Park City vs Alta: Which is Best for Skiing?


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 ResortBest Resort
Largest Skiable AreaPark City
For Beginners Park City
For IntermediatesPark City
For ExpertsAlta
Snow QualityAlta
VillagePark City
Cheapest AccommodationAlta
Best Luxury AccomodationPark City
Cheapest Lift TicketsAlta
Park City vs Alta ski resorts
Park City Mountain Resort

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’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.

StatisticsPark CityAlta
Skiable Terrain7,300 acres2,614 acres
Vertical Drop3,200 ft2,538 ft
Base Elevation6,900 ft8,530 ft
Summit Elevation10,026 ft11,068 ft
Total Runs324119
Green Circle Trails (Beginner)7%15%
Blue Square Trails (Intermediate)49%30%
Black/ Double Black Diamond Trails (Expert)44%55%
Longest Run5.6 km2.1 km
Terrain Parks70
Lifts4111
Lift Operating Hours9:00 – 4:009:15 – 4:30
Night Skiing AvailableYesNo
Snowboarding AllowedYesNo
Park City vs Alta mountain statistics
Alta mountain

Snow Quality

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.

MonthSnowfall in Park CitySnowfall in AltaBase Depth in Park CityBase Depth in Alta
November16″12″21″17″
December62″82″27″46″
January57″76″40″70″
February55″73″54″93″
March44″63″60″106″
April11″37″50″97″
Data refers to averages. Data from onthesnow.com

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 SeasonPark City OpenAlta OpenPark City CloseAlta Close
2022/23*18th Nov18th Nov16th Apr23rd Apr
2021/2217th Nov24th Nov17th Apr17th Apr
2020/2120th Nov21st Nov11th Apr25th Apr
2019/2022nd Nov29th Nov14th Mar13th Mar
2018/2921st Nov23rd Nov7th Apr28th Apr
Park City vs Alta ski season lengths and dates *predicted dates for 2022/23
Park City Mountain Resort

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

On-Mountain DiningTypePriceCuisine
Sun LodgeSelf-Service$Mexican
Miner’s CampSelf-Service$-$$Casual Varied 
Tombstone BBQSelf-Service$$BBQ
Red Pine LodgeSelf-Service$$ Casual American
Cloud DineTable Service$$American
Summit HouseTable Service$$-$$$American 
Mid Mountain LodgeTable Service$$-$$$Contemporary
Lookout CabinTable Service$$$Fine Dining
On-mountain dining available in Park City

Alta On-Mountain Dining

On-Mountain DiningTypePriceCuisine
Cecret CoffeeSelf-Service$Baked Goods
Baldy BrewsSelf-Service$Grab and Go
Watson CafeSelf-Service$-$$Casual American
Alf’s RestaurantSelf-Service$$American
Colins GrillTable Service$$$Fine Dining
On-mountain dining available in Alta
Alta mountain

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.

By Plane

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/ AirportFlight Time
Los Angeles2 hours
Seattle2 hours
Atlanta4 hours
New York City5 hours
Cancun5 hours
Paris10.5 hours
London Heathrow10.5 hours
Flight times to Salt Lake International Airport

By Car

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.

LocationDrive to Park CityDrive to Alta
Salt Lake City, UT40 mins40 mins
Provo, UT55 mins55 mins
Ogden, UT1 hour 10 mins1 hour 10 mins
Evanstan, WY1 hour 5 mins1 hour 35 mins
Price, UT2 hours 10 mins2 hours 5 mins
Drive time to Park City and Alta

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.

If you’re looking for more information on the nearby resorts, check out these articles:
Park City vs Deer Valley
Alta vs Snowbird

Ski ResortDrive Time to Park CityDrive Time to Alta
Snowbird55 min5 min
Deer Valley5 min55 min
Snowbasin1 hour 10 min1 hour 20 min
Powder Mountain1 hour 30 min1 hour 40 min
Solitude25 min40 min
Brighton25 min40 min
Sundance40 min1 hour
Drive time to other popular ski resorts in Utah

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 TypePark CityAlta
2 Person Hotel Room$400/ night$250/ night
2 Bedroom Lodge$600/ night$500/ night
4 Bedroom Lodge$1000/ night$850/ night
Park City vs Alta average accommodation costs
Park City Mountain Resort

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 TypePark City PriceAlta 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)
Park City vs Alta ski school lesson price comparison

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.

Park City Mountain Resort

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 LiftPark CityAlta
Adult Weekday$182$113
Child (5-12) Weekday$116$54
Senior (65+) Weekday$126$113
Adult Weekend$223$151
Child (5-12) Weekend$149$76
Senior (65+) Weekend$161$151
Park City vs Alta day lift ticket prices
Equipment Rental (Daily)Park CityAlta
Ski Package Demo$51$65
Ski Package Performance$40$50
Ski Package Sport$29$35
Ski Package Junior$25$45
Helmet$12.50$12
Park City vs Alta ski equipment rental prices

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.

Here are some more articles you might find useful:

Rosie

I have been a keen skier for a number of years, skiing in different locations around the world, and have a real passion for snow sports. My favourite ski resorts are Lake Louise in Canada and Obergurgl-Hochgurgl in Austria.

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