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Rustler Lodge & Alta Town History

Long before people came to Alta in search of "the greatest snow on earth", they came to mine silver. Alta's first mining claim was staked in 1865 and by 1872 Alta had become a booming town of 8000 residents. Due to economic problems, water in mines, expensive smelting and the demonetizations of silver, the town was nearly deserted by 1880.

In 1938, Alta Lift Company constructed the first Collins Ski Lift out of pieces of an unused mining tram and logs. George Watson who predicted, "Alta will be reborn on skis", donated the land to the Forest Service.

The original Rustler Lodge was built by Howard Stillwell and Sverre Engen. Stillwell was born and raised in Alta in the late 1800's. And Sverre Engen came over from Norway with his brother Alf the world famous skier and founder of Alta's Ski School.

The Rustler was built on the site where the Alta General Store once stood. The land was ideal as it is the only "avalanche-free" area in the Town of Alta (incorporated in 1970).

The Lodge opened for business in 1947 with one floor of guest rooms and in 1954, it was purchased by Lee Bronson. In 1955, a second floor was added above the kitchen area and an additional 15 rooms were added in 1963 below the present Dining Room. Before the Dining Room opened in 1969, heli-skiing in Alta was pioneered from a helicopter pad located on the very spot where Rustler guests now dine.

The Lodge continued to grow in 1973 with the addition of 24 deluxe rooms, conference and sauna facilities. In the following year, the original pool was built.A jacuzzi was added in 1978.

Jeff Anderson purchased the lodge in 1976. The Rustler added 30 luxury rooms in 1997 along with the new Eagle's Nest Lounge boasting floor-to-ceiling windows, a fitness center, a new Jacuzzi, steam room, massage therapy rooms, a new outdoor heated pool and the Rustler chairlift.

In the summer of 2013, Jeff continued to enhance the Rustler's tradition of excellence by adding a  new spa wing including beautiful indoor and outdoor Jacuzzis, a Swedish sauna and new spa treatment rooms. Perched above the spa, overlooking the pool area, 5 new guest rooms with spectacular views and fireplaces were added. Public areas were also upgraded, enhancing our existing amenities.

Along with a new front desk, additional guest rooms with spectacular views in the original wing of the lodge were built in the summer of 2017. 

With the dedicated management team, we will continue to make improvements to preserve the friendly and relaxed atmosphere appreciated by our valued guests.

Collins Chairlift, Alta Ski Area, circa 1947

Collins Chairlift, Alta, circa 1947

Original Rustler Lodge, Alta, Utah

Original Rustler Lodge

Base of Collins Chairlift at Alta, circa 1947

Base of Collins Chairlift, circa 1947