Skiing & Snowboarding in Utah

Pickled Think

Deer Valley

Park City Mountain

The Canyons





Confessions of a Nastar Junkie

Ohhh Nooo - Not More Snow

The Plight of PSIA

Why Skiing Isn't Like Sex

Refresh Your Mountain Etiquette

They're Only Whim'in

How Do You Make A Girl Happy On Valentine's Day?

Orrin Hatch and the Cask of Amontillado

Bow to the Kings and Queens of World Cup


Wild Utah



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Wild Utah: What kind of visitor is best suited to patronize your resort?

Alta: Alta is a skiers only mountain. Snowboarding is not allowed. Our mountain counts families heavily among its visitors. We are almost equally divided between destination & local skiers for our skier base.

WU: What is your resort's number one feature?

A: snow.

WU: What causes the biggest headaches for visitors at your resort?

A: We remain concerned about the relative difficulty involved with beginner skiers entering any ski area. We are working on making the experience as good as possible for beginners who show up at Alta.

WU: What's new for the 2004/2005 season?

A: Improvements: Alta Installing Long Awaited Lift! When skiers arrive at Alta next winter, it will be hard to not notice our new lift. For years we have wanted a bottom-to-top lift, and now, with Forest Service approvals, we are building it this summer. The new Collins Lift is a 6,300-foot long detachable quad. It replaces the old Collins and Germania lifts. Skiers will ride one lift to the top in under nine minutes, accessing over 1800 vertical feet of skiing.

Alta Ski Area has always been a destination for skiers who are looking for the steep and challenging terrain we are so recognized for. Alta would like to remind all skiers that we were given the perfect gift from nature when our founders chose the first great place to develop a ski area in Utah. Our mountain is equally divided into terrain suitable for beginners, intermediates and expert skiers because of glacial activity that occurred thousands of years ago.

tk ring

High Points: Some of the Best Snow / Terrain Anywhere! Lots of Beginner Terrain

Low Points: The Attitude is a Little Smug & No Snowboarders Allowed

Free tip: Tailgating is Real.

Ah, Alta. If Wild Utah had to crown one resort supreme, it would have to be Alta. The resort is exceptionally old school, with very few high-speed lifts. The premise here (from the days of Alf Engen) was to use slow lifts, which builds up lines at the bottom but allows each skier on the mountain the greatest run.

The quantity and quality of snow at Alta is simply unfair. You can ski in Michigan, Massachusetts, California, Wyoming, North Carolina and even Colorado and never experience anything like Alta. The annual average is 500 inches per year; last year (03-04 season), Alta received 593 inches, and it didn't even snow in March (the biggest snow month). The dryness of the snow is unimaginable. Colorado ski marketing likes to work at convincing people that they have the driest snow; but quite often the moisture density is six or seven percent in Utah, compared to 11 or 12 percent in other ski regions like Colorado. The snow is so dry at Alta that it's almost magic.

We laugh to think of the measly 1,800 feet of vertical, compared to just about every other Rocky Mountain resort at 3,000 feet or more, and even Big Sky, Montana at 4,500 feet. Alta's 1,800 feet will punish you like few resorts can. If you ride the new Collins Lift and ski down High Rustler, you 'll find out why. That 1,800 feet is in one shot, steeper-then-hell. Test your "fitness threshold" by seeing how many times you need to stop on that one run. It's absolutely pulverizing.

It won't take you long to figure out that the Alta locals don't immediately take to "visitors." We're not even sure they take to each other. Alta is so cool, that it's a little cold. Old school skiers have dominated Alta for a half a century. Their kids and everyone else who starts hanging out at Alta begin to take on a very possessive attitude. They figure it's their mountain-and really, it is. Don't let the smugness affect your day. You'll enjoy yourself immensely at Alta.

Alta's food also spans the whole range. Goldminer's Daughter and the Watson Shelter are the bottom end: ski bum food. Alf's Restaurant and Albion Grill are a smidge better (a bowl of soup at Alf's is $7.00). The Alta Lodge and Rustler Lodge are both up from that in performance and price; and the Shallow Shaft is the high-end, with tasty salmon, pork, lamb, steak, etc. Our choice for après ski would be at the Peruvian, just down the road. We often grab a beer for the patio at the little beer window; and there are several other places to whet-ja-whistle.

If you can stomach a skier's-only environment, Alta is a must-ski. Very few resorts in the world can hold a candle to Alta for a variety of reasons. When we skied Alta in the beginning of November, we overheard two guys on Devil's Castle who kept repeating "the snow is just phenomenal!" We had to bite our tongues to keep from yelling, "it's just an average day at Alta!" As our tip suggests, you should bring your favorite intoxicants for après skiing in the parking lot. Sure, there are plenty of places to get a beer, but tailgating is a daily practice at Alta. Enjoy it; you might just break in with the locals.