Outside Magazine, November 1994
If you get lucky during your stay at Alta's Rustler Lodge, the front desk will call your room before dawn to announce that you have been "interlodged." This means that there's been enough new snow overnight to close the road from Salt Lake City and seal up the lodges while the avalanche-control teams fire away with their howitzers. Then, at the all-clear signal, you and the other fortunate few who are sleeping at the resort will have the mountain and its glorious powder all to yourselves.
The Rustler is one of only five lodges clinging to the steep hillside opposite the ski runs, spaced precisely so that slide paths run between them, not over the top. Its nondescript architecture wraps around 56 guest rooms and four dorm beds, plus a cozy dining room and bar. The rooms are simple but not spare, and most look out at the thousand-foot powder chutes of Eagle's Nest and Alf's High Rustler. You can ski right down to the lifts in the morning and grab hold of the private handle-tow for the 300-foot ride back up at the end of the day.
Nearly three-quarters of the guests are return clients, so everybody is greeted as part of a far-flung family come back to visit the Mother Mountain. A double with private bath costs $200-$250 per night, breakfast and dinner included; a dorm bed goes for $75 per night, also including meals. All food is prepared on-site, right down to the freshly baked breads and pastries, and there's a growing vegetarian menu to complement the traditional alpine fare. The resort has no nightlife to speak of (though Snowbird's Cliff Lodge, a mile away, occasionally has live music), but that's OK, since what you really want to do is have dessert by the fire and then fall into bed and dream of that early wake-up call. For reservations, call 800-451-5223.