- Overall Rating 4
- Family Friendly 3
- All-Mtn. Terrain 4
- Terrain Park 2
- Nightlife 1
Pros: Great snow, Best for intermediates
Cons: Endless traversing to best terrain, big winds, pretentious locals
Recommended For: Singles, Empty Nesters
Date Visited: Nov 1, 2011
Alta's got quite a reputation, and most of it is well-deserved. But it's often labelled as an experts-only paradise, and that is just not so. Most of the terrain is actually intermediate level, and there's a ton of beginner terrain on the Albion side. If you want redline hairball skiing, that's just downvalley at 'The Bird.'
The snow here is often slightly deeper than Snowbird, but the terrain is more forgiving if you don't have the quadriceps to go full-on hardcore. It's also kind of nice not having to work around the more clueless subset of snowboard culture, who have a tendency to sit underneath blind rollovers, or flop down right at lift line bottlenecks.
For folks staying in the quiet Alta lodges, it can be superb on a powder day morning when Little Cottonwood Canyon road is closed due to storms, but don't expect the runs to open promptly at 9; the patrol will be bombing for a while.
Despite it's cult reputation and obvious advantages (snow, wide open terrain), Alta does have some downsides:
--It's only 2,000 vertical feet. Quite small, really.
--The best terrain in only available via long hikes and traverses. Most of the powder runs bowl out quickly. Runs on the Sugarloaf/Albion/Supreme side require long flats to get back to the lifts. It makes sense that it's not open to snowboarders, because they'd be clogging the traverses and punching post holes to get around.
--The sidecountry is certainly good, but it's better from Brighton, in Big Cottonwood.
--Alta can be mega-windy, especially Supreme and Sugarloaf ridges.
--The lines become huge on sunny weekends when the snow's good.
--The vibe is low key and anti resort-ish, a welcome relief from the endless luxury pandering of Park City and Colorado, but the 'locals' are often pretentious. SLC newbies and bro brahs definitely radiate the attitude that it's a private club for them and their friends. Lift line cutting by the homies can get pretty obnoxious.
But for semi-lift-access powder skiing, especially on a harsh weather weekday, Alta's top end. Just remember to bring skins, shovel and beacon.