On the following pages SPORTS ILLUSTRATED offers a guide to the Alta-Brighton ski area—all you should know to spend a week's vacation in America's best powder snow country—with a map of runs and tows, plus five pages of color photographs on Utah skiing by Joern Gerdts
You should know...if you would like to spend a winter vacation skiing the fast downhill runs and beautiful cross-country trails in Utah's Aha-Brighton area
The area at Alta, only 26 miles by road from Salt Lake City, is a tight little Alpine complex of three chair lifts, two major rope tows, four lodges, a ski shop, and a U.S. Forest Service Snow Ranger Guard Station wedged into a valley 8,500 feet up in the mountains of the Wasatch National Forest. Nobody really does anything there but ski simply because the snow is so good—the best in the country, according to most experts—that it's silly to waste your time doing anything else. The mountains jutting above the valley are high and steep, and mostly open; and although there are some fine intermediate runs on the upper slopes, Alta has a reputation for being expert's country.
Brighton, where skiers enjoy the same fabulous snow that Alta gets-some 40 feet a year—is just over Twin Lakes Pass from Alta (see map). Automobile distance from Salt Lake: 27 miles. With two chairs, a T bar, rope tow and only one important lodge, Brighton has cleared some gentler slopes, and therefore does a bigger business with beginners and intermediates.
How to get there
United Air Lines and Western Air Lines are the major carriers flying into Salt Lake. By rail you can travel Union Pacific, Western Pacific, Southern Pacific and Denver and Rio Grande Western. Once you get to Salt Lake, you can make a deal with a cab driver for about $10 to either resort; or call the Salt Lake Transportation Company (Empire 4-4335) and have them drive you for $7.50.
Alta lifts open the weekend before Thanksgiving, close the first of May. Early birds and diehard spring skiers who don't mind walking can start in early October and keep going until June. Brighton's dates are about the same, although with their flourishing summer sightseeing trade, they usually keep the lift going all year.
Last year Alta catered to 80,000 skiers, and the four lodges handled the bulk of the out-of-staters. Brighton logged 145,000 for the season; and although most of them were day visitors from Salt Lake, the Alpine Rose Lodge had more overnight guests than any of the inns at Alta. With 29 rooms priced from $7.50 to $19, the Alpine Rose took in 2,500 customers. Many of these came on the lodge's economical Learn to Ski weeks (seven days' room, board, lift tickets and ski lessons for $78 to $88.25). Food in the main dining room is excellent, especially steak and broiled trout. Any skier in a hurry can get a hamburger or soup in the Chalet Room cafeteria, open 8 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Night life is quiet—jukebox dancing, ping-pong—but after seven hours in the deep powder you can't handle much more than that anyway. Only bar alcohol at ski resorts in semi-Prohibition Utah is 3.2 beer, so bring your own bottle (you can buy one in a state liquor store in Salt Lake).
At Alta the lodges are split into two distinct types—the Rustler and Alta lodges, which handle most of the post-college, married, business crowd, and the Peruvian and Snow Pine, where the collegians and high schoolers seem to gravitate. Rates at Rustler run from $8 for a bunk room to $28 for a double. Package weeks, $80 to $115. Rustler has a pleasant, darkish drinking lounge downstairs, carpets in the living room and an atmosphere with faint Ivy League overtones.
The Alta Lodge—$7.50 for dormitory up to $32 for the Tyrolean room—is slightly less quiet then Rustler, but the feeling is about the same. The party usually breaks up at a sensible hour, say about 11 or 11:80. Entertainment is homemade, mostly folk dancing, comfortable drinking in sweaters and ski pants, singing if anybody has a guitar. Meals here and at Rustler are good but there is no menu, i.e., everybody eats the same thing. Tip: if you forget to "buy a bottle in Salt Lake, the Alta Lodge is the only licensed liquor dealer in the area. Incidentally, the Alta Lodge also has Learn to Ski weeks running from $78 to $121. Peruvian Lodge rates are lower, from $6 for a dormitory (bring your own bed roll) to $16 for a conventional double. Learn to Ski weeks, $70.30 to $98.30. Upstairs lounge and bar has jukebox dancing in the evenings, beer at the bar. Snow Pine is mostly a weekend place, with dorm rooms renting for $6 a night. Private rooms are available for $10 and, as with all lodges at Alta and Brighton, rates are American plan.
Lifts and runs