Alta Ski Resort

The Alta Ski Resort is one of the finest in Utah, and has an unusual perk if you are a hard-core skier. An Alta ski vacation is just that: a ski vacation. Snowboarders are still forbidden from riding the trails.

When snowboarding first appeared on the scene, many mountains restricted access to the new sport. As snowboarding increased in popularity during the 1990s, the financial incentive to allow boarders proved too great. Most mountains succumbed to the financial pressure, even Colorado's Keystone Mountain, a long-time hold out, allowed boarders in the late 1990s. Alta Ski Resort Utah is the skiers' last stand. Snowboarders should try using two boards for a day, or head to nearby Snowbird Resort, which has a ticket sharing agreement with Alta.

Its plentiful snow guarantees Alta Ski Resort's success in skiing-only business. Little Cottonwood Canyon, where Alta lies, get regular dumpings of the champagne powder that has made Utah skiing world-renowned. Even when the state's other ski areas are lacking snow, Alta Ski Resort Utah is knee deep in soft dry powder. When the powder has been skied off or groomed at other resorts, there will still be some lovely snow in the gullies and trees of Alta Ski Area.

Powder is not the only thing that has made Alta Ski Area famous; the steep wooded terrain is also legendary. Advanced skiers will find much to amuse them at Alta. From Wildcat base, head up the Wildcat or Collins lifts for some narrow trails, bumps, and tree runs. For expert bowls, take Sugarloaf lift. Then try the steep tree runs off Supreme chair in Catherine's Area.

Intermediates will find satisfying slopes above either of the two bases at Alta Ski Area. From the Wildcat base, go up Collins lift and try Meadow run. From the Albion base, go up any chair for some gentle groomers or some manageable ungroomed trails.

Beginners have a large learning area beneath the rope tow that connects the two bases at Alta Ski Area. The slopes above immediately above Albion base are also relatively easy for all but the most novice skiers. If you are on an Alta ski vacation, you are better off here than at nearby Snowbird mountain.

Alta is something of an old-fashioned ski resort. You won't find luxury condominiums abutting the slopes and there are no super-high-speed lifts. This means there may be a line at the base on powder days, but this is a small price to pay for the laid-back, rustic experience that is Alta Ski Resort Utah.

The rustic atmosphere extends to much of the accommodation at Alta, including delightful ski lodges like Snowpine Lodge, the oldest and smallest in the town, and Rustler's Lodge. Alta Peruvian Lodge, a short walk from Wildcat base, also has a relaxed but lively apres ski scene.

Alta is an easy drive from Salt Lake City and there are regular shuttles about 25 miles to the Salt Lake City Airport. Travelers can also get to an Alta ski vacation by train, via Amtrak's California Zephyr train. However you make it to Alta, the perfect powder, unhurried atmosphere, and great wooded terrain will make you want to stay.

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