Park City and Alta ski resorts are both great options to visit in Utah, but which is the best? I’ll be comparing the mountains, skiable terrain, snow quality, villages, accommodation, ticket prices and much more in this article to help you decide which to visit.
Park City vs Alta Ski Resort
Park City is almost three times bigger compared to Alta and has much better terrain for beginner skiers. There is also more to do off the slopes in Park City. However, Alta is excellent for advanced skiers and significantly cheaper. Park City is the only resort which allows snowboarders.
|Aspect of the Resort||Best Resort|
|Largest Skiable Area||Park City|
|For Beginners||Park City|
|For Intermediates||Park City|
|Best Luxury Accomodation||Park City|
|Cheapest Lift Tickets||Alta|
Ski Map and Terrain
Park City has the biggest skiable area in the United States with 7300 acres and 324 runs. Alta is much smaller and has just 2614 acres of skiable terrain and 119 runs.
For beginners, Park City is the best option. Alta’s beginner terrain is very limited and the mountain caters much more for intermediate and advanced skiers. The beginner terrain on Park City mountain is also closer to the bottom, making it easier to get down without using a lift.
For intermediate skiers, you can’t go wrong with Park City or Alta. Both of them have a considerable share of blue square runs, however since Park City is a much larger resort, you’ll find more intermediate terrain there.
For advanced skiers, you’ll again be happy at either Alta or Park City. However, Alta has a huge 55% share of its terrain being rated as black diamond or double black diamond and the resort attracts more experienced skiers.
Note: only Park City offers night skiing and allows snowboarders. Alta is a ski-only area and does not offer any night skiing. If you want to know more about the reasons why Alta does not allow snowboarding, check out this article.
If you’re into park skiing then Park City is your only option. It has a massive 7 terrain parks, whereas Alta doesn’t have any at all.
Alta and Park City can both get pretty busy and you’ll probably be waiting in lines for a similar amount of time at either resort since they have a pretty comparable lift capacity based on the size of the mountain. However, Park City does a slightly better job at managing the queues so is marginally better.
Check out the table below for a full comparison of the Park City and Alta mountain stats.
|Skiable Terrain||7,300 acres||2,614 acres|
|Vertical Drop||3,200 ft||2,538 ft|
|Base Elevation||6,900 ft||8,530 ft|
|Summit Elevation||10,026 ft||11,068 ft|
|Green Circle Trails (Beginner)||7%||15%|
|Blue Square Trails (Intermediate)||49%||30%|
|Black/ Double Black Diamond Trails (Expert)||44%||55%|
|Longest Run||5.6 km||2.1 km|
|Lift Operating Hours||9:00 – 4:00||9:15 – 4:30|
|Night Skiing Available||Yes||No|
Alta and Park City both have brilliant snow and there’s little to separate them. For powder skiing, I’d say Alta has the slight edge here, however the powder days at Park City are also excellent. Alta gets more snowfall compared to Park City and tends to have slightly better snow in the late season.
|Month||Snowfall in Park City||Snowfall in Alta||Base Depth in Park City||Base Depth in Alta|
Ski Season Dates
Alta and Park City have very similar ski seasons. They both usually open in mid-late November and close in mid-April. Alta sometimes stays open for slightly longer compared to Park City. Please see the table below for more information regarding the ski season dates.
|Ski Season||Park City Open||Alta Open||Park City Close||Alta Close|
|2022/23*||18th Nov||18th Nov||16th Apr||23rd Apr|
|2021/22||17th Nov||24th Nov||17th Apr||17th Apr|
|2020/21||20th Nov||21st Nov||11th Apr||25th Apr|
|2019/20||22nd Nov||29th Nov||14th Mar||13th Mar|
|2018/29||21st Nov||23rd Nov||7th Apr||28th Apr|
Comparing Villages and Towns
Park City consists of two main villages: Park City Mountain Village and Canyons Village which are both reasonably small. Thy both have 4 dining locations and a variety of shops; you can also visit the Historic Main Street for some more options. The spa is located in the Grand Summit Hotel in Canyons Village.
Alta is regarded as a ski area, rather than a resort with a village. Hence, you won’t get that “village vibe” where everything is all together and open most of the time. Instead, you’ll be based in Alta town which is just a couple of minutes walk away has everything you’d expect such as shops, a spa and restaurants.
There are also some dining options at Alta’s base and you’ll be able to access winter activities such as helicopter skiing and snowshoe tours. However, Alta definitely has a different vibe, and there’s not as much to do off the slopes.
If you are looking for more of a village atmosphere, then you can head to Snowbird resort which is just a 5 minute drive away from Alta.
On-Mountain Dining Options
There are several on-mountain dining locations available at both Alta and Park City. However, I have to say that the edge goes to Park City here, as there is slightly more variation in the type of cuisine available.
Check out the tables below for a summary of the locations. These are all located on the mountain, and not at the base. Alta in particular has plenty more options if you don’t mind dining at the base instead.
Park City On-Mountain Dining
|Miner’s Camp||Self-Service||$-$$||Casual Varied|
|Red Pine Lodge||Self-Service||$$||Casual American|
|Cloud Dine||Table Service||$$||American|
|Summit House||Table Service||$$-$$$||American|
|Mid Mountain Lodge||Table Service||$$-$$$||Contemporary|
|Lookout Cabin||Table Service||$$$||Fine Dining|
Alta On-Mountain Dining
|Cecret Coffee||Self-Service||$||Baked Goods|
|Baldy Brews||Self-Service||$||Grab and Go|
|Watson Cafe||Self-Service||$-$$||Casual American|
|Colins Grill||Table Service||$$$||Fine Dining|
Location and Traveling
Park City is east of Alta and the ski areas are 1 hour by car away from one another. Here is some information on how to get to each ski area by plane and by car.
The closest airport to Park City and Alta is Salt Lake City International Airport (SLC) and the transfer time is very similar with shuttle buses available to each location.
- Airport Transfer Time to Park City: 45 minutes
- Airport Transfer Time to Alta: 40 minutes
|City/ Airport||Flight Time|
|Los Angeles||2 hours|
|New York City||5 hours|
|London Heathrow||10.5 hours|
During the holidays and from Friday-Sunday, parking at Park City and Alta needs to be reserved which costs $25 per day in the ski season which means you are guaranteed a space. After 1:00pm parking is free.
|Location||Drive to Park City||Drive to Alta|
|Salt Lake City, UT||40 mins||40 mins|
|Provo, UT||55 mins||55 mins|
|Ogden, UT||1 hour 10 mins||1 hour 10 mins|
|Evanstan, WY||1 hour 5 mins||1 hour 35 mins|
|Price, UT||2 hours 10 mins||2 hours 5 mins|
Proximity to Other Ski Resorts
Park City and Alta are both close to the other major ski resorts in Utah, however Park City is slightly nearer to most of them.
Alta is just 5 minutes away from Snowbird which is more of a ski resort rather than a ski area like Alta. You can purchase joint Alta-Bird tickets to get a discount if you plan on skiing both mountains.
Park City is just 5 minutes away from Deer Valley, however the resorts are not related so you will need to purchase separate tickets to visit them both.
|Ski Resort||Drive Time to Park City||Drive Time to Alta|
|Snowbird||55 min||5 min|
|Deer Valley||5 min||55 min|
|Snowbasin||1 hour 10 min||1 hour 20 min|
|Powder Mountain||1 hour 30 min||1 hour 40 min|
|Solitude||25 min||40 min|
|Brighton||25 min||40 min|
|Sundance||40 min||1 hour|
Accommodation Options and Price
If you’re staying in Park City mountain resort then you’ll be able to choose between the Park City Village and Canyon Village, with the latter having the best luxury accommodation.
If you head to Alta, then you’ll probably be staying in the local town which is just a few minutes walk away from the base. It has 5 hotels, 11 condos and 11 chalets to choose from.
The accommodation in Alta is cheaper compared to Park City which can get very expensive. In both areas, you’ll be able to stay in the surrounding areas for better rates if you don’t mind travelling to the ski area.
Here’s a summary of the average accommodation prices in January.
|Accommodation Type||Park City||Alta|
|2 Person Hotel Room||$400/ night||$250/ night|
|2 Bedroom Lodge||$600/ night||$500/ night|
|4 Bedroom Lodge||$1000/ night||$850/ night|
Ski School Lessons and Prices
The ski school group lessons are significantly cheaper in Alta compared to Park City, for all ages.
Private lessons are also cheaper in Alta unless you are going in a group of more than 4 for the half-day lesson and more than 3 for the full-day lesson where Park City is cheaper. The lessons are also slightly longer in Park City.
Please see the table below for more information.
|Lesson Type||Park City Price||Alta Price|
|Child Group Half Day||$255||$98|
|Child Group Full Day||$299-$339||$195|
|Adult Group Half Day||$195||$114|
|Private Half Day||$809 (for 1-6 people)||$435 (plus $120 for each extra skier)|
|Private Full Day||$1099 (for 1-6 people)||$870 (plus $120 for each extra skier)|
Costs are based on the most recent ski season at the time of writing and are subject to change. Please check the resort websites for up to date prices. Prices are in US dollars and based on off-peak season prices.
Lift Tickets and Equipment Rental
Lift tickets are much cheaper at Alta compared to Park City. On average, adult tickets are half as much again and children’s tickets are double the price at Park City. Senior ticket prices are pretty similar. Ski equipment rental is slightly cheaper at Park City compared to Alta.
Please see the tables below for more information.
|Ticket Price Day Lift||Park City||Alta|
|Child (5-12) Weekday||$116||$54|
|Senior (65+) Weekday||$126||$113|
|Child (5-12) Weekend||$149||$76|
|Senior (65+) Weekend||$161||$151|
|Equipment Rental (Daily)||Park City||Alta|
|Ski Package Demo||$51||$65|
|Ski Package Performance||$40||$50|
|Ski Package Sport||$29||$35|
|Ski Package Junior||$25||$45|
Prices quoted above are based on the most recent ski season at the time of writing and are subject to change. Based on daily rates when buying in-advance online for tickets and on the day for rentals (better value for money offers are available when booking for multiple days). Prices are in US dollars. Please check the resort websites for up to date prices.
Which Resort is Best?
There are a few key things that separate these resorts:
- Park City has a much larger skiable area.
- Only Park City allows snowboarding and night skiing.
- Only Park City has terrain parks.
- Alta is more of a ski area whereas Park City is a ski resort.
- Alta is much cheaper compared to Park City.
- Park City has the best terrain for beginners and groups of mixed ability.
If you’re an advanced or intermediate skier looking for the best value for money and you’ll be spending most of your time on the slopes rather than off them, then Alta is the best option.
However, if you want more to do when you’re not skiing, and don’t have as much skiing experience then Park City is the best choice, just be mindful that it will be significantly more expensive.
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