Avalanches may not be the only activity that temporarily closes access to ski and board resorts this season.
In Salt Lake City Utah, Big and Little Cottonwood canyons will close this ski season because of a lack of parking and increased visitor popularity. Officials have officially warned that they will close uphill traffic this ski season when park lots are totally full.
“We don’t want people to wait unnecessarily,” John Gleason, spokesperson for the Utah Department of Transportation said Monday, adding that ski resort and UDOT websites will warn when that happens or is expected, as will roadside electronic message signs near the base of the canyons.
“We’ve had days in the past where parking completely fills to capacity, and it starts encroaching on the roadway. Then it can become a safety issue,” UDOT District Engineer Shawn Lambert said.
He added, “There’s a huge frustration that someone works their way all the way up the canyon and there are no spots available and they have to come down. It can create a lot of animosity and we want to avoid that by messaging.”
So now when parking fills, UDOT and Unified Police will close uphill traffic — except for resort employees, residents, buses, hotel and spa guests with reservations, rideshare companies such as Uber and Lyft that do not take up parking, and for special cases such as parents going to pick up children.
Lambert said that UDOT, Unified Police and ski resorts will work together to monitor parking at resort lots and in allowed roadside areas. When that, plus the length of the canyons’ uphill queue, suggests the canyons are at capacity, restrictions will be initiated.
Instead of allowing a few cars to go up as some leave, “Likely once a restriction is in place, it will be in place for a few hours potentially. And then it will likely reopen for the rest of the day,” Lambert said, adding that past capacity problems usually occur mid-morning on popular days.
“In the summer that kind of skyrocketed, and every indication is that will continue through the winter,” he said, with officials expecting more backcountry use besides resort skiing.
Also, because ski buses and shuttles will be operating with limited capacity because of the pandemic, Lambert said, “We’re expecting a lot more vehicles.”
This can be expected at many resorts this season, get ready and plan to be early!
Source: Salt Lake Tribute