Alta Ski Area
Nestled near the top of one of Utah's best canyons, Alta is a storied paradise for skiers. Even riders leave their boards at home for a chance at the 2,200+ acres of Alta's renowned slopes featuring 116 runs. For skiers, including a noticeable proportion of telemark skiers, it just doesn't get much better. What's more, this skier's paradise — full of "Alta-holics" — is less than 45 minutes from the Salt Lake City International Airport.
You may have heard the myth that Alta's lifts are made of wood. While Alta is steeped in old-school ski tradition, you will not find a single wooden ski lift. Instead, look for modern infrastructure in a rustic setting, with lodging accents that date back to the early days of skiing. Call it charm. Alta serves up home-style charm in abundance, right down to Alta's famous grass-fed Utah beef hamburgers at Watson's Shelter, or among the welcoming local at the Peruvian Bar.
Speaking of charm, most of Alta's lodging accommodations include meals. And, indeed, Alta owes its indie spirit in part to an array of locally owned shops and restaurants. As a result, repeat Alta-holics and their kids look forward to reconnecting with ski vacation buddies year after year. Also, locals love to gather at Alta for the ski after 3 p.m. deal, which (after the initial $10 card activation) enables you to end your day with a quick $5 downhill run or two.
Regardless of what time you arrive, you must hit the High Rustler run, accessed from High Traverse off the Collins lift. This was editor's pick at The Salt Lake Tribune: "No single run symbolizes Utah skiing to the rest of the world quite like Alf's High Rustler ... Great skiers dream of making that top-to-bottom descent on a good powder day." Happily, with 560 annual inches, good powder days are abundant. In fact, Alta is widening Corkscrew (the popular run toward the base of Rustler) making it possible for intermediate skiers to experience a top-to-bottom burner just like the experts.
Don't let all this talk of the world's most epic skiing turn you away if you're just getting started. Alta is also known for its ski school and great beginner terrain off Albion and Sunnyside. In total, 25 percent of Alta is beginner terrain and 35 percent expert, with a sweet spot of 40 percent for intermediate skiing.
Want to double your terrain? It's easy to get to Snowbird by traversing the Keyhole or through Mineral Basin — an area descriptively described as huge, wide-open bowls of powder. In addition, the scenery of the Alta/Snowbird area is among the most dramatic: Little Cottonwood Canyon's spectacular peaks wrap the resorts in rugged mountain splendor, including American Fork Canyon's Twin Peaks, Mount Superior and the Wasatch Range's most iconic ridgeline, Mount Timpanogos.
Where To Stay
Locations like the Alta Lodge and Alta Chalets offer ski-in/out access to Alta Ski Area. Whether you're looking for the pampering of Alta's Rustler Lodge or to rent a condominium with great access to the slopes there are a multitude of lodging options year round. Many of the venues stay open in the summer for lodging, conferences, weddings, receptions, parties, Sunday Brunch and Saturday Lunch. Explore lodging options.
Minutes down the canyon, Salt Lake City offers over 150 hotels and a wide array of other lodging options, including home and condominium rentals. Basically, along the I-15 corridor of Salt Lake County there exists a continuous stream of potential accommodations with balanced access to Ski City resorts. Or stick to the capital city to enjoy an impressive performing arts portfolio, established breweries, a burgeoning craft cocktail scene and great cultural experiences.
Read about more winter things to do and places to stay in Salt Lake:
Warm Weather Alta
To get a head start exploring Alta's terrain, Alta is a top outdoor adventure destination throughout the year thanks to a network of beautiful trails for hikers and mountain bikers, campgrounds, rock climbing and clear mountain air. Some of Utah's best wildflowers also pop during the peak of summer. By late September, though, valley rains may mean early flutters of snow near the top of the canyon. Consider camping at the wildflower-covered Albion Basin Campground in the warmer weather.
Perfect Skis for Perfect Powder
Excited about skiing Utah but not sure if you're properly equipped? A local expert can help:
High Action At Alta
Explore highlights from Alta's 2,200 acres of old-school slopes known for long, straight runs (more than 116 of them) that cut down the fall line.
Alta Ski Area
Alta, UT 84092