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Brighton is one of the most family-friendly Utah ski resorts that you’ll find. With great deals that let kids under 10 ski free, fantastic terrain, and a laid-back atmosphere, Brighton is one of the best places for family skiing in Utah.
I will readily admit that I have a soft spot for skiing at Brighton resort with my family. When I was growing up, my parents would always bring us to Utah for 2 weeks every year to ski with our cousins and grandparents. We often had 20+ kids, and a dozen adults, and in my mind, Brighton was perfect. This was where I learned to ski, took my first jump, fell off the chairlift several times getting on (why were my snowpants so slippery), and where I skied my first black diamond. Now, a few decades later, I’m enjoying skiing Brighton with my kids and loving it just as much as I did when I was growing up!
Skiable Acres: 1,050 Acres
Vertical: 1,875 Feet
Total Number of Ski Runs: 66
Terrain: 21% Beginner, 40% Intermediate, 39% Advanced, 5 Terrain Parks
Chairlifts: 6 Chairlifts and 1 Magic Carpet Surface Lift
Night Skiing: Yes, 4:00-9:00 PM, Monday-Saturday on 4 lifts (Explorer, Majestic, Crest Express, and Snake Creek)
Family Ski Deals: Up to two kids 10 & under can ski free with a paying adult
Getting To Brighton Ski Resort
Brighton Ski Resort is located in Big Cottonwood Canyon (just east of Solitude), one of the two canyons that make up Salt Lake City’s world-famous ski resorts (the other being Little Cottonwood Canyon where Alta and Snowbird are).
To get to Brighton Ski Resort, take I-215 East to Exit 6. This will put you on Highway 190, the road that takes you up Big Cottonwood Canyon. Follow this road for about 15 miles until you reach the Brighton Ski Resort entrance on your right.
Once you arrive at the resort, there is free parking, but it fills up early on powder days and weekends.
To get to Brighton, you’ll drive up Big Cottonwood Canyon and you’ll need 4wd with snow tires, or chains available since snow driving restrictions are often in place. Although Brighton is technically only about 25 minutes from Salt Lake City, the drive up Big Cottonwood can easily take an hour or more on snow days and weekends, so get up there EARLY (like in the canyon before 7:30).
For up-to-date road information, follow @udotcottonwoods on Instagram or Twitter.
Public Transportation to Brighton in Big Cottonwood Canyon
UTA has public transportation available on the Ski Bus, which is a great option if you don’t have 4wd with snow tires or chains. The Ski Bus picks up at various locations throughout the Salt Lake Valley and drops skiers off directly at the resort. While this is an affordable option and great for mid-week skiing, ski bus lines can often be over an hour long on weekends, and there is often only standing room. We don’t recommend taking the ski bus with young kids.
Night Skiing At Brighton with Kids
One of the best things about Brighton is their night skiing. Available from 4-9 pm, Brighton Night Skiing is one of the best deals around. This allows you to get in an extra long ski day in, or to do something else during the day, and then ski in the evening.
Once the sun goes down the temperatures drop QUICKLY, so night skiing can get incredibly cold. Make sure to wear an extra layer or two, and know that face masks are practically mandatory in this cold. Clear or low-light goggle lenses are also helpful to let you see better at night. We always take a few hand warmers for the kids as well.
We don’t recommend night skiing for really young kids (less than 5 or 6), since the cold is often too much for them. We also think that night skiing is best done from late February-March when the sun sets later and the days are longer and often warmer.
Night skiing is open on the Explorer, Crest, Majestic, and Snake Creek lifts. Take note that as temperatures drop, runs do tend to get icier as well. You can get one day of Free Night Skiing with the Get Out Pass, which is one of our favorite deals for free night skiing at Brighton. Each year different deals make night skiing really affordable, so search around for the best deals.
Brighton Ski School For Kids
Since Brighton Ski Resort is so family-friendly, the ski school here is fantastic for kids of all ages and abilities. The Ski School at Brighton group lessons for kids 5 and older and private lessons available for kids as young as 3 years old. The ski school office is located inside The Brighton Center (the large concrete building at the base).
The group lessons are a great option for kids who are eager to get on the slopes with other kids close to their age and ability level with Ski School instructors. These group lessons typically have around 6 kids in them and are available for both skiers and boarders
For kids who are advanced skiers, the Ski School offers a “Freestyle” program where they can learn tricks and jumps in the terrain park. This is a great option for kids who have outgrown the group lessons and are looking for a challenge. These are the types of lessons that we most often book for out older kids who are advanced skiers.
The Ski School at Brighton also offers private lessons for kids of all ages and abilities. Private lessons are a great option for kids who learn best one-on-one or who need a little extra attention. These lessons can be customized to meet the needs of each child.
Whether you choose group or private lessons, the Ski School at Brighton is a great option for kids of all ages and abilities.
Read: How Many Ski Lessons Do Kids Actually Need?
Brighton Ski and Snowboard Camps
If you’re a local, we highly recommend signing up for the ski and snowboard camps. These are multi week programs and in our experience, are significantly better than just a day lesson. Kids are with the same group of kids and instructors for several weeks in a row and make so much progress during that time. There are camps for all ages and abilities, though the most popular camps are the Freestyle camps!
Terrain Parks At Brighton
Brighton attracts a lot of Freestyle skiers and riders with 5 different terrain parks. The terrain parks at Brighton are the only terrain parks in the Cottonwood Canyons, so they attract a lot of attention.
The parks vary in level of difficulty and variety and at any given time you can find 60-70 different terrain park features (they are changed and updated often). Off of the Crest Express, you’ll find My-Oh-My, with its big jumps for experienced riders. Lower down, but still above Majestic, you’ll find PeeWee which is the perfect terrain park for kids who are just starting out on jumps and features. Candyland is nearby which has a little bit of everything for the whole family to enjoy. Upper and Lower Majestic terrain parks have a mix of everything but are geared towards intermediate and advanced riders.
Where To Ski At Brighton With Kids
While Brighton only has 6 chairlifts, there is no shortage of great family terrain here. The tree skiing is incredible, so plan on letting your kids explore through the little tree trails to their heart’s delight. Brighton is our favorite spot to teach kids to ski through the trees, since they have lots of well spaced out tree skiing areas, so I don’t have to worry as much about the kids hitting a tree (the Scout trail is our FAVE for this). We’re sharing some of our favorite areas to ski at Brighton with kids:
The Explorer lift is where you’ll want to start out with first-time skiers and riders, once they’ve graduated from the Magic Carpet. This loft has lots of wide open space below it and is great for skiing with little kids.
Majestic should be your next stop, with lots of intermediate terrain, and some beginner terrain mixed in. For beginners, you’ll want to ski on Mary Back and Lost Maid, and for intermediate skiers, there are tons of great options.
Crest is a great lift to get up high on the mountain and get lots of on the snow time FAST! Crest is best for intermediate and advanced skiers. Thunder Road is our kid’s personal favorite since there are lots of tree trails on the sides of the runs, and there are often some little moguls on the skier’s right. For a calmer way down, take Pacific Highway.
Snake Creek Lift
Snake Creek is an intermediate lift with some beginner terrain on it as well. Its access mid-mountain makes it one of the least crowded lifts at Brighton. We also love that night skiing was recently added to Snake Creek. Pioneer and Sunshine are the classic Snake Creek runs, but there are lots of little trails off the sides of both to add some variety and fun.
Great Western Express
This is an intermediate and expert lift that will give ou the best views at Brighton. This also happens to be the coldest lift on a windy day, so avoid it if the weather is bad. There are lots of introductory black trails off of Elk Park. If you want intermediate trails, we love Western Trail to Thor.
Overall, the most difficult terrain at Brighton is on Milly lift. Scree slope has some incredible (and steep) chutes, and there are lots of fun blacks on the western side of the hill. Intermediate skiers can ski on Backdoor and Easy Out, which are also great options for kids who need an easy run or two to rest their tired legs.
Where To Eat At Brighton
There aren’t many dining options at Brighton. The main cafeteria is inside the Brighton Center and is called The Alpine Rose. This is your basic cafeteria food here. If you want to bring your lunch, the parking lot is close, making tailgating easy. On warm days, bring your lunch to the patio where there’s lots of outdoor seating, right outside the Brighton Center.
If you’re skiing on Milly Express, you’ll want to eat at the Milly Chalet, which offers breakfast and lunch and has some really delicious BBQ options as well.
Equipment Rentals at Brighton
It’s simple to rent your ski gear directly at Brighton, though I know that it will be more expensive than renting at the mouth of Big Cottonwood Canyon or somewhere in Salt Lake City. There is a rental shop in the Brighton Center where you can rent skis, boots, poles, and even helmets. If you forget other gear or need something warmer, there is also a retail shop where you can buy additional gear.
NOTE: Reservations are REQUIRED for gear rental!
Child Care at Brighton
There is no childcare at Brighton, though you may be able to find a drop-in daycare in Cottonwood heights or a nearby area at the base of Big Cottonwood Canyon. If you’ve got young kids, with the free lift ticket, it’s always worth teaching your own kids to ski!
As you can see, Brighton has lots of access to great terrain, and is one of the best small ski resorts in Utah. We love that it’s still maintained its small resort feel, while providing access to great terrain, fantastic instruction, and some of the best terrain parks in all of Utah.