Little Cottonwood Canyon: Home to Alta and Snowbird

Hike in Summer, Ski in Winter, Play Year-Round

Utah’s Little Cottonwood Canyon is considered by some to be the crown jewel of the Wasatch Mountains. Just 25 miles from downtown Salt Lake City, this canyon exudes mountain drama as the home to Alta and Snowbird. Hike in the summer. Ski in the winter. Eat, drink, shop and stay throughout the year.

More snow means more fun

Due to a lucky combination of geography, meteorology, and the phenomenon known as orographic lift, Little Cottonwood Canyon often boasts higher snow totals than neighboring canyons and Park City. And it's so close to Salt Lake you don't have to sacrifice endless nightlife options and off-slope diversions in exchange for a shot at your most memorable day of all time on the slopes. When the snow melts off the mountains it leaves a lush canyon paradise filled with summer and fall recreation options.  Little Cottonwood provides ample opportunity for family fun, dining, events, hiking, scenic vistas, and more.

Map of Little Cottonwood in Mountain Resorts

Little Cottonwood Canyon

Discover Local Offerings

Little Cottonwood Canyon has locally owned businesses and the resorts ready for you to explore

Where to Eat & Drink

Fine Dining and Bars

At the Base

For fine dining consider the Shallow Shaft Restaurant at Alta or the Aerie on level 10 of the Cliff Lodge at Snowbird. For more casual or après options, head to the Goldminer’s Daughter at Alta or the Tram Club at Snowbird. (Be warned: the $5.00 shot and a beer is a dangerous combo at altitude!)

Coffee and Hearty Meals

On the Mountain

If you’re skiing Alta and you need a snack, Alta Java at the Albion Base Area is the place to chow down delicious empanadas, swill hearty coffee drinks, nosh on sweets, and enjoy friendly service. Fine dining and a full-service meal is available on Level 3 of the Watson’s Shelter at the Collins Grill. At Snowbird, The Summit Restaurant provides the best views while the Mid-Gad offers convenient casual dining on the slopes. If you’re crushing powder laps, a made-to-order sandwich in the General Gritts deli is the quickest and most delicious option. Check Snowbird Dining or Alta Food and Drink for hours and seasonal openings.

Where to Shop

Ski or Snowboard Gear

If you’re shopping up Little Cottonwood Canyon, you’re most likely looking for ski or snowboard gear. The Deep Powder House (Locals call it DPH) up at Alta offers a fantastic selection of skis and gear. Christy Sports is the place to shop at Snowbird. The best tune in the canyon will be found in the unassuming basement of the Alta Peruvian Lodge. In a tiny corner, with windows obscured by snowdrifts, you’ll find a dedicated and talented crew of gentleman who take great pride in their work and can offer expert tuning and repair.

Where to Stay

Things to Do

Bird's-eye views from the Tram

Regardless of your motivation to explore Little Cottonwood, a ride on Snowbird’s Aerial Tramway is a must. A jaw-dropping excursion during any season, the 8-minute ride to the summit of Hidden Peak provides startling views of the surrounding Wasatch Mountains and a quick peep at the sprawling city below. You can catch the views (and a great meal) in the new Summit Restaurant, Utah’s highest restaurant.

Hike to stunning lakes and vistas

In the summer months, locals flock to Little Cottonwood Canyon to cool off and enjoy the beautiful views. Popular hikes include Catherine’s Area, Cecret Lake, and, if you can hack it, a hike from Snowbird’s base area to the 11,000-foot Hidden Peak. Enjoy a free tram ride down and grab a cold beer from General Gritts to enjoy on the plaza at the Snowbird Center. Don’t forget, Little Cottonwood Canyon is a watershed area where dogs and swimming are strictly prohibited.

Alta Ski Area

Well... if it’s cold outside, you know why you’ve chosen Little Cottonwood Canyon as basecamp. Alta is one of the oldest ski areas in the country, in operation since 1939. The colorful history of silver mining and charm of the area are what brings skiers (no snowboarders allowed) returning year after year. Steeps, deeps, chutes, trees, and open bowls, Alta is a powder-lover’s paradise. With the gentle terrain off the Sunnyside chairlift, Alta is also great for beginning skiers. For the quintessential skiing experience, Alta should be on every powder hound’s hit list.

Snowbird Ski & Summer Resort

Just west of Alta lies Snowbird Ski Area and it’s even possible to ski between the two resorts via the connection perched atop Mineral Basin. Renowned for its advanced terrain, iconic tramway, and incredible snow, Snowbird is a year-round destination. With a newly renovated spa, great dining options, Utah's oldest Oktoberfest, and tons of summer activities, Snowbird is the ideal spot to get away from it all and connect back to nature.

What the Locals Know


Know this word. In the winter, during particularly strong snow storms, Little Cottonwood Canyon may revert to a status called: Interlodge. This basically means that current weather conditions indicate high levels of avalanche danger and leaving any structure is prohibited. (Note: it is actually illegal to leave a building or take shelter in your car during interlodge). Know that interlodge is not an inconvenience. It is the precursor to the best day of powder skiing you will ever have. Keep savvy with the road closures, either beat them or book a room at one of the lodges and bring ample supplies of food, snacks, and your favorite beverage(s). Don’t succumb to powder panic, keep calm, and visualize the snow falling down. When the danger lifts, and interlodge is terminated, make a beeline to your closest chairlift. Don’t forget a snorkel. And what they say...about friends on a powder’s not true.