12/28/2011 12:19 pm ET | Updated Jan 05, 2012

Alta Ski Area: A Huffington Post Travel Ski Resort Guide

Alta Ski Area in Utah is a popular destination for skiers. As part of a series on ski resorts, Huffington Post Travel offers our guide to Alta Ski Area, featuring all the key information snow lovers need to know before they hit the slopes.

The Basics

Ready to enjoy the "Greatest Snow on Earth"? Skiers should look no further than Alta Ski Area, located in Little Cottonwood Canyon in the Wasatch Mountains, about 35 miles from Salt Lake City International Airport. Snowboarders, though, are out of luck: Alta is one of a few ski areas in the United States that allows skiing only, which is why snow-loving purists love it. It also is one of eight ski areas clustered around Salt Lake City, and it's a favorite for families and locals. Ski magazine has voted it tops in overall satisfaction, best snow and best skiers' mountain.

The Mountain

Famous for its ash-light powder, Alta's season typically begins around Thanksgiving and ends in mid-April. Skiers can enjoy runs on the area's four peaks: Point Supreme (10,600-foot elevation), Devil's Castle (10,920 feet), Sugarloaf Peak (11,051 feet) and Mount Baldy (11,068 feet). Alta's vertical drop is 2,020 feet, but there are no particularly long runs. Still, plenty of black diamond runs challenge any ski enthusiast. Alta gets more than 500 inches of snow annually, but it also has the capability of making its own.

Trails And Lifts

At Alta, skiers can choose from 115 different runs. Of those, 25 percent are for beginners, 40 percent are for intermediate-level skiers and 35 percent are best suited for experts. The signature run, Alf's High Rustler, is beloved for its incredible powder, length and perfect fall line. Skiers can count on 10 lifts to get them where they want to go: three doubles, one triple, two high-speed quads, one high-speed triple and three surface lifts. As Alta is considered a skier's paradise with no snowboarding allowed, it considers its 2,200 acres of skiable beauty to be a natural terrain park. There is no nighttime skiing at Alta, but helicopter, cross-country and Nordic skiing are available.

In The News

Alta did not serve as a venue for the 2002 Winter Olympics, nor is it a favored spot for high-profile competitions like the X Games. However, it does hold recreational racing events on Fridays and Saturdays and is home to the Alta Town Race Series. Also, its race arena can be rented for private events and competitions. The resort is home to several racing teams, including the Alta Race Team and Alta Youth Telemark. Celebrities don't tend to flock to Alta, but it has been used for films such as Better Off Dead and Playground.


To ski at Alta, adults can expect to pay $72 for an all-day tickets, $60 to ski from 1 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. and $30 for a late-afternoon (2:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m.) pass. Children 12 and younger ski for $38 all day; beginners will also pay $38. Multi-day tickets and season passes also are available. The cost conscious can "Ski Free After 3" at the Sunnyside Lift. Skiers can rent equipment at a variety of locations. Rates range from $5 a day for poles to full packages for $50 a day (multi-day rentals are available). Group ski lessons cost as little as $50 for adult beginners and as much as $570 for a full day of private tutoring. Lessons for children also are available. Alta Sports offers equipment rentals and purchases on such brand names as K2, Giro, Icebreaker, Mountain Hardwear and more. Safety equipment, like helmets, is widely available.


When it's time to take a break, Alta offers a wide variety of options for dining or relaxing with a drink. Guests at Rustler Lodge can enjoy cuisine taken to the highest levels, with a sumptuous breakfast buffet and gourmet lunch and dinner options, including a goat cheese torte, warm lobster strudel and chicken coconut soup. Watson Shelter is famous for its "100-percent grass-fed beef Utah hamburgers," while Collins Grill will satisfy any skier's hunger. After a hard day on the slopes (or just for a bit of decadent pampering), head for Goldminer's Day Spa at Goldminer's Daughter Lodge. Therapists can soothe the aches and kinks of sore muscles with a variety of massage techniques. Beauty treatments like facials, manicures and pedicures are also on the menu.

WATCH: Alta Ski Area

Alta Ski Area offers something for every age and skill level.