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Visiting a Cottonwood Canyons ski resort? Plan ahead for parking

Photo of cars lined up on a snowy road.
Chelsea Naughton
Ski resorts up Big and Little Cottonwood Canyons have implemented some form of paid parking systems. They are also encouraging visitors to ride public transit or carpool to mitigate traffic.

More people are turning to Utah’s Cottonwood Canyons for winter recreation, and in response some ski resorts are moving to paid parking systems to handle the crowds.

After having more demand than physical spots last year, Alta Ski Resort has a new parking reservation system. People hoping to ski there over the holidays or on weekends will need to buy a parking pass in advance.

Andria Huskinson, communications manager at the resort, said last weekend was the first time they tried it and it seemed like it went pretty well.

“We were busy … we got all that snow last week, but it wasn't like overcrowding busy,” Huskinson said. “So I think it's going to make the skier experience more pleasant.”

Other resorts in the canyons have some version of paid parking. Also in Little Cottonwood Canyon, Snowbird had a free reservation system in place last year because of the pandemic. Now, they have a hybrid system with a majority of spots first-come-first-serve.

In neighboring Big Cottonwood Canyon, Brighton has recently set aside 5% for reserved parking, but the rest is open. Solitude visitors will need to pay for parking depending on how many riders are in the car.

John Gleason, with the Utah Department of Transportation, is also encouraging visitors to plan ahead and if possible, use public transit or carpool.

“We're really trying to encourage people to cut down on the number of single vehicles that are driving up the canyons there,” Gleason said. “We want to ask people to use … ways that we can allow more people to get up to experience the mountains without actually having all of the individual vehicles up there as well, because that's what really bogs down traffic and causes these snarl ups during those ski days where people want to get up and enjoy themselves.”

Gleason said UDOT’s proposed plan to manage traffic in Little Cottonwood Canyon is expected to be released later this winter.

Lexi is KUER's Southwest Bureau reporter
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