Big Cottonwood Canyon, Salt Lake City, Utah, USA
The iconic Big Cottonwood Canyon in the Wasatch Range 12 miles southeast of Salt Lake City is 15-mile long provides fabulous skiing, hiking, biking, picnicking, rock-climbing, camping and fishing in the summer.
Its two ski resorts, Brighton and Solitude, are popular among skiers and snowboarders. The canyon is accessed by The Big Cottonwood Canyon Scenic Byway (SR-190), which runs its length to Guardsman Pass at the top of the canyon, allowing travel to Park City in the summer months.
Guardsman Pass is closed during the winter months and a popular snowshoe hiking destination for many Utahns.
Hiking to the canyon’s mountain lakes is popular, with many trails leading to lakes such as Mary, Martha and Katherine. The canyon’s most popular hiking trail leads to Lakes Blanche, Florence and Lillian. The trail is 3.1 miles (5.0 km) long and a strenuous hike. Since the canyon was formed by Big Cottonwood Creek, the V-shaped canyon has many impressive rock forms.
The canyon is also a frequent destination for Utah Native Plant Society wildflower walks and for University of Utah botanical field trips. The canyon and the adjoining Little Cottonwood Canyon contain significant biodiversity and are home to a number of rare and endemic plant species. One example is the Wasatch shooting-star, Dodecatheon dentatum var. utahense which is only known from Big Cottonwood Canyon.
Big Cottonwood Canyon is a watershed canyon that supplies drinking water to the Wasatch Front, therefore pets and other domesticated animals are not allowed. In November 2011, a proposal to construct a gondola linking Solitude Ski Resort through Big Cottonwood Canyon to the Canyons Resort in Summit County drew criticism over concerns about its potential effect on sensitive terrain and watershed impacts.
It is common for the snow to reach 15 feet (4.6 m) deep at the top end of the canyon in spring while there is none at the mouth of the canyon less than 15 miles away.
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