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A True Mountain Tradition

Our Story

Alta Lodge was one of the first slopeside inns in North America, the first ski lodge in Little Cottonwood Canyon, and today, still operates with quaint charm and the ski lodge traditions that originated in Europe: classic ski photos adorn the walls, books and board games line the shelves (there are only two TVs on the property), and staff and guests create a convivial ski community.

We are not only a family-owned business, but also a treasured family tradition: now many decades into our story, we welcome families who have been coming here for generations. There are the guests who came here in the 40s and are today still skiing in their 80s and 90s – and who have raised their children and grandchildren skiing Alta. This is a very special place. We can’t wait to welcome you, too!

Our History

Alta has a long and colorful history. In 1939, Alta Ski Area opened, with the construction of a single-chair lift – the second chairlift in the country – built from a silver-era ore tram in about the same location as the lower section of today’s Collins lift. Alta Lodge has been in operation for over 80 years. The Lodge was built by the Denver & Rio Grande Railroad Company and opened on November 29, 1940, as Alta’s first ski hotel. Bill Levitt bought Alta Lodge in 1959, and the Levitt family still owns and operates the Lodge today. 

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Mining in Alta

In the 1860s, Union soldiers posted in the Utah Territory discovered silver in Little Cottonwood Canyon. Eventually, the strike produced what was to that time one of the largest yields of silver ore in the world. The miners built an ore car tram extending from high in Grizzly Gulch to Tanner’s Flat at mid-canyon, a distance of over 5 miles. At the height of the mining boom, Alta had over 3000 residents, as well as 26 saloons. When the Big Emma mine faulted out in the 1870s, a political scandal erupted which nearly brought down the administration of President Grant. In February 1885, a massive avalanche hit the town of Alta, killing 15 people, destroying many of the town’s buildings, and leaving 50 feet of snow on Main Street, where the Alta transfer tow is now located. There was a second, smaller mining boom in the 1910s, and mining continued sporadically until the 1970s. Many remnants of the mining days are still visible today.

Alta Ski Area

In 1939, Alta Ski Area opened, with the construction of a single-chair lift – the second chairlift in the country – built from a silver-era ore tram in about the same location as the lower section of today’s Collins lift. The Utah Winter Sports Association operated the chair, which carried skiers to the area of the present Watson Shelter. Alta Ski Area today is a locally-owned private business, operating by permit on US Forest Service lands of over 2200 acres, including Collins Gulch (to the top of 11,068 foot Mt. Baldy), and Albion Basin from Germania Pass to Catherine Pass.

Over the years, independent lodges, shops and other businesses have been created on the mountain. In the meantime, Alta Ski Area has maintained a high quality of skiing by resisting industry trends toward over-development and massive groomed ski runs. Our traditions of independent businesses and dedication to skiing continue today, contributing to the unique spirit of Alta.

Snowbird

In 1972, Snowbird opened just down the canyon from Alta, eventually adding over 2500 acres of lift-accessed skiing and snowboarding to Little Cottonwood Canyon. With a 125-person tram taking skiers to the top of Hidden Peak in eight minutes, and with most businesses operating as part of Snowbird Corporation, a lively resort atmosphere has been developed.

The two resorts complement one another, offering skiers a choice between two world-class ski mountains within a mile of each other. Alta and Snowbird are connected at Sugarloaf Pass and Peruvian Ridge, and skiers who buy a dual pass can ski both resorts.

Peace and Powder Snow

Bill Levitt

Bill Levitt bought Alta Lodge in 1959. The Town of Alta was incorporated in 1970 and Bill served as Mayor of the Town of Alta for over 32 years, from 1972 to 2005. The town has its own full-time police department, and provides local emergency and utility services, land-use planning and government. Bill died in 2009, having spent over 50 years of his life in his “spiritual home” of Alta.  The Levitt family still owns and operates the Lodge today. 

Preserving Alta

Friends of Alta

Bill had a deep and lasting influence not only on Alta Lodge, but on Alta, its community, and the preservation of its open spaces. In 1983, Mimi Levitt, Bill Levitt and several others founded the non-profit Alta Defense Fund, now called Friends of Alta, for the preservation of Albion Basin and Alta’s open spaces. Today, Friends of Alta continues to lead efforts to preserve Alta’s environment and to resist the pressure for uncontrolled growth and real estate development that is common in many ski areas, for generations to come.

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