19. Solitude, Utah

Solitude, as the name implies, is certainly the least-crowded resort of the Cottonwood Canyons. Located in legendary Big Cottonwood Canyon, the mountain’s 2,000-foot vertical drop is a sweet blend of inbounds off-piste terrain and wide-open groomers that Alpine carvers would die for.

With no terrain park or pipe, most advanced snowboarders ride Solitude for the lack of crowds or the resort’s proximity to some excellent backcountry stashes. The resort further aids backcountry travelers by offering a unique single-ride card that allows riders to access the upper-area boundaries for a little less than four dollars a ride¿a great idea that other resorts should consider.

The top of the Summit Chair is the stairway to some unreal backcountry terrain. Highway To Heaven is a panacea for inbounds boredom, while the steep chutes and cliffs of Wolverine Cirque are epic. A half-hour vertical ridgeline hike is a prerequisite for the awesome lines of Fantasy Ridge. Both areas require check-in with Solitude’s informative and cooperative ski patrol before departing.

Solitude’s most popular backcountry area, Honeycomb Canyon, is actually within the resort boundaries. It’s accessible from either the Summit, Powderhorn, or Eagle Express quad. Honeycomb’s tree lines and steep powder shots offer a natural playground for all-mountain freeriding. The canyon lies beneath an impressive outcropping of cliff bands, so as always, caution and adherence to basic snow safety is strongly advised.

The newest addition this season to the pedestrian-style village being developed by Intrawest is Powderhorn Lodge¿the Thirsty Squirrel Club on the ground floor is great for aprés-boarding festivities.

¿Steve Shand