If you're going skiing, you should be skiing powder, and there is no ski area better known for powder than Alta. Year after year readers agree, Alta has “the greatest snow on earth!” With an average of 547 inches of snow a year, Alta nabs the top spot in that category … again. It’s no surprise: Sitting at the top of Little Cottonwood Canyon, Alta’s Devil’s Castle serves as an orographic catcher’s mitt, trapping winter storms as they drop feet upon feet of powder. These winter storms can make getting up the canyon difficult and sometimes impossible if an avalanche blocks the road. However, if you are among the lucky few already up the canyon when the road closes, enjoy your “country club” day—an empty powder-filled mountain.
After a long day of skiing steep and challenging terrain (No. 6), it’s time to relax. Still family-owned and operated, Alta boasts no formal resort village or nightlife (No. 29) and limited après and dining (both No. 28) but as readers explain, “Alta is about the skiing. After a full day, you’re off to bed and dreaming about tomorrow’s snow.” So if it’s skiing you want, come to Alta—without the “distraction of glitz and glamour,” this skier’s mountain will turn you into a powder fiend. — Mali Noyes
2021 Reader Resort Rank for Alta Ski Area, Utah: No. 23 in the West
- LOCAL TIP: Sitting at the top of the canyon, Catherine’s Area traps the most powder in Little Cottonwood, making it the place to find powder stashes days after winter storms.
- BEST VALUE: 80-year-olds and older have earned the privilege of skiing for free. We salute that.
- APRÈS SPOT: Head to the P-dog to take a shot-ski, listen to live music, and bump elbows with the locals. You might even run into your favorite pro skier.
Check out who's next in the West: No. 22 - Big Sky, Mont.
Catch up on No. 24: Copper Mountain, Colo.
Alta's 2020 SKI Magazine Reader Resort Survey Rank: 25th in the West
Readers agree, “it’s the greatest snow on earth.” Ranking No. 1 for Snow, with an average of 547 inches of snowfall a year, Alta lures skiers for the powder. It’s not for the grooming (No. 26), the dining (No. 31) or the nightlife (No. 29), which are all almost “nonexistent.” But with a 45-minute drive from the Salt Lake City airport (Travel Ease, No. 10), this Ikon Pass mountain promises to hold some of the best snow.
Still independently owned, with salty locals and without snowboarders, Alta has its own local flavor (No. 19). And in a time of disappearing authenticity, Alta maintains its “rich history” and “timeless vibe.” Take in the beautiful scenery (No. 7) on Alta’s fixed-grip Wildcat chair. Explore the chutes and secret powder stashes off of the new Supreme chair, and push your skiing on the challenging terrain (No. 12) off the High Traverse. “Alta is the mecca. All other resorts are number two.” — Mali Noyes
- LOCAL TIP: Coffee? Stop at Alta Java for a Susie’s Special.
- MANDATORY RUN: Shred a T-to-B run on north-facing High Boy (Alf’s High Rustler on the map). It always holds the best snow.
SKI Magazine's 2019 Review of Alta, Utah
Alta, Little Cottonwood Canyon’s skier-only gem, claims one of the most loyal followings in all of skidom, who never fail to give this mountain high praise for its tough terrain, plentiful powder, easy access, and great value. New snowmaking machines will ideally get the slopes open around Thanksgiving, and the resort plans to keep the lifts spinning into May again if the snow gods provide. Don’t miss the high-speed Supreme chair, which services some of the best terrain in the West.
What's New for 2019
Alta’s Snowpine Lodge reopens after a massive facelift. Look for a new restaurant, outdoor pool and patio area, spa, indoor grotto, and redesigned rooms. Plus, the new Snowpine triple replaces the Grizzly tow.
Come to Alta for the...
- On-Hill Eats We’ll spare you the details about how amazing the fare is at Collins Grill and leave it at this: the Heart of Darkness Cupcake. Trust us, it’s worth every calorie.
- Mandatory Run Ski the Alta-Snowbird Connect via Keyhole or Mineral Basin and take in the giant scale of Little Cottonwood Canyon's high peaks.
- Pick-Me-Up Ski to Alta Java at the Albion base for a Susie’s Special (dirty chai, extra espresso, extra love, and semi-secret ingredients) before taking another Highboy lap.
- Signature Experiences Alta's iconic Highboy run (officially called Alf's High Rustler) is T2B—top-to-bar, that is—meaning you can ski the advanced, ungroomed run all the way to the deck at Goldminer's Daughter.