Alta Recreation Area
Alta Recreation Area
Town of Alta
U.S. Forest Service
Salt Lake Ranger District
The Town of Alta, located at the head of Little Cottonwood Canyon, is a popular summer recreation destination. An abundance of wildflowers and wetland plant species in this mountain town give the impression of sturdy life and easy rejuvenation. Don't be fooled. This beautiful alpine area is fragile. Because of the high elevation and short growing season it can take years for damaged vegetation and soil to recover. Up to 2000 people visit the Alta Recreation Area daily during the summer months. If each visitor picked just one flower, left just one piece of garbage, or made one tire track off established roadways, this beauty would soon be lost. They need your help protecting and preserving the beauty of their natural environment.
The content of this page was accurate on the date of its posting; it may have changed since that time. We recommend that you contact local authorities for current information. Our pages are only intended as a beginning to your journey.
Three trailhead parking areas are located in the commercial part of Alta, approximately eight miles up State Road 210. Beyond these trailheads, the pavement ends. In its place is a three mile graded dirt road, the Albion Basin Road, which leads to two small trailhead parking areas and to the Albion Basin Campground.
Little Cottonwood Canyon's State Road 210 is a nine mile federally designated Scenic Byway, ending in Albion Basin.
Map Coordinates (NAD83): 40 34.578N; 111 36.710W
Regulations and Precautions
There is a 25 mile per hour speed limit in the Town of Alta. Albion Basin Road has a speed limit of 15 m.p.h. Though 15 miles per hour may seem like a snail's pace, your tires will churn up less dust, which can smother plants on the roadside. Driving slowly also causes less "washboarding" on the road's surface.
- Be courteous to the bikers, hikers, joggers, and wildlife also using the road.
- Park in established areas only.
- Local and federal laws prohibit driving off designated roads. Keep your vehicle off of the vegetation and drive on designated roads only.
- See Pets in the Parks and Backcountry.
- See Encountering Wild Animals.
All of Little Cottonwood Canyon, from ridge top to ridge top, is a watershed. The water that flows out of this canyon supplies Alta and residents of Salt Lake Valley with drinking water. To keep this water clean, the following regulations are strictly enforced:
- No swimming is allowed in lakes or streams
- Dogs and horses are prohibited.
- Backpacking camps must be 200 feet from water and half a mile from any road.
Never drink water directly from streams or lakes. It may contain a microorganism called Giardia, which can cause intestinal illness.