Big Cottonwood Canyon
Within 20 minutes of Salt Lake City you can enjoy fresh mountain air, pristine mountain lakes, streams, and beautiful forests. Big Cottonwood Canyon offers a variety of outdoor recreational opportunities such as camping, hiking, rock-climbing, fishing, wildlife viewing, picnicking, skiing, snowboarding and much more. Considered one of Utah's scenic byways, a drive along the 15 mile route up Big Cottonwood will provide spectacular views of rugged peaks, thick forests, and the chance to view many of the mountains wildlife species.
Be sure to pack a lunch and enjoy one of the many picnic areas that are available in the canyon. Looking for a weekend retreat? Big Cottonwood offers two campgrounds; the Spruces and Redman. Both campgrounds sit at a elevation above 7500 feet making them a perfect escape from the summer heat. But be sure to always be prepared with a jacket because even in the heat of summer, the nights can be chilly. For those that enjoy solitude, backcountry camping is available throughout the canyon.
Some of the more popular family activities in the canyon include the Donut Falls Hiking Trail, a walk around Silver Lake, picnicking, and fishing the Big Cottonwood Creek. During winters months, the canyons two ski resorts, Brighton and Solitude, are popular among skiers and snowboarders.
Big Cottonwood Canyon ranges from 4790 feet at the mouth of the canyon to approximately 8755 feet at the Brighton Ski Resort, so it's not uncommon to have temperature differences of 20 degrees or more. In the spring, it's not uncommon to have very little snow at the base of the canyon, but have 15 feet or more towards the top. At higher elevations spring comes later and winter comes earlier. So always be prepared for changes in weather and temperatures.
Before you plan your trip to Big Cottonwood Canyon keep in mind that the entire canyon is a watershed area. This canyon supplies drinking water to the Wasatch Front, therefore dogs or other domesticated animals are not allowed in the canyon.
From Salt Lake City, take I-215 to the 6200 South "Canyons" exit and then continue east on UT-190, following signs to Solitude and Brighton.