Base Camps: Alta's Snowpine Lodge

First up in a new series about places we like to stay.

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If you’re looking for fawning coverage of swanky vacation digs—”hardcore lodging porn,” as we refer to it here at Skiing HQ—there are other ski mags offering that service. But, though we consider ourselves a canned-beers-on-the-tailgate kind of rag, we do sometimes come across the kinds of places we love and would like to share with you, the thinking being that you’re the same kind of skier we are and would appreciate the same kinds of rootsy joints. The kinds of places that cater to skiers. The kinds of places where simple, effective, cheerful service is the M.O. The kinds of places with good food, cold beer, and quick access to killer terrain. The Snowpine Lodge, at the top of Utah’s legendary Little Cottonwood Canyon, is one such place.

We deployed a few editors to Alta and the Snowpine back in mid-January to celebrate dual anniversaries: Alta’s 75th and Skiing’s 65th. The Snowpine, built just before Alta Ski Area opened in 1939 and newly renovated, is Little Cottonwood’s original alpine lodge, and it’s older than Alta or Skiing. We spent a few days and nights experiencing what every skier should at some point: lodge culture. It’s a beautiful cohabitation of like-minded skiers—close, occasionally but comfortingly pungent and loud, and reassuringly fraternal. You’ll sit down, as we did, to delicious dinners with fast friends from a few rooms down. You’ll wake them up by playing beer-fueled backgammon near the hearth outside their rooms and then apologize over coffee and hearty breakfast fare the next morning. You’ll wave to them in the Collins lift maze and catch glimpses of their toothy grins in between trees in Catherine’s Bowl. The staff is a bunch of skiers just like you are, and you’ll see them on the hill too.

Every one of Alta’s lodges has its own reputation and charm, but something about our days and nights at the Snowpine felt particularly warm and inviting. Next time you head to Little Cottonwood, check it out.