Solitude Rolls Out New Parking Plan To Ease Powder Day Congestion
SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – A new parking plan at Solitude Mountain Resort seems to be helping cut traffic congestion, but resorts across Utah have once again been very busy on powder days this season.
The Martin Luther King Jr. holiday weekend is traditionally one of the busiest of the season for Utah mountain resorts and fresh snow from Friday all but guaranteed that will be the case this weekend.
Friday’s fast-moving storm dumped more than a foot of snow up in the Cottonwood canyons before noon. Traffic lines were long at the mouth of Big Cottonwood Canyon Friday morning, but by the time skiers and snowboarders got out on the hill, they were happy.
“On a powder day like today, it’s really hard to stay in the valley,“ said Darrell Rawlins. “Solitude said it was two inches. Those are the deepest two inches I’ve ever skied in my entire life. It’s been really good. Chest-deep. Sometimes hip-deep, sometimes over the top teeth. It’s just been really fun today.”
Skiers and snowboarders floating and falling in more than 14″ of fresh powder at Solitude, which has already received 256″ this year… 80″ more than last year at this point.
“It’s crazy,” said snowboarder Hunter Findley. “We had about four feet of powder up on the side of the mountain just carving through. It’s all the way up to your knees.”
At the beginning of the season, Solitude was the first resort in Utah to initiate a tiered parking fee system to encourage people to take the bus and cut down on some of the chaos in the canyon for transportation. The skiers and snowboarders KSL spoke with said that it is making a difference.
“I think it’s working fairly well,” Findley said. “I think taking the bus is usually the way to go.“
The Utah Transportation Authority added 28% more ski bus trips and people are hopping on. Solitude pays for the rides for its Ikon pass holders and knows the number of riders on the bus is rising.
“We recently got that bill for the December rides and it’s showing that people are riding the bus,” said Sara Huey, communications manager for Solitude Mountain Resort.
But, when it really starts snowing…
“It’s tough because you expect the bus to come at this time, but it doesn’t,” said Ethan Halley. “You understand the canyons are backed up. But, I think it works really well for the most part, and it makes getting up the canyon so easy.”
But, there are growing pains, too, for many skiers who remember the days with much less traffic.
“Something had to change,” Rawlins said. “I think everybody would like to see something change that doesn’t affect them. But, here we are, we all have to make some sacrifices sometimes whether it’s a monetary sacrifice or time sacrifice.”
“It’s going very smoothly on the ground,” Huey said.
You park, pay and go ski. With four in a car, parking is $5; $10 with three people and $20 for vehicles with one or two occupants.
“We are seeing that motivate people to double up, triple up, call a friend in the morning,” Huey said.
Some of the parking proceeds go to Breathe Utah, a nonprofit focused on clean air.
“As far as our goals with these programs, we wanted to change people’s behaviors, and help them think twice before driving up by themselves,” Huey said.
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