Is Alta Good for Intermediate Skiers? (Powder & Challenging Terrain)

by Anthony Schwabe | Updated: October 27th, 2022 |  Skiing Articles

Utah is known for some of the best quality snow in the entire world, making it an attractive destination for skiers and snowboarders. Alta is one of the most popular resorts found in all of Utah for good reason. But is it good for intermediate skiers? 

The terrain at Alta is skewed towards more advanced and expert skiers, most of which will find the terrain challenging and exciting. Intermediate skiers will still find great conditions here, particularly for confident skiers wanting a challenge.

skiing Alta

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Intermediate skiers wanting to try powder skiing for the first time should also consider Alta due to the excellent conditions that Utah is known for. Read on to get a more in-depth review.

Alta vs Other Colorado Resorts

Hover over the blocks below to get a quick birds-eye view on how they compare to one another. For example: if the bar is past halfway its above-average in that category.

A Little Bit About Alta Ski Area

Skiing in Utah
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Alta Ski Area is one of the oldest ski resorts in all of America. It opened all the way back in 1939.  Alta is just over 30 miles from Salt Lake City Airport, making it an excellent option for anyone living in the city. 

There are just over 2,600 skiable acres, which feature 116 trails and off-piste lines. There is a huge variety on these slopes, although it is almost entirely suited to skiers, rather than snowboarders - more on that later.

Alta is also interconnected to neighboring Snowbird. Anyone willing to pay a little bit extra can have the best of both worlds - totaling 5,100 acres of skiable area. This means the two resorts together form one of the largest ski resorts in the whole of America. 

Being a Utah ski resort, Alta has some awesome snow quality. The locals don’t hesitate to call it the Greatest Snow on Earth. Despite having amazing snow and being right near SLC, the slopes are usually rather uncrowded, which is an ideal condition for anyone learning to ski.  

A crucial point to note, Alta is a ski-only resort! That’s right, there’s no snowboarding allowed at Alta. While this can be frustrating, the terrain isn’t hugely suited to snowboarding anyway. 

Is Alta Good for Intermediate Skiers? 

winter weekend
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Alta is great for intermediate skiers. Of course, this only relates to intermediate skiers, not snowboarders. 

Intermediate Runs

Approximately 15% of Alta’s slopes are designated green runs, which are perfect for beginners. That means 65% of Alta is geared towards intermediate, advanced, and expert skiers. 

Areas like Grizzly Tow, Little Grizzly, and Rustler Lift all feature cruising slopes that are essentially perfect for beginners and intermediate skiers wanting a more relaxed session. Areas like Albion, Sunnyside, and Cecret are also great options to check out. 

Other than those areas, there are several blue runs off of the chairs. That being said, these runs can be pretty tricky for any intermediate skier that overestimates their skills. This does offer a chance for skiers to test themselves, though. 

This is particularly true when the trail grooming isn’t up to date. This means checking the grooming report is a very good idea before heading to them if you aren't feeling confident. 

Powder Runs

skier in powder

The powder at Alta is pretty close to perfect when it comes to intermediates wanting to learn how to shred in fresh powder. 

Skiers can rather easily head into manageable off-piste terrain when fresh powder is present. The Ballroom is another area that is great for powder. Skiers have access to a range of gradients, making it easy for them to choose your difficulty. 

Uncrowded Slopes

Another benefit of being in Utah is that powderhounds and the more advanced skiers will be out searching for fresh powder, rather than occupying the groomed runs

This means intermediate skiers can enjoy relatively uninterrupted sessions on the slopes. 

Great Terrain Park… At Snowbird

snowbird utah
Photo by August Benjamin licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

Alta itself doesn’t have its own terrain park, but Snowbird sure does. 

The Big Emma terrain park is accessible through the interconnected lift pass at Alta, so it is highly recommended for intermediate skiers wanting to take a crack at it. 

The park at Snowbird is suited to intermediate & advanced skiers. 

Is Alta Difficult to Ski?

This is quite an interesting question for the context of this article because of one single fact. Despite Alta being quite friendly for beginners and intermediate skiers, it actually has some incredibly difficult terrain. 

Generally, there is a good mix of difficulties, but it is skewed to the advanced end of the spectrum. 

Even true experts will find several challenging runs, including black and double black runs. The Supreme lift is infamous for having some seriously tough double black diamonds that only the most experienced should tackle when conditions are good.

The heavy powder Alta receives can also make it a little challenging for beginners also. This isn’t a huge problem though as most of the runs are perfectly groomed and approachable.  

How Good is Alta?

Overall, Alta is very good - even better when you purchase a joint lift pass with Snowbird.

It’s hard to argue that Alta, along with most other Utah ski resorts, has some of the best snow across the globe. Snowfall here is consistently dry, powdery, and quite frankly awesome. 

There is great coverage by the lifts, giving you access to the amazing snow quality that Utah is known for. The variety in difficulty is also great, meaning there is something for everyone from beginners to full-blown experts. 

The lack of a terrain park might be the only downside for Alta, as they do not have their own park. Again, an interconnected lift pass with Snowbird does solve this, though. 

Alta really is a resort that focuses on good quality skiing and not much else. Accommodation and dining are both relatively simple. If skiing is the top priority, Alta is a good fit for anyone, from beginner to expert. 

Skiers Only

ski jacket heavyduty

Alta has some great options for intermediate skiers. This is particularly true for any intermediate skiers that are wanting to push themselves and tackle some more challenging terrain. There are also very nice groomed runs that give the opportunity for more relaxed cruising. 

The grooming report at Alta can be very useful for intermediate skiers, as ungroomed runs essentially add difficulty and challenge to blue runs, without forcing intermediate skiers onto the black diamond runs.

Just remember, Alta is for skiers only.

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Alta, Utah