By Rich Silver, originally published in Slopeside magazine
Politics, Putin, North Korea, Real news, Fake news. Everyone needs a way to quiet the chaos. I found a moment of solitude atop Honeycomb Canyon at Utah’s Solitude Mountain Resort. The “noise” of the world just slipped away as I dropped in and floated through a foot of fresh powder dotted with towering snow- covered pines. The beauty and serenity of the mountains can do that. Skiing can do that. Even when sharing the experience with a group of friends, it’s the quiet relationship between you and mountain that is special. It’s what makes this ski resort’s hashtag so appropriate – #FindSolitude.
Fly non-stop from JFK to Salt Lake City (visitsaltlake.com) and after a 30-minute drive up Big Cottonwood Canyon you’ve arrived at Solitude Mountain Resort. Compared to nearby Alta and Snowbird, Solitude has fewer crowds, an intimate base village and an easygoing vibe. There are only eight lifts, yet the mountain skis much bigger than that. The terrain is simple to navigate for all ability levels. Beginners will enjoy the Moonbeam and Sunrise areas while intermediates and advanced skiers can hone their skills off the Summit Express and Powderhorn lifts. Experts should sign up for the Hidden Tracks Clinic, where mountain guides help you explore hard to find powder stashes. For the most adventurous, the jewel is Honeycomb Canyon, which feels more like backcountry than resort skiing. With an enhanced lift ticket you can ski over to neighboring Brighton resort via the SolBright trail. Nordic enthusiasts can access the over 20 km of cross-country trails and 10 km of snowshoe trails at the Nordic Center.
Solitude has a nice compact base village. Lodging includes The Inn at Solitude and condos of all sizes, literally just steps from the slopes. Several remarkably good restaurant options are available. At the Inn, St. Bernard’s serves delectable European specialties in a casual buffet setting. Stop in for a cocktail by the crackling fireplace in the cozy Library Bar.
Across the way, Honeycomb Grill offers contemporary American cuisine for the whole family. And don’t miss the unique dining experience of The Yurt! Snowshoe by moonlight to a Mongolian style yurt where a rustic yet elegant communal four-course dinner and wine pairing awaits. Solitude has excellent on-mountain food options as well thanks to its new owner, Deer Valley Resort, known for its outstanding mountain fare. Notably, Roundhouse features Himalayan inspired dishes (the curried fries are out of this world) and the Last Chance Lodge serves Southwestern specialties, including a terrific taco bar. At the end of the day, après ski cocktails and beer flow at the Hungry Squirrel, where the atmosphere is so casual that an avalanche rescue dog might just occupy the stool next to you.