If you are looking for solitude on the slopes, then you could do much worse than Solitude, Utah.
Photo - Looking over the trails at Solitude
Although redevelopments have seen the mountain try to position itself as an international resort destination, Solitude has stiff competition from the world-famous Park City/Canyons and Alta/Snowbird resorts just nearby, meaning the resort remains fairly local and quiet for the moment.
This is great news for seasonal workers looking for runs to themselves and a resort to work on their powder-riding technique, with a combination of huge powder and few crowds to track it out.
While you may not get the same shopping opportunities and nightlife buzz as in Park City or Deer Valley, you will instead get plenty of dry powder and solitude in which to enjoy it.
Solitude is located 12 miles (25 minutes’ drive) from the mouth of Big Cottonwood Canyon at the edge of Salt Lake City where you start your ascent into the mountains.
Brighton Ski Resort is another 1.7 miles down the road and is also connected via the SolBright run. Solitude is around 40 miles from downtown Salt Lake City.
As the crow flies, world-famous Park City is a further 12 miles on from Solitude although the mountain pass between Solitude and Park City is closed in winter.
To get to work, many staff car pool and ride-share from strategically located parking lots.
Seasonal workers also get a free complimentary Utah Transit Authority (UTA) ski bus pass. This bus provides a service to and from Alta, Brighton, Snowbird, and Solitude. It starts running in early December and ends in early April each year.
There is a service that starts at Midvale Fort Union Station and runs through Big Cottonwood Canyon and up the I-90 to Solitude. A one way fare is $4.50 if you don’t have a complimentary ticket. This handy bus also allows you to get to Alta/Snowbird and Brighton during the season which are both well worth checking out. See www.visitsaltlake.com/skicity/getting-around/ski-bus/
Solitude is a small resort village which attracts families and a lot of day trippers from Salt Lake City. The food and nightlife choices are super small, with just a few pubs and restaurants to choose from.
Fortunately, most seasonal workers live in Salt Lake City which means access to all the amenities and nightlife of a major city even as you work in a quiet mountain town.
Photo - Avalanche rescue dogs in training at Solitude
Without a doubt, the best aspect of Solitude is how few other people are on the slopes. Apart from the major holiday periods, you will have the terrain generally to yourself and the powder stashes stay untracked.
The total terrain is 1,200 acres, but there is also additional terrain to ride in the side country and back country. This number also undersells Solitude as the resort is connected to Brighton Ski Resort by the SolBright run off the Summit Chair, opening up an entire second resort of 1,050 acres in which to ride on your days off.
Brighton is much more suited to those who love park as well as snowboarders as Solitude can be a little flat in parts.
The terrain a Solitude is naturally divided with the intermediate and beginner terrain lower down on the mountain while the advanced and expert terrain is up the back.
Solitude is also an excellent resort to learn powder riding as there are plenty of intermediate runs that get a lot of powder and not many riders. Over the course of the season, you will certainly improve your powder technique.
The best expert riding is in Honeycomb Canyon which has some sweet gladed runs as well as a few cliffs and rocks to take tighter lines. There is additional glade skiing at Headwall Forest and Evergreen.
Unfortunately, the lift layout is little inelegant, meaning that laps of the good terrain up the top require several lifts to get back up. This, of course, means the fresh snow stays untouched a little longer which is a trade-off you make at Solitude.
Solitude has some excellent back country, but be well-prepared due to the high avalanche risk associated with large snowfall.
Wolverine Cirque is an awesome expanse of terrain accessed from the top of the Summit Lift via a short hike from the Highway to Heaven gate. There are open plains as well as some nice chutes.
There is some nice hiking up the back at Fantasy Ridge, but make sure you are well-prepared before going there as you need to use your hands at some points to make it up, plus the way down is not always obvious. Best to find someone who has done this before and go with them, especially if you duck over the back of the resort and not down the front side (where there are some nice chutes).
If you go over the back, you end up in Silver Fork Canyon, the bottom of which you can take the entry road back to the resort boundaries.
There is a small terrain park with a few beginner features. The biggest terrain park in the region, by a stretch, is the one at Park City.
With 500 inches of powder each season, it’s hard to go too far wrong at Solitude. Although the elevation is a bit lower than Brighton, and nearby Alta/Snowbird, this doesn’t make too much of a difference to the snow quality.
There is so much snow, and so few riders at Solitude that freshies are a fairly sure thing on your days off work.
Solitude holds a job fair each year in early October at the mountain to fill the remaining positions. This is a good way to get a job if you have been slow to approach the mountain.
Working at Solitude means being part of a small community and you will know most of the other staff at Solitude. This is one of the better aspects of working at Solitude. The drive up every day can cost a lot on gas, however, if you are not carpooling.
Jobs Available at Ski Resorts has more information on the types of jobs available at ski resorts.
Minimum wage in Utah is $7.25 an hour and you can expect to earn this for most entry level jobs.
Solitude works with international J1 visa applications through CCUSA but does not accept H2B visas.
See Work a Winter Season in the USA for information on the J1 visa program.
Snowsports instructors do not need to be certified to begin teaching at Solitude. There is a paid program that teaches you how to be an instructor.
Of course, you could always find a job in Salt Lake City for the season and then just ride on your days off, given the proximity of the city to the incredible Utah resorts.
Resources for jobs in Salt Lake City include:
There is no staff housing at Solitude. Staff live in Salt Lake City and the greater area.
You should definitely start immediately looking for housing if you receive a job offer. If you do not have your own car, look for housing close to the Utah Transit Authority (UTA bus service) stops to make it easier to get to and from work.
You could try www.ksl.com to look for housing which is a Utah classifieds site.
Rent is not too bad in Salt Lake City outside the city center. If you are living close to Big Cottonwood Canyon, you might expect to pay around $400 per room per month in a share house.
One of the best things about working at Solitude is getting to work at a quiet resort while living in a thriving metropolis.
While Salt Lake City is not renowned for its incredible nightlife, and instead is known for dour Mormon rules restricting alcohol, the fact is there is plenty to do in Salt Lake City and the reputation is little unfair. There are great restaurants in town as well as several fun bars for when you don’t have to work the next day.
The best bars are in the downtown area, while Salt Lake shines best in the areas of cocktail bars, piano clubs and jazz bars.
At the Solitude village, the Thirsty Squirrel is the main bar. It has a cosy atmosphere with pool, local beers and food. Seasonal workers at Solitude often grab a drink here after work.