Have you ever heard of, or visited, the little village of Brighton in Utah? If not, you are missing something. Brighton is located just 30 minutes from Salt Lake City at the top of Big Cottonwood Canyon. The name itself says so much. The picturesque mountain village will make you feel as though you have stepped back in time to a peaceful, more laid back place.
In the early 1870s William Stuart Brighton, an immigrant from Scotland, claimed 80 acres at the top of Big Cottonwood Canyon, located just east of the Salt Lake Valley. Brighton, with his wife Catherine Bow and their children, lived in a tent over the first few summers. Then William built a small cabin. Mining in the area began to boom in the late 1800s. Miners traveled over the mountain passes between the mining camp of Alta, to the south, and the larger mining town of Park City. The Brightons’ cabin was conveniently located at the halfway point and served as a good place to rest and eat. Catherine cooked fresh trout caught in Silver Lake. William entertained guests with his adventurous stories of hunting in the nearby mountains. After several years of providing a depot for traveling miners, the Brighton’s opened a hotel for summer guests visiting from the Salt Lake Valley. The original Brighton Hotel, built in 1874, was a two-story wooden structure with seven small bedrooms, a dining/sitting room, and a small kitchen.
Almost 20 years later, in 1893, a three-story wooden hotel was constructed to meet the demands of an ever increasing number of guests visiting Brighton. An 1895 brochure advertising the resort described the hotel as having “fifty rooms available for $2.00 a day”. Visitors to Brighton either took the seven hour stage ride from downtown Salt Lake City or the five hour ride on the Utah Central Railroad to Park City and then jumped on the Kimball’s Stage Line to Brighton. Today, Brighton is just 40 minutes by car from downtown Salt Lake and Salt Lake City International Airport.
By the late 1890s the Brighton area was dotted with summer cabins. The burgeoning village had a store that stocked supplies, a post office, and a telephone. Brighton Ski Resort, founded in 1936, was the first ski resort in Utah, and in fact, was one of the first resorts in the United States. Today, Brighton is proud of being a ‘no-frills’ resort whose primary business is to provide skiers and snowboarders with exceptional trails and grooming. The time warped Brighton Ski Resort is where my mother learned to ski, and I learned to ski and my kids learned to ski. I hope the tradition will live on long after I am gone.
Brighton today is a small town where the locals still know and care about each other. The water is pure, the air is clean, and life is simple. The seasons are remarkably different in temperament with hues ranging from stark white to vibrant gold. Winters bring 600 inches of snowfall per season and lasts from early November to the end of May. With the dry air found at 8,700 to 10,000 feet, the snow is light and fluffy. It can make the most clumsy skier or boarder dance with perfection on the snow. Temperatures range from 10-30 F for most of the season except for April, when you can find skiers in shorts and t-shirts. The population of Brighton grows from 56 locals to 6,000 skiers with one big snowfall!
When locals are tired of shoveling snow and bundling in boots and coats, the weather turns to spring, which always feels slow in coming. All that snow must melt before the ground can be seen. Many locals will plan trips away eagerly looking forward to a respite from the hard work of winter.
Spring, with all its mountain flowers and fresh warm air lasts from the middle of June to late August when muted colors of browns and green’s arrive.
Fall in all its glory comes anytime in September to November, with incredible yellow gold aspen leaves and bright orange oak and maple but lasts only until the first or second dusting of snow which can be as early as October. Fall is when the light is different. It feels clearer and crisper for some reason.
All of the seasons are beautiful in their own way. Each is much celebrated and always appreciated. Residents of Brighton feel part of the land as they watch the growth cycles of the wildlife and landscape. Even today, there are no fences or walls in Brighton. One neighbor’s property line harmoniously blends in with its neighbors. It doesn’t seem to matter who owns exactly which rock or wild flower patch. Perhaps everyone feels that a fence would only detract from the beauty and create unnecessary separation.
For those wishing to strut down the street in their finest attire, Brighton is not the place to go. It caters to down home family tradition, affordable lift tickets, and knee high powder. At an 8700’ base elevation, the snow is dry and plentiful. One of the best kept secrets about the ski resorts in Big Cottonwood canyon, Brighton Ski Resort and Solitude Ski Resort, is that there is never a lift line longer than 5 minutes. Never! Not even over Christmas. Most of the time you can ski right onto the lifts. Why? When the parking lot is full (Brighton’s parking lot holds 900 cars on a good day) the resorts turn skiers away. The benefit for guests staying in our Utah ski vacation properties is that they are within walking distance to the slopes and it doesn’t matter if they decide to have an extra long cup of coffee or a dip in the hot tub before their day of skiing begins.
Even today Brighton has not lost its old flavor. Unlike the crowded streets of Park City, Utah and Deer Valley Resort, this Utah vacation wonderland has not been adulterated with shopping malls, movie theatres, and gas stations. Its main attraction besides endless trails for hiking, mountain biking, and skiing, is the Brighton Village Store. In my mother’s days, this was the Brighton Bowery where they would meet for dancing during the summer weekends and was the only place you could get a good cup of coffee.
I grew up in Brighton, and spent summers exploring the nooks and crannies of the surrounding ski bowl. In early summer, my sisters and I would watch the tadpoles in Silver Lake turn into baby frogs and then into huge toads. I have fond memories of eating piles of flap jacks before heading out the door for a day of adventure. We would pretend that we were explorers digging up pieces of bottles and remains from the pioneer settlers that came before us. While fueling up for a day of adventure, my mother would regale us with her Brighton horseback adventures. Those days are gone as the canyon was deemed a watershed in the 1940’s and no longer allows domestic animals within its boundaries. Today, I enjoy the trails while running. The fresh air, incredibly beautiful scenery, and solitude energize me – I lose track of time. One of my favorite routes is to run over Twin Lakes Pass into Grizzly Gulch to the town of Alta, Utah, then up over Catherine’s Pass and back into Brighton. Just like the miners at the turn of the century. On this great run or hike I pass two villages and five lakes. Oh, and the wild flowers are breathtaking. I feel like a kid again.
I knew I wanted to raise my family in Brighton. So, with two babies in tow, I eked out a living by renting our basement apartment during the winter months. The “Wasatch Studio” was a ski in/out Utah vacation rental home for riders wanting first chair. This was the humble beginning of Mount Majestic Properties. A few years back when it got too much for me to handle on my own, I coaxed Carole McCalla, another local who loves good hard work, to join me in sharing my love of Brighton. I had had my eye on her for some time thinking we would work well together. I was right. We think alike and have the same values but different strengths. Today, sixteen years later, we have over twenty properties we proudly represent and Mount Majestic Properties is the largest property management company serving Big Cottonwood Canyon.
I moved to Utah 15 years ago from Tennessee to attend college at the University of Utah. I never realized how captivating the Wasatch Mountains and Utah would become for me. I chose Utah as the state I wanted to attend college in because there were so many wonderful areas in the state to rock climb (my biggest passion back then), ski, canoe/kayak, and explore both the desert and the mountains. Now I love it so much, I hardly feel the need to leave for a vacation. I was drawn to Big Cottonwood Canyon and Brighton Ski Resort when I first arrived because it was less crowded and had soul. While in college, I spent every available second skiing and snowboarding at Brighton Ski Resort. During the summer I would camp in Big Cottonwood Canyon to escape the heat of the valley and enjoy hiking and climbing. The canyon is only 17 miles long, but there are so many places to explore and enjoy. Eventually, after finishing college, I moved to Brighton. Now my children ride the bus down to school and every afternoon when they get home I send them off into the woods to play and explore, or to the resort to ski – it’s everything I could have wished for my children to have growing up. When Adrienne approached me to partner with her, I was elated. Living, working, and playing all in Brighton sounded like a dream come true!
Mount Majestic Properties’ business philosophy is a little different than other companies. It works because it sits well with us, fits with our finicky environment and only benefits our customers. We are not out to make a fortune and spread ourselves too thin. We want to offer the best product we can in our own backyard and put Brighton’s unique touch on everything we do. We care too much about quality product to be peddling homes we have never stepped in, or worse, were not cleaned to our standard. With a two man show (or rather two woman show), this limits our geographical reach in order to ensure our standards, so we choose to service Big Cottonwood Canyon and specifically, Brighton and Solitude Ski and summer resorts.
You may notice that we don’t have online reservations. This is not because we are behind the times, but when booking a home, we want to make sure guests are offered the right place for their group size, their needs and desires, and even more important today, that we offer a vacation rental home that fits within their budget. We know our homes intimately and can describe every nuance. We know our guest’s money is hard earned and should be well spent. We work hard to keep costs down while ensuring a high quality experience for each guest. We have no hidden fees, such as booking fees, transaction fees, or service fees. We want to continue the tradition of personal care and down-home hospitality. We want to know each guest by their face, not just by their billing address. We want to keep our inventory of properties small enough to be able to keep them in good condition and have a beat on how they are functioning. We greet each guest upon arrival and we are there to see them off the day they leave. We are in the area daily emptying trash cans, checking hot tubs, giving you a weather report, a ski report, or a traffic report. We pay attention to every detail to ensure guests have a wonderful stay and we offer services such as daily or weekly catering, snow cat rides, guides for snow shoeing, and in-house babysitting.
While this limits the area in which we can supply Utah vacation rental homes, we feel this effort pays off. Approximately 60% of our customer base each year are repeat customers. Our Utah vacation homes have loyal followers who make their reservations early so they can enjoy the home of their choice. Each home has its own magic and flavor. Whether you want a ski in and out luxury vacation home or a quaint cabin in the woods, Mount Majestic Properties has the property that will meet your specific ski vacation needs. We can even send you a picture of real time activities in the days prior to your arrival.
We feel a strong loyalty to our home owners, as well. After all, they are our neighbors and they have put their prized jewel in our care. We expect from home owners an inventory (home) that is well cared for and well appointed at the beginning of the season and in return they are assured of receiving the home in the same order upon returning at the end of the season. We expect our guests and our homes to be treated well. We make sure of it.
While we are busy with customer care and providing a quality product, Mother Nature is providing abundant, light and fluffy snow. With an 8700 foot base elevation, the snow arrives like clockwork. And we are on it clearing driveways and paths so you can get to the slopes safely.
Come experience the unique atmosphere of Brighton, Utah. We guarantee it will be one of your most memorable vacations ever! And in planning for your visit to Brighton, Utah, consider Mount Majestic Properties for your next ski vacation home. There is no better experience on earth!