Solitude considers new parking reservation system as it readies for offseason changes

Apr 1, 2023, 1:25 PM

Sean P. skies down Solitude Mountain Resort in Salt Lake County on Nov. 4, 2022. Resort officials u...

Sean P. skies down Solitude Mountain Resort in Salt Lake County on Nov. 4, 2022. Resort officials unveiled their offseason plan improvement plans on Wednesday. (Ben B. Braun, Deseret News)

(Ben B. Braun, Deseret News)

BRIGHTON, Utah — With over a 15-foot base and more snow falling, Solitude Mountain Resort isn’t set to close anytime soon.

In fact, resort officials say they currently plan to keep daily operations going through at least May 7 and weekend operations through May 21, conditions permitting. More than 740 inches of snow have fallen at the resort since mid-October, helping the resort join all the others in the region in breaking records.

However, the record-breaking winter isn’t stopping resort officials from thinking about what’s to come next season, which includes new projects and potentially a new parking policy.

Officials said Wednesday they are considering a new parking reservation system to go along with its paid parking policy, as a way to deal with parking issues at the resort. Solitude first implemented a paid parking system in 2019 in an attempt to reduce vehicle congestion in the canyon.

Those changes will be announced this summer if anything is adopted, according to a resort spokesperson.

More concrete offseason plans were also shared Wednesday. The resort’s improvement plan calls for an upgrade to the Eagle Express, which was the state’s first high-speed detachable chairlift at the time it was installed in 1989. Solitude officials said the improvements will help shorten wait times during the resort’s busiest days and potentially lessen congestion at other parts of the mountain.

Crews will work later this spring to turn the Eagle Express into a high-speed, six-person lift that’s expected to be operational again by the end of the year, as the next ski season gets underway.

The plan also calls for improvements to Solitude’s snowmaking infrastructure — not that the current infrastructure was an issue this winter. The plan is to be able to make it a “more efficient and sustainable operation,” according to Amber Broadaway, Solitude’s president and chief operating officer.

“Although we’re coming off a winter with exceptional snowfall, these improvements to our snowmaking system will be crucial as we work to open terrain early in the season and create a base that serves as our snowpack’s foundation when that natural snow comes,” she said in a statement.

Crews will also install three new Wyssen towers at Honeycomb Canyon this summer, which officials say will improve avalanche safety on Fantasy Ridge within the resort. The towers allow avalanche experts to trigger explosives remotely when they are conducting avalanche mitigation. That’s on top of renovations to the resort’s buildings this summer.

Solitude resort first opened in 1957. While mostly known for winter sports, it’s also open to mountain biking and hiking in the offseason. In fact, the improvement plan also calls for new downhill mountain bike trails that visitors can reach by using Moonbeam Express. Some of the work began last season but trail construction is expected to begin this spring unless the record snow delays it.

Weather permitting, the new trails will open this summer.

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Solitude considers new parking reservation system as it readies for offseason changes