There are five independently owned and operated lodges in the tiny village at the base of Alta: Snowpine Lodge, Alta Rustler Lodge, Alta Lodge, Goldminer’s Daughter, and the Alta Peruvian Lodge. They either all have ski-in/ski-out access or are very close to the slopes, and have accommodation ranging from dorm rooms to suites. While staying in Salt Lake City is cheaper, Alta’s lodges save you the commute time, spare you from having to worry about whether or not the road is passable, and they all include breakfast and dinner. Now, THAT’S convenient!
Each of the lodges at Alta has its own personality. The Peruvian is farthest from the slopes (though in a village as compact as Alta’s, that’s not actually very far), but includes lunch and an outdoor pool with a rustic, social atmosphere. The Snowpine, close to the Albion base, is small and cozy (but will be closed in 2017-18 for renovations and expansion). Rustler Lodge is the closest to a four star hotel, with a locker room that looks like it’s straight out of a country club (though in addition to suites, it offers dorm-style rooms). Rustler Lodge along with Alta Lodge tend to be popular with an older crowd (50-65).
Gold Miner’s Daughter has smaller but comfortable rooms, with an unbeatable location. There are also condos and a few vacation rentals between Alta and Snowbird, but they lack the convenience of prepared meals and easy access to the slopes.
You can’t go wrong with any of them, but our favorite is Alta Lodge at the base of Collins. It’s especially good for families because of its free children’s program that runs from 4:30pm to 8:30pm, including a kid-friendly dinner before they set up for mom and dad’s four-course meal. The Rustler has a similar children’s evening program that includes dinner. Speaking of food: it’s five-star, and meant to be eaten leisurely as you reminisce about your day on the slopes and socialize with your fellow guests. While waiting for dinner, you can soothe your body after a big day of deep pow and face shots in one of two indoor hot tubs and sauna, or make new friends in the iconic Sitzmark Bar.
You can chose to stay in Snowbird, just a mile down the road, where the resort operates its own lodging, and where you can find timeshare accommodations. They don’t include meals like the lodges at Alta and there aren’t many options for dining out. So, if you stay there, consider a grocery stop in Salt Lake City before heading up the canyon. Snowbird has a convenience store, but it doesn’t carry much in the way of fresh food.
Salt Lake City, of course, has plenty of places to stay. It’s cheaper than staying in Alta or Snowbird, and is also convenient if you want to visit other local resorts. Thanks to the UTA Ski Bus, you don’t even need to rent a car! You can also stay in Salt Lake the evening of your arrival and/or the night before you leave to save a bit of money. The biggest downside of staying in Salt Lake City is the small risk of road closure due to heavy snowfall and avalanche control, but if this happens you can salvage your day by checking to see if the roads to Park City or the resorts in Big Cottonwood Canyon (Solitude, Brighton) are open and pivot there instead.
You can get around Alta on a free shuttle that makes continuous loops between 8:30am and 5:30pm, or by using free shuttles offered by the lodges. To get between Alta and Snowbird, you can ski or take the UTA bus for free. We don’t recommend walking – either between the two ski areas, or within Alta itself – since the road isn’t designed for pedestrians, and once the snow starts piling up on the side of the road, there’s not much separating you from the cars! If you’re on skis, you can use the transfer tow between Wildcat and Albion bases.
If you want to head into Salt Lake City during your stay, it will be easier to arrange a ride on one of the commercial shuttles than trying to get a cab or Uber to come up the canyon to get you. You can also arrange shuttle service for the 45-minute trip over to Solitude and Brighton, or the hour long trip to Park City.