Intermountain Region Viewing Area
LOCATION and PHOTOS
Little sunflower (Helianthella uniflora) in the mid-portion of the Albion Basin at Alta Ski Area. Photo by Wayne Padgett.
Splitleaf Indian Paintbrush (Castilleja rhexifolia). Photo by Teresa Prendusi.
Wasatch penstemon (Penstemon cyananthus) and Nuttall’s linanthus (Linanthus nuttallii) in an Albion Basin meadow. Photo by Teresa Prendusi.
Albion Basin Experience
Forest: Wasatch-Cache National Forest
District: Salt Lake Ranger District
Description: The Wasatch-Cache National Forest is home to many spectacular wildflower-viewing sites in the Intermountain Region. One of the most renown, Albion Basin - in the heart of the Wasatch mountains - is located at the top of glacially-carved Little Cottonwood Canyon, above the ski resorts of Alta and Snowbird at over 9,500 feet. During the summer months of July-August, this magical place becomes a magnet for visitors drawn to its spectacular wildflower displays, unique wetland and geological features, as well as its ample recreational and wildlife viewing opportunities. This area is one of Salt Lake City’s recreational havens, a multi-seasonal destination offering some of the best skiing, hiking, bike riding, tram rides, camping, and wildlife viewing in Utah – all within 15 miles of the city center.
Viewing Information: High-elevation meadows with fields of paintbrush, columbine, lupine, Jacob’s ladder, penstemons, etc.; over 120 species (see the Albion Basin Plant Checklist (PDF, 98 KB)). Tram rides to alpine flower displays are available during the summer months at the Snowbird Ski resort.
Annual Wasatch Wildflower Festival (July): sponsored by the community of Alta, Snowbird/Alta/Brighton ski resorts, Unita-Wasatch-Cache National Forests, and the Cottonwood Canyons Foundation.
Wildlife to View
Mammals: yellow-bellied marmot, pika, chickaree, golden-manteled ground squirrel, moose, mountain goats, mule deer, etc.
Birds: gray crown & black rosy-finch, red crossbill, Clark’s nutcracker, and numerous hummingbirds.
- Albion Meadows trail: interpretive signs on lower portion addressing history, geology, and wildlife.
- Cecret Lake Interpretive Trail – signage, no mountain bikes allowed.
- Cardiff Pass/Twin Lakes Pass to Brighton
- Collins Gulch to Germania Pass
- Germania Pass via East Greeley
Late July and Early August provide the best viewing (depending on the year's precipitation). Get there early in the day and enjoy a morning walk among some of the most incredible wildflower displays in northern Utah.
Directions: On the east side of Salt Lake City take I-215 to the 6200 South off-ramp. Drive south following the road signs to Alta Ski Resort. Drive up Little Cottonwood Canyon to the end of the paved road. Continue on the unpaved road until you get to the very end parking lot near Albion Basin Campground. The last mile or two of this road are in Albion Basin. From here you can either take one of the several easy to moderate difficulty hikes or simply view the display from the window of your car. The unpaved portion of the road is very well maintained and easily accessed by passenger vehicle. Parking is limited and during peak times the number of vehicles allowed in the area may be controlled.
Ownership and Management: U.S. Forest Service, Wasatch-Cache National Forest, Salt Lake Ranger District, (801) 733-2660.
Closest Town: Alta, Utah.
For More Information
- Alta Recreation Area - a page on Frank and Anne's Canyon Country Hiking and Camping Notebook website about the Alta Recreation Area, located within the Albion Basin. Frank and Anne's Canyon Country Hiking and Camping Notebook website includes notes and information about hiking and camping in the American West.
- Wasatch Wildflower Festival - the Wasatch Flower Festival's website with information about the festival, schedules, events, and the wildflowers.