After three years of study, a formal environmental review and some 14,000 public comments, the Utah DOT has selected a gondola to load in Sandy, travel 8 miles up the canyon, and make stops at each of the two resorts as the best chance to reduce ski traffic and air pollution the tight canyon in the Wasatch Front just above Salt Lake City.
Much needs to be accomplished before the first lift tower starts to go up. Most significantly is that the Utah state legislature must appropriate funds for the construction project, which is estimated to be at least $500 million. That is likely to take several legislative sessions to sort out.
In the meantime, UDOT will enhance bus transport in the canyon -- a first step in a phased approach to lingering traffic problems in the canyon. Those phases also include mobility hubs, parking improvements and tolling.
The state transportation agency said it selected the gondola option over a road-widening option for dedicated bus lanes because the gondola would be a long-term solution to ever-growing traffic congestion. Plans call for 35-seat cabins going up and down the canyon at two-minute intervals.
Anti-gondola groups have said that phasing prior to allocating millions for a gondola might convince more skiers and riders to take public transportation to the two resorts four miles up State Route 210 -- perhaps rendering the gondola moot.
Because of the volume of skiers and riders driving up the canyon, parking has been an issue for many years, because the steep canyon restricts parking capacities to the tight base areas. Both resorts strongly encourage taking free buses from Sandy, and they also give parking preferences to those who carpool.
Snowbird was the first to require reservations through a "hybrid" system. To get one of 2,800 spots, there's a preferred parking season pass, a daily paid reservation system, valet parking for a fee, free carpooling lots (at least 4 per vehicle), and free lots that mean a bit more of a hump to get to the lifts.
Alta followed with a parking reservation system online. Those choosing to drive up the canyon to Alta have had to reserve a spot before heading up.
The seasonal gears have shifted, and Utah's 14 winter resorts are in full-on summer mode with everything from disc golf to mountain biking to riding atop a tramway car in the offing.
Resorts' emphasis on summertime activities continues to grow in the Beehive State, as locals and visitors more and more look to the mountains for exercise and enjoyment. Most mountains keep restaurants open during the offseason. In addition, concerts, workshops, themed festivals and competitions can be found on all around the mountains. And wildflower viewing is always worth the ride into the hills.
A few resorts are open seven days a week, but most open up only for several days around the weekend during the warm offseason. Four Utah resorts won't run chairlifts this summer; instead, Brighton, Cherry Peak and Beaver Mountain highlight hiking and biking trails as mountain getaways, and Alta again focuses on environmental projects.
Snowbird caught the headlines with its rooftop tram ride this summer. One of the two cars on Utah's only tramway will have limited space on top, and floor-to-ceiling windows inside. The base area will be busy, with slides and coaster and all manner of climbing challenges.
Powder Mountain opens a new downhill MTB park served by the Hidden Express chair. To limit crowds, day tickets will cap at 250, and only 500 summer season passes will be sold.
Park City Mountain debuts a new golf course at Canyons Village. Many of the fairways run on winter ski trails, and the course elevation rises and falls throughout. Three lifts bring MTBers to mountain tracks.
A new beginner MTB track is in the works at Solitude, which now is open Thursday-Sunday. Also debuting are climbing wall, bungee trampoline and mini-disc golf.
On the southern terminus of the Wasatch, Sundance brings beginner-flow and intermediate level MTB tracks online. And, of course, the resort's renowned high and long ziplines are due to attract the adventurous crowd.
At Snowbasin, there are 26 miles of hiking and biking trails off the Needles Gondola -- dogs always welcome. And, the northern Utah resort welcomes the return of the live Brews, Blues & Barbecue summer music series.
And, classical music aficionados will once again get to listen to the Utah Symphony's concert series under the evening skies at Deer Valley.
In southern Utah, the focus is on the hardiest athletes, with Eagle Point's Crusher in the Tushars and Tushar Mountain Runs in July, and Brian Head's Women's Epic Race and Brian Shredder downhill MTB race in June.
It's going to be a busy construction season this summer at the Wasatch Range ski and snowboard resorts, as five new-replacement chairlifts go in, and the only tramway in Utah gets new cabins.
With prices for 2022-23 comparable to recent seasons, the two-days-each Mountain Collective ski and snowboard pass returns with a shuffled resort lineup that includes two big mountains in the West coming back to the fold.
In an effort to cut air pollution, all bus rides will be free across Utah's Wasatch Front until the end of February -- making it free to ride up to the slopes from Sundance to Snowbasin and five in between.
In the latest move among Utah resorts to confront overcrowding, Alta Ski Area will charge $25 to make a reservation to park during busy times in its lots at the head of Little Cottonwood Canyon.
Last season, Covid gave a jolt to the time-honored habits of skiers and riders, but the 2021-2022 season promises to be a bit less restrictive -- with exceptions.
For Utahns and summer visitors, all that's going on during August in the mountains demands that itineraries include a trip into the Wasatch.
A late-season, last-minute excursion to the Utah mountains -- either by Utahns or still-eager skiers and riders from afar -- is out there for those with an unrelenting skiing jones.
A massive storm led to a record-breaking 60-hour shutdown at Utah’s Little Cottonwood Canyon recently, followed by a day of private skiing exclusively for those already in the area.
It’s far too early to say with certainty a gondola is the answer officials will pick to tackle the aggravating gridlock heading to ski areas in the Wasatch canyons on powder days, but it is an option that’s captured the attention of Utah Gov. Spencer Cox.
In the waning days of January, Mother Nature got to work -- dropping her glorious bounty upon the mountains of the West, and finally giving skiers and snowboarders the deep powder they've been waiting for.
Ways to fix the traffic congestion problem that plagues Little Cottonwood Canyon and its outdoor enthusiasts have been bandied about for decades.
Aside from Covid-related changes, capital improvements big and small went up this summer at eight of Utah's ski and snowboard resorts.
A ski and snowboard season like no other is coming to us all, including locals and visitors to the major Utah resorts.
Amidst the hoopla of Epic and Ikon pass marketing battles, the Mountain Collective -- the original multi-resort pass -- is still alive and thriving for skiers and snowboarders who can be on the move.
Just by its name -- Alta Ski Area – you can tell that you’re skiing “old school.” The famed powder mountain is one of the oldest in the country, opening in 1939, and much is the same today -- including an average of 500-plus inches. The Wasatch Range is first to grab Pacific storm snowfall after the Sierra Nevada. The trip across the desert sucks the moisture out, so famous Utah fluffy powder typically arrives atop Little Cottonwood canyon below 10% water content.
With Valentine’s Day Friday and (hopefully) an extended holiday weekend for you, there’s a lot to love about the forecast!
Once there was a time when you reached age 60, you'd skied for free. Then you had to be 70. And now, at a half-dozen Western resorts, 80 is the new 60.
A property exchange concept that would've added much-desired commercial space around the base of four Utah resorts didn't hold up under the appraisers' eyes and, thus, has been scrapped.