Alta experienced a boom in 1904 with new discoveries being made by the Jacobsen Brothers in the Columbus Mine. While the old townsite was never reoccupied, the miners were housed in bunkhouses built and maintained by each separate mining company at the center of their operations. The production of silver ore peaked in 1917 and declined steadily thereafter. By 1930 Alta was virtually a ghost town with only six registered voters.
In the late 1930s Alta began its second life. With Sun Valley, Idaho, as a model, a group of interested businessmen and skiers organized the Salt Lake City Winter Sports Association, which negotiated with the U.S. Forest Service and raised $10,000 for construction of a ski lift at Alta.
On 13 November 1938 Alta's first ski lift was officially dedicated; but the lift did not become operational until 15 January 1939. Its second season saw the purchase of 86,000 ski lift rides; and its first international downhill and slalom competition was held in March 1940. The Alta Ski School opened soon after and the Alta Lodge was dedicated on 29 November 1940. During World War II Alta became involved in the war effort when paratroopers from the 10th Mountain Regiment trained on its ski slopes. The postwar period saw the addition of two more ski lifts, two new lodges, and several rope tows.