I just moved to SLC from NJ and so, like everyone else around here, I'm learning to ski. Many of my new friends are locals and expert skiers and so they ski Alta and Snowbird. Other reviewers have covered that topic (expert skiing). Some say Alta is tough for beginners but I think it's great. I tried Snowbird and Brighton and then went back to Alta again.
Recommend this product?
First and best of all: no snowboarders at Alta! You want to learn to ski without snowboarders. The beginner runs at Brighton (and elsewhere, I presume) are sprinkled generously with fallen beginner snowboarders. They fall when getting off the lift sideways and often lay in your exit path strapping their boots in. They fall when stopping so they collect in piles around the lift line at the bottom of the run. They fall all over the slope during the run and can be difficult or disconcerting to maneuver around. It seems (and I've heard) it's more difficult to learn snowboarding than skiing. I don't fault them for falling. But I'm afraid to hit them and sometimes annoyed by what seems like poor etiquette, so I prefer to stay at Alta. Deer Valley in Park City prohibits snowboarding too but an adult day pass is $63! (Alta is $35.)
I think Alta has more and varied beginner runs than Snowbird (though both claim 25% beginner terrain- more than other resorts in town). Some of Snowbird's are short and steepish and come at the bottom of more advanced runs so you have fast downhillers zipping past you as you ski. Alta has a couple of longer easy runs (I like the Crooked Mile) which give you a chance to hone your skills on a run. A bunch of Alta's "green" easy trails are conveniently located around three lifts- Albion, Sunnyside, and Cecret- for which you can buy a beginner lift ticket for only $25! Very few of the experts come through here and few beginners go to Alta in the first place, so I found myself very comfortable learning to ski here.
Alta isn't fancy- the lifts are old and slow and the food and accommodations don't compare to Snowbird- so fewer tourists seem to go there. As far as I can tell, it seems less about showing off fancy ski outfits and attitude than the other places I've been. It's all about skiing. The locals there are kind, genuine folks who will happily welcome you and offer advice or help. The ski school program there is reportedly excellent-my boyfriend enjoyed a beginner class a month ago and we're both ready to try an intermediate class soon.
If you're vacationing with advanced skiers (and without snowboarders) and need a laid-back, high quality mountain to ski at a low price, Alta is the place for everyone.
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