Snowbird vs. Alta

Choosing between Snowbird and Alta might feel like an impossible task, especially for ski and snowboard enthusiasts. Both destinations offer powder-filled adventures and unique experiences that keep visitors coming back for more. But what if you had to pick just one? Keep reading to find out which of these ski havens reigns supreme.
Snowbird vs. Alta

Table of Contents

Are you torn between Snowbird and Alta for your next winter getaway? Don’t worry – we’ve got you covered. Dive into our detailed comparison of these two fantastic ski destinations, and by the end, you’ll know which one is perfect for you. Let’s get started!

History & Culture

When it comes to history and culture, both Snowbird and Alta have their own unique stories to tell. Let’s take a closer look at what makes these ski destinations stand out in the crowd.

Snowbird, nestled in Utah’s Little Cottonwood Canyon, has a relatively young history compared to its neighbor, Alta. The resort was founded in 1971 by Ted Johnson and Dick Bass, with an emphasis on providing a top-notch skiing experience. The area’s mining history, however, dates back to the late 1800s, and remnants of that era can still be found on the mountain.

Snowbird’s culture is centered around skiing and snowboarding, with visitors coming from all over the world to enjoy its pristine slopes.

Alta, on the other hand, has a much longer history, with its roots dating back to the 19th century as a silver mining town. The resort was established in 1938 and has since been committed to preserving the traditional ski culture.

Alta is one of the few ski areas in the United States that remains a skiers-only resort, making it a unique destination for those who appreciate the pure essence of skiing. The town’s rich history is still very much alive today, with the community’s focus on preserving the environment and maintaining a friendly, welcoming atmosphere.

In conclusion, if you’re seeking a ski destination with a rich history and a strong sense of tradition, Alta might be your top choice. Snowbird, while having a shorter history, offers a more modern skiing experience, catering to both skiers and snowboarders alike. No matter which resort you choose, you’ll be surrounded by breathtaking mountain views and vibrant ski culture.

Attractions & Activities

Let’s dive into the world of fun and adventure that awaits you at both Snowbird and Alta. Each destination has its own set of thrilling attractions and activities for you to explore, so get ready to be amazed!

Snowbird is a paradise for ski and snowboard enthusiasts, offering more than 2,500 acres (1,012 ha) of skiable terrain. The resort is home to the famous Aerial Tram, which takes you up to the top of Hidden Peak at 11,000 feet (3,353 meters). From there, you can access a wide variety of trails, from beginner-friendly slopes to challenging black diamonds.

Snowbird also boasts an impressive 125-passenger Peruvian Tunnel that transports skiers and snowboarders through the mountain to access Mineral Basin. For non-skiers, the resort offers snowshoeing, snowmobiling, and scenic tram rides, ensuring there’s something for everyone.

Alta, staying true to its roots as a skiers-only resort, provides an authentic skiing experience with over 2,200 acres (890 ha) of skiable terrain. The resort is known for its legendary powder snow and diverse terrain, catering to skiers of all levels. Alta’s old-school charm is enhanced by the absence of snowboarders, making it a haven for those who appreciate the traditional skiing experience.

The resort also offers guided backcountry tours and a Nordic ski track for those looking to venture beyond the groomed trails. Off the slopes, visitors can enjoy snowshoeing and a natural ice-skating rink in the winter months.

In short, both Snowbird and Alta deliver outstanding skiing and snowboarding experiences, with Snowbird catering to a broader audience by welcoming both skiers and snowboarders. Alta, with its skiers-only policy, provides a more traditional skiing atmosphere.

Regardless of which resort you choose, you’ll be met with a variety of exciting activities and breathtaking mountain landscapes that will undoubtedly create unforgettable memories.

Eating, Drinking & Nightlife

Let’s talk about the food, drink, and nightlife scene in Snowbird and Alta. After a long day on the slopes, there’s nothing better than unwinding with a delicious meal, a refreshing drink, and some nighttime entertainment. So, how do these two resorts stack up?

Snowbird has a diverse range of dining options, from casual grab-and-go eateries to elegant sit-down restaurants. Visitors can indulge in dishes such as gourmet burgers, hand-tossed pizza, and hearty mountain fare.

For après-ski drinks, there are several bars and lounges where you can kick back with a cold beer or a warming cocktail. Some venues even offer live music, perfect for dancing the night away or simply enjoying the vibes with friends.

Alta, on the other hand, has a smaller selection of dining options compared to Snowbird, but the quality and atmosphere are top-notch. You’ll find cozy, family-owned restaurants serving up delicious homemade meals, like hearty soups and flavorful pastas.

For those who enjoy a drink after a day on the mountain, Alta has a few bars and pubs where you can quench your thirst with a local brew or a glass of wine. The nightlife scene is more low-key than Snowbird, focusing on a relaxed, laid-back atmosphere for unwinding and socializing.

When it comes to nightlife, Snowbird offers a bit more variety and excitement with live music and dance venues, while Alta leans towards a quieter, more intimate setting for post-ski relaxation.

Ultimately, the choice between the two depends on your personal preferences and what kind of après-ski experience you’re looking for. If lively entertainment is high on your list, Snowbird might be the better option. However, if you’re after a more peaceful and relaxed atmosphere, Alta will hit the spot.


Now let’s dive into the retail therapy side of things in Snowbird and Alta. Whether you’re hunting for souvenirs or looking to update your ski gear, shopping is an integral part of any vacation experience. So, how do these two ski resorts measure up in the shopping department?

Snowbird boasts a variety of shops to cater to your shopping needs. From ski and snowboard equipment stores to clothing boutiques and gift shops, you’ll find a nice selection of retail options to explore. There’s also a good mix of local and national brands, so you can pick up unique items that capture the essence of your Snowbird experience or stock up on familiar favorites.

On the flip side, Alta has a smaller and more intimate shopping scene, with a focus on locally owned stores that showcase the charm and character of the area.

While you won’t find the same level of variety as Snowbird, the shops in Alta offer quality goods and personalized service, making your shopping experience feel special and memorable. You’ll find ski equipment stores, clothing shops, and souvenir spots where you can pick up mementos of your trip.

In summary, Snowbird has a more extensive and diverse shopping scene, while Alta offers a cozier and more personal shopping experience. Depending on what you’re after, either destination could satisfy your retail cravings.

If you’re a die-hard shopper who loves variety, Snowbird might be the better fit. However, if you prefer smaller, locally owned stores with a more intimate feel, Alta could be just the ticket.


Alright, let’s chat about where you’ll be resting your head after a long day on the slopes. Accommodation is a big part of any vacation, and both Snowbird and Alta have options to fit different tastes and budgets. So, what can you expect when it comes to lodging in these two ski resorts?

In Snowbird, you’ll find a wide range of accommodation choices, from luxurious ski-in/ski-out hotels to more budget-friendly options like condos and lodges. There’s something to suit every traveler’s preference, whether you’re seeking top-notch amenities or simply a comfortable place to crash. Plus, with many properties offering ski-in/ski-out access, you can be on the slopes in no time.

Alta, on the other hand, has a more limited selection of accommodations but still offers a cozy and charming atmosphere. With a focus on ski lodges and mountain inns, you’ll find the lodging options in Alta to be more intimate and inviting. While there might not be as many choices as Snowbird, the quality and charm of the accommodations in Alta are hard to beat.

In a nutshell, Snowbird provides a broader range of lodging options, while Alta offers a more boutique and quaint experience. Consider your priorities and preferences when choosing your accommodations in either destination, and you’re sure to have a memorable stay.

Family-Friendliness & Children’s Activities

Now, let’s talk about bringing the whole crew along for some snowy fun. If you’re traveling with your family, you’ll want to know which resort is more family-friendly and offers the best children’s activities. So, let’s compare Snowbird and Alta in terms of how they cater to families with kids.

Snowbird is known for being a family-friendly resort with a variety of children’s activities on offer. They have a dedicated children’s center with ski and snowboard lessons tailored to different age groups, ensuring that kids of all levels can enjoy the slopes. Additionally, the resort offers childcare services, so parents can enjoy some time to themselves while the little ones are well taken care of.

Alta, while smaller in scale, also prides itself on being a family-friendly destination. With a focus on creating a welcoming atmosphere for families, Alta offers ski lessons for children and boasts a cozy, community-oriented vibe. Although the selection of children’s activities may be less extensive than Snowbird, Alta’s intimate and friendly atmosphere ensures a memorable family vacation.

In summary, both Snowbird and Alta have their unique appeal when it comes to family-friendliness and children’s activities. Snowbird offers a wider range of options and services for families, while Alta provides a more intimate and community-driven experience. Consider your family’s preferences and priorities when deciding between these two fantastic ski resorts.

Getting There & Getting Around

Before we hit the slopes, we’ve got to actually get there, right? So, let’s discuss how to reach Snowbird and Alta and compare the ease of transportation between the two destinations. We’ll also take a look at how to get around once you’ve arrived at your resort of choice.

To get to Snowbird, you’ll fly into Salt Lake City International Airport, which is about 25 miles (40 kilometers) away from the resort. From there, you can hop on a shuttle service or rent a car to make the scenic drive up to the mountains. The journey typically takes around 45 minutes, depending on traffic and weather conditions.

Similarly, Alta is also accessed via Salt Lake City International Airport. In fact, the resort is just a few miles further from the airport than Snowbird, clocking in at roughly 28 miles (45 kilometers) away. The travel time to Alta is also about 45 minutes, so there’s not much difference in terms of accessibility between the two resorts.

Once you’re at your chosen resort, getting around is pretty straightforward. Snowbird offers a free shuttle service that connects its various base areas and lodging properties. You can easily navigate the resort without needing a car, making it convenient for visitors. Alta also provides free shuttle service within its base area, ensuring that guests can move around with ease.

In conclusion, both Snowbird and Alta are easily accessible from Salt Lake City International Airport, with similar travel times and distances. Once at the resort, both destinations offer free shuttle services to help you get around, making transportation a breeze no matter which resort you choose.


Ah, the weather – it’s a crucial factor when planning a ski trip. Let’s talk about what you can expect from the climate at Snowbird and Alta, so you know what kind of conditions to anticipate on the slopes.

Snowbird boasts an average annual snowfall of about 500 inches (1,270 centimeters), which means you’re pretty much guaranteed some powder days. The average winter temperatures at Snowbird range from 20°F to 30°F (-7°C to -1°C), so you’ll want to bundle up to stay warm on those chairlift rides.

Alta, on the other hand, is a snow-lover’s paradise with an impressive average annual snowfall of around 547 inches (1,390 centimeters). That’s right – even more snow than Snowbird! Winter temperatures at Alta are similar to those at Snowbird, hovering between 20°F and 30°F (-7°C to -1°C). So, you’ll need to gear up with some warm layers and gloves when hitting the slopes here as well.

In a nutshell, both Snowbird and Alta are blessed with plenty of snow and chilly winter temperatures. While Alta typically receives a bit more snowfall than Snowbird, both resorts offer fantastic conditions for skiing and snowboarding.


Skiing and snowboarding can be a thrilling experience, but safety is always a top priority. Let’s discuss the safety aspects you’ll encounter at Snowbird and Alta, so you can have peace of mind during your trip.

Both Snowbird and Alta put a strong emphasis on maintaining safe skiing and snowboarding conditions. The resorts diligently groom their runs, monitor avalanche risks, and enforce skiing boundaries to keep guests out of harm’s way. So, whether you’re carving turns at Snowbird or cruising down the slopes at Alta, you can trust that safety is a primary concern for both resorts.

Unique to Snowbird is its partnership with the Wasatch Backcountry Rescue (WBR), a volunteer organization that provides avalanche rescue services. This collaboration ensures that Snowbird guests receive rapid and professional assistance in case of an emergency.

Meanwhile, at Alta, skiers can take advantage of the resort’s free Mountain Host tours. These guided excursions not only showcase the mountain’s best terrain but also offer valuable safety tips and information about the area.

To sum it up, both Snowbird and Alta are committed to providing a safe environment for skiers and snowboarders. From avalanche control measures to partnerships with rescue organizations, you can rest assured that safety is a top priority at both resorts.


Choosing between Snowbird and Alta may also come down to the cost factor. After all, you want to get the best bang for your buck, right? So, let’s dive into the costs you can expect at these two fabulous ski destinations.

Snowbird offers a wider range of ticket options, from single-day passes to multi-day deals. A one-day adult lift ticket will set you back about $130, while Alta’s daily rate is slightly cheaper at around $110. If you’re planning a longer visit, both resorts have multi-day packages that can help you save some cash.

Accommodation costs at both destinations can vary depending on your preferences. Snowbird has a broader selection of lodging, ranging from budget-friendly options to luxury hotels. Meanwhile, Alta’s accommodation choices lean more towards the mid-range and upscale market. It’s worth noting that staying off-resort and driving in each day could save you a pretty penny.

When it comes to dining, both Snowbird and Alta offer a variety of eateries to suit different budgets. You’ll find affordable options for a quick bite, as well as fine dining experiences for a memorable night out.

In conclusion, Snowbird tends to be slightly more expensive than Alta, but the difference is not huge. Ultimately, it comes down to the specific preferences and priorities of your trip. So, choose wisely, and happy skiing!

Which Is Better – Snowbird or Alta?

As we’ve explored Snowbird and Alta throughout this article, it’s clear that both ski resorts have their own unique charms and attractions. Deciding between the two might be tough, but let’s take a moment to recap and consider which destination suits your needs best.

In terms of history and culture, Snowbird is a relatively younger resort with a modern vibe, while Alta retains its old-school charm and dedication to preserving the skiing experience. If you’re into a more contemporary atmosphere, Snowbird is your pick. However, if you appreciate a classic skiing experience, Alta might be more up your alley.

For attractions and activities, Snowbird comes out on top with its diverse offerings, including varied terrain suitable for skiers of all levels, as well as other activities such as snowshoeing and snowmobiling. Alta, on the other hand, is a skier’s paradise, especially if you’re into powder skiing and seeking more challenging slopes.

When it comes to eating, drinking, and nightlife, Snowbird holds the advantage with a wider variety of dining options and a livelier nightlife scene. If apres-ski activities are essential for you, Snowbird is the better choice. Alta, while quieter, still offers some great dining experiences but lacks the bustling nightlife of its counterpart.

As for shopping, Snowbird provides more options in terms of shops and boutiques. If shopping is a crucial part of your trip, Snowbird is the winner here. However, if you’re more focused on skiing, this factor might not be a deal-breaker.

Snowbird and Alta both offer comfortable accommodation options, though Snowbird has a broader selection, catering to various budgets. In terms of family-friendliness, both destinations have their appeal, but Snowbird edges out with more kid-friendly activities and amenities.

When comparing ease of access and transportation, both resorts are relatively close in proximity, with Snowbird being slightly more accessible. Weather-wise, both destinations offer great snow conditions, but Alta is known for its drier, powdery snow.

Safety-wise, both destinations have similar concerns and precautions. Costs at Snowbird are generally a bit higher than at Alta, but the difference is not substantial.

In conclusion, Snowbird is the better choice for those seeking a well-rounded experience with a variety of activities, accommodations, dining options, and nightlife. Alta, on the other hand, is perfect for those who want a more traditional skiing experience with a focus on challenging terrain and a quieter atmosphere. Whichever destination you choose, you’re bound to have an unforgettable skiing adventure.