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Summer Activities in Alta

Summer in the Cottonwood Canyons of Utah is a spectacular time of year, when wildflowers blossom, the air becomes crisp and clear and outdoor recreational opportunities abound.


The Cottonwood Canyon is a long glacial carved canyon that winds its way through the rugged peaks above the Salt Lake City Valley. Big Cottonwood Canyon leads to Solitude Mountain and Brighton Resorts and the scenic U210 winds its way through the Little Cottonwood Canyon to the mountain town of Alta, only 28 miles from Salt Lake City and 35 miles from the historic western town of Park City.

Little Cottonwood Canyon


At the mouth of the Little Cottonwood Canyon lies the historic site where Mormon pioneers quarried the massive granite slabs to build the famous Salt Lake Temple and nestled at 8,530 feet at the top of the canyon is the historic mining town of Alta.

Alta is consistently ranked the #1 Ski Resort in North America and in the warm summer months, Alta Resort and Snowbird Resort offer resort activities for the whole family with mountain coasters, alpine slides and the scenic Snowbird Tram, accessing miles of colorful mountain trails.

As the snow melts, the Little Cottonwood Canyon comes alive with wildflowers, wildlife, serene natural beauty and an abundance of outdoor activities in the beautiful Wasatch Mountains of Utah.


Wildflower Guide: The Albion Basin is one of the best places to see wildflowers in Utah in the spring and summer months. The Wasatch Wildflower festival is held each July at the four Cottonwood Canyon Resorts (Alta, Snowbird, Solitude and Brighton) or pick up a guidebook and take a self-guided wildflower walk of the Albion Basin from the top of the Sunnyside lift.


Alta Utah Wildflowers in Summer


Hiking: From leisurely strolls through fields of Utah wildflowers to steep climbs up the high ridges of the pristine alpine lakes, you can do a different hike every day of your stay in the Little Cottonwood Canyon. Explore the cool upper canyons with towering aspens, alpine lakes, a brilliant display of colorful wildflowers and a high chance of wildlife viewing.  


Biking: When the snow melts, a bounty of single-track mountain-biking trails abound at Alta and Snowbird, with rentals and gear easily available at the resorts. Advanced mountain bikes can escape to the higher reaches of the canyon for exhilarating adventures in the steep, rocky terrain of the Wasatch Mountains with unbeatable views of the towering peaks of Devil’s Castle and Mount Superior.


Fishing: While the Big Cottonwood Canyon offers more fishing opportunities than Little Cottonwood, many of the secluded alpine lakes are easily accessible from the Alta trails and stocked with brook and rainbow trout for a fun day of high-altitude fishing in Alta.


Rock Climbing: Some of the world’s greatest rock-climbing happens right here on the steep granite cliffs of the Cottonwood Canyon. The Little Cottonwood Canyon boasts several climbing routes and popular Utah rock-climbing areas, from the easy crags in Albion Basin to heart-pounding crack climbing on the steep granite walls of the legendary Hellgate Cliffs.


Hellgate Cliffs in Little Cottonwood Canyon

Hellgate Cliffs

Secluded Scenic Drive: Take a scenic road trip from Alta to the resorts of Solitude and Brighton in Big Cottonwood Canyon. Continue on through the lush Uinta mountains on the Guardsman Pass Scenic Backway (Hwy 224) to the nearby town of Park City or south to the Wasatch Mountain State Park in the Heber Valley for even more outdoor adventures and great ATV/UTV trails.


Outdoor Patios, Live Music & Entertainment: At the end of a day of exploring the canyon, it’s time for yoga in the mountains, then settle on an outdoor patio, sip craft beer or cocktails, listen to live music and soak up the ambiance of these picture perfect mountain resorts. Unwind with Saturday “Music on the Mountain” on the Albion Grill deck, Sunday brunch at the Alta Lodge and outdoor dining on the scenic patio of the historic Silver Fork Lodge overlooking the cliffs of Honeycomb Canyon in Big Cottonwood. The Mountainfilm Festival is a unique drive-in theatre experience that runs over three days in the summer months. It’s all about chilled summer vibes in the mountains.

The Alta area has some much to offer in the summertime we couldn’t cover here. For even more ideas check out our 8 Amazing Things to Do in Snowbird Utah in Summer or the best Utah hiking trails.

Whether you’re camping beneath the iconic Devil’s Castle cliffs in Albion Basin or staying in the comfort of a contemporary Snowbird condo or luxury Alta mountain chalet, sunny skies and off-season lodging rates make summer the ideal time to experience the best of Alta, Snowbird and the scenic Cottonwood Canyon.

Alta Chalets have been welcoming visitors to the Cottonwood Canyon for over 30 years and represent some of the most exclusive properties in the area. Trust us for a safe, secluded and memorable vacation in Alta and Snowbird.