Not that I don’t enjoy vibrant ski towns that are part sport, part social — Park City and it’s trend-happy downtown, Aspen’s world class shopping and celebrities, the shiny casinos that make Lake Tahoe nights quickly turn into morning — but there is something incredibly romantic about a get-away destination that puts a premium on snow, scenery and simplicity.
And there is no purer skiing experience, than Alta, UT.
Located in a craggily cozy pocket atop Little Cottonwood Canyon, Alta looks and feels as though time stopped sometime around 1974. It’s a no-frills affair but magically gets it right in the right places: The Alta Lodge provides everything you need (ski-in-ski-out access, hot tubs for post-slope recovery, a legendary watering hole (the Stizmark)) and nothing you don’t (TV’s in guest rooms, ski valet). Creaky, crawling double and triple chairs make up half the resorts’ lift system. Snowboarders have been banned since their inception. Panoramic vistas of surrounding peaks, so reminiscent of the Alps, truly make you feel like you’re in a fairytale. Places that offer such an escape so often require flying into a remote landing strip, or a 3-hour shuttle from a major airport. But Alta is a mere 45 minutes from Salt Lake City.
And with an average snowfall of 500+ inches and a lift ticket price some $30 cheaper than it’s more acclaimed neighbors, it’s the quiet ski resort that is completely content in keeping it that way.