Skiers have been singing the praises of Little Cottonwood Canyon since 1938, when the Alta Lifts Company pieced together a ski lift using parts from an old mine tram to become the Alta Ski Resort, the second such area in North America. With its 550 inches per year of dry, light snow and unparalleled terrain, this canyon is legendary among diehard snow enthusiasts. A mile down the canyon from Alta, Snowbird Ski and Summer Resort, which opened in 1971, shares the same mythical snow and terrain quality—the two areas are connected via the Mineral Basin area. You can purchase an Alta Snowbird One Pass that allows you on the lifts at both areas, making this a huge skiing complex.
But skiing isn't all there is to do here. Dazzling mountain-biking and hiking trails access the higher reaches of the Wasatch-Cache National Forest, and the trails over Catherine Pass will put you at the head of Big Cottonwood Canyon at the Brighton Ski Area. Formed by the tireless path of an ancient glacier, Little Cottonwood Canyon cuts a swath through these pristine woodlands. Canyon walls are composed mostly of striated granite, and traditional climbing routes of varied difficulty abound. At Snowbird's base area, modern structures house accommodations, restaurants, and bars. The largest of these buildings, the Cliff Lodge, is an entire ski village under one roof. The resort mounts a variety of entertainment throughout the year, including pop and jazz concerts, and Oktoberfest in fall.