Alta Peruvian Lodge: Staying Grounded 8,500 Feet in the Air

by Greg Colquitt | April 9, 2016

Remember your dorm room set-up in college?

Where, in the blink of an eye, it felt like you were best friends with everyone on your hall, had stories that “you had to be there for”, and late nights were a bit of the norm. Where camaraderie turned into a sense of belonging, fulfilling your most basic human desire, and you probably weren’t even aware of it until you left. Ring a bell?
Remember that keg stand that…. Er. We’ll save that story.

There’s a little place up in the Wasatch Mountains outside Salt Lake City, Utah that embodies the kind of memories that stick with us.

I’m not talking about those wild nights your parents still don’t know about (it’s been 20 years for God’s sake, tell them). I’m talking about belonging to a tight-knit group of people–people whose names and stories were totally unknown to you when you first walked in the door, but after a few days, it would take a surgical procedure to sever the ties.
Alta Peruvian Lodge is one such place. TV’s are laughed off–“forget those silly TV’s, who needs them with views like these,” says the website–and that polished resort-y feel (AKA the archetype of all modern ski resort lodges) was buried six feet under when the place was built during World War II, never to return again! Instead you’ll find cozy wood paneling throughout, communal couches and chess in the lobby, 24 hour coffee service, movies playing every night at 9, and popcorn. It’s like summer camp on crack but in the winter, and you get to ski with your best friends.
The feel of the mountain and the lodge go hand in hand. This is a skier’s mountain. Alta is proud to maintain its culture as one of only a few mountains in the country that ban snowboarding outright. Yeah, like that’s easy. Naturally when you outlaw someone’s sport, they’re going to take it personally. Just last November, snowboarders pushed a lawsuit against Alta, and yet again, it failed to amount to anything. It’s not the snowboarders the mountain bans, it’s just the snowboard itself–that cumbersome weapon! Okay, not really…

The point here is that the Peruvian Lodge, in regards to its commitment to the skiing experience, is one of the most authentic mountain lodges you will find in the country.

Nowhere is the experience as unique and genuine as it is here. For one thing, like one of those fancy resorts in the Caribbean, your food is included in the price of your room, a rarity amongst resorts nowadays. On the other hand, is it a fancy Michelin-star rated dining experience? Nope. Is it delicious and the right fuel for your body before, during, and after tearing up the powder haven that Alta is? Yup.

Meal time at the Peruvian

Meal time at the Peruvian

And If I haven’t emphasized it enough, the focus is skiing, skiing, skiing. Take Andy down in the ski shop, whose work is considered by Blister Gear Review to be some of the best in the entire Salt Lake City region. The shop is modest with just a few machines, but manned by exceptionally talented tuners who will take the extra step to make sure you’re skiing on the best set of sticks possible.
Beyond the tuners, you start to wonder if the staff, the clocks, and the lodge itself are all hyper-tuned in to what you need and when you need it. Breakfast is served (buffet style, heck yes) with plenty of time to catch first chair at 9:15am. The fireplace is always roaring when you need it and the hot tubs bubbling when you want it. “Go here tomorrow,” says your waiter at dinner service, the one meal of the day that requires a reservation (but don’t worry it’s covered in your room price too!). “Go here if you want fresh tracks.”

Then there’s P-Dog. Ah, the place where the locals play, and coincidentally the place for you to après.

Day time at the Peruvian bar

Day time at the Peruvian bar

Amidst all the weird liquor laws in Utah (anything above 3.2% ABV is considered liquor…yikes), the Peruvian Bar is a place where you can still get a real drink. There’s nothing cushy about it, either. The animal heads mounted on the wood paneled walls and the general I-just-want-to-drink-beer-and-have-a-rip-roarin-good-time vibe says, “Hey, we made a good decision.” Live music, dancing, good conversation sound alright? Oh, and remember, this is a ski-centric kinda place. All the hubbub of P-Dog slows to a stop at 10pm so guests can get some good rest. There’s turns to be made tomorrow.

So if you’re looking for white tablecloths, in-room HBO, and a place to spend a lot of money, that’s fine. Just don’t come here.

If, however, you’re looking for connection–whether that may be with your family or friends that you’ve come with, the folks on your hallway or at your breakfast table that you’ve never met and yet are about to share memorable experiences with, or with the beautiful mountains that serve as the only backdrop you’ll ever need–DO come here. That authentic mountain experience we all crave is still very much alive just above the hustle-and-bustle of Salt Lake City. Come see for yourself.

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