The Five Alta Lodges: History, Charm and Family Fun

Each of the five Alta Lodges is historic and has a story to tell. Although we stayed at the Alta Peruvian Lodge in early December, I visited each of the other lodges. Here’s what I learned.

The Alta Lodge

Family friendly? You bet. Of the five lodges, the Alta Lodge caters most specifically to families with young children, with their kids’ program and “kids stay free” promotion. A shuttle takes little skiers to and from ski school each day. An apres ski program, including games, arts, crafts and sledding begins at 4:30 p.m. each day, with a kids’ dinner at 5:30 (although children are always welcome to dine with their parents). More activities follow dinner and children between 4 and 12 are welcome to stay and play until 8:15. Younger children may participate with a parent present.

Early and late season, kids 12 and under stay (and eat) free at the Alta Lodge. There is a four night minimum for this special and kids must stay in their parents’ room.

Built in 1939, by the Denver and Rio Grande Railroad and offered the first overnight accommodations at Alta in 1940. Remodeled over the years, the Lodge has had the same owners since 1959 and is fully up-to-date.


  • Ski-in/Ski-out location near Wildcat base. A rope tow helps you get home in the afternoon.
  • Free Kids’ Program, complete with kid-friendly menu.
  • Ski School shuttle.
  • Kids’ Stay Free Promotion.
  • Breakfast and dinner included.
  • Afternoon Tea.
  • No TV in rooms.
  • Classic Sitzmark Club bar.
  • Boot dryers in rooms.
  • Free WiFi.

The Alta Lodge Kids’ club room

The Alta Peruvian Lodge

The Peruvian has a reputation as a “guy’s lodge,” because groups of men return year after year for their annual ski vacation. This shouldn’t dissuade families, however. When we were there, I was far from the only woman, and my kids were far from the only kids, staying at the lodge.

However, because the Alta Peruvian is not ski-in/ski-out (a free shuttle takes skiers to and from the base areas in about two minutes) and there are few rooms to accommodate families, I think this lodge is best for families with older kids who can stay in a room together or families that don’t mind being split into two or more rooms.

The Alta Peruvian Nordic Suite. Photo courtesy Alta Peruvian Lodge.

The Alta Peruvian was built in 1948, when two hospital barracks from the Intermountain Indian School in Brigham City, Utah were trucked more than 100 miles up Little Cottonwood Canyon and deposited at the base of Peruvian Ridge. Joined by a common entrance, the lodge is updated with a lovely dining room and common areas. The guest rooms are in these original wings and they are small, most sleeping only two people, with no room for a crib or roll away. There are some suites and adjoining rooms for families. Breakfast, lunch and dinner, as well as apres ski snacks are included.

For those over 21, the Peruvian also has a great, time-tested, belly up to it, sort of bar. Beer served in impossibly heavy glasses, popcorn, a roaring fire, ski memorabilia and gorgeous views make for a thriving scene after the lifts close.


  • Three meals a day, including a hot lunch.
  • Apres ski treats.
  • History, old-time ski lodge decor and charm.
  • Family friendly amenities including the game room, nightly movie, the pool and hot tubs.
  • No TV in rooms.
  • No WiFi in rooms.
  • Shuttle service to ski area bases

    Behind the bar at the Alta Peruvian. So Alta, I love it!

The Goldminer’s Daughter Lodge

Prior to this visit, I’d only been in the lower level of the Goldminer’s Daughter. Situated across from the ticket window at Alta’s Wildcat Base, the Goldminer’s Daughter has lockers and easy to find restrooms, as well as a ski shop and cafeteria open to all skiers. These areas are ski hill utilitarian.

I was very pleasantly surprised when I ventured upstairs to visit the lodge. The manager took me first into the dining room. It was decorated for Christmas and was lovely, anchored on one side by a large, ornate wooden bar and centered in the middle by a large fireplace. Breakfast and dinner are included at the Goldminer’s Daughter, but lunch is not. Guest rooms are large – think hotel standard — with terrific views. There are several suites, as well as dorm rooms.

The Goldminer’s Daughter was founded in 1961 by Jim and Alfreda Shane, long-time Alta skiers. Built on the site of a mining-era bar called the “Bucket of Blood,” the Shanes decided to name it after a different Alta bar, the Goldminer’s Daughter. As for its location, the Collins Express Lift is maybe 50 yards from the lodge, making this a great lodge for families of all ages who want to be as close to the lifts as possible.


  • Location, location, location.
  • Large, comfortable rooms.
  • Big game room to keep teens and families busy and happy.
  • On-site Spa.
  • Breakfast, dinner and apres ski snacks included.
  • Indoor Hot Tub.
  • On-site ski shop for rentals, demos and repair.
  • No minimum night stay.
  • Free, on site yoga classes.
  • In room TV.
  • Free WiFi in room

    The Goldminer’s Daughter patio at the Alta Wildcat base.

    The Rustler Lodge

It was my husband’s birthday when we were in Alta and a friend suggested that we have a drink in the Eagles’ Nest Lounge at the Rustler Lodge. With a roaring fire, comfortable couches and mountain views galore, the Eagles’ Nest was a perfect place to celebrate!

Originally built in 1947, on the site of the Alta General Store, the Rustler Lodge has been expanded and upgraded through the years. The comfort and luxury of the lounge are echoed throughout the property. The Rustler Lodge has 85 rooms, which range from modest dorm-type rooms to luxurious corner suites. Most rooms can accommodate families. There are adjoining rooms with one king bed that connect to a room with two queen beds.

During holiday periods, or times when a lot of children are visiting, the Rustler provides a children’s program from 6-8:30 p.m. each evening. The program includes a “kids’ only” dinner, crafts, movies and entertainment. Children five years and older are welcome to participate.

The largest and most luxurious of the Alta lodges, the Rustler is a great choice for anyone, of any age, who wants a little less ski lodge and a little more luxury.


  • Ski-in/Ski-out location with a chairlift (no rope tow)
  • Breakfast and dinner included.
  • Outdoor pool.
  • Glass enclosed jacuzzi.
  • Fitness room.
  • On-site spa.
  • In room TV.
  • Free WiFi.
  • Children’s program.
  • The modern Eagles’ Nest Lounge with apres ski snacks and views galore.
  • On-site ski shop
  • Morning stretch class

    The lounge at the Rustler Lodge

The Snowpine Lodge

The smallest, and oldest, of the Alta lodges, the Snowpine opened as a day lodge in 1938, and later became an overnight lodge. For a while, it even served as Alta’s post office. In 2012, the Snowpine came under the ownership of the Pratt family. The Pratts have been visiting Alta with their extended family for decades and are thrilled to now be a part of the community.

The Snowpine Lodge has only 24 rooms, some of which accommodate families. Because hosting families is a priority, the staff will group rooms together in less busy parts of the lodge. The previous owners opened a new wing for the 2011-2012 season. The East Wing has serene-feeling rooms which face the ski slopes. One family room with a queen bed and bunk beds is available in this wing.

Photo courtesy Snowpine Lodge

Other private rooms, rooms with shared baths and dorm rooms are also available. Breakfast and dinner are served at the Snowpine in the bright and airy dining room. There is a sauna, an outdoor spa and the two common rooms in which to read, relax, play games and watch movies.

With its small size and cozy atmosphere, the Snowpine Lodge is suitable for families of any age and would be a perfect family reunion destination.


  • New Owners and new energy.
  • Ski-in/Ski-out location with a rope tow.
  • Breakfast, dinner and apres ski snacks included.
  • Cozy and personal. The small size makes the lodge feel more like a mountain cabin than a hotel.
  • New rooms and decor.
  • Outdoor spa.
  • Game room and nightly movie for family fun

    One of the Snowpine’s common rooms. Photo courtesy Snowpine Lodge

And Did I Mention Snow?

When we planned our visit to Alta it was late summer. We were quite hopeful for a big snowstorm while we were staying up in the Canyon. It didn’t happen, but when it does snow a lot, the road from Salt Lake is often closed for avalanche control. This means that once the mountain snow is stabilized and safe, guests of the Alta lodges have the mountain to themselves. First tracks, anyone?

When the road reopens, the parking lots fill. But until then, you’ve got your own personal Alta. Just you, your family and the legendary Utah snow.


© 2012 – 2014, Kristen Lummis. All rights reserved. Any use or publication of content, including photos, requires express permission.


  1. says

    Thank you for such a lovely review of Alta Lodge. We’re going to add a fun twist April 9-14 and offer our guest the option of skiing in the morning and golfing in the afternoon. Fun bragging rights for spring skiers!



    • says

      Thank you Joni! I really appreciate you adding this information and helping keep this post up-to-date. Just curious? Where is the golf course? Cheers! Kristen

  2. says

    Hello, recently came across your blog. I wanted to let you know about my new transportation company.
    A few years back I started driving for a private transportation company based out of Park City. The only problem was that I skied at Alta. The following year, I decided to start my own company. My goal was to concentrate mainly at Alta/Snowbird. The main reason was because I wanted to still ski as much as possible. I also realized that there was a market for a private SUV transportation company in Little Cottonwood Canyon.

    My main competition are two companies that specialize in Shared Ride Shuttle Vans. Guests with families for 3 or more are finding that my rates are cheaper ($100 1-3 passengers and $15 each additional passenger up to 7 total) (Shared ride vans are $36 per person).

    I also offer ski rental that they can reserve on line. The beauty of this is that I pick them up at the airport with the skis and poles on the cargo box of the vehicle picking them up. You can check out my website

    Thanks, Nick Rice