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The City Journals

More than a skiing destination: Wasatch mountain resorts offer summer adventure

Sep 16, 2020 01:47PM ● By Tavia Dutson

A bird’s-eye view of Albion Basin and Cecret Lake from the Devil’s Castle ridgeline. (Tavia Dutson/City Journals)

By Tavia Dutson | [email protected]

A group of skiers gathers at Albion Basin campground every August to celebrate their common connection—Alta Ski Resort.

Albion Basin is an 18-site campground at the top of Little Cottonwood Canyon. At 9,500 feet, it is only open from mid-July to mid-September. Why such a short season? The other 10 months, the campground, located below the Supreme lift, is covered in snow. 

Thirty-two years ago, Bob Preite moved to Utah and purchased his first pass at Alta Ski Resort. As a Montana native, he had grown up skiing and immediately fell in love with everything the resort had to offer. After two great winters, he and a ski buddy found that the summer months spent away from the slopes were far too long. The pair looked into campgrounds up Little Cottonwood Canyon and found exactly what they were looking for in Albion Basin.

For the past 30 years, Preite has been reserving a group site. He invites his friends and family, the majority of which are Alta season pass holders, up to enjoy this beloved place in a different light. 

One of the group’s favorite things to see are the wildflowers that appear in late July. “It’s a spectacular place to see wildflowers and wildlife in general. There’s a moose that hangs out right in the campground” said Shane Duffin, one of Preite’s friends. 

Located just 15 miles from Sandy, the ease of camping at Albion Basin keeps them coming back. “It’s just so easy,” Preite said. “We can just bring food up from the valley.” Friends can stop by for an evening or stay the night and be back to the valley in time for work the next morning. 

But don’t be fooled. Although it is easy to get to the campground, it is difficult to reserve a spot. Each year the sites fill up within minutes of allowing online reservations.

In the last 30 years the group has grown to include about 25 members. “We’ve just been picking up friends along the way,” Preite said. 

Duffin has converted to the Alta lifestyle. A mutual friend told him to stop by the campground one evening and he was immediately welcomed into the group. Originally a passholder at Park City Resort, he soon joined the group at Alta the next winter and has skied there ever since.

Days are primarily spent hiking, not surprising for a group of athletic backcountry skiers. While on a hike of the ridgeline to Mount Wolverine, Preite and Duffin pointed to some of their favorite areas to ski. The terrain looks different in the summer, but the cliffs and chutes are visible enough for them to brag about some good times experienced there in the winter. Resort signs that are typically waist-high in the winter towered above them in the summer.

Although not everyone can nab a coveted spot at the Albion Basin campground, the hikes mentioned can be accessed by Alta’s summer road. As the wildflower season comes to a close, Cottonwood Heights residents can take a quick day trip up Little Cottonwood Canyon to see nature at its finest.