How to Have the Ultimate Ski Weekend at Alta
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.
What slopes to hit: Before the end of the day, beginners should do all the green runs near Sunnyside and Cecret lifts. Intermediates should definitely do Sleepy Hollow and 3 Bears for fun rides from Supreme lift, and also can explore some mellow tree skiing off the left side of Supreme Access. Experts should try at least one of the black-diamond chutes to skiers’ left of Supreme lift, and you won’t want to miss out on the aptly-named So Long, on the other side of Supreme.
Where to relax apres-ski: When the lifts close, put up your tired dogs at the "P Dog," more formally known as The Peruvian Bar in the Alta Peruvian Lodge. This bar is known for fun vibes and great micro brews, with a cast of regulars that includes internationals and locals alike.
Where to get a good night’s sleep: The Alta Peruvian is the most affordable lodge at Alta and has a friendly community atmosphere. It sits back from the slopes a bit, but this makes for even better views of the mountain, which you can enjoy from one of two outdoor hot tubs. The Alta Lodge is another great option, providing ski-in/ski-out access and a throwback feel, like an old-school European ski vacation. This lodge also features another après-ski favorite, the Sitzmark Bar, with incredible views of Alf’s High Rustler and other ultra-steep classic runs. Both Peruvian and Alta Lodges include breakfast and dinner with your room.
Where to get caffeinated: Every lodge at Alta has no shortage of fuel for your morning boost, but if you can muster to the lift before coffee, take Collins and ski right up to Watson Cafe in the Watson Shelter.
What slopes to hit: This is the day to step it up. Intermediates and experts should spend the day in Wildcat Area, on Collins and Wildcat lifts. For an introductory run, ski Mambo to Meadow to Corkscrew for a huge amount of vert and a glimpse of some of Alta’s most iconic expert terrain. This is the easier way down, so lower intermediates can take this route too, but there are no green runs here. Another option for intermediates is to ride Collins and traverse over to Sugarloaf’s blues and the Albion Area via Devil’s Way.
A must-do intermediate run from Collins lift is Ballroom, a wide bowl that collects superb powder and offers a chance at untracked real estate. From Wildcat lift, check out Aggie’s Alley, and if that feels good, try Johnson’s Warm Up for an intro black diamond.
Experts will want to move on to the High Traverse, the access road that leads from Collins lift to some of the steepest shots on the mountain. Alf’s High Rustler and Gunsight are two requisites for any aspiring Alta steep skier.
Where to go for mid-day fuel: If not eating at your lodge, Collins Grillis the place to grab a bite in the Wildcat Area. It is located one floor above Watson Cafe in Watson Shelter. After lunch, make the most of your last hours at Alta by repeating your favorite runs, or finding that inspiring line you spotted from the lift and sending it.
Why to come back: No matter how much action you can squeeze into one weekend, Alta is sure to leave you craving more. This ski area has earned its reputation by generations of skiers returning every year, and with beginners and professionals both choosing this mountain over all others in Utah. All it takes is one solid trip to see why. So use these tips to maximize your weekend, and you may soon find yourself among the devoted regulars to Alta Ski Area.
Originally written by RootsRated for Alta.