Salt Lake City is known for its many ski resorts, but none as unique as the Alta Ski Area. Nestled at the end of the Little Cottonwood Canyon, only 28 miles from Salt Lake City, the Alta Ski Area is consistently ranked the #1 Ski Resort in North America and one of the top powder destinations in the world! 

Utah’s Cottonwood Canyons are powder traps for what is known as the “Greatest Snow on Earth”. The Alta Ski Area averages 500+ inches of ultra-light powder snow each year with primarily north facing slopes for pristine snow conditions throughout the ski season. 

Alta’s historic ski town is centered around the legendary ski lodges with a classic low-key, old-school, and ski-focused vibe. There’s everything from vibey ski bars and saloons with local live music to elegant lodge dining overlooking the Wasatch peaks but, ultimately, a ski trip to Alta is all about the iconic ski slopes

What’s not to love about the Alta Ski Area – 2,200 acres of skiers-only terrain, a vertical drop of 2,538 feet, 116 ski runs, modern high-speed lifts, and the best off-piste terrain in Utah. Head out into the Wasatch Mountains on a heli skiing or cat skiing experience with a backcountry guide, or switch to the slopes of Snowbird Resort where an additional 2,500 acres of diverse terrain awaits – for skiers and snowboarders! 

Alta is regularly referred to as an expert ski area, but don’t be intimidated! The Alta Ski Area is 15% beginner, 30% intermediate, and 55% advanced & expert with some of the best beginner ski programs in the US at the award-winning Alf Engen Ski School. Alta has designated beginner areas tucked away from the speedsters and excellent signage on the mountain always showing the easiest way down. 

Early Season Skiing in Alta

November – December

Average High/Low in °F: 38/15 

The hum of Alta’s impressive snowmaking systems usually begins around early November in preparation for the season, but the temperatures are low enough for Mother Nature to deliver perfect natural powder! The Alta Ski Area has a good track record of early winter snowstorms and ranks as the top ski resort in the US for early season snow

Snow conditions permitting, the Alta Ski Area plans to open for the winter 2022-23 ski season on Friday, November 18th, 2022 – the 85th ski season of the Alta Ski Area. Opening day at Alta is always epic – the chairlifts open at 9:15am with stoked skiers lined up to shred the first powder of the season, followed by après ski shots and stories in a local saloon. 

The early season ski conditions are reliable making a Thanksgiving ski trip to Alta a favorite family tradition for many of our guests, and by mid-December the core ski season kicks off. On average, 96% of the Alta ski slopes are open by Christmas, the Wasatch Mountains are transformed to a winter wonderland, and the local cafés, eateries, and festivities are in full swing for the Alta ski season.   

Peak Snow Season in Alta

January – February

Average High/Low in °F: 31/8 

By January, Alta has a well-developed snow pack with a mix of sunny bluebird days for fair weather skiers and big Utah snow storms for powder hounds. These peak winter months are the coldest of the ski season – but if you bundle up warm (lots of layers!), stay slopeside for easy access, and plan your Alta ski trip well, you’re in for the ski vacation of a lifetime. 

Aside from Presidents Day weekend, the slopes are usually less crowded in January and February than December. It’s important to note that due to Alta’s close proximity to Salt Lake City there’s always a regular flow of local weekend skiers in search of Alta’s perfect powder. The traffic queues (and lift lines) are longer on the weekends – if you have the flexibility, a mid-week stay in Alta has unlimited benefits! 

Spring Skiing in Alta

March – April

Average High/Low in °F: 43/16 

March is one of the snowiest months in the Wasatch Mountains and Alta’s north facing terrain makes it a top spot for spring skiing. The weather is starting to warm (less layers!), the vibe is uniquely different from winter, spring fever is in the air, and an average of 180 inches (15-feet!) of snow falls in Alta in these two months alone. 

Spring skiing is not for everyone but if it suits your style …. the Alta Ski Area ticks all the boxes and remains open until April 23rd. If you can’t get enough of slushy spring days, corn snow and soft spring bumps – Snowbird Resort boasts one of the longest ski seasons in the US remaining open on weekends through the middle of May.

Top Tips for Skiing the Alta Ski Area 

Alta Ski Passes

Alta is on the Ikon Pass and the Mountain Collective. The Ikon Pass includes 7 days of skiing at Alta/Snowbird (no blackout dates), the Ikon Base Plus includes 5 days of skiing at Alta/Snowbird (blackout dates apply), and the Mountain Collective includes 2 days of skiing at Alta, 2 days of skiing at Snowbird and 50% off additional lift tickets at both ski areas. Alternatively, the Ski City Super Pass is a flexible option covering all the Cottonwood Canyon ski areas (Alta, Snowbird, Brighton, and Solitude). 

Parking at Alta Ski Area

Please note that effective December 16th, 2022 parking reservations are required on holidays and each weekend (Friday-Sunday) between 8am and 1pm. The free UTA Ski Bus Service on Bypass Road between the Alta Ski Area and Snowbird Resort only commences on December 12th, 2022. 

Beginner Skiers

Albion Base Area: Sunnyside & Albion Chairlifts

The Alta Ski Area is 15% beginner and there’s more than enough terrain on the “sunny side” of the mountain to keep beginners happy. Find your feet on the magic carpet and gentle beginner runs at the base area, head up the Sunnyside or Albion chairlifts for easy greens, then advance to the next level in the higher peaks of the Wasatch Mountains (Rest assured – there’s always an easy way down!) 

Intermediate Skiers

Albion Base Area: Sugarloaf and Supreme Chairlifts

Wildcat Base Area: Wildcat and Collins Chairlifts

From the top of Sunnyside Lift, the Sugarloaf and Supreme chairlifts offer access to acres of intermediate terrain on the upper mountain with magnificent views, blue trails to the base area, and easy blacks to test your skills. Take the Wildcat or Collins chairlifts (or the East Baldy Traverse from the Sugarloaf lift) to the top of the Collins Lift for more uninterrupted blue groomers back to the Wildcat or Albion Base Areas. 

Advanced & Expert Skiers

Albion Base Area: Sugarloaf and Supreme Chairlifts

Wildcat Base Area: Wildcat and Collins Chairlifts

The Alta Ski Area is known for its bucket-list steeps and deeps, tricky tree runs, massive moguls, perfect powder stashes, and hard-core skiers! Challenge yourself on Alta’s iconic black diamonds (Alf’s High Rustler, Baldy Chutes, High Traverse Ridgeline, and more!)

Book Your Alta Ski Trip Today!

With 5.8 million skier visits, Utah’s 2021-22 ski season was the busiest ski season on record and bookings are already filling up fast for the 2022-23 ski season. For the ultimate Alta ski trip, book your stay with Alta Chalets. Our selection of Alta ski rentals range from quintessential mountain cabins to luxury ski-in/ski-out chalets at Alta and Snowbird Resort. 

Planning a ski trip is easy with Alta Chalets! Our local vacation specialists can assist with guest services like airport transportation, pre-arranged grocery delivery or drop-off meals prior to arrival, full private chef services, or even a deep tissue massage in the comfort of home. Our mission is to create unique and personalized vacation experiences for our guests! Browse our portfolio of Alta Snowbird vacation rentals online, or give us a call today on (801) 424-2426