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Solitude Ski Resort Profile
By Logan Campbell

Summary: For those of us who loathe crowds and lift lines but are unwilling to sacrifice anything in quality of skiing, aptly-named Solitude is an absolute gem of a ski resort.

It is difficult to rationalize Solitude's relative lack of crowds. It's not a particularly large area- it stretches about 1,200 acres (second-smallest of the seven major areas in the Wasatch) -and it's only twelve miles from the edge of Salt Lake City. The plentiful snow (500+ inches per year), easy access, and the marvelous terrain would seem to merit the same mass influxes of weekend riders that can haunt nearby areas. But the calm of Solitude is exactly what is so attractive about it.

If you want to stay the night, "The Inn", a very nice forty-six room ski-in/ski-out hotel is available in addition to Solitude's luxury condos and homes for rent. For a greater variety, there are endless options in Salt Lake City just 20-45 minutes away ranging from cheap motels to five star hotels, as well as lots of condos and home rentals catered specifically to ski vacationers. Many of them are right at the bottom of Big Cottonwood Canyon.

There's not a whole lot of nightlife up the canyon. Many ski vacationers choose to spend the evening in Salt Lake City. Downtown is 45 minutes from Solitude, though there are plenty of restaurants, bars, and a cinema within a half hour's drive of the resort. Some of the luckiest early or late season visitors have been known to ski one morning and play a round of golf the same afternoon.

Solitude has an excellent mix of terrain for beginners, intermediate, and expert skiers. The Solitude Snowsports Academy is comparable to the other great ski schools in the region in terms of pricing, quality, and options available to kids and adults of all ability levels. Day care is also available, including a half-day ski / half-day child care option.

If you drive to Solitude, make sure you have four wheel drive or snow chains. You can park at the mouth of the canyon and ride a Utah Transit Authority bus the last ten miles for $3.50 each way per person. Connecting UTA bus routes can transfer you to various parts of the city, so some skiers use public transit to get to Solitude from their hotel downtown for a cheap transportation option. Several shuttle and taxi companies are also available for a quicker trip.

Solitude is a wonderful place for skiers and boarders looking for excellent quality of skiing in a peaceful, laid-back atmosphere. There are plenty of serene slopes, and more than enough snow for everyone to enjoy one of Utah's best kept secrets only 33 miles from Salt Lake International Airport.

Lodging Choices: Only one small hotel and a bunch of condos at the resort itself, though Salt Lake City's spectrum of options are only 20-45 minutes away.

Terrain: Over 1,200 acres (20% Beginner, 50% Intermediate, 30% Advanced)

Highest Elevation / Vertical Drop: 10,035 feet / 2,047 feet
Snow: 500 inches per year

Activities for Non-Skiers: If you're at Solitude and not skiing, you might as well head down to Salt Lake for shopping, arts, movies, etc., because there is no town up the canyon. If your family includes non-skiers or only part-time skiers, staying in Salt Lake is a good option unless they want to lounge all day at the resort, which also has its appeal for many vacationers.

Ski School: (2008-2009 prices shown) Kids group lessons for skiers ages 5-12 and snowboarders ages 7-12 prices starting at $110 all-day or $70 afternoon. One hour private lesson for 2-4 year olds $85. Half-day ski half-day child care is $155. Adult (ages 13 and older) group lessons start at $90 full day, $65 half day. Private lessons start at $110 for one hour for one person, staggered to $425 for six hours for one person. Add $25-$35 for an additional person.

Day Care: (2008-2009 prices shown) Infants $120/day or $20/hour. Kids $90/day or $15/hour.

Getting There: From the airport, it's just 25 minutes on the interstate and 20 minutes straight shot up the highway and you're there. Utah Transit Authority is an inexpensive, slow route to Solitude from many places in Salt Lake, though few UTA buses come from the airport (a light rail line to the airport is under construction). Shuttles and taxis are available. Drive your car or a rental to the UTA park-and-ride ten miles from Solitude, or if you have four-wheel drive you can go all the way.

Insider Tip: Several retailers in Salt Lake City such as REI, Smith's Food & Drug, and many ski shops carry discounted day passes to Solitude and other areas. The resorts set the price of the discounted passes, and some are more willing to discount than others (it can range from one to fifteen dollars off). Discount Solitude passes have been around $50 in recent years, compared to the price at the resort of about $60.

Logan Campbell is a local Utah skier, middle school teacher, and writer with published works of fiction, poetry, op-ed, and now ski reviews. Contact Logan by email- lcampbell@mcgillisschool.org