Alta is 25 miles southeast of Salt Lake City International Airport, at the top of Little Cottonwood Canyon Road, off State 210. Door-to-door shuttles run from $64 round-trip: Alta Shuttle (866/274-0225); Canyon Transportation (801/255-1841).
INFO alta.com or 801/359-1078
Where to sleep and eat
Alta has five ski-in, ski-out lodges; each has a distinct character and includes breakfast and dinner. Our favorites:
Alta Lodge Best bang for your buck. Coziest après-ski bar, the Sitzmark Club. Rooms from $349, dorm beds from $108; 800/707-2582.
Alta Peruvian Lodge Classic hostel-like lodge, best for buddies and families. Rooms from $119 per person, dorm beds from $107; 800/453-8488.
Alta's Rustler Lodge Most luxe lodge of all, with a window-walled dining room and good food. Rooms from $270, dorm beds from $139; rustlerlodge.com
More old-school ski resorts
Only Alta is Alta. But these other Western ski resorts share some of its appeal: happy echoes of skiing’s classic days, plus terrific snow.
Monarch Mountain (Monarch, CO) While the old Chevy engine rope tow has given way to seven lifts, little else has changed at this ski area near Salida. Classic run: The infamous Gunbarrel, the state’s second-oldest. Après ski: Grab a locally brewed beer at the lodge’s Sidewinder Saloon ($). 888/996-7669.
Sugar Bowl (Norden, CA) Family-owned Sugar Bowl remains one of Lake Tahoe’s least flashy resorts, but it rivals Kirkwood for the most snow in the Sierra. Classic run: The legendary steep chutes―Palisades, Strawberry Fields, and Crow’s Face. Après ski: Or mid-ski? Mid-mountain Palisades Bar ($) for a cold pint with a snowcapped view. 866/843-2695.
Sun Valley Resort (Sun Valley, ID) It’s known for a People magazine-worthy celeb scene, but the lodge is still redolent of old money and old Hollywood. Classic run: Leg-achingly looong Warm Springs, stretching 2 tree-lined miles from top to bottom. Après ski: Apple’s Bar & Grill ($) at the base of Warm Springs. 800/786-8259.
Timberline Lodge (Near Government Camp, OR) Revel in two Northwest icons: the magnificent timbered lodge and Mt. Hood.
Classic run: Magic Mile for, yes, 1 mile of the best views in Oregon. Après ski: The Ram’s Head Bar ($) for more good views of the mountain and lodge. 800/547-1406.
More: Great winter escapes