Families have loved Alta for decades, since 1938. This skiers’ only mountain has terrain that serious skiers fantasize about – pow hounds and backcountry junkies that want to hike from their fresh turns. Just one thing, snowboarders are not allowed, never have been. Old-school Altan skiers say if you can ski Alta, you can ski anywhere. Alta offers amazing terrain, some steep and crazy, some well groomed with gorgeous views of the Wasatch range.
Alta is not easy to get to, nestled at the top of Little Cottonwood Canyon’s black dimaond access road, past Snowbird, you earn your turns just getting up here, but its only a half-hour from Salt Lake City. Once you arrive, its ski paradise and you hope that road closes behind you.
Alta encompasses 2,614 acres typically coated in fluffy light dry Utah snow. In fact, Alta often receives over 500′ of snow in its steep high-elevation canyon, more than anywhere else. Great Salt Lake effect, the “greatest snow on earth”, the Alta effect, call it what you will, often it will snow!
Alta’s terrain varies from steep avalanche chutes and wide open powder bowls like Ballroom and Greely’s on the flanks of 11,068′ Mount Baldy to Cecret on 11,051′ Sugarloaf. But there are plenty of groomed cruisers off the Sugarloaf and Collins quad chairlifts.
Alta is not a beginner ski hill, there are the Albion double and Sunnyside triple chairs that run along the base of the ski area, with just a handfull of green ski runs. The Albion Base Lodge is where all learn to ski programs are centralized including Alta’s Children’s Adventure Center and Alta’s day care.
Alta has 116 named runs, and a recently upgraded lift system with three detachable chairs. There are countless steep chutes, glades and open bowls you can reach with a traverse or hike.
Alta acronym: All Line up, Traverse Again is in reference to the many aspects and stashes reached by traversing the ridgelines. High Rustler is one of the most famous long steep lines that you access out a precarious traverse from Collins.
Hire a guide or bribe a local to show you Alta’s serious stashes, much can be reached by traverse or a hike, but there are tricky aspects and false peaks. Alta can keep a pow hound amused all season with variations on tight chutes, steep glades and wider snowfield bowls.
Alta locals are passionate, especially on a powder day. Its like no other ski place, the snow-caked beards in lift lines, the ski bums that make tracks at Alta every day of the ski season.
Alta and Snowbird offer an interconnected lift ticket, called the One Ticket. You can ski over the border at Sugarloaf Gate to ski all 4,700-acres of the two neighboring areas, very European like. But no boarders are admitted across the Alta/Bird border.
Lunch at Alta, ski to the beautiful Watson Shelter, go up three flights to Collins Grill for a sublime scenic table-service experience. Its pretty fancy by Alta standards, with Utah mountain fare – the trout is delicious. Another gem is to take the Rustler Lift up to the Rustler Lodge, an historic elegant ski lodge with the best ski lunch à la carte menu and fantastic views of where you’ve been skiing.
Alta lodging, there are five properties in the cozy canyon, from rustic (Goldminers, Peruvina, Alta Lodge) to elegant at Rustler Lodge and Snowpine Lodge. The Rustler Lodge at Alta has 85 rooms from dorm style rooms to deluxe suites with a mountain view, and grand historic common spaces, including a very scenic dining room. Kids will love the outdoor heated pool, and parents will love the conveninet ski lockers, Spa and the meal plan that’s included in your package so breakfast and dinner are done in style.
Snowpine Lodge is Alta’s newest nicest property, with 54 alpine chic rooms – framing a view, sumptuous fireplace living rooms, a game room, Spa with Grotto, outdoor pool and hot tubs, great apres ski bar and dining. Snowpine’s ski room is fantastic, fireplace, leather couches, coffee et all!
Aprés ski at Alta, Sitzmark at Alta Lodge is humble and historic in a loft, serving up good times and grand stories of Alta’s past.
You must ski Alta in your lifetime.
116 trails, 6 lifts
Vertical Drop 2,538’
Summit Elevation 11,068’, 10,500 lift served
Skiable Acres 2,614’ (4,700 with interconnected Snowbird)
Annual Snowfall: 550″
Alta Opened in 1938 with $.25 single chair rides
No snowboarders allowed
Snowbird Ski Review:
Our Alta/Snowbird Ski Review