Skiing in Solitude

Solitude’s modern lift system provides quick access to several faces that offer varied terrain. From the steeps of Honeycomb Canyon to the groomed runs off the Eagle Express, there’s something for every level skier at Solitude.

Honeycomb Canyon 660X360

Solitude Ski Area Overview

To call Solitude snow sure is to verge on comedy. A record-low snowfall winter at Solitude would be a record-high snowfall winter at dozens of resorts across the Rockies. Solitude is one of the snowiest places on earth. It receives the same 500″ of snow as Alta and Snowbird (only about 2 miles away as the crow flies) but only a small fraction of the skiers.

One of the benefits of receiving 500” of powder each winter is that the resort has a lot of snow to play with. Solitude has chosen to allow certain areas to remain ungroomed, while it utilizes its tremendous bounty of natural snowfall in other places to refresh its groomers. The result is a mix of outstanding advanced tree and bowl skiing and the best conditioned groomers in North America.

Guests staying in the village start their day with either the Sunrise Express or Apex triple chair. Day visitors to the Solitude can park at the Moonbeam Base Area, one mile downhill from the village and closer to Salt Lake City. There guests will find the resort’s day lodge and plenty of parking.

Expert skiers flock to Honeycomb Canyon on the backside of the resort for an in-bounds backcountry experience and to the pine tree glades of Headwall Forest for world-class tree skiing. Intermediates tend to enjoy the groomed runs on the front side of the mountain off the Eagle Express. The core of the resort’s beginner skiing options is off the Moonbeam Express near the day lodge.

Solitude underwent a major lift transformation in the early 2000s that entirely changed the way the resort is skied. Some skiers have complained that the removal of a lift which stretched from the village to the top of the peak now served by the Powderhorn lift has limited the amount of vertical skiable in one run. This is a fair critique as it is difficult to ski long vertical at Solitude in a single run. However, the tradeoff when these new faster express quads replaced ageing doubles has been that skiers can now make far more laps than before.

Lastly, despite being able to snap off lots of quick laps, Solitude has a decidedly unhurried feel. Perhaps not having to fight in lift lines breeds politeness, but the resort has a relaxed, almost country club feel. It’s the type of place where parents still feel safe letting their children take a few runs by themselves and where a long lunch in the sunshine just feels right.

Beginner Skiing at Solitude

Solitude’s beginner skiing is focused around the Moonbeam base area. Beginner skiers will find they need to progress to explore more of Solitude. However, Solitude is a wonderful place to learn to ski and ride. Seasoned beginners will find the resort lacks tremendous variety in its beginner terrain as no summit runs are rated easiest.

Solitude’s beginner skiing is centered around the Moonbeam Base Area. The Moonbeam Express provides quick access to two main routes down – Little Dolly and Same Street. A few spurs off of these two trails add interest, but there is not a lot to explore.

A second beginner area is found off the Sunrise triple chair. There, the North Star and South Star trails wind through an evergreen forest with upward views of the resort’s most expert steeps – Parachute and Milk Run.

Because Solitude is often sunny and has a well-earned reputation for spectacular snow conditions, it is a fantastic place to learn to ski. First-timers and nervous beginners can utilize the Link double chair from the day lodge base area to access the Easy Street run.

The Solitude Ski School registration is located on the upper level of the Moonbeam Base Lodge. Lessons are available for all levels of skier and rider, from beginner to expert.

Intermediate Skiing at Solitude

Groomers, groomers, groomers. Intermediates will love Solitude’s wide variety of well-groomed trails.

The Eagle Express is the largest pod of intermediate terrain. Here, skiers will find a mix of wide trails groomed through a treeless alpine bowl in the top section and meandering blue runs carved into groves of hardwoods in the lower. The runs tend to hug the natural contours of the terrain (as opposed to having been blasted out of hillside). As a result, these groomed blues are full of dips, banks, turns and drops.

A second pod of intermediate terrain can be found off the Alta Express. These runs are similar to treeless bowl runs of the upper portions of the Eagle Express blue slopes. The widest of these runs is Alta Bird and it’s our favorite because it affords a great view of the village on the way down.

A few additional intermediate runs are found off the Sunrise triple. These trails are well-shaded and not as interesting as the open bowls of the rest of the front side of the mountain or as the steep blues off the Summit double above. Dynamite, Liberty and Mine tumble from the resort’s elevation like an out-of-control mine train. They are the most challenging blue runs on the mountain, apart from the Honeycomb Canyon runout (Woodlawn) which is more cat track than trail and groomed infrequently.

Intermediate skiers looking to improve their skills can challenge themselves on one of the resort’s “blue/black” slopes, a somewhat unique designation employed by Solitude to demark a trail which is rated intermediate when groomed but advanced when ungroomed. Because the snow conditions are generally outstanding, Solitude has marked many fairly steep runs as blues. However, despite their pitch, the lack of ice makes them an option for most strong intermediate skiers.  

Advanced skiers also will enjoy ripping the corduroy on many of the resort’s blue runs. With so few skiers on the slopes, going fast is less of an issue than other resorts.

Advanced &  Expert Skiing at Solitude

Expert skiers will find Solitude offers some challenging terrain but may be bored after several days if conditions are not favorable for off-piste skiing in Honeycomb Canyon.

Solitude Expert Skiing

On the whole, Solitude’s intermediate terrain is more challenging than its peer resorts, but its advanced skiing is less challenging. In fact, there are many black trails that we feel could be marked blue and vice-versa.

Solitude’s advanced terrain is split into several pods. The Eagle Express serves several groomed runs on the front side of the mountain. The rhyming triple-trails of Rumble, Grumble and Stumble together with Serenity are all marked as “blue/black,” meaning they are intermediate when groomed and advanced when ungroomed. The lone black run off the Eagle Express is the Challenger.

The Powderhorn II quad services a half dozen advanced runs in an open bowl. These trails are often groomed and tailor-made for fast GS turns. The ungroomed areas between the trails can also be fun on a powder day or as an introduction to steeper ungroomed skiing because of the easy bailouts back onto the groomers.

Off the backside of the Powderhorn II quad chair, one finds Solitude’s most challenging expert runs. Perhaps the giant warning signs are a bit overkill as the terrain is quite steep, but would not merit a second diamond at a resort like Jackson Hole or Taos. Milk Run and Parachute are the class of the four backside runs, all of which are steep and treed.

One trail worth singling out for attention is Headwall Forest, a single black run off the Summit double. It is a steep glade with widely spaced pine trees that is one of the most entertaining tree runs we have found anywhere in the Rockies.

The best expert and advanced terrain at the resort is found in Honeycomb Canyon at the back of the resort. Here a mix of chutes, trees and bowls offer a suitable challenge for any expert skier. Large pockets of powder tend to persist for several days after any snowfall.

The far wall of Honeycomb Canyon is accessed from the top of the Summit double, while the near wall (in the shade and more heavily forested) is accessible from the Eagle Ridge trail on the front side of the resort.

Solitude Backcountry Skiing & Off Piste

Solitude’s off-piste and in-bounds backcountry area, Honeycomb Canyon is the crown jewel of Solitude’s expert offerings.

The backside of Solitude is home to Honeycomb Canyon. Honeycomb Canyon is a long narrow canyon with a series of chutes and bowls on either side. The terrain ranges from tight trees to narrow chutes to open bowls. Depending on the line selected, skiers can expect relatively short descents of between 600 and 1000 feet before bottoming out onto the cat track.

The terrain on the far side of the canyon (accessed from the Summit Double) is decidedly easier than the terrain on the near side of the canyon (accessed from the Eagle Ridge trail) because it is much more open. The terrain on the far side is generally suitable for strong advanced skiers comfortable making turns on ungroomed snow, but the near side terrain requires the ability to turn in tight trees.

Honeycomb Canyon Access from the Summit Double

The far side of Honeycomb Canyon is reachable by a traverse from the top of the Summit Double chair. The terrain on this side of Honeycomb Canyon is comprised of open bowls with rock outcroppings that separate a series of wide faces into chutes. This side receives direct sunlight for a long portion of the day. As a result, the snow can get wet and heavy, particularly during the spring.

There are six named runs on the far side of the canyon, but in practice, the names are just for the trail map. A skier can traverse out as far as he likes until a line below looks appealing. A skier can select a tight line or avoid the narrow chutes depending on his preference. The lines farthest out are not necessarily the best, however, as the vertical drop of each run decreases as a skier traverses out. The area shown on the map as Prince of Wales (the first truly steep chute a skier comes across traversing out) is our favorite line.

Honeycomb Canyon Access from the Frontside (via the Eagle Ridge trail)

The near side of Honeycomb Canyon is reachable from the Eagle Ridge trail on the front side of the mountain. Unlike the open terrain on the far side of the canyon, this side offers tight-shaded tree runs. The two longest descents – Here Be Dragons and Black Forest – must be accessed from the Powderhorn II chair, but the entrance to Navarrone is reachable from the top of the Eagle Express.

Exiting Honeycomb Canyon

The one downside to the canyon’s outstanding terrain is that it cannot be lapped. Every run empties into a cat track that winds down to the Honeycomb Return quad chair. Skiers can also continue down the cat track on the Honeycomb Return trail, but the lift is a faster option and we suggest avoiding the trail in favor of the lift. This arrangement whereby a skier must access the terrain via one lift, but departs via another course means that fewer skiers per day ski the terrain. As a result, the snow tends to linger in Honeycomb Canyon the longest.

Solitude Mountain Restaurants

Solitude offers a choice of four on-mountain dining options and more in the village. The resort is known for its upscale, yet affordable, lunch options.

Moonbeam Lodge

Located in the day lodge base, the Moonbeam Lodge serves upscale cafeteria food at breakfast, lunch and dinner. The Swedish meatballs with lingonberry jam are particularly noteworthy.


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