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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
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