UDOT Picks Gondola Option For Little Cottonwood; Funding Battle Looms

UDOT-Canyon-View

Maybe, just maybe, perhaps some day, there might be a gondola running up Little Cottonwood Canyon to ferry skiers and riders to Snowbird and Alta.

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.

  206 Hits

Choices Expand For Summer In The Utah Mountains

Beaver-Mountain-Cover

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.

 

  465 Hits

No Surprises Among Western Resorts Staying Open Late

Late-Mammoth-Cover

The usual suspects will extend the 2021-2022 ski and snowboard season through May and beyond, as a flurry of late-season storms has reinforced the snowpack throughout the West.

Continue reading
  751 Hits

Utahns To Get A Half-Dozen New Lifts To Ride Next Season

New-PC-Silverlode

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.

Continue reading
  709 Hits

All Public Transit To Wasatch Resorts Free In February

UTA-Ski-Bus

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.

Continue reading
  700 Hits

Alta Institutes Pay-To-Park Reservation System

Alta-Base-1

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.

Continue reading
  1494 Hits

Utah Resorts Are Ikon Pass Ready For New Season

Solitude-New-Cover

Locals and visitors to Utah who have an Ikon Pass hanging around their necks will get to check out some improvements and upgrades at five Utah resorts that honor the multi-mountain season pass.

Continue reading
  1653 Hits

Resorts To Loosen Covid Restrictions

Covid-Steamboat-Cover

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.

Continue reading
  1308 Hits

Summer Winds Down With Traditional Oktoberfest, Brew Fest Events

Snowbird-Oktoberfest-Beer

At many ski and snowboard resorts, October comes in September -- in the form of the lederhosen, dirndl, clogs, knee socks, and, of course, beer.

Continue reading
  1667 Hits

The Utah Hills Are Alive With Summer Concerts

Canyons-Cover

Despite Covid restrictions, the ski and snowboard resorts of Utah had a boffo summer season last year with hiking, biking, scenic lift rides and other social-distanced activities. But one key attraction was missing: Music.

Continue reading
  1282 Hits

Snowbird Expects Big Drop In Emissions With New Energy System

Screen-Shot-2021-07-06-at-9.34.53-AM

A new cogeneration system at Snowbird Resort is set to go online next month and will have the ability to make energy production more efficient and produce up to 90% to 100% of the resort's power needs depending on the season.

Continue reading
Tags:
  959 Hits

E-bike, Stargaze, Rock Climb, Hike At Ski Resorts This Summer

Screen-Shot-2021-06-25-at-10.15.32-AM

Chelsea Clapham and her family began snowboarding at Mammoth Mountain four years ago. They enjoyed it so much that they return to the resort year-round. “We like summer and fall up there almost as much as winter,” said Clapham, who lives in Santa Clarita with her husband, Shaun, and two kids. “We have family friends who let us use their condo, so we’re hooked.”

Continue reading
  959 Hits

Snowbird Summer Activities Kick off This Weekend

Snowbird

Snowbird celebrates the return of summer with a full lineup of summer activities and events, set to kick off June 19, 2021. This includes 18 family-friendly summer activities, as well as the return of the 48th Annual Oktoberfest following a 1-year hiatus.

Continue reading
Tags:
  1417 Hits

Still Plenty Of Turns As Season Extends Into May ... And Beyond

Late-Mammoth-Cover

The vast majority of U.S. ski and snowboard resorts have shuttered operations for the season -- many of them extending past announced closing dates -- but a hearty dozen will spin their lifts deep into the spring.

Continue reading
  1300 Hits

Western Season Passes For 2021-2022 Loaded With Extras

Pass-Monarch

The options keep on coming, as single-mountain season passes for next season have more add-ons than ever before to compete with the multi-resort mega-passes.

Continue reading
  1024 Hits

A Five-Pack Of Utah Resorts Beckon For Late Spring Carving

Spring-Snowbird-Cover

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.

Continue reading
  1370 Hits

Even As Spring Arrives, Powder Days Can Be Found

Spring-Pow-Squaw

Spring break is upon us which, sadly, means the end is near. But it's still snowing and, with the right conditions, there should be plenty of powder to track up.

Continue reading
  1303 Hits

SnoCast: Big Snow Targets the Rockies

Arapahoe_Basin_tw_030921

 

A storm system will bring heavy snow to the western mountains, especially the Colorado Rockies this weekend as a cold and stormy pattern persists. On the flip side, the East enjoys mild and spring-like conditions. This week’s SnoCast has the details through St. Patrick’s Day week.

Continue reading
  2845 Hits

The Ups and Downs of My Interlodge Ski Saga

alta-interlodge

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.

Continue reading
  951 Hits

SnoCountry Road Trip: Ikon Pass In The Wasatch

Ikon-Bird-Steep

SnoCountry's Road Trip team is grabbing its Ikon Pass and hopping a flight to Salt Lake City to try out a trio of Wasatch Mountain resort. Ski and ride all you want at Solitude, and up to seven days each at Deer Valley and Snowbird.

Continue reading
  1759 Hits