Alta is the prestigious skiers-only resort in the Wasatch Mountains’ Little Cottonwood Canyon near Salt Lake City. It’s world-renowned for bountiful, fluffy powder and home to some of the West’s most iconic runs. Skiers of all backgrounds and abilities travel to Alta for a taste of the famous goods. Despite the international attention, Alta remains characteristically a local hub, with a friendly atmosphere where world travelers mingle with neighborhood ski bums. Many people return year after year and continually find fresh adventures among the vast terrain on this mountain. There’s no way to do it all in one weekend, but these suggestions will help you make the most of your visit and keep you psyched for the next trip.
Where to go first: Take Little Cottonwood Canyon’s Highway 210 all the way to Albion Base. The adventure begins from the lifts just behind the ticket building, so get your passes and rentals here. You can also check into a two-hour ski lesson with the Alf Engen Ski School, or check the kiddos into daycare. To fuel up for the morning, grab breakfast at Alta Java in the day lodge building, which has delicious waffles and pastries, not to mention a bounty of hot, caffeinated beverages.
Where to warm up: Time to hit the slopes! Hop in line for Sunnyside lift and ride it up for your first chance to sit and take it all in. The starting point for beginners is the Crooked Mile, which cruises back down to the bottom of Sunnyside. Intermediates should warm up on Blue Bell or Race Arena. Experts should take Vail Ridge. All of these set you up to lap Sunnyside lift until you are sufficiently warmed up and ready for the rest of the mountain.
Where to step it up: From the top of Sunnyside, ski over to the Cecret/Sugarloaf area via Dipsy Doodle. Beginners should lap Cecret lift a few times before progressing to the blue runs near Sunnyside. Intermediates should go straight to Sugarloaf lift and ski down on Devil’s Elbow. About two-thirds of the way down this run, veer right onto the signed trail called Supreme Access, and remember to save some speed for a brief uphill near the end. This will drop you at Supreme lift. Ride this, then exit to the right and take Upper Big Dipper to Big Dipper back down to the Cecret/Sugarloaf base.
Experts may want to skip the blue terrain and drop Sugar Bowl or Gravy Boat from Sugarloaf lift, then use Devil’s Elbow and Supreme Access to get on Supreme lift, and explore Supreme’s menagerie of black terrain until it’s time for lunch.
Where to grab a bite: If you are busy ripping it up in Albion area, pause for lunch at Alf’s Restaurant, which is right at the base of Cecret and Sugarloaf lifts. If you find yourself back at the very bottom, Albion Grill in the day-lodge building is a quick and tasty cafeteria with great views.