Updated: Sep 15
Alta may be for skiers but in the summer it's also for wildflowers! Some of the best, most easily accessible wildflower hikes in Utah can be found on the slopes of Alta Ski Area, otherwise known as Albion Basin.
I'm one of those snobby local skiers who loves that Alta is a skiers-only resort and I've spent a lot of time exploring those mountains over the years. There's such an incredible amount of snow there in the winter that it's hard to imagine those slopes covered in anything but white powdery snow. But the transformation that happens from winter to summer is truly amazing. It will have you singing The Hills Are Alive!
Albion Basin - Three Ways to See the Wildflowers
Albion Basin is located at Alta Ski Area at the top of Little Cottonwood Canyon. It's around a 10-mile, 20-minute drive from the base of the canyon.
There are a few ways to view the colorful wildflowers in Albion Basin.
1. Albion Meadows Trail - $10 Fee
The easiest way is to drive all the way up the canyon to the toll booth, wait in line, pay the $10 fee and drive to the top of the Sunnyside ski lift where you find a parking lot and a trail called Albion Meadows Trail. This is the best option for anyone not interested in hiking and only seeing the wildflowers. There are endless wildflowers immediately in view, so you can walk down a short distance or you can do the full 3.6 mile round trip hike. Just be aware that if you choose this option, you'll probably end up waiting in a long line of cars for up to 30 minutes. Parking is limited, so once the lots fill up, they only allow cars in once other cars leave. And you'll also find throngs of people doing family photo shoots and engagements. I don't mind the crowds though, because nature is for everyone and you can still find plenty of space for awesome photos of your own.
2. Cecret Lake from Albion Base - Free! Skip the Fee.
The other option (and the only way to avoid both the $10 fee and the crowds) is to take the Cecret Lake from Albion Base trail. This is the best option if you don't want to pay and if you enjoy hiking. If you do the full trail to Cecret Lake, it's 4.5 miles round trip. But you could stop at Albion Meadows and turn around to shave off a couple miles. Before you get to the toll booth, hang a right and park at Albion Grill. The trail starts right at the base of the Sunnyside lift and you hike a moderate trail for a little over a mile until you arrive at Albion Meadows. With this option, you'll not only see the beautiful meadows but you'll hike through miles of endless wildflowers! We've even seen moose on this trail many times.
3. Other Trails Near Albion Basin
The third option to see wildflowers is to take any number of trails located at the top of Little Cottonwood Canyon - Cecret Lake Trailhead, Sunset Peak Trail, Catherine Pass Trail, you name it. There isn't just one place to see Utah's amazing wildflowers.
Best Hiking Shoes
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Albion BasinWildflowers - What Will You See?
Albion Basin has a variety of colorful wildflowers and the vibrant reds, purples, and yellows make for some amazing contrast against the green mountainsides. The best time to go see them is mid-July to early-August.
These are the most popular kinds of flowers you'll see:
Indian Paintbrush - known for its bright red color, the red you see is actually part of the leaf and not a flower
Mountain larkspur - a tall, narrow stem with dozens of blue or purple trumpet-shaped flowers
Arrowleaf balsamroot - these plants produce groups of yellow flowers that look like mini sunflowers (so most people end up calling them sunflowers)
Lupine - tall purple and blue tapering spikes of flowers
And many more! Just get out there and see it for yourselves.
For more of the best hikes and other things to do in Utah, download our free Utah Bucket List.