Alta Ski Resort
Little Cottonwood Canyon Rd. Hwy 210
Alta, UT 84092
Alta Ski Resort Rating:
I LOVE skiing at Alta Ski Resort and I stress skiing because Alta does not allow snowboarding (the only thing I dislike about Alta). Alta has exactly two things to offer skiers, snow and terrain and Alta delivers them both in mass quantities making it one of the best places to ski in North America (only Jackson Hole and Whistler compare).
Many skiers, myself included, consider to Alta to have the best snow. For starters Alta averages 500 inches of annual snow fall. That total compares favorably to places like Squaw Valley and Jackson Hole who both average approximately 450" of snow. Beyond the quantity of snow there's the quality, here Magazines like Free Skier rate Alta #1 and in November 2006 rated Alta BEST for powder skiing.
Then there is Alta's vast and unspoiled terrain, its complete eye candy for skiers. There is nothing commercial remotely visible in or around Alta. Just big open and bowls and tons of snow, GIDDY UP! Alta's stats stack up as follows:
* 2,200 acres of inbound skiing
* 116 runs- this is misleading as a huge bowl may count as 1 run.
* Base elevation 8,520 feet
* Summit- 10,550 feet
* Vertical- 2,020 feet
The make up of runs at Alta is 25% beginner, 40% intermediate, and 35% expert. Based on this mix Alta is a great mountain for all skiers regardless of ability.
Alta's infrastructure is less developed than other ski areas and Alta's loyal skiers prefer it that way. Some of Alta's best expert terrain, including Catherine's Area and Mount Baldy Chutes, are only accessible to those willing to hoof it. Catherine's area requires a short but strenuous 10-15 minute walk uphill and through the woods. Mount Baldy which includes Dog Leg, will require a much more strenuous 30 minute hike at altitude. Do not try this unless you have skied chutes extensively and are in shape. Otherwise pursue Baldy with vigor, its amazing!!! For those looking for something more exotic still, try Cat skiing in Grizzly Gulch.
For those looking for a short hike and something a it less exotic than Catherine's area or Mt. Baldy, take the Sugar Loaf chair and follow Devil's Elbow 25% of the way down. Pop off your skis and hike up a small hill on your left to access the East Greeley bowl and runs like Glory Gulch and Key Hole Gulch. Those runs are a ton of fun and don't see a ton of traffic.
Then there is Alta's laid back, non-commercial, attitude. When skiing at Alta I literally feel like I have moved back in time to a purist form of skiing. Fortunately I have moved back in time with Gortex powder skirts.
Lodging for Alta skiers is split with 50% of the skiers staying at the nearby Snow Bird Lodge and 50% stay in in Salt Lake City and driving 45 minutes up to Alta to Ski. I always prefer to stay closer to the mountain, but staying in Sal Lake is very cost effective. Another great aspect of skiing Alta and Utah in generally is accessibility. Salt Lake City is any easy flight from just about anywhere in the US and skiing is generally just 45 minutes from the airport. The travel is so easy, I have left the East Coast in the and skied that same afternoon.
Clearly I am a big fan of the Alta Ski Resort. For most of skiers, one run will turn you into an "Altaholic".