Summer is an ideal time to make the most of Salt Lake’s nearby canyons. Steep and deep, dotted with glacial snow fields, pristine lakes, rushing waterfalls and carpets of wildflowers, Big and Little Cottonwood canyons are both spectacular. Throw in the scenic lift rides, festivals, sports events, hiking, mountain biking, rock climbing, dining and outdoor concerts offered at Salt Lake's four world-class mountain resorts, and you have the makings of an ultimately memorable vacation heaven that is very accessible.
At Alta Ski Area, Utah's oldest mountain resort, visitors can pick up a hiking and mountain biking trail map at the Town of Alta (801-742-0101) information booth, located just beyond the ski area along the Little Cottonwood Road. Hikers and bikers can fill their packs with made-to-order sandwiches and homemade cookies from the Kickstand, located adjacent to the information booth, open June through September. Alta is also the main venue for the annual Wildflower Festival in July. Visit www.alta.com for lodging options.
Just down the canyon resides Alta's bustling neighbor, Snowbird Ski & Summer Resort (801-933-2222, www.snowbird.com). Activities like the dual-track Alpine Slide, horseback riding, ATV tours, bungee trampoline, aerial Tram rides, lift-served mountain biking and hiking, mountain scooters, the Zip Rider, swimming pools and an ultra deluxe day spa keep this resort hopping throughout the summer months. Popular events include the Founder's Title Folk & Bluegrass Festival (early July), the Rock & Blues Festival (late July), and Oktoberfest (weekends, late August through early October). The 29th Annual Bicycle Hill Climb is set for August 18 and the third Annual Silver Spur Snowbird/Alta Interconnect Race is September 15-16. A multitude of dining options, from pizza by the slice to superb Mexican food and margaritas, rounds out Snowbird's warm-weather offerings. Spacious condos and hotel style rooms are available at economical summer rates.
Hiking and mountain biking are the activities of choice at Brighton Resort (801-532-4731 www.skibrighton.com), located near the top of Big Cottonwood Canyon. Here visitors can pick up snacks, sandwiches and area trail maps at the Brighton Store & Cafe (435-649-9156), located just before arriving at Brighton along the Big Cottonwood Canyon Road. Molly Green's (435-649-7909), a private club for members, serves lunch and dinner at Brighton on weekends, mid-June through mid-September.
Solitude Mountain Resort (801-534-1400, www.skisolitude.com), Brighton's neighbor to the west, offers a full range of summer activities on the weekends including 18 holes of disc golf, lift-served mountain biking and hiking, pond fishing for kids, Sunday brunch and dinner at the Creekside lodge, and patio lunches at the Thirsty Squirrel. Solitude hosts the Chris Allaire Memorial Mountain Bike Race on early July and the Taste of the Nation each August, a food and wine event featuring more than 30 Salt Lake and Park City area chefs. A European style village offers spectacular condo units and hotel rooms at great summer rates.
www.cottonwoodcanyons.org – Visit this site for a calendar of fun and free nature activities—from Lichen and Pika walks to guided night hikes, complete with bat detectors, throughout the summer in both Cottonwood canyons. 801-947-8263
The Salt Lake Convention & Visitors Bureau is a private, non-profit corporation responsible for the promotion of Salt Lake as a convention and travel destination. Salt Lake is a unique fusion of metropolitan city and quaint mountain town; the towering Wasatch Mountains that embrace Salt Lake offer a dramatic backdrop to the vibrancy and activities of downtown. Having recently undergone a $58 million expansion, the Salt Palace Convention Center now boasts 679,000 square feet of exhibit and meeting space, ideal for groups of all sizes and needs. For more information on all that Salt Lake has to offer, visit www.VisitSaltLake.com.