You wouldn’t guess it from the industrial modern exterior or its chic interior, but Alta’s Snowpine Lodge predates the ski area on which it stands. At least, technically speaking.
When skiing legend Alf Engen was hired by Utah’s Forest Service in 1935 to scout land at the top of Little Cottonwood Canyon for the viability of a ski area, he would have found the remnants of an old mining townsite established in 1871. But by the time Engen got there, the town had largely been abandoned after the Depression, the decline in silver mining, and a series of disasters including avalanches and a devastating fire spurred most of its original inhabitants to move on to greener pastures.
Only one of Alta’s original buildings withstood that test of time: the Stillwell General Store which first served Alta’s mine workers but was transformed into the Snowpine Lodge, a public shelter for skiers, in 1939.
Alta’s Stillwell General Store, now the Snowpine Lodge, is the only surviving structure from Alta’s early mining days. Photo: Courtesy of the Snowpine Lodge
Fast forward nearly a century, and the original Snowpine Lodge has gone through several makeovers and changes in ownership. Today, it’s owned by real estate developer Brent Pratt and his wife Meg, who purchased the lodge in 2010—partly because it was a good investment, but partly because they needed a place to house their expanding brood of enthusiastic Alta skiers (the Pratts have eight children and three times as many grandchildren).
“After 30 years and many more visits to Alta, it was becoming increasingly difficult to find a place that could accommodate my extended family,” Pratt jokes.