Alta or Snowbird?

Martin Kuprianowicz | | Industry NewsIndustry News
Which do you prefer, Alta or snowbird?
Snowbird or Alta? Credit: SnowBrains

Utah is known for its steeps and deeps. I mean c’mon, the state claims to have the greatest snow on earth, even saying it on their license plate. Powder titans hidden at the end of Little Cottonwood Canyon, Snowbird and Alta, boast some of the nation’s best skiing and most snow. The two resorts, only separated by a ridge-line, have been ranked as some of the best ski areas in North America many ‘a time. And the friendly rivalry between these mountains is real.

Below is a comparison of the statistics of each mountain. We do not and will not formulate an opinion as to which resort is better. That is not for us to ask. What we will do, however, is provide the most accurate descriptions of these mountains by giving detailed information and mountain statistics. Which you deem more gnarly is entirely up for you to decide. Yet be warned. It is not an easy decision.

An Alta skier slashing pow, alta or snowbird?
An Alta skier slashing powder inbounds. Credit: Alta Ski Area



  • 2,614 skiable acres
  • 116 runs: 15% beginner, 30% intermediate, 55% advanced
  • Longest run: 1.3 miles
  • 6 lifts

Our favorite zone: The Mt. Baldy chutes at Alta. This includes classic couloirs Main Chute and Little Chute.


  • 2,500 skiable acres
  • 170 runs:  8% beginner, 22% intermediate, 70% advanced
  • Longest run: 2.5 miles
  • 11 lifts

Our favorite zone: The cirque traverse.

Note: Alta Ski Area is one of the only 3 remaining “ski-only” ski areas in the United States. Snowboarders are not allowed to ride here during the regular season. Alta locals will claim that being a “ski-only” resort keeps the snow better for longer at Alta than at other ski resorts.

Twin Peaks and the Pipeline Couloir at Snowbird. Credit: Miles Clark

Top Elevation/Vertical Drop

Alta: 11,068 feet / 2,538 feet of vertical drop

Snowbird: 11,000 feet / 3,240 feet of vertical drop

Both Alta and Snowbird are known around their quality and quantity of snow. Credit: Alta Ski Area

Annual Snowfall 

Alta: 545″

Snowbird: 500″

The ‘Frank’ at Alta Ski Area. Credit: Miles Clark

Resort Atmosphere

Alta is run by skiers, for skiers. It is an independent ski area and family-owned since 1938. Alta is proud to be a ski area and not a ski resort. The ski area is a local favorite and the crowd here can seem young and rowdy at times. It’s not uncommon to see a train of locals all backflip a jump under the lift and then catch them again later sharing beers at the top of High Boy. Alta has a rustic feel with on-mountain facilities that have been around for decades and a scene of locals who have been skiing there for even longer. Just ask Alta-local George Jedenoff, who is still skiing at the ripe age of 101.

Snowbird actively advertises that its terrain is not for the faint of heart, attracting hardcore skiers from all over the globe. The resort has a modern corporate feel with a high-speed tram, fancy dining facilities, and hotels. Each spring, Snowbird has competitions like the IFSA Junior Nationals and an assortment of ski races. The resort can feel like a training grounds for serious skiers as well as a family-friendly ski destination in the heart of one of the Wasatch’s most beautiful canyons.

The Hidden Peak tram at Snowbird. Credit: SnowBrains

Additional Info

Snowbird boasts the longest season in Utah, often remaining open for a month or longer than other surrounding ski areas. Alta has a huge array of inbound hikes to lesser-skied, powder-filled zones as well as easy access to classic Wasatch backcountry areas like Wolverine Cirque. Snowbird has a massive backside called Mineral Basin that is a fan favorite for bowl skiing, while Alta’s Wildcat chair is a staple in the ski community known for its skier-inspired jump lines and location of the Utah famous ‘Frank‘ party in the spring. 

Can’t decide which resort you prefer? Worry not. Dual-passes are available at both resorts giving you the power to ski between the two interconnected mountains. The dual-pass allows you to get the best of both worlds and ski the fun, hard-to-get-to zones located in between the ski areas. But be careful, because with great power comes great responsibility. And of course, both are available to owners of the Ikon Pass.

alta or snowbird?
Alta or Snowbird, which do you prefer? Credit: Alta Ski Area

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20 thoughts on “Alta or Snowbird?

  1. Anyone stayed in a condo or one of the lodges @ Alta FOR A MONTH and have any feedback? It’s on my bucket list. Thanks

  2. Cooper and Red Lodge definitely allow snowboarding, look up videos on youtube. Plenty of videos of people boarding out there. Alta, Deer Valley and Mad River Glen have been the trio that have had boarding banned for a long time now.

  3. Because there is no reason to have a place to yourself that’s why I’m salty when my fiancé is a skier and I’m a snowboarder it makes it kinda hard

  4. What year is it? The polarity and hate for snowboarders is still strong evidently. Sorry we can carve tighter and harder to the surface and float on power much more efficiently and faster! Buncha jealous skiers made a hate club called Alta.

  5. Regarding “note”. Guessing there are more than 3 resorts that ban snowboarders. Alta, Red Lodge, Cooper(Leadville, Co region) are 3 I know of based on emails sent within the last month. Alpine skier back in the ’70s through ’90’s. Spent a little over two weeks at Alta/Snowbird. Personal preference for Alta. Snowboarder since 2005. This season giving bi-decked all mtn snowskate a go. Not allowed at a lot of resorts.

  6. Alta if I must pick. But with Ikon, I can enjoy both. Take a few runs off Supreme and Sugarloaf, cross into Mineral Basin, enjoy lunch with a view at Hidden Peak, hit Little Cloud and Road to Provo, and slip back to Alta on the High Baldy Traverse if it’s open. The corporate nature of Snowbird bugs me a lot less if I never go more than halfway down the mountain.

    The snowboarder animosity of the 1990s is over. The out of control jerks grew up and became dads who don’t want their own kids hit by a snowboarder. And Shaun White made snowboarding look great. I looked up from a beer one afternoon and said to my companion, “Holy shit, was that a 1440?, I swear it was a 1440!” And it was. But yes, snowboarders use the snow differently.

    Sun seems to destroy the snow at Snowbird quicker. So I disagree with Anthony Kahn. All my best days at Snowbird were on overcast snow preserving days or when it was snowing. A bit challenging when I couldn’t see where I was going but conditions were great.

  7. Alta for me. Both have challenging lines, but, honestly, I’m not good enough to ski them. I like Alta because of the less corporate atmosphere. I’m not there for the restaurants, fancy lifts etc. I’m there to ski. Plus a beer at the very unfancy Goldminers after the last run is one of my favorite ways to end a day

    1. Snowboarders are pissing their pants with discontent. I find it funny they are b#tt hurt because skiers have a place for themselves. I personally like both resorts.

  8. Alta sucks because it’s The last anti-snowboard mountain around are you dumb ass is look down at your feet the shape of your skis is because of snowboarding and I don’t ever remember snowboarders creating moguls think about a dumb ass you’re probably the last human being on earth that Still smoke cigarettes keep them gated that’s where they belong

  9. Snowbird wins.

    1. SB has Better vertical.
    2.SB has Better Steeps.
    3. SP has Better lift service.
    4.Alta has Alta holes.
    5. Alta is very overrated with their skiers only motto (and I’m a skier)!

  10. My vote is for Snowbird because at least then I can board with all of my skiing friends and family.

    About 450 ski resorts allow snowboarding in the USA… except for Alta, Deer Valley, and one other in Vermont.

    C’mon ALTA!

  11. Snowbird is steeper, stays open two months longer sometimes and you can ski Mt Baldy Chutes in Alta from Snowbird, and then ski back in to Snowbird. Plus the Tram Club is better than any establishment at Alta!

    1. Snowbird ruined the Peruvian Gulch powder run from Alta. A nice 3 hour run off the ridge line.
      If you buy at snowbird and ski the “chutes” you’re trespassing and stealing! A curse on Snowbird!! Snowbird IS a mogul heaven. Man eating moguls. Makes runs unskiable. Skied there once. Accessing the chutes from Snowbird isn’t worth the hike, and they’re so limited in open time and not many people bother either way. Alta is for skiers! Snowbird sucks & terrain uninteresting. So there, neener neener.

      1. Damn I feel bad for anyone that has an attitude like yours. Why don’t you just enjoy both resorts for what they are best at and just have fun instead of making this a kids game about why you think your own resort is better with bogus reasons about why the other is bad?

  12. Alta all day everyday is the correct answer period.
    Snowboarders wreck the slopes by sliding sideways down the hill . Alta understands that and that’s why they will always be a better choice .

    1. Hey snowbird sucks you can keep your mountain with your anti-snowboard Jargon I think moguls have been around a lot longer than snowboarders what are you living in the 80s you can keep your little gated community mountain too snowbird rules over Alta rowdy group come to Tahoe with that kind of attitude oh by the way I look down at your skis those are because he snowboards thank you douche please comment because I have a lot for you

  13. “We do not and will not formulate an opinion as to which resort is better. That is not for us to ask,” yet you ask in the title of the article.

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