Four feet of powder in three days! Not much more to say.
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#28 Alta

Alta inspires a near-religious reverence in its throngs of fans: They throw around words like “mecca,” “heaven” and “nirvana” to describe a classic, minimalist, hardcore hill that brings in pilgrims from all over the world who are in search of one simple salvation: powder. Goose-down powder. Lots of it. Drifted onto 2,200 acres of fan-shaped bowls, steep glades, and low-angle fields.

If snow is your obsession, Alta—No. 1 in the category—needs to be at the top of your life list. Readers rave about the “no-frills atmosphere” and “true ski culture,” which translates into cheap lift tickets, funky lodges and a stubborn but celebrated ban on snowboarding (“no knuckledraggers!!”). The terrain ranks high in Challenge (No. 5) and Variety (No. 8)—and low for grooming (No. 31)—adding up to a playground that expert skiers thrive on.

But it’s not a perfect paradise: A lot of great runs are only accessible by hikes or long traverses, some of which are rocky (“Alta eats skis”). With such a go-get-’em skier population, the legendary white stuff often gets ribboned by noon. And extras like nightlife, lodging and dining—because to the Alta diehard, these are extras—tend to be “mediocre” and “claustrophobic.” But let us not forget the most important measure of all: Alta ranked No. 1 for Overall Satisfaction, so the goods must be pretty darn good. In fact, one reader spoke for his fellow disciples when he noted Alta’s biggest weakness: “It’s too far from my house!” —E.S.

What’s New: Improved snowmaking on Sugarloaf for better early-season skiing; continued work on the “miserable” ropetow that connects the base areas.

Mandatory Run: Take High Traverse from Collins out to Eagle’s Nest for a tree shot that plunges to the base.

Don’t Miss: Sit-down lunch at the Collins Grill.


The Alta Lodge

Alta Lodge

The Alta Lodge sits directly across from Alta’s marquee run, Alf’s High Rustler, and it’s within this context that the lodge operates. It’s about the skiing.

Alta Peruvian Lodge (Alta, UT)

Alta Peruvian

The Peruvian is decidedly lowbrow, but it is this warmth and homeyness that brings families back year after year.

Canyons Map

Skiing The Canyons

On powder days, the steep new terrain gives experts a little more to chew on— and takes some of the pressure off old favorites. Strategy is key in getting the best—and most—of both.

trips of a lifetime alta thumb

Trips of a Lifetime: Alta

Would you like to WIN the trip of a lifetime? To enter, just register for, and post a comment below that explains why YOU deserve to win. editors will pick the lucky winners based on their comment submission, and you could be headed to one of the resorts listed below for an unforgettable ski experience including lift tickets, lodging, and more. See today’s trip details below, and be sure to check back as the prizes will change every few days! Where will your Trip of a Lifetime take you? Participating resorts include: Keystone, CO; Deer Valley, UT; Alta, UT; Big Sky, WY; Whitefish, MT; Beaver Creek, CO.

Skibees: Martinis

Get Drunk in Utah

Sure, Utah's 13 resorts are known for their unbelievable snow. But the drinking scene has remained, well, questionable. Not anymore: Utah's changed their liquor laws. And that's only one of many improvements the state boasts for the 2009-10 ski season.

Alpine coaster at Park City Mountain Resort

Family Time in Park City

Summer in some mountain towns, with their class V rivers and super steep singletrack can be intimidating for families. Not so, Park City. With its plethora of things to do and see, and its three resorts offering up more kid-friendly activities than ever before, Park City is a prime summertime family destination.