Alta was founded in 1865 to house miners from the Emma mine and other surrounding silver mines. An 1878 fire and an 1885 avalanche destroyed most of the mining town. And now a tip of the hat to George Watson. By the 1930’s George was the only resident left in town. Swamped with back taxes on the mining claims he owned he donated most of his land to the U.S. Forest Service with one condition, that the land be used to construct a ski area. In 1935 Norwegian ski legaen Alf Engen was hired to develop the area and in 1938 Alta opened its first ski lift. Thanks George!
Today, Alta has 11 lifts that service 2,200 acres of classic Utah skiing. There are great ballroom runs for beginning skiers and a huge beginning skier teaching area right at the base that provides a comforatble area for first timers. Intermediate skiers will find many runs that flow through the bottom of the various canyons meandering through the curves and down drops that make cruising at Alta a blast. The stats say 40% of Alta is intermediate terrain. The runs off Collins, Supreme and Sugarloaf lifts are classic intermediate runs that were laid out decades ago and skiers today still feel as if they are discovering a great American ski area for the first time.
Alta is known among expert skiers for 550 inches of annual snowfall of light, dry Utah powder (almost 14 meters!) that gets dumped onto the steep canyon walls, bowls and chutes that make Alta a powder skiers paradise. Don’t miss the hike to powder runs in Catherine’s, the chutes off the Wildcat lift and the classic signature run, Alf’s High Rustler. After a day at Alta you’ll raise your glass the old George Watson!