Alta is a town in eastern Salt Lake County, Utah, United States.
Alta, at 8,950 feet, is one of the highest cities in Utah.
The snowiest town in Utah
Alta is considered to be the snowiest town in Utah.
Because of its high elevation, Alta has a high-altitude humid continental climate that borders on a subalpine climate.
Because of its proximity to the Great Salt Lake, the town receives exceptionally heavy snow, averaging more than 507 inches per year.
Temperatures in Alta, Utah typically fall below 50 degrees Fahrenheit on 265 days per year. The annual precipitation in Alta is typically 20.4 inches, the lowest in the United States. Snow covers the ground 97 days a year, or 26.6% of the year, the highest in the United States.
During the extremely wet season of 1982/1983, Alta got up to 900 inches of snow, resulting in record flooding of Wasatch streams as the snow melted in May and June of that year.
The 108.54 inches of precipitation that Alta received overall in 1983 set a Mountain West state record for a calendar year. Strangely, Villanueva, which is only 675 miles away, only measured 0.91 inches that year, a record low for New Mexico.
Interesting facts about Alta
Alta has played an essential role in the growth of skiing in Utah.
Alta was established around 1865 to house miners from the Emma mine, the Flagstaff mine, and other silver mines in Little Cottonwood Canyon. The Emma mine's owners were able to sell the property to British investors for a high price in 1871 thanks to the mine's sensationally rich silver ore.
The eventual exhaustion of the Emma orebody resulted in the recall of the American ambassador to the United Kingdom, who was also a director of the company, as well as congressional hearings on the transaction in Washington, DC.
The majority of the old mining town was destroyed by fire in 1878 and an avalanche in 1885, but some mining continued until the 20th century. George Watson was the only person living in the village by the 1930s.
Watson donated a large portion of his land in Alta to the U.S. Forest Service with the condition that the site is used to build a ski area because he had unpaid taxes on mining claims he owned.
Alta hired Norwegian skiing star Alf Engen to help develop the area in 1935, and its first ski lift opened in 1938.
By the end of the twentieth century, there were up to 7,000 visitors per day on the Alta slopes, and traffic in the Little Cottonwood Canyon was nearing gridlock.
Alta is now a small town developed around the Alta Ski Area.
Alta gained national attention when it was the only ski resort included in a thorough analysis of disease-transmission probabilities during the COVID-19 pandemic and consequent government-mandated economic limitations.
The university-based investigation concluded that safety improvements might be made to the site's bus system, ski lift travel, and ski lift line waiting.
No number of extenuating factors, however, could make indoor dining at restaurants acceptably safe, and locker rooms could only be considered secure if the people who used them spoke in "quiet voices".