With more than 116 runs and a whopping 560” of snow per year on average, Alta Ski Area is a solid bet for skiers seeking variety, including challenging terrain. The vibe is relaxed and friendly, but don’t pack your snowboard. Alta is one of the few resorts dedicated to skiing. Partners of differing ability enjoy expert runs situated alongside intermediate, allowing everyone to ride the same lifts and even cross paths on the way down. Looking for a snowy facial? Don’t miss Alta’s steep runs on a pow day.
Address: Highway 210, Little Cottonwood Canyon, Alta, Utah
Resort window prices for tickets: Adult: $79, Youth: $42, Adult Season: $1199, Youth 7-12 Season: $379, Teen 13-17 Season: $399. View Liftopia deals.
Acres: 2,200 acres
Vertical Feet: 2,020 feet
Base elevation: 8,530 feet/2,600 meters
Number of Trails: 116+ named trails (25% beginner, 40% intermediate, 35% expert)
Number of Lifts: 11 Lifts – (2) detachable quad chairlifts, (1) detachable triple chair, (3) double chairlift, (1) triple chairlift, (3) surface tows, (1) moving conveyor
Average Snow: Average of 560″/year
Snow making %: Yes, roughly 2%
What’s new? The Rustler Lodge underwent a makeover including new guest rooms featuring gas fireplaces, new indoor and outdoor Jacuzzis, a new sauna, three new spa treatment rooms and a manicure-pedicure room.
Ski School Offerings: The Alf Engen Ski School offers a wide range of classes and clinics including: telemark, children lessons, women-only lessons, teen freerides and more.
Other Activities: Nordic/ cross country trails, snow cat access, and Ski with a Ranger tours. In addition, local guides offer backcountry and helicopter skiing.
Year Round Offerings? Visiting Alta off-season? Hike through the Albion Basin to Cecret Lake for a spectacular display of wildflowers during July and August.
Average On-Mountain Lunch Price: $10-12
Best Place to Park: Ample parking at both the Albion and Wildcat Bases.
Resort Trivia/Random Facts:
1. Alta is the 2nd oldest ski area in the West to offer lift-served skiing. Sun Valley opened in 1936/37; Alta opened in 1938/39.
2. The reason that Alta has such diverse terrain, especially an abundance of open bowls and steep chutes, is because it was carved out by glacier. For some fascinating information on how glaciers made certain runs at Alta memorable, visit: A Geologist’s Description on Twenty Favorite Runs at Alta
3. The first ski huts in Utah were constructed at Alta in 1948. At the time, making overnight trips though the backcountry was just emerging. One of the huts still stands, tucked away in the trees at the top of Supreme lift.
First Chair/Run You Should Ski: Jump on Sunnyside, ski over to Sugarloaf, then warm up on any of the blue runs. Newer skiers, warm up from the top of Sunnyside on the Crooked Mile.
What time to be first tracks on a pow day: 9:00 AM
Best Powder Stashes: Located off the Supreme Chair, Catherine’s Area flies under the radar of powder hounds. Which is good for you. If you’re looking for an area that holds fresh snow for days and offers terrain suitable for every type of skier, then consider Catherine’s your ticket to getting snow in your face.
Best Tree Runs: From pines at the top to Aspens at the bottom, Westward Ho is home to some of the best tree skiing at Alta. Follow the traverse from the top of the Wildcat chair towards the rope line. From here, it’s pick your own adventure. Find some trees that suit your fancy and point your skis downhill.
Secret Hike-To Spots: East Castle is no secret. But the “longest side step in Utah” might as well be a secret due to the work one must put in to get there. With that in mind, if you’re looking for some of the best snow and some of the longest sustained vertical at Alta, put in the work to get to the top. The ride down will be well worth it.
Around the Resort:
Most Convenient Airport: 45min drive from the Salt Lake International Airport, with direct flights from over 80 U.S. cities.
Best Place for Apres: Alta Peruvian Lodge Bar (also known as the “P dog”) is a simple, friendly place to hang out after a day of skiing. Expect a laid-back mix of like-minded locals and guests. Guests staying at this lodge return year after year, a credit to its homey atmosphere.
Best Nightlife: Alta Peruvian Lodge Bar or the Alta Lodge Sitzmark Club. Like the Peruvian, the Sitzmark is known for its simple, friendly atmosphere. Sip a toddy or microbrew around the fire after a “tough” day on the slopes.
Best Place to Eat: The Snowpine Lodge receives consistent praise for its yummy eats, friendly service, and the epic view. Guests report that they make a concerted effort to accommodate special diets (such as vegetarian) by request. Open for breakfast and dinner.
Best Value Play for Food & Drinks: Goldminer’s Daughter Saloon. Pair a local brew with either the pizza or nachos, or go big and order both!
Most Interesting Place to Eat: Collins Grill, located mid-mountain. Ski in for locally sourced eats and killer views.
Best Place to Recover (a la spas, hot springs, etc.): The Rustler Lodge Spa offers treatments ranging from massage to aroma therapy. Feeling the elevation? Add on their “Altitude Therapy” treatment, which provides oxygen supplements to help you recover.
Who are you? Erika Wiggins, a Salt Lake City based skier and freelance writer specializing in travel and adventure sports.
Where do you come from? California, a long, long, time ago.
Why do you know the resort well? This season, Erika pushed herself from a green-run skier to black diamonds on Alta’s varied terrain. After a year of hanging with Alta locals, she’s sourced the best inside beta for your visit.