- Accommodation & Hotels
- Ski Area
- Ski Lifts & Pass
- Facilities & Services
- Activities & Things to do
- Restaurants & Nightlife
Alta is a ski area in the western United States, located in the town of Alta in the Wasatch Mountains of Utah, in Salt Lake County. With a skiable area of 2,200 acres (8.9 km2), Alta's base elevation is 8,530 ft (2,600 m) and rises to 10,550 ft (3,216 m) for a vertical gain of 2,020 ft (616 m).
Alta is one of the oldest ski resorts in the US (it opened in 1939) and it retains some of its old-fashioned traditions, the most obvious being the prohibition of snowboarders. Alta has managed to preserve what some call "the soul of skiing". Without real estate development on the mountain and very little corporate clutter, you can imagine the thrills felt by the pioneers of skiing when little got in the way of the natural beauty of the area.
If you are looking for a ski vacation away from the bustle of everyday life, Alta just may be the place for you. Perched high above the Salt Lake desert in Little Cottonwood Canyon, Alta offers some of the best skiing in the world. The 500"+ of snow that fall at Alta each winter are amongst the driest snowflakes on earth. In fact, the powder is so light and fluffy that Alta actually publishes the water content of each snowfall. "Cold smoke" style snow is the norm here and a skier would have to be quite unlucky to pass a week at Alta without it snowing at least once.
Alta and Snowbird resorts now offer the Alta Snowbird Pass, enabling skiers to access both ski areas via the new high-speed quad in Mineral Basin that transports skiers to the saddle separating Alta's Albion Basin and Snowbird's Mineral Basin and connects the two resorts.
The combined ski areas in Little Cottonwood Canyon are justifiably considered as having the best powder snow in the U.S., but if you're looking for loads of thrilling nightlife Alta may not be the right place for you. The lodges are traditional, cozy gathering places for family and friends, but not really good for people who are looking for dancing and drinking. The ski season at Alta runs for five months from the middle of November to mid-April. Note that Alta does not allow any snowboarding, while neighboring Snowbird does.
Alta - Snowbird
Alta ski resort is inter-connected with Snowbird via the lifts and slopes (via the saddle off the Sugarloaf chairlift) or a free bus. If you pay the extra money for a combined Alta Snowbird lift ticket you can score even more terrain. Together the resorts provide 26 lifts and 1,902 hectares (4,700 acres) of terrain, making it one of the largest ski areas in the US.
Skiing in Alta
Alta ski area is one of the United State's best ski resorts. From beginner trails at Albion Base to black diamond bowls off Sugarloaf, Alta has great variety, stunning scenery and dry snow quality.
Alta is recognized not only for its variety of terrain but also for stunning scenery and dry snow quality. There is plenty of beginner and lower intermediate terrain, as well as some steep chutes and powder bowls that you will have to hike to. Most of the beginner trails are accessed from Albion Base, with intermediates scattered around the mountain and some great advanced black diamond bowls off the Sugarloaf quad lift.
Any discussion of Alta begins and ends with snow. 500"+ of it fall annually and it's amongst the lighest, fluffiest snow anywhere in the world. "Cold Smoke" is a term often used to describe the snow here, but it hardly does it justice. In fact, the snow is so light that Alta actually publishes not only the snowfall total in inches, but the water content of the snow. Anything under 6-7% is considered to be very dry. Alta often records snowfall in the 4-5% range, which borders on vapor. Skiing Alta's light snow is truly a pleasure for all ability levels of skiers.
Neighboring Snowbird is the more aggressive of the two ski areas, though Alta's ski area still has plenty to test advanced skiers.
Alta Beginner Skiing
Alta's beginner skiing is focused around three chairs, the Albion, Sunnyside and Cecret on the looker's left side of the mountain. rooked Mile is ideal for beginners in Alta as they can ski at altitude and enjoy mountain views.
Beginner skiers can access the mountain using the Albion, Sunnyside and Cecret lifts. The triple chair Sunnyside services a mile-long (1.6 km) beginner trail, originally named Never Sweat, now known as Crooked Mile, which gives beginners the chance to ski at altitude and enjoy the mountain views. Beginners can ride the Sunnyside chairlift for free after 3 pm each day.
A good day for a beginner would be to take the Albion double chair and ski down Crooked Mile to the base of Sunnyside triple chair, then take Sunnyside up and ski down Sunnyside green trail to Home Run, back to the base of Sunnyside lift. Then take Sunnyside up again, but this time cross over to Cecret double chair along Dipsy Doodle. Take Cecret lift and ski down Rabbit or Sweet 'n' Easy to join on with Home Run back to the base.
It is worth noting that Alta's 500" of annual snowfall can be a double-edged sword for beginners. Surface conditions are usually powdery and soft. However, all that soft, dry snow can be difficult to pack. As a result, the snow tends to get cut up more easily. That can mean that while experts are happy about fresh snow, some beginners can grumble about the skiing being more difficult than they expected due to the less smooth surface.
Alta Intermediate Skiing
Intermediate skiers will enjoy the ride up Supreme and the panoramic view of Alta and the Heber Valley from the top.
40 percent of the terrain at Alta is deemed suitable for intermediates, while there is plenty to either stretch experienced intermediates, or encourage novice intermediates.
Intermediate skiers can ride the Sugarloaf quad that accesses intermediate and advanced terrain. From Sugarloaf, you can ski the front of Alta by cutting back to the Supreme lift via Waldren's Way, Devil's Elbow and Razor Back, then take the Supreme triple chair for some good blue and black diamond trails. Or, if you have the right pass, drop into Snowbird's Mineral Basin from Sugarloaf.
The ride up Supreme is an experience in itself. From the top you can enjoy a panoramic view of Alta and the beautiful Heber Valley. From here, challenging intermediate and advanced trails such as So Long, Big Dipper and No 9 are favorites. On the front of Alta the Wildcat and Collins lifts provide more blue trails. From the top of Collins you can access Aggie's Alley, the Meadow and Corkscrew. Wildcat lift runs to the top of the Peruvian Ridge, accessing primarily advanced terrain. Aggie's Alley provides intermediate access off Peruvian Ridge.
Nearly all of the trails at Alta link to an easy way down, so nervous intermediates can try to test themselves, safe in the knowledge that there is an escape route at hand.
Alta Expert Skiing
Alta's expert skiing has few peers. 500" of snow and world-class steeps make Alta's black diamonds amongst the most fun in the United States.
With 35 percent of the mountain dedicated to black diamond trails, advanced and expert skiers have plenty to choose from at Alta. The Collins quad provides access to a wide variety of advanced terrain. Race Course, Sunspot, Yellow Trail, Greeley Bowl, Lone Pine and Alf's High Rustler, to name just a few, are for the expert skier.
Advanced trails below Germania triple chair include Nina's Curve, Schuss Gully and Collins Face. From the top of Wildcat, skiers can choose advanced trails down Peruvian Ridge, Punch Bowl, Rock Gully, Wildcat Face and the Westward Ho Area (which connects with Snowbird resort). The toughest skiing in terms of moguls is Alf's High Rustler; the steepest slope is Gun Sight; and the best for powder are Greeley Bowl and Yellow Trail.
Any expert skiers visiting Alta would be advised to make the short hike required to ski Baldy Chutes and Devil's Castle. Favoured by many locals, the chutes are steep, challenging, and in fresh powder - scintillating.
Telemarking and high-altitude ski-touring is available through the Alf Engen Ski School, and heli-skiing is available through Wasatch Powderbird Guides.
Grizzly Gulch backcountry skiing
New since 2003 is guided backcountry skiing (and boarding) in Grizzly Gulch, located adjacent to the ski area. It's a unique skiing adventure of guided off-trail skiing. The day starts with check-in at the Albion base area, followed by an orientation and continental breakfast at the Albion Grill. Then enjoy a heated snowcat ride to the top of Grizzly Gulch at 10,500 feet (3,200 m).
The guided off-piste trails take skiers and boarders on pitches with an average of 1,500 feet (457 m) of vertical drop. The group may consist of any combination of up to 11 skiers and snowboarders and two guides. Snowcat skiing is only for advanced and expert skiers and riders with strong off-trail skiing skills and experience. Powder skis are recommended.
Like other Utah ski resorts, Alta loves their motto of “The Greatest Snow on Earth” and the claim is probably well deserved. Ski Alta for the joy of both quantity and quality of powder, partly because Little Cottonwood Canyon catches all the dry snow that dumps from the Lake Effect phenomenon. A particularly sweet time to visit Alta is late Feb to early March (Utah typically doesn’t get that much powder in January), but anytime is good.
Many of the slopes are north facing which keeps the snow pristine. One exception is the runs wide skiers’ left off the Supreme lift (e.g. Challenger). One time when we visited, it was a feral icy mess.
Considering the steep pitches and the copious snow, avalanche risk is present in-bounds whilst skiing Alta, so it wouldn’t hurt for those tackling the steeps to carry avalanche safety gear. However you feel a level of comfort because the ski patrollers are very conservative and incredibly experienced.
The village remains fairly traditional. Alta calls themselves a “ski area” rather than a “resort” which reflects the no-frills ambience. The facilities and nightlife are a little limited, but more than adequate for families and those who want to focus their energies on skiing. The Prada wearing set are not well catered for at Alta, with limited shopping and day spas. Park City suits this group well, which leaves the powder at Alta to those who are serious about their skiing. And when compared to the Park City resorts (Park City, Deer Valley, Canyons), the Alta ski services such as ski school and equipment rentals are inexpensive.
Apres ski, restaurants and activities in Alta
Part of Alta's charm is in the laid back, relaxed attitudes in the 'village'. The mountain will exhaust you and at the end of the day you'll want nothing more than perhaps a swim, a drink or two and some fine food, before hitting the hay.
Transportation - Get In
Alta is located 25 miles Southeast of Salt Lake City at the top of Little Cottonwood Canyon.
State Highway 210 brings you to Alta. The nearest interstates are 15, 80, and 215. There is only one road in and out of the valley. BE ADVISED that storms or avalanches may shut down the one road leading up the canyon and it is possible you may be unable to leave until the conditions clear.
It is a 45-minute drive from the Salt Lake City International Airport, with direct flights from most major cities.
Shuttles from the airport:
- Alta Shuttle +1-866-274-0225
- Canyon Transportation +1 801 860-7544
- Quicksilver +1-877-277-4587
- Resort Transportation +1-800-604-1525
- Ted's Transportation +1 801 541-3736
- Tri M Transportation +1-800-671-0030
- Ute Cab Company +1 801 359-7788
- Wasatch Mountain Service +1-800-365-8511
- Wave Transportation +1 801 532-1433
- Yellow Cab +1 801 521-2100
Transportation - Get Around
Overnight parking in Alta is limited. Avalanche and watershed restrictions prohibit overnight camping and dogs. If you are staying in Alta it is not necessary to have a car. Most lodges and condominiums are slope-side or provide transportation. For day trips, there are two parking lots at the Albion and Wildcat bases.
There are times when Little Cottonwood Canyon Road, State Highway 210, may be restricted to travel due to avalanches, storms, or other reasons. AM 530 has up-to-date road information and canyon activities. It is required by state law that you carry chains in your vehicle or have snow tires on the vehicle from November 1st through May 1st.
Between Alta and Snowbird
- Alta Bypass Shuttle: Free
From 8:30 to 11AM the free white bypass shuttle bus makes a continuous loop past Blackjack Condos, The View, Powder Ridge, Superior Point, The bypass Houses, upper and lower Sugarplum Village, Collins Ticket Office and Wildcat Ticket Office. The free white bypass shuttle sits at the bottom of the Collins chair from 3 to 5PM and returns skiers immediately to their condominiums or houses.
- Public Transportation (UTA): Free Zone
Utah Transit Authority operates a ski bus route from many locations throughout the Salt Lake Valley. The UTA ski buses transport skiers and gear. Because of convenient schedule times, skiers can enjoy a full day, morning, or afternoon half-day of skiing.
- Alta Shuttle +1-866-274-0225
- Canyon Transportation +1-800-255-1841
- Ted's Transportation +1 801 541-3736
- Tri M Transportation +1-800-671-0030
The Alta ski area in Utah has stunning scenery, especially from the top of Sugarloaf, but the scenery pales into insignificance in comparison to the ski terrain and the snow. The mountain is pristine and less rugged than Snowbird, but the Alta ski resort terrain still has plenty of roughness around the edges, particularly amongst the many expert runs that include steep chutes and little cliffs. Thankfully the cliffs are well marked, particularly because there is no differentiation between single black and double black runs. It’s up to you to figure it out! Many experts ski Alta UT for the steeps, yet the Alta ski area also has more than ample terrain for all other ability levels.
At the top of the Alta Mountain there are sporadic trees or open alpine areas, and further down there are well spaced gladed areas. There are lots of routes that aren’t marked on the trail map. Go off-piste and there are never-ending options for lines, although you might have to traverse forever to find them.
Other than the terrain, the other highlight of the Alta skiing is the dry powder. It falls in abundance and the snow holds up much better than at the neighbouring resort of Snowbird. The volume of skiers is less at the Alta ski area, but Alta traditionalists say that it’s due to the absence of snowboarders who “push” the snow off the mountain. This is obviously up for debate, but powder preservation is definitely evident. Every fresh face of deep snow has beautifully tight squiggles of skiers’ turns that are very close to each other. Even after a weekend powder day, there are still freshies to be had, particularly if you know the secret spots or are prepared to go for a short hike.
The Alta Mountain has two base areas with facilities – Wildcat and Albion. The Albion area has the Children’s centre and ski school which is indicative of the beginner terrain that rises from here. Most advanced and expert skiers will start at the Wildcat base. The two base areas are interlinked by a long and tedious two-way tow rope.
Ski Alta for the Beginner
Beginners’ lifts are at the Albion base on Albion, Sunnyside and Cecret, with more than enough terrain to keep beginners interested. This region is not highly trafficked by fast skiers, so beginners can learn in peace. And without snowboarders scraping up behind them, any anxiousness will be further reduced.
Intermediate Alta Skiing
The remaining lifts have a range of intermediate runs, although Wildcat is predominantly a black run lift. Alta ski area has lots of gentle groomers, some of which have whoopsie-doos (ie rollers) for a bit of fun. A few of the blue runs are not groomed so Alta is a good place to learn to ski bumps. Alta UT is also a great place to learn to ski powder as there are lots of places to pop off the side of the run and practise in the powder before returning to the piste. For plenty of space, the Ballroom is an intermediate powder bowl. The run becomes steeper the further you traverse from the Collins lift, so you can choose the pitch you like. The only downside of Ballroom is that it is probably the first run at the Alta ski area to become tracked out.
Parks & Pipes
Go to Snowbird, or even better go to Brighton Ski Resort in Big Cottonwood Canyon or Park City Mountain Resort.
Advanced Skiing Alta
Alta skiing is a bit tricky for advanced skiers because there is no differentiation between single and double blacks, although it’s generally easy enough to scope out the milder black runs from the lifts (on good vis days!). The far reaches of the Ballroom equates to an easy black run. It is a wide open bowl with only moderate pitch. All the black runs in the vicinity of the Collins chair are placid, so long as you take a low traverse from the lift rather than the high traverse. The Wildcat and Sugarloaf lifts generally service very manageable black runs also.
The Supreme lift has supreme terrain and it’s ideal for low vis days. Avoid any of the runs close to the Supreme lift (on either side) as these are definitely nasty double blacks, with cliffs and steep narrow chutes. Out wider is easier (skiers’ left you’ll need to go a fair way out) and appropriate for advanced riders. To skiers’ right, Catherine’s area has some awesome tree runs. You need to walk up the hill a little when you get off the lift, and then traverse a fair way until you see the terrain open up into mellow powder meadows. As the runs flatten out you will need to get plenty of speed – lucky there are no snowboarders at Alta.
Ski Alta for the Expert
Even though no runs are marked as double black diamonds at Alta, there is definitely expert terrain and an abundance of it. Great pitch and great powder can be found in the East Greeley area, the Yellow Tail area, and Greeley Chutes. Off the high traverse are dozens of awesome runs, and if you can patiently continue the traverse (and see on a low vis day) and not be tempted to drop in somewhere, you get to Alf’s High Rustler which was one of Alf’s favourite runs.
Some other areas require a little work to get the steep powder rewards. Examples include Devil’s Castle (if it’s open), West Castle, East Castle (if it’s open) and the Baldy Chutes that can be hiked to from either Alta ski resort or Snowbird.
Ski lifts & pass
Alta Ski Lifts
Alta's ski lifts, eleven in total including two high speed quads, carry over 11,000 people onto the mountains every hour.
Alta has three double chairs, two triple chairs, two high-speed quads and four surface lifts. Lifts are open from 9.15 am to 4.30 pm and they carry about 11,200 people per hour onto the mountain. At peak times there may be lines lasting 10-15 minutes. Come early or ski during the noon hour to avoid them. Some older lifts have been replaced in the past few years with faster ones, and further improvements are planned, pending United States Forest Service approval.
The Sunnyside lift is good for beginners and enables skiers to ride up the mountain and then gives them over a mile (1.6 km) of great learning terrain back to the bottom. In the early 2000's, the Sugarloaf lift, which leads to access to Snowbird resort, was upgraded to a detachable quad and offers good progression for the beginner who has conquered the Sunnyside terrain.
A transfer tow strung across the side of the access road connects the two base areas at Alta.
The cheapest lift pass available is the Ski Salt Lake Super Pass, which gives skiers access to Alta, Brighton, Snowbird and Solitude. There is no restriction on how many days you must ski at any of the resorts, though the lift pass may only be used at one resort per day, so visitors to Alta could not use it on the same day in Snowbird. As the Super Pass does not offer discounts for children, families are better off getting youngsters' lift passes at each individual resort.
Skiers wishing to ski Alta and Snowbird on the same day will have to buy the AltaSnowbird lift pass. It is the most expensive lift ticket option when skiing at Alta, but you will not be disappointed at the quality and variety of the skiing on offer.
Alta Lift Ticket Prices
Listed below are the 2017/2018 prices for lift tickets purchased at the ticket window. To receive the best price on Alta lift tickets, purchase ahead of time and online.
Single Day Lift Tickets
|Alta Day Tickets||New Ticket *||Reload Prices **||Available Online|
|Alta Day - Adult||$104||$101||BUY ONLINE AND SAVE|
|Afternoon - Adult|
(12:30 pm - 4:30 pm)
|$85||$82||NOT AVAILABLE ONLINE|
|Late Afternoon - Adult|
(2:30 pm - 4:30 pm)
|$45||$42||NOT AVAILABLE ONLINE|
|Area Day - Child|
(12 & Under)
|$54||$51||BUY ONLINE AND SAVE|
|Area Day - 80+|
(Must present photo I.D.)
|FREE||FREE||NOT AVAILABLE ONLINE|
|Beginner Area Day - Adult|
(Albion & Sunnyside lifts)
|$47||$44||NOT AVAILABLE ONLINE|
|Beginner Area Day - Child|
(Albion & Sunnyside lifts)
|$47||$44||NOT AVAILABLE ONLINE|
|Sunnyside @ 3 - Adult|
(Sunnyside Lift only)
|$10||N/A||NOT AVAILABLE ONLINE|
|Sunnyside @ 3 - Child|
(Sunnyside Lift only)
|$10||N/A||NOT AVAILABLE ONLINE|
Multi-Day Lift Tickets
|Alta Multi-Day Tickets||New Ticket*||Reload Prices **||Available Online|
|Alta 1 of 2 Days - Adult||$104||$101||BUY ONLINE AND SAVE|
|Alta 1 of 2 Days -Child||$54||$51||BUY ONLINE AND SAVE|
|Alta 2 of 3 Days - Adult||$205||$202||BUY ONLINE AND SAVE|
|Alta 2 of 3 Days - Child||$105||$102||BUY ONLINE AND SAVE|
|Alta 3 of 4 Days - Adult||$300||$297||BUY ONLINE AND SAVE|
|Alta 3 of 4 Days - Child||$156||$153||BUY ONLINE AND SAVE|
|Alta 4 of 5 Days - Adult||$395||$392||BUY ONLINE AND SAVE|
|Alta 4 of 5 Days - Child||$207||$204||BUY ONLINE AND SAVE|
|Alta 5 of 6 Days - Adult||$480||$477||BUY ONLINE AND SAVE|
|Alta 5 of 6 Days - Child||$258||$255||BUY ONLINE AND SAVE|
|Alta 6 of 7 Days - Adult||$565||$562||BUY ONLINE AND SAVE|
|Alta 6 of 7 Days - Child||$309||$306||BUY ONLINE AND SAVE|
|Alta 7 of 8 Days - Adult||$645||$642||BUY ONLINE AND SAVE|
|Alta 7 of 8 Days - Child||$360||$357||BUY ONLINE AND SAVE|
|Alta 8 of 9 Days - Adult||$725||$722||BUY ONLINE AND SAVE|
|Alta 8 of 9 Days - Child||$411||$408||BUY ONLINE AND SAVE|
|Alta 9 of 10 Days - Adult||$805||$802||BUY ONLINE AND SAVE|
|Alta 9 of 10 Days - Child||$462||$459||BUY ONLINE AND SAVE|
Season Passes & Packages
Family Packages & Passes
Unlimited skiing for a family of four.
INCLUDES: 2 Unlimited Adult Season Passes, 2 Unlimited Children Season Passes (Ages 7-17), and FREE Unlimited Passes for children 6 & Under - ALL Children Passes must be for the children of at least one of the Adult Passes.
Additional Children Season Passes (ages 7-17) may be added for an additional $159 each.
|Season Passes||Current Price||After 2/1/2018||Available Online|
|Family Package||$2,399||$1,599||BUY NOW|
|Add-On Children Passes for Family Package||$199||$99||BUY NOW|
Adult Season Passes
Adult Season Passes provide access for skiing the "Greatest Snow on EarthTM" on Alta's 2200 acres.
No blackout dates.
|Season Passes||Current Price||After 2/1/2018||Available Online|
|Unlimited Adult Season Pass||$1,199||N/A||BUY NOW|
|Young Adult Pass|
|65-79 Season Pass||$769||$799||BUY NOW|
|80+ Season Pass||$50||$50||BUY NOW|
|Military Season Pass||$699||$699||BUY NOW|
|Medical Resident Pass||$999||$999||BUY NOW|
|Adult Mid-Week Pass|
Facilities & Services
For a resort that prides itself on being “no-frills”, the village of Alta Utah has more than adequate facilities to service skiers. These Alta ski resort amenities are mainly at either the Albion base (targeted to beginners and kids) or Wildcat base (for intermediates and up), with a few services also in the lodges either side of the Wildcat base.
Alta Ski Rentals
There are multiple options for Alta ski rentals although many people choose to rent equipment from their lodge for the convenience factor.
The Powder House shops have 3 Alta ski rental locations: Motherlode Powder House at the Goldminer’s Daughter Lodge (Wildcat base); Rustler Powder House at Rustler’s Lodge; and Deep Powder House adjacent to Alta Lodge(closest shop if staying at the Snowpine Lodge). They have a big range of gear, with an emphasis on fat skis required for the deep Alta powder.
The Alta Ski Shop is another option at the Wildcat base, whilst Alta Sports is located in the Albion day lodge and has a big range of rental ski gear. This is probably the best spot to go for kids’ gear.
The Alta Peruvian Lodge has a small rental area, which is really only conveniently located for lodge guests. It is run by Craig, who like many other locals is an institution of Alta. He only rents out high end skis (and no kids skis), and also runs a quality repair workshop. All the other shops have repair facilities, but if you’ve got a tricky repair or need your bases done after a rock encounter at Snowbird, go to Craig.
The Alta ski rental rates are very, very good when compared to Snowbird ski rentals and the Park City resorts.
Facilities for Children
The resort provides a state-licensed child care facility for babies from 6 weeks of age up to 9 year olds, as a half day or full day program. Costs are pretty much the same as for other Utah ski resorts. It is advised to make reservations prior to arrival. The children’s center is located at the Albion base, so for overnight guests you might want to get a shuttle bus to get there.
Some of the lodges offer special supervised programs for children, especially during peak periods.
Alta Ski School
The Alta ski school is one of few ski schools in the world that hasn’t had to change their name to “mountain school” or “snowsports school” to be inclusive of snowboarders! Obviously no snowboard tuition is held here! The Alf Engen Ski School is named after the founder of Alta, the crazy Norwegian who took Utah by storm and enjoyed ski jumping. The ski school runs fairly standard programs in both private and group formats, as well telemark workshops for beginners up to experts. Children under four must have private lessons.
For a mountain with such a great skiing reputation, it is surprising that lessons are well priced. The children’s lessons aren’t cheap, but adults wanting to brush up on technique should make the most of the very reasonable prices. Both private and group lessons are cheaper than at neighbouring Snowbird.
All kids group lessons meet at the Albion base, and from most of the lodges (with the exception of the Alta Peruvian) the ski slopes are very mellow to get there (the Snowpine Lodge is the closest). For adults, beginner and intermediate group lessons meet at the Albion base.
Eating On Mountain
If you’re not staying at one of the Alta lodges that include lunch in the lodging package, you’ll be spoiled for choice for places to grab something to eat in between runs. Many of the eateries afford fantastic views.
Mid-mountain is the Collins Grill on the third level of the Watson Shelter (mid-Collins lift). This restaurant provides waiter service and food at good prices, and has a deck for outdoor dining. You can also get food downstairs at the Watson Grill, and Baldy Brews has hot, cold and alcoholic beverages (well as alcoholic as it gets in Utah).
Near the base of the Sugarloaf lift is Alf’s Restaurant with food typical of a cafeteria. For more than your average cafeteria food, the Albion Grill at the Albion base has a great range of healthy food in addition to the standard fare.
The Goldminer’s also has other food options other than the formal restaurant. The Slopeside Café and Espresso bar has cheap lunches, and the bar upstairs has Mexican food.
Activities & Things to do
The main attraction of Alta is the quality skiing, not the night life. Thus, there is little to do but ski, eat, drink, and sleep. The mountain is for skiers only. Snowboarders may enjoy Snowbird, a resort less than a ten-minute drive down the valley with much the same quality snow.
There are trails for skiers of all levels, from beginner to die-hard. Lessons, rentals, demos, and tours are available.
Alta Ski Tours and Activities
Alta offers guided snowcat skiing in Grizzly Gulch for advanced to expert riders via a 5 run package. The terrain area is only small (325 acres), but the chances of skiing untracked powder are much higher than in the resort. Amazingly, the Alta cat skiing is open to snowboarders, so long as they don’t venture across into the resort. Contact the Alta ski school for more information and reservations.
Other backcountry skiing opportunities are with the Alaska Mountain Guides who offer trips varying from half a day up to a week. They use the Alta chair lifts to access the backcountry areas, but you’ll still have to work hard for your powder reward.
No hiking is required for backcountry skiing with the Interconnect Tour. Perhaps a little side-stepping, and plenty of traversing, but no actual hiking! This skiers-only tour covers multiple Utah ski resorts as well as the backcountry areas between them.
Cross-country skiing is also available at Alta. The track is only 5km long, but considering the tightness of the Little Cottonwood Canyon, this is pretty impressive. Tickets are available at the Wildcat Base ticket office, and the rental shops rent out X-country gear as well as snowshoes.
Alta has a day spa at the Rustler Lodge. The menu has mainly a range of yummy massage options including hot stone therapy and therapeutic massage. Prices aren’t as ridiculous as those at the nearby Cliff Lodge (Snowbird), but prices are even better with Cottonwood Canyon Massage who makes house calls. Day spa massage services are also available at the Snowpine Lodge.
Many of the Alta lodges and condos have hot tubs and other relaxation facilities such as saunas.
Restaurants & Nightlife
Alta Restaurants & Dining
Evening dining is largely limited to the Alta lodges, with most guests partaking in meals at their accommodations since these are included in the nightly rates. These restaurants are also open to non-guests with reservations.
Most of the Alta lodges have multi-course gourmet feasts for dinner. The Alta Peruvian Lodge has a good wine list and incredibly appetizing food. The menu changes regularly but examples of dishes include New Zealand lamb and home-made ravioli in a decadent sauce. The first three courses will more than satisfy you, but you’ll surely find room for one of the amazing desserts.
At the Snowpine Lodge, dinner is a delightfully extravagant 4 course affair, and the wine list is very reasonably priced.
The Shallow Shaft, across the street from the Alta Lodge, is a fancy restaurant with fancy prices. They have a large wine list and a creative menu.
For budget meals, the only option is the bars.
Alta Bars & Nightlife
Alta Utah is not party-central and you won’t find any discos or nightclubs. Nightlife doesn’t seem important to most people who visit Alta and are serious about their skiing. Many go to bed early to rest up for the skiing adventure of the next day. Jokes have been made that the Alta nightlife is so boring that the book shelf at the Alta Peruvian is the highlight of the evening activities! This is a gross exaggeration as there is definitely an après ski and bar culture at Alta, it’s just not too over the top and the main focus is on the pre dinner drinking.
The saloon at the Goldminer’s Daughter is a great place for après and bar food such as pizzas. The views across the slopes are fantastic, and the ambience of the bar is marred only by the big television screen.
The Alta Peruvian Lodge bar is definitely worth a visit. A locals’ favourite that is also frequented by the lodge guests can become quite lively during après and continue on into the evening.
The Sitzmark bar at the Alta Lodge is also popular for après joviality, or if you’re frocked up and in need of a quiet yet sophisticated drink then visit the Eagle’s Nest Lounge (Alta Rustler Lodge).
Salt Lake City is the other alternative for nightlife. You could also go to Snowbird ski resort down the road, but it isn’t much more vibrant than Alta.
Alta Mountain Restaurants
Alta has three mid-mountain and six base area restaurants, ranging from cafetarias to sit-down restaurants with waiter service.
There are three mid-mountain and six base area restaurants at the resort. Mid-mountain are the Collins Grill, on the third level of new Watson Shelter, a traditional sit-down restaurant with waiter service; Watson Shelter, a cafeteria offering morning snacks, lunch and a shop; and Alf's Restaurant at the bottom of Cecret double chair, a cafeteria with lunch and snacks.
At the base there are restaurants at Alta Peruvian Lodge, Alta Lodge, and Rustler Lodge, all offering waiter service. Goldminer's Daughter has a restaurant with sit-down lunch, breakfast and snacks, and the Goldminer's Bar serves Mexican food. The Albion Grill at Albion Base has a cafeteria where you can get breakfast, lunch and snacks and then there's Joanie's, above Deep Powder House, with made-to-order sandwiches and smoothies. The Shallow Shaft restaurant, opposite Deep Powder House, is more sophisticated.
Alta Ski Shops
Powder House has 3 locations and two of the shops have a good focus on retail as well as rentals. Deep Powder House adjacent to Alta Lodge is a treasure trove of goodies that powder hound skiers would like including an abundance of Arc’teryx outerwear. They also have a great boot fitting service and a ski demo program to try before you buy. The Motherlode Powder House shop at the Goldminer’s Daughter Lodge (Wildcat base) is decent sized and has some similar products as well as more mainstream ski gear and accessories.
The Alta Ski Shop at the Wildcat base is absolutely jam packed with gear, so much so that you can hardly walk through the place to browse.
Alta Sports on the lower level of the Albion Day Lodge is a large shop that has plenty of variety, caters well to kids, and like other shops is happy to let you demo skis prior to purchase.
The ski shop at the Alta Peruvian Lodge is a shadow of its former self. It now just sells a few basic ski accessories.
Most of the Alta shops selling ski gear and accessories also double as souvenir shops. Alta logo-wear abounds, including t-shirts and caps. There are also lots of quality ski brand mid-layers from Spyder and Marmot that have been emblazoned with the Alta logo. Lots of other logo souvenirs are also available in most of the Alta shops.
Some of the shops sell basic snacks and drinks, but for those who are staying in condos, a grocery stop in Salt Lake City will be required. Or there’s a small grocery store at Snowbird.