Cottonwood Canyons

From downtown Salt Lake City you’ll see the towering peaks of Big and Little Cottonwood Canyon.

The two canyons are home to four spectacular resorts: Brighton, Solitude, Alta and Snowbird. Two are located within 40 minutes of SLC Airport and 50 minutes of Park City.

At the mouth of Little Cottonwood Canyon lays the site where Mormon settlers quarried granite slabs to build the Salt Lake Temple.

Each resort features picturesque scenery, legendary terrain and small, intimate villages. Once the snow has melted the area opens up to an array of Utah outdoor adventure ranging from hiking, biking, picnicking, rock-climbing, camping and fishing.


The Cottonwood Canyons don’t only appeal to avid skiers, hikers, and mountain bikers. There are adventures to be had for keen anglers thanks to the many lakes and streams peppered throughout the area.

Salt Lake Valley residents source their drinking water from Big and Little Cottonwood Canyons. Put your swimmers away – swimming is prohibited. However, fishing, rafts and float tubes are welcome. Planning to enter the water? Remember to don your waders first.


Silver Lake
At one of the highest points of Big Cottonwood Canyon, hugging Brighton Ski Resort, you’ll find the popular Silver Lake, flanked by the beautiful mountain landscape.

Anglers are drawn to Silver Lake in the warmer months thanks to its thriving stock of brook trout and rainbow trout. If solitude’s what you’re after, skip the pier and hike a little further.


Lake Mary, Lake Catherine and the Twin Lakes
Lake Mary, Lake Catherine and the Twin Lakes sit between Big and Little Cottonwood Canyons. All lakes boast superb fishing and ready access.

Anglers, head to Lake Catherine to see brook trout snacking on insects along the surface. Meanwhile, Lake Mary offers opportunities to catch larger lake trout and the Twin Lakes are home to Bonneville cutthroat trout.


White Pine, Red Pine and Upper Red Pine lakes
If you’re keen to team your fishing adventures with a moderate hike, head to White Pine Lake, Red Pine Lake or Upper Red Pine Lake. From the mouth of the canyon the the trailhead to all three lakes is approximately 5.5 miles. Once you reach the fishing hotspots you’ll find a bounty of Bonneville cutthroat trout.


Listing all the world-class hikes on offer at Utah’s Cottonwood Canyons is a near-impossible task. From accessible strolls to multi-day backpack tours, what’s consistent is the beautiful terrain.

Big Cottonwood Canyon features trailheads throughout. Lace up your boots and hike to the canyon’s stunning mountain lakes like Mary, Martha and Catherine.

Sticking with the ladylike theme, Lakes Blanche, Florence and Lillian are featured in the canyon’s most popular hiking trail leads.

Big Cottonwood Canyon, by Big Cottonwood Creek, offers many eye-catching rock formations for snap-happy hikers, as do nearby Solitude and Honeycomb Canyons. In addition, they’re home to turn-of-the-century mining artefacts, accessible via an intricate trail system.

Due to glacier-carved canyon walls, side canyons are virtually inaccessible from the bottom of Little Cottonwood Canyon. As a result, most trailheads are located in the upper segment of the region.

From Little Cottonwood Canyon set off to Lower and Upper Red Pine Lakes to the east of Salt Lake Valley in the Lone Peak Wilderness.

Reward yourself with views of Utah’s most beautiful landscape. Wasatch Mountains, accessible from Snowbird and Alta resorts, offer glorious wildflowers, luscious forest undergrowth and bright blue summer skies. The area also features a varied network of trails. Fancy taking a guided hike? Head to the Snowbird Activity Centre.

Should you require wheelchair access, Snowbird offers a mile-long, round-trip nature walk that’s barrier free. It starts at the Snowbird Plaza and ends at the observation deck that overlooks Gad Valley. This low-impact hike is suitable for all ages and abilities.

Mountain Biking

If teaming outdoor activity with breathtaking scenery is your idea of a good time, Cottonwood Canyons is you all over.

Although the trail network is sparser than neighbouring Park City and Moab, the Cottonwood Canyons single track is some of the most accessible in all of Utah. Typically leading to incredible scenic spots, with the Wasatch mountain range as the backdrop, put your biking skills to the test over rocky sections.

Trails throughout the resorts are accessible via lift. That means mountain bikers of all levels can challenge themselves on descents up to 3000 vertical feet.


The Cottonwood Canyons are home to four amazing ski resorts. Each resort is unique and offers something different.

The Cottonwood Canyons Resorts receive an average of 500 inches of light, dry powder annually.

Located in Little Cottonwood Canyon you will find Snowbird and Alta Resorts. Both resorts offer challenging terrain and are the ultimate in off piste skiing.

In Big Cottonwood Canon stands Solitude and Brighton Resorts. Both resorts are family friendly and are situated in unique, intimate villages.

For more information on each resort click on the below titles: