Buckets of Snow

Alta is a Utah gem.

Alta Ski Resort provides you with plentiful terrain in a big mountain setting, but only 26 miles southeast of Salt Lake City. It’s always a plus to know you won’t have to go far to find world-class terrain!

Alta is one of North America’s oldest resorts. The lifts started turning in 1939 and haven’t stopped since. Many visitors find that they love the old charm and nostalgia of Alta that remains present amongst its more modern resort amenities.

Unless you happen to be a snowboarder. Unfortunately, Alta is one of 3 remaining resorts in America that doesn’t allow snowboarders! You’ll hear mixed opinions from the locals. Some believe Alta should open its doors to our single-plank friends, while others are stout in their stance that keeping boarders off the hill is best for the mountain. Despite the debate, it doesn’t look like things are changing any time soon!

For those of you who stick to skis, though, Alta is a paradise. Huge terrain and deep snow in a historic resort setting await!

4.3

Things we like:

  • check-mark
    Alta has some of the best snow in North America. Consistently deep yearly totals and low moisture precipitation allow for incredible snow quality.
  • check-mark
    Close proximity to Salt Lake City.
  • check-mark
    Massive amounts of world class expert terrain.
  • check-mark
    Family friendly environment, Alta provides good riding for beginners despite most of the mountain being expert terrain.
  • check-mark
    Ski-in/Ski-out lodging is available.
  • check-mark
    Alta is available on the Ikon Pass.

Things we don't like:

  • check-markThere’s not much in the way of Apres.
  • check-markThe Village area at the base is sparse, Alta is a ski area, not a resort.
  • check-markThe lift system is subpar relative to comparable resorts.
  • check-markThe only lodging options are on-mountain or in Salt Lake City, there are not many financially sensible lodging options near the mountain.
  • check-markIkon Pass access coupled with the proximity to Salt Lake can bring major crowds!

Where to Book:

alta-ski-resort-families

Alta Ski Resort 2023 Guide

Resort Profile:

  • Lift System: 7 incl. 1 high-speed six-pack, 3 high-speed quads, 1 fixed grip quad, 1 triple chair, 1 double chair, and 5 surface lifts.
  • Avg. Snowfall: 545+ inches
  • Season: mid-Nov to mid-April
  • Runs: 116+
  • Beginner: 15%
  • Intermediate: 30%
  • Advanced/Expert: 55%
  • Vertical: 8,530 - 11,068 feet
  • Kids Ski School: from 3-14 years old.
  • Accommodations: Multiple hotels and rentals located in town and on the mountain.
  • Daycare: Onsite
See the complete list of the best Ski Resorts here!

Resort

Alta is a top-of-the-pot resort by most accounts.

Alta has 2,614 acres of skiable terrain that boasts a season average of 545+ inches of snow. The snow totals at Alta are so deep that inches don’t seem to do it justice, that’s almost 14 meters of snow!

This is a standout figure, even amongst Utah resorts, which is part of what makes Alta so special. The resort exists in a unique microclimate that gathers massive accumulation of low moisture content snow.

Many skiers and skiing news outlets refer to Utah as having “The greatest snow on earth.” The low moisture, high accumulation snow is code for deep, light, and fluffy powder that is always good.

The terrain at Alta is also world-renowned. Known for its incredibly challenging, advanced, and expert terrain that makes up 50% of the mountain. Though, beginners and intermediates shouldn’t shy away from Alta!

There’s a good portion of terrain that’s entirely accessible to new riders and intermediates. It’s no secret, however, that you’ll have the best time at Alta if you’re at least a solid intermediate rider. Beginners and intermediates can access great entry-level terrain off of lifts like Sunnyside and Sugarloaf.

Beginners can find mellow groomers that are wide open and perfect for cruising. While intermediates can even get into some perfect Utah powder by accessing areas like Ballroom, which is an intermediate powder bowl!

Experts can cut their teeth on some of the easier blacks at Alta, like So Long and Extrovert. When you’re ready, head over to the Baldy Chutes. The Baldy Chutes require a good mix of conditions to open, so accessing them may be dependent on luck and time of the year. If you do go into the Baldy Chutes, though, you’re in for a 25-minute hike to the entrance, where you can ski steep and tight chutes that are iconic for Alta skiers!

If what’s on offer at Alta isn’t enough for you, no worries! Alta is interconnected by a mountain gate to Snowbird, the neighboring resort. Together the resorts amount to over 5,000 skiable acres!

If you’re looking for freestyle skiing, Alta is not your place. Alta does not have any terrain parks unfortunately!

alta-ski-resort-profile

Getting There

When visiting Alta, access is the least of your concerns. Alta is located only 26 miles southeast of Utah’s major urban hub, Salt Lake City. For those visiting from out of state or country, ease of access remains true. Salt Lake City has an international airport that puts you roughly 45 minutes of driving from the resort.

Getting to Alta is further simplified by the Alta Shuttle and Canyon Express. Shuttles are available to run you from the city or the airport to the resort, and they run multiple times per day! Prices for the shuttles are affordable, making the need to rent a car unnecessary.

alta-ski-resort-getting-there

Accommodations

The village of Alta is relatively sparse compared to other resorts. It is actually referred to as the Alta Ski Area, not actually Alta Ski Resort? This name is representative of what’s on offer in the village.

That doesn’t mean that there’s nothing, however. A quick google search will put you on the landing page of the Snowpine Lodge. The Snowpine Lodge is undoubtedly Alta’s highest-end accommodation on the mountain. Complete with spas, elegant facilities, hot tubs, and pools, the Snowpine Lodge is as ritzy as it gets!

If you’re looking to stay on-mountain but want to keep your bank balance a bit higher, there are 4 other lodges at Alta. These options are more conservative in glamor but still great options.

Check out Alta’s Peruvian Lodge for the best ski-in/ski-out access!

Alternatively, staying off the mountain will prove to be the budget option. You won’t be skiing in or out should you choose to stay off the mountain, but the drive is short, and for many, the savings make it well worth the slightly extended commute.

alta-ski-resort-accommodation

Facilities

If you’re looking for a ton of options for things to do outside of skiing, Alta doesn’t exactly shine.

Alta is known for having some of the best skiing in the world, it is not known for being a vibrant ski village packed with attractions. While you’re certain to find things like hot tubs and spas at some of the higher-end lodging options near Alta, the ski area is exactly that, a ski area, less so a ski village.

If you’re in the market for high-end amenities, your best bet is to stay at one of the nicer lodges at Alta, which will have facilities onsite such as pools, gyms, hot tubs, and spas.

alta-ski-resort-facilities

Families and Kids

Alta is a great all-around resort for families. If you’re a family of shredders, Alta has you covered with some of the best challenging terrain in Utah.

If you’ve got some advanced and some beginner riders in the family, Alta is still a great place for you. Beginner riders can enjoy the Albion Base Area, with beginner terrain accessible off three lifts: Sunnyside, Albion, and Cecret. While advanced and expert riders will have no problem finding terrain as around 50% of the mountain is rated advanced/expert.

If you’re visiting Alta with kids that are too young to ski, or haven’t caught the ski bug yet, Alta has a phenomenally rated onsite daycare! Children from ages 2 months to 12 years can be dropped off at the state-licensed Alta Children’s Center.

alta-ski-resort-families

For Beginners

Alta is not to be missed, even if you’ve never clicked into skis before! The mountain has a sizable enough amount of green-rated terrain that beginners can enjoy skiing without just sliding down the same bunny hill all day.

If you’re in the market for lessons, the Alf Engen Ski School offers groups and private lessons for adult riders of all skill levels! They even offer multi-week development programs for adult riders to increase their skills! If you’re a local, this is a great option to progress as a skier quickly with some structured education!

If your young ones are ready to hit the slopes, consider getting them some lessons through the Alf Engen Ski School. Kids that are just beginning can take private and group lessons from ages 4-12. Advanced children aged 7+ can take advanced all-mountain lessons.

The ski school also offers a variety of season-long programs designed to help kids progress in a variety of different skiing disciplines. Season-long programs include things like the All-Mountain

Team, focused on riding in variable terrain, and the Alta Race Team, which is an introductory program in ski racing for kids aged 8-11.

alta-ski-resort-beginners

For Snowboarders

We touched on this earlier, but unfortunately, Alta is not open to snowboarders. Alta remains one of only three resorts left in America that does not allow snowboarders. Worry not, there are other Utah resorts that do allow snowboarders and the terrain and snow quality is still very good! Check out Park City if you’re a boarder in Utah.

If you’re a snowboarder looking to get in on the goods at Alta, just visit the resort next door: Snowbird! The mountains are interconnected by a mountain gate, so you can still experience basically the same terrain style and quality snow without getting hassled by patrol!

alta-ski-resort-mountains

Aprés-Ski

The truth is that Alta is not a great area for aprés. There’s not much more to the resort except skiing. This is favorable to some as it helps the mountain retain a spirit of old-school ski history, and the area isn’t overrun with shops.

The lodges at Alta have dinner options and bars, which is an experience in its own way, but the great Apres culture of resorts like Jackson Hole and Breckenridge is a far cry from what you’ll find at Alta.

The downside here is that staying at the lodges isn’t really an affordable option, and many visitors will opt for staying off the mountain.

Of course, Salt Lake City is nearby. Salt Lake is loaded with pubs and bars and some nightlife options, but the spirit of Aprés isn’t really alive as you’re no longer on or near the mountain.

Simply put, if you’re looking for a lively aprés culture or nightlife option, Alta is not the best place for it. The options available to you will be mostly centered around the lodges at Alta, which offer a more elegant setting for dinner and drinks.

alta-ski-resort-apres-skis

The Bottom Line

Without question, Alta is worth the trip. The snow quality and accumulation are some of the best, not just in North America but in the world.

With terrain options that appeal to riders of every level and an incredible ski school to get beginners up and running, everyone is suited to ride at Alta.

That is if you ski. A huge population of riders, snowboarders, are barred from riding at Alta. As mentioned, snowboarders are welcome at the neighboring resort Snowbird. Seeing as these resorts are connected, the snow quality and terrain are quite comparable.

Access to Alta is pretty simple, being that it is so close to a major city: Salt Lake City, Utah. This makes up for the lack of affordable lodging options on the mountain, as staying in Salt Lake and commuting to the mountain is simple. Utilizing great public transport shuttle options makes your travel to the mountain even easier.

If you’re in it for the aprés or a quaint ski village, Alta probably isn’t your best bet. The aprés options are limited primarily to the mountain lodges, and there’s not much in the way of a mountain village to keep you occupied off the slopes.

That being said, for skiers that want to get deep in some of the best snow in the world, Alta has you covered. It’s a great ski area for riding from first chair to last call. While there are other resorts in Utah that can provide more options in the way of shopping, facilities, and apres, almost none can truly compare to the quality of skiing you’re privy to at Alta. We believe that the terrain options and perfect snow more than make up for what Alta lacks, making it well worth your visit!

Related Reviews

4.3

Things we like:

  • check-mark
    Alta has some of the best snow in North America. Consistently deep yearly totals and low moisture precipitation allow for incredible snow quality.
  • check-mark
    Close proximity to Salt Lake City.
  • check-mark
    Massive amounts of world class expert terrain.
  • check-mark
    Family friendly environment, Alta provides good riding for beginners despite most of the mountain being expert terrain.
  • check-mark
    Ski-in/Ski-out lodging is available.
  • check-mark
    Alta is available on the Ikon Pass.

Things we don't like:

  • check-markThere’s not much in the way of Apres.
  • check-markThe Village area at the base is sparse, Alta is a ski area, not a resort.
  • check-markThe lift system is subpar relative to comparable resorts.
  • check-markThe only lodging options are on-mountain or in Salt Lake City, there are not many financially sensible lodging options near the mountain.
  • check-markIkon Pass access coupled with the proximity to Salt Lake can bring major crowds!

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