suites, with rates of $109 to $189 double. The lodge's large outdoor Jacuzzi will help loosen those sore muscles for your next day of skiing. Room tax is about 12%. You'll find cafeteria-style dining for all three meals and a bar that opens for lunch and stays open through après-ski and dinner. Another option is Mount Majestic Properties (tel. 888/236-0667 or 435/655-5609; www.mountmajestic.com), which rents all manner of mountain homes and condominiums for $150 a night and up.
Warm-Weather Fun -- Mountain biking and hiking are popular activities, but note that lifts are not open in summer.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.