Less than 30 minutes from downtown SLC, the drive up the canyon makes for a nice escape to nature. The drive itself is beautiful, with amazing rock formations the first few miles, followed by wildflowers, waterfalls, and green meadows. There are many places along the way to pull over for better views and to get some great photos. There are some amazing hiking trails and some nice spots to simply sit, relax, and take in nature. The drive takes you to Solitude Resort, then to Brighton Resort, about two miles further up the road, where the canyon ends. During the summer, I highly recommend taking the drive up Guardsman's Pass, which is an incredibly scenic drive that takes you up to the backside of Jupiter Bowl at Park City, then down into the Deer Valley Resort area. At the top of the pass, there's a small dirt parking lot, where you can park and spend some time taking in the amazing views. If you want to stand at the top of Jupiter Bowl and look back over Park City, there is a small dirt road that curves up the hill across the street. It's about a 1/4 mile uphill walk, but it's relatively easy and you'll be rewarded with some terrific views.
If you're short on time, the drive up and back through Big Cottonwood Canyon will take less than two hours round trip from downtown SLC, assuming no stops along the way. If you have several hours, it's well worth making the Guardsman's Pass drive, then exploring Deer Valley and Park City before returning to SLC via I-80.
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