Big Cottonwood Canyon is a scenic canyon located in the Wasatch Range, just 12 miles southeast of Salt Lake City in the U.S. state of Utah. The canyon is a popular destination among outdoor enthusiasts and adventure seekers who come to explore its natural beauty and recreational opportunities.
The canyon is known for its stunning landscapes, including rugged peaks, lush forests, and sparkling streams. It offers a wide range of activities throughout the year, from hiking and biking in the summer to skiing and snowboarding in the winter. There are also plenty of picnic areas, campgrounds, and fishing spots for visitors to enjoy.
One of the main attractions of Big Cottonwood Canyon is its two ski resorts, Brighton and Solitude, which are popular among skiers and snowboarders of all levels. The resorts offer a variety of terrain, including groomed runs, backcountry skiing, and terrain parks, as well as stunning views of the surrounding mountains. Whether you’re a beginner or an expert, there’s something for everyone at Big Cottonwood Canyon.
Big Cottonwood Canyon is located in the Wasatch Range, which is a mountain range in the western United States. It is situated about 12 miles southeast of Salt Lake City, Utah. The canyon stretches for about 15 miles (24 km) and is home to two popular ski resorts, Brighton and Solitude.
To get to Big Cottonwood Canyon from Salt Lake City, you can take I-215 to the 6200 South “Canyons” exit and then continue east on U-152, following signs to Solitude and Brighton. This 15-mile scenic byway takes about one hour round trip.
Once you arrive at the canyon, you will be greeted with dramatic alpine scenery. The canyon narrows almost immediately from the main road, providing access to excellent hiking, fishing, picnicking, rock-climbing, camping, and more. The canyon is also home to many wildlife species, including moose, deer, and various bird species.
Big Cottonwood Canyon offers a variety of outdoor recreational opportunities for visitors to enjoy. Whether you are interested in hiking, skiing, fishing, or camping, there is something for everyone to enjoy in this beautiful canyon.
One of the most popular activities in Big Cottonwood Canyon is hiking. With over 15 trails to choose from, visitors can explore the natural beauty of the canyon and take in stunning views of the surrounding mountains. Some of the most popular hikes include the Donut Falls Trail, the Lake Blanche Trail, and the Mill B South Trail. These trails vary in difficulty and length, so there is a hike for every level of experience.
Skiing and Snowboarding
During the winter months, Big Cottonwood Canyon is a popular destination for skiing and snowboarding. With two world-class ski resorts, Solitude Mountain Resort and Brighton Resort, visitors can enjoy a variety of terrain suitable for all skill levels. Both resorts offer ski and snowboard rentals, as well as lessons for those who are new to the sport.
Fishing is another popular activity in Big Cottonwood Canyon. The canyon is home to several streams and lakes that are stocked with trout, making it an ideal location for anglers. Some of the most popular fishing spots include Silver Lake, Lake Mary, and the Big Cottonwood Creek. Visitors can purchase a fishing license at the Silver Fork Lodge or online.
For those who want to spend more than a day in the canyon, camping is a great option. There are several campgrounds located in Big Cottonwood Canyon, including Spruces Campground, Silver Lake Campground, and Solitude Campground. These campgrounds offer a variety of amenities, including picnic tables, fire rings, and restrooms.
Big Cottonwood Canyon is known for its stunning scenic drives that offer breathtaking views of the surrounding mountains and valleys. The canyon is easily accessible and offers a variety of roads suitable for all types of vehicles, making it a popular destination for locals and tourists alike.
The Big Cottonwood Canyon Scenic Byway is a 14-mile long drive that offers beautiful mountain scenery similar to Little Cottonwood Canyon. The road winds through the canyon and offers access to numerous hiking trails, picnic areas, and campgrounds. The drive is especially popular during the fall when the leaves change colors, creating a stunning display of red, orange, and yellow hues.
For those looking for a more adventurous drive, the Cottonwood Canyons Scenic Backway is a must-see. The 41-mile long drive takes visitors through the heart of the Wasatch Mountains and offers spectacular views of the surrounding peaks and valleys. The road is mostly unpaved and suitable for high-clearance vehicles, making it a popular destination for off-road enthusiasts.
No matter which drive you choose, be sure to pack a camera and take plenty of breaks along the way to fully appreciate the natural beauty of Big Cottonwood Canyon.
Wildlife and Nature
Big Cottonwood Canyon is a natural wonderland that is home to a diverse range of flora and fauna. The area is blessed with a variety of ecosystems, including alpine meadows, dense forests, and riparian zones. The canyon is a popular destination for nature lovers and outdoor enthusiasts, who come to explore the breathtaking scenery and observe the local wildlife.
The canyon is home to a wide range of animals, including deer, elk, moose, mountain goats, and bighorn sheep. Visitors may also spot smaller mammals such as foxes, raccoons, porcupines, and coyotes. Birdwatchers will be delighted to know that the area is home to over 200 species of birds, including the majestic golden eagle and the elusive peregrine falcon.
Big Cottonwood Canyon is also a great place to observe the local flora. The area is home to a variety of wildflowers, including Indian paintbrush, lupine, and fireweed. The canyon is also home to a variety of trees, including quaking aspen, Douglas fir, and Engelmann spruce.
Visitors are reminded to respect the natural environment and to take care not to disturb the local wildlife. It is important to stay on designated trails and to pack out all trash and litter. By following these simple guidelines, visitors can help to preserve the natural beauty of Big Cottonwood Canyon for future generations to enjoy.
Lodging and Accommodations
If you’re planning a trip to Big Cottonwood Canyon, you’ll want to make sure you have a comfortable place to stay. Luckily, there are plenty of options for lodging and accommodations in the area. Whether you’re looking for a cozy cabin, a full-service hotel, or a vacation rental, you’re sure to find something that fits your needs and budget.
If you’re looking for a hotel, Alta’s Rustler Lodge is a highly-rated option that’s located just 4.5 miles from Big Cottonwood Canyon. This lodge offers a range of amenities, including a heated outdoor pool, a hot tub, and a ski valet service. Other nearby hotels include the Silver Fork Lodge and Solitude Mountain Resort.
If you prefer a vacation rental, Cottonwood Lodging Company can help you find the perfect accommodations for your needs. They specialize in connecting travelers with mountain homes, chalets, log cabins, and homes with ski-in/ski-out access. This is a great option if you’re traveling with a group or if you’re looking for a more private and secluded experience.
If you’re on a budget, Airbnb has several options for lodging in the area. You can find guesthouses, homes, and guest suites that are available for rent. Some of these options even have superhost status, which means they have received excellent reviews from previous guests. Prices vary depending on the size and location of the rental, but you can often find affordable options that are just a short drive from Big Cottonwood Canyon.
Overall, there are plenty of options for lodging and accommodations in Big Cottonwood Canyon. Whether you’re looking for a luxurious hotel or a cozy cabin, you’re sure to find something that fits your needs and budget. Just be sure to book your accommodations in advance, especially during peak travel seasons.
Big Cottonwood Canyon is a beautiful and popular destination for outdoor enthusiasts, offering a wide range of activities throughout the year. From hiking and biking in the summer to skiing and snowboarding in the winter, visitors can enjoy the stunning alpine scenery and fresh mountain air.
The canyon is home to two ski resorts, Brighton and Solitude, which are popular among locals and tourists alike. These resorts offer a variety of terrain for skiers and snowboarders of all levels, as well as other winter activities such as snowshoeing and cross-country skiing.
In the summer, visitors can enjoy hiking and biking on the many trails in the canyon, as well as fishing and picnicking. The canyon also offers opportunities for rock-climbing and camping.
While the canyon is a popular destination, it is important to be mindful of its natural resources and to practice Leave No Trace principles. Visitors should also be aware of the potential for traffic congestion during peak seasons and plan accordingly.
The Big Cottonwood Canyon Mobility Action Plan is currently being developed to address transportation issues in the canyon and ensure the safety and accessibility of the area for years to come. With its stunning natural beauty and abundance of recreational opportunities, Big Cottonwood Canyon is a must-visit destination for anyone looking to experience the great outdoors in Utah.
Is there a fee for Big Cottonwood Canyon?
Yes, there is a fee for visiting Big Cottonwood Canyon. The fee is $10 for a day use pass or $16 for a double site. The fee is payable at the entrance station and is valid for three days. Annual passes are also available for $60.
How long of a hike is Big Cottonwood Canyon?
Big Cottonwood Canyon offers a variety of hiking trails, ranging from easy to strenuous. The length of the hikes varies from a few hundred yards to several miles. Some popular hikes in the canyon include:
- Donut Falls – 0.75 miles each way
- Lake Blanche – 6.8 miles round trip
- Cecret Lake – 1.5 miles each way
It is important to research the difficulty and length of the hike before embarking on a trail. It is also important to bring plenty of water and snacks, and to wear appropriate hiking shoes and clothing.
How long does it take to drive through Big Cottonwood Canyon?
The length of time it takes to drive through Big Cottonwood Canyon depends on several factors, including traffic and the number of stops made along the way. The canyon road is approximately 15 miles long and takes about 30 minutes to drive from the mouth of the canyon to the top. However, it is recommended to allow at least an hour for the drive to allow for stops and sightseeing.