Saturday, December 29, 2012

Skiing with the Kids

Like many skiers who become parents, you can't wait for the day until you can actually ski with your kids.  Before that happens, parents might enlist the help of ski school lessons or the brave ones attempt to teach their kids to ski.  Eventually, the kids "get it" and start making turns, want to ski more and can finally ski with you! Maybe it's only two or three runs, in for some hot cocoa and then out for two or three more, but you're finally skiing together. If you were brought up skiing with your family, it brings back fun memories or if you started skiing as an adult, you're ready to start your own family ski memories.

Our Ski Utah blogger friend Jodi Saeland is having fun with her two young children this winter.  She shares their Christmas Eve ski day at Alta with us in her blog and video.

Monday, December 24, 2012

Powder Dreams for Christmas

The skiing over the weekend was on smooth, wind blown pockets of silky snow on slopes perfectly positioned to collect the snow.  The sun was out most of each day, making great conditions with beautiful mountain views. Today is a different story with heavy snow falling since the first of the morning, bringing the season's total snowfall to 160 inches. The storm will continue throughout the day and evening, just in time to bring lots of fresh powder for skiing on Christmas day.

Alta Lodge elves have been busy getting ready for Santa Claus. Following a "good night's sleep", excited boys and girls will be greeted by Santa on Christmas morning in the Lobby.  The excitement won't end there as the rest of the day will bring partially sunny skies and powder skiing.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Snow--it's getting deeper

Powder hungry Alta skiers were lined up waiting for the lifts to open following the series of snow storms that came to Little Cottonwood Canyon last weekend.  Each day brought lots of fresh powder and the cycle continued into Monday.  In the past week, Alta has received 41 inches of snow and now has settled snow depth of 65 inches.  The buzz that was generated as a result of these storms was huge - lots of powder skiing face shots, a sweet video from altacamcom and numerous Facebook posts.  We're still smiling about all the new snow and enjoying skiing in the sunshine today.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Afternoon Tea

Each afternoon, Alta Lodge serves tea, coffee, hot chocolate and fruit drinks in the Deck Room.  Fresh baked goods accompany this long tradition of afternoon tea. This afternoon Ketner was pouring Earl Grey tea, served with chocolate raisin biscotti and blueberry bread. We met two guests who had both just arrived for a five day stay. I discovered one gentleman first started staying with us in 1958 and the other started coming in 1967.  They are long time friends and always come in December, usually with other family members. They're still die-hard skiers after all these years--they must have "Alta" in their blood!

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Family Trip to Alta

Alta's getting more snow this week and will be have all lifts open this weekend.  With 95% of the runs open, early season skiing is off to a good start.  Our early season special-- Kids Free--runs through December 15, 2012. With a four night minimum stay, two kids ages 12 and under can stay in the same room with their parents, with breakfast and dinner included at no extra charge.  This represents a savings of up to $200 per day. Wondering how to outfit your kids each season?  Jodi Sealand, a blogger with Ski Utah and the mother of two young children, offers some practical pointers.

Known for powder skiing, Alta has great beginner and intermediate level runs in Albion Basin.  In fact, 25% of the runs are beginner or "green" runs and 40% are intermediate or "blue" runs. Alf Engen Ski School is located next to the Albion Day Lodge--a convenient location for beginner skiers to start their ski day.  Our Kids Club staff will shuttle your children to ski school from the lodge in the morning and then pick them up when lessons are finished--a nice convenience for mom and dad.

Our friend Kristin Lummis (Brave Ski Mom) and her family stayed with us last week.  Kristin chronicled their experience in her blog post "Making Memories at Alta Lodge".

We look forward to seeing you this winter when you'll be making memories of your own.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Packing for Your Ski Vacation

One of the challenging aspects of taking a ski vacation is packing.  With skis, boots, poles, helmet, cold weather clothing and apres ski clothing, it can be overwhelming, especially if you last vacation was at the beach. There are ways to simplify the process, starting with a list.  Mike Doyle from has put together some good tips to help make the process a little easier. 

Something worth considering is leaving your skis at home and renting skis. Bringing boots not only saves on juggling a ski bag with your other luggage but will also save you an extra baggage fee that many airlines charge.  Most ski shops carry high end demo skis and many offer discounted rates for consecutive days. The Powder House is adjacent to Alta Lodge and has a wide range of skis available.

Even the best of us leave items off the list and if you unpack and discover you forgot your toothbrush or sunscreen, you can always pick up those items at the Alta Store next to the locker room.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Winter Season is Here

Alta Ski Area opened for the season on November 16th this season after a 51-inch storm dumped on Alta the previous weekend.  Although the lifts weren't open that weekend, plenty of skiers and snow shoe hikers got out to enjoy the first big storm of the season.  When Alta opened on Friday, it was as always, meet with enthusiastic Alta skiers.

The sunny skies and fair weather over the past week or so will be disappearing at the end of the week as new storm moves into the area Friday evening.  Funny how our phones start ringing more when that happens--the word gets out pretty quick. If you want to see what it looks like at Alta, we have a new web cam with live time viewing on the left side of our home page.

This is a special season for Alta as it marks the 75th anniversary of the ski area. Not too many places in North America can lay claim to that kind of skiing history. When you're at Alta this year, take a look for the 75th bumper stickers and pins--they're keepsakes. Another thing to look for will be the Alta Anniversary Ale.  It's on tap in the Sitzmark and available for purchase in many Salt Lake area grocery stores.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

First Snow of the Season

It's said we almost always get snow in September at Alta and with less than a week left this month, we were eager for the first storm.  Late yesterday and this morning rain was forecasted with possible snow in higher elevations.  Mother Nature came through with fresh snow this morning at the top of the mountain--Sugarloaf and Greely--as observed from photos on Alta's mountain cameras.

How does that translate to us skiers? It's a reminder to get with it on ski conditioning, get your bindings checked, tune/wax your skis, find your car's snow scraper and then start counting the's sooner than you think and being prepared will make that first day so much sweeter!

Monday, September 24, 2012

We Love Weekends

We had great weather over the weekend for outdoor activities and the brilliant fall colors brought many to the canyons in the Wasatch mountains. The fall equinox fell on Saturday at 8:49 am and our daylight hours will shorten as come closer to winter.  With several weeks remaining until we move our clocks back on Sunday, November 4, now is the time to get out and enjoy the last few weeks of outdoor dining, walking, hiking and cycling.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

First Frost

The days have been sunny over the past week with the exception of Monday when the sky was overcast and there was a bit of rain.  The temperatures continue to cool, especially in the evenings and with that comes more brilliant colors in Little Cottonwood Canyon. While I was stopping by the Sunnyside Store on Wednesday, one of the staff who lives at Alta mentioned they had frost on their windshield that morning--the first frost--a sign that locals look forward to. The Store will remain open for a couple more weeks, until September 26.  The hours are Monday-Friday 7 am-5 pm and on weekends, 9 am-7 pm.  In addition to snacks, beverages, t-shirts and hats, you can also pick up your season pass. 

Unsure what to do this weekend? With daytime high temperatures in the mid-60 range, it's still lovely to be outside. A hike to Catherine's Pass or Cecret Lake about mid-day followed by Sunday Brunch or Saturday Lunch is going to be pretty tough to beat for an ideal weekend. Not a hiker? Take a drive in Little Cottonwood Canyon and enjoy the beautiful fall season.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Transition to Fall

In the past ten days we have noticed some falls colors in the foothills of Salt Lake City and the canyons.  It's a little sooner this usual but a welcome change for those of us that are eager for ski season.  Productive thunderstorms over the weekend  were welcomed by heat weary residents.  This week we are happy to see the thermometer showing lowering temperatures as the season starts to shift.

Aspens will be changing soon.
Alta continues to be beautiful with  some wildflowers lingering as summer season nears a close.  One of the more stunning fall scenes will be when the leaves of the aspen trees change to gold.  The drive up Little Cottonwood Canyon, especially near the White Pine trail head parking area and beyond, will be lit with gold when grove of aspens change colors in several weeks.  The summer road into Albion Basin will be another good spot for observing aspens.

Hiking is good way to get in shape for ski season and now's the time to start as skiing at Alta usually begins the weekend before Thanksgiving.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Wildflower Update

If you have not been to Albion Basin this summer, now is the time to go.  Flowers are abundant and the slopes have a lush coverage of vegetation.  The rain over the weekend no doubt has added to the colorful floral arrangements found in both Big and Little Cottonwood Canyons.  Recently elephant head pink flowers were seen in a marshy meadow along the hike to Catherine's Pass.

A cluster of purple asters were along the trail headed back up to the pass and white columbine seemed to be everywhere.  Magenta-colored Indian Paintbrush were prominent along the Grizzly Gulch Trail.

Bring your camera, sturdy shoes and a picnic and come enjoy the show!

Monday, July 9, 2012

Cool off in Alta

Lake Catherine

When it is sizzling in Salt Lake City--temperatures of 100+ degrees forecast this week--higher ground is the place to be.  With temperatures 10-15 degrees cooler in Big and Little Cottonwood Canyons, a mountain hike is a good respite from the heat.  Right now wildflowers are abundant and as more bloom in the next several weeks, the colors will only intensify. 

There are literal "bouquets" of white columbine on the west side of Lake Catherine along with brilliant blue penstemmon, purple asters, and more. A bushy tailed fox was spotted on the trail on the way down.

Columbine at Lake Catherine

The hike to Maybird Lake has many lush green areas along the trail with ferns and flowers. More Indian Paintbrush will be opening and tiny alpine flowers can be found hidden in rocky areas in higher elevations.  You may even see a marmot catching some sunshine on granite rocks around the lake.

Maybird Lake

Pfeifferhorn Peak

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Hiking at Alta

Now is a great time to be hiking in Little Cottonwood Canyon.  The summer road to Albion Basin opens this weekend.  There is free shuttle service from the Sunnyside Store at the Albion Day Lodge.
Cardiff Pass
The start of this trail is across the street from Alta Lodge.

View from Cardiff Pass trail.

Trail to Catherine's Pass.  This trail starts at the top of Sunnyside Lift in Albion Basin.  It is 1.5 miles each way and provides breath taking views in all directions.

View from Catherine's Pass.

View from the trail on the return trip from Catherine's Pass.

Meadow along the Catherine's Pass trail with buttercup wildflowers.

 View of Mt. Superior on the way back to the Catherine's Pass trail head.

The start of the trail to Red Pine Lake in Little Cottonwood Canyon. This trail is three miles each way.

Wildflowers are abundant on this trail.

There are three bridges to cross the creeks.

The Salt Lake Valley viewed from the trail.

Red Pine Lake.

Monday, June 11, 2012


We've had beautiful weather the past two weekends and the snow is almost gone on Mt. Superior.Lush green vegetation is replacing the snow and the aspen trees have their foliage.  Volunteers last week took part in the annual canyon clean up along both sides of the canyon road--thank you volunteers for helping to keep the canyon beautiful.

The 27th annual Writers at Work conference was at the Lodge last week and weekend for the second year in a row.  Open to the public, the conference brings in writers and publishers for four days.  If you are interested in attending a Writers at Work future conference, visit their web site for information.

As we wait for additional snow melt to be able to hike the higher elevation trails in Little Cottonwood Canyon, Millcreek Canyon has been a good option.  Some wildflowers are already out along the Millcreek trails.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Summer Season

With the end of ski season, many of our winter staff have headed to their favorite summer scenes such as Alaska, California, Maine, the Pacific Northwest, to name a few.  Our staff that stay on with us during the summer have taken the time between the seasons to go on river trips, head to the National Parks in southern Utah and get their gardens planted.

We're ready for the 5th Annual Spring Yoga Retreat this weekend, which is almost sold out. The following weekend, we kick-off summer season with our first Sunday Brunch of the summer on June 3. Of special note, this will be the last summer Chef Paul Raddon will be with us.  He and his wife Dorrie will be retiring from Alta Lodge in October.  Paul and Dorrie started working at the Lodge in October of 1968.  We will miss both of them but share with them their excitement for "Phase II" of life ( which were are told will include more fly fishing and traveling.)

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Snowbird Announced Closing Dates

There are still many die-hard skiers getting in turns at Snowbird seven days a week.  Yesterday Snowbird announced the 2011-2012 ski season will come to a close on May 13.

Monday, April 30, 2012

What's Coming Up

Yesterday was the last day of ski lift operations at Alta Ski Area.  With a mid-mountain snow depth of 84 inches, skiers will be able to ski tour on the mountain until the coverage dwindles.  Already there is evidence of winter leaving the canyon with more green vegetation appearing daily as temperatures rise with more sunshine.  Water flow in Little Cottonwood Creek is increasing and formerly frozen waterfalls now cascade with water. 

Alta Lodge summer season officially opens on June 3 with the first Sunday Brunch.  Our 5th Annual Spring Yoga Retreat is the weekend of May 25-27.  The retreat is open to yoga practitioners of all levels. 

Dates have not been set yet but the Cottonwood Canyons Foundation's annual Wildflower Festival is usually sometime from mid to late July. Wildflower season is a spectacular time of year for hikes around Alta and the nearby canyons and if you haven't experienced it, it's something to consider adding to your list of summer activities. Once the dates for the Wildflower Festival are announced, we will post them along with the schedule.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Two More Weekends of Skiing

Sunday wrapped up the regular seven days a week season for skiing at Alta.  The ski area will continue with the tradition of reopening for skiing the next two weekends (Friday, Saturday & Sunday).  The final closing date for the season is April 29.  Last weekend skiing conditions were great, as you can see from the video submitted by Matt Baydala, aka Ski Utah's "Powderhound" Matt.

We're getting some light snowfall this week and the weekend forecast is for warm weather and sunshine--should be great corn skiing conditions!

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Spring Conditions

The past week yielded good spring skiing conditions with corn snow skiing most of the day.  On Saturday, ski reps set up tents along the base of Collins lift and skiers were provided with the opportunity to try out next year's skis for free.  I tried eight different kinds of skis and was able to settle on a pair for next season.  It was a lot of fun and the process was very efficient. 

In addition to the ski demos, a blue grass band played music most of the day and as you can see from the photos, it was a beautiful spring day.

With the warm weather continuing into the early week, we arranged a mountain picnic for Alta Lodge guests.  Guests skied to a snow covered meadow location from the Sugarloaf lift.  It was a fun gathering and part of our annual spring celebration.  

 Might be hard to believe after seeing these "spring" photos, but mother nature has one more powder storm in store for us beginning this evening and running through the weekend.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Special Birthday for Naomi Wain

Alta Lodge has many guests that come back year after year.  One guest recently posted on Facebook that he has been coming annually for 50 years!  One of our favorite friends is Naomi Wain who comes for the first two weeks of each month.  A die-hard skier, she's always out the locker room door first thing and is usually in line waiting for the chair lift to start running.

We had the opportunity to sit down together this afternoon and she told me about how she started skiing and when she started coming to Alta to ski.  She's a treasure and on April 8, we'll toast to Noami when we celebrate her 90th birthday with her at Alta Lodge.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Get it While There's Still Time

Last weekend and this week have been great for spring skiing.  Warmer days with sunshine and blue skies have resulted in some great corn skiing.  The mountain snow groomers present skiers with nice smooth runs every morning.

Alta will be offering some special deals on ski ticket pricing for the month of April. For example, a season's pass for $199 and $99 for kids 12 & under will be available April 2-29.  Alta will be open 7 days a week through April 15 and then reopen Friday, Saturday & Sunday for the following two weekends.  Check out their web page for a complete list.

We'll be starting up our mountain picnics next week along with apres ski activities and lunch on the deck, weather permitting.  Alta in April has a list of fun things to do every day starting April 7, so if you are here, be sure to join in on the fun!

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Spring Has Arrived!

Following a weekend of another incredible "Alta Storm", today brings blue sky and sunshine in abundance. According to Alta's web site, the storm stacked up like this: Saturday 15 inches, Sunday 20 inches, Monday 23 inches, today 11 more inches! Spring in the Wasatch Mountains tends to bring surprises like this and we have no doubt there are more in store before the ski season comes to a close at the end of next month. In the meantime, the next week will be warm and sunny, beckoning fair weather skiers with a fondness for sunshine.  Take a visit to Alta's photo gallery page for some great powder skiing shots.

We've included a clip from Ski Utah 

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Catching up on Last Week's Storm

For a good part of this winter, we've been closely watching the weather and hoping for a good "Alta" storm.  Enough already!  Last week, things all came together perfectly for an Alta storm.  From Feb. 26 - Mar. 3, Alta received 44-inches of snow--enough to keep powder skiers happy all week long!  With that amount of snow, we had to do some digging out.  And on some of the days, there were temporary road closures for avalanche control work, which worked out great if you were staying at Alta--more powder to ski! (photos: Anson Moxness)

St. Patrick's Day is coming up this month and green beer will be poured in more than one place.  Spring break is coming too-with mountain picnics, skiing in t-shirts, and lunch on the deck.  If you haven't done any spring skiing for a few years, this would be the year to come back.

Alta in April -- the first time ever this year -- is April 6-14, with something fun to do every single day!  Free demo skis to try, apres ski events happening most nights, Easter Egg Hunt and Scavenger Hunt, just to name a few things. Check the link for a complete line up of fun that will be happening that week.  Get your ski buddies together for a fun time at Alta that you'll always remember. (photo:John Arnold)

Monday, February 20, 2012

Presidents Weekend

This weekend is typically the second busiest one of the season and over the weekend, the skiing at Alta has been exceptional all weekend.  Fresh snow fell over the weekend with powder yesterday and today.  Today the sun is shining as you can see in this shot taken from Alta's mountain camera located at the top of Collins lift. 

Last week the University of Utah Marriott Library Special Collections put some clips on their YouTube channel from the classic 1940's era film "Margie of the Wasatch".  The film was shot when Alta had only one chairlift--the Collins single chair--which ended a little past the angle station of the current Collins chair.  The story line is engaging and we've included the first clip with a link to the U of U's YouTube channel so you can view all five clips.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

The Storm Delivers

Over the weekend powder skiers were ecstatic: fresh snow and face shots! The snow is nice and soft and everything is open with good skiing.  As we approach the President's Day weekend, guests will be arriving for their extended holiday weekend and a week of skiing.  Will you be skiing this weekend?

Monday, February 6, 2012

What's coming up

Of course we all learned last week that the ground hog saw his shadow which mean MORE SNOW at Alta! We have had sunny days recently, which is great for fair-weather skiers who prefer the sunshine and blue skies.  No need to dismay storm seekers--there will be plenty more before the end of the season two months from now.

If you haven't done any spring skiing at Alta for awhile, it's time to come back. During Spring Celebration, April 9-15, we're planning fun spring events for lodge guests--mountain picnics, apres ski receptions and lunch on the deck.  Always fun and with the warmer weather, some are known to ski in the morning and golf in the afternoon!

Between now and the end of the season, most Sundays, we serve a Sunday night buffet--one of the evenings guests really look forward to.  Chef Paul Raddon and sous chef Sam Wolfe and their staff prepare a range of menu items from around the globe, for example: Mediterranean seafood salad, panzanella,Vietnamese vermicelli salad, broccoli artichoke vinaigrette, Asian cabbage slaw, southwest quinoa salad, chicken curry, wild rice pilaf, spinach crêpes with sauce mornay...along with wonderful breads and too many desserts to sample.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

A Long Awaited Storm

What a great storm cycle!  It started snowing last Wednesday with a couple of intermittent breaks and when the storm cycle ended on Monday, Alta had received 49 inches of snow. The base total is now 71 inches and the High Traverse opened today for the first time this winter.

We received 22 inches in 24 hours and Little Cottonwood Canyon did not open until 11:30 on Sunday morning, so Alta Lodge guests were able to get first dibs on the powder along with other guests at Alta. As you can tell from these photos, the powder skiing held up to Alta standards.  Skiers were happily tired at the end of the day and ready for more the next day.

And of course when you are hungry after a day of skiing, you are always interested in what's on the menu for the day.  Tonight's menu is looking especially good after a hard day of skiing!

Tossed Green Salad
Cilantro Lime Vinaigrette
Roast Prime Rib of Beef
Braised Mushrooms and Onions
Mashed Blue Potatoes
Pistachio Crusted Filet of Ono
Pineapple Kiwi Salsa
Mashed Blue Potatoes
Fusilli Pasta
Tomato Olive Sauce
Steamed Baby Bokchoy
Apple Brie Galette


Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Storm Coming

We've been hearing for several days that a significant storm is headed our way.  There's quite a buzz around the lodge now as everyone is pretty excited for this storm that is supposed move in tomorrow and last through the weekend, bringing several feet of snow.  The National Weather Service is issuing storm warnings for winter driving conditions in the Salt Lake Valley.  To hear a full report, we are including a link to audio/video from the local forecasting center.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Apres Ski

Periodically during the winter season, we'll host a wine or beer tasting reception for our guests from 5-6 pm.  Light appetizers will be matched with specially selected wines or beers.  Last evening we hosted an Epic Beer tasting. Epic is a specialty beer brewed in Salt Lake City.  Our baker made pretzels  to go with pâté de maison and a cheese board.

If you miss one of these events, talk to Gregg, our dining room manager about our wine list.  Gregg travels annually to wine regions all over the world, most recently New Zealand and South Africa.  The Pacific Northwest is a favorite region and a recent addition to the wine list from this region is a Pinot Noir from Erath Winery in Willamette Valley. Another new addition to the list and a favorite of Gregg's-- "the best white wine I have ever had"-- is  Cloudy Bay Sauvignon Blanc, 2010, New Zealand.

Of course the Sitzmark is always a great spot to wet your whistle.  Try Dan's party margarita, a house specialty that's a great start to a relaxing evening at Alta Lodge after a day on the slopes.