Park City Mountain Ski Area Requires Paid Parking Reservations in 2022

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Reservation systems are becoming the norm in Utah, but is the trend the result of clever resource management or greed?

(Francisco Kjolseth | The Salt Lake Tribune) People navigate a full parking lot at Park City Mountain Resort as clear skies and recent fresh snow draw in crowds on Saturday, Dec. 18, 2021.

Paid parking is no longer restricted to Cottonwood Canyons.

Park City Mountain Resort plans to require paid reservations for skiers and snowboarders to park in its main Mountain Village base area beginning in the 2022-23 season. Lindsay Hogan, Rocky Mountain area spokesperson for Vail Resorts, confirmed the plan with the Salt Lake Tribune on Friday. She said in an email to the Tribune that the goal of the plan was “to reduce traffic congestion in the Mountain Village base area.”

Drivers can still park for free every day — without a reservation — at Canyons Village Base Area and High Valley Transit Park-n-Ride locations and Park City Mountain lots after 1 p.m. Free parking and a shuttle will also be available at Park City High on weekends.

The reservation system will be the first for a Utah resort outside of Big and Little Cottonwood Canyon. Solitude led the way in the state when it announced in 2019 that it would charge for parking, and Alta moved to a paid reservation system for its lots this season. Brighton and Snowbird, Cottonwood’s other two resorts, have also changed reservations or paid parking models, although most of their lots have remained free.

But congestion has become a concern for even the most easily accessible resorts over the past two years, as the pandemic has pushed more people toward outdoor recreation.

All season long, but especially on weekends and powder days, “PCMR Parking Full” signs lit up before 10 a.m. along the highway just outside Kimball Junction. As late as 1 p.m., dozens of cars could be seen winding through the Main, First Time and Silver King lots – all of which will be affected by the change – in search of parking.

(Leah Hogsten | The Salt Lake Tribune) Pre-season skiers head to the Alta slopes and fill the parking lot at Goldminer’s Daughter, Nov. 10, 2021. The City of Alta announced it will charge $25 to a parking permit in one of the lots he controls in town on weekends this winter. This announcement, combined with Alta Ski Resort’s previous announcement that it would charge $25 for parking in its lots on weekends, means that it will not be possible to visit the town on the weekend of the winter. winter 2021 without having to pay or take the bus.

The problem will only get worse in the years to come as Park City Mountain and the neighboring Deer Valley Resort embark on plans to develop their parking lots into lodges, condominium resorts and hotels.

the Park Record reported in February that Deer Valley had an idea to charge for parking after its Snow Park Lodge upgrades were completed, likely by 2026. Meanwhile, Provo-based PEG Companies struck a deal with Vail Resorts in 2019 to purchase the lots at Park City Mountain. He is now grappling with the city over a proposal to develop them. Both developments include plans for parking garages to replace lost parking spaces.

A memorandum issued Monday by Vail Resorts Park City planner Lillian Lederer gives some details about the upcoming parking reservation program and the case for it. He says studies at other resorts anecdotally show that paid parking reservations lead to more varied arrival times for customers and less pressure on lots during peak hours.

“Required reservations will,” the memo states, “…ease traffic congestion caused by customers arriving at base and driving through the narrow road network without finding a parking space.”

Park City Mountain plans to install two new lifts for the 2022-23 season: Utah’s first high-speed eight-person chair at Silverlode, located mid-mountain, and a high-speed six-pack that will replace the Eagle and Eaglet lifts in the Mountain Village base area. According to an analysis by planning and design firm SE Group, however, the improvements will not impact parking demand.

Parking rates have not yet been announced.

An analysis by Fehr & Peers, a third-party transportation and parking consultant who also reviewed Deer Valley parking options for its upcoming Snow Park Lodge, looked at the impact of charging $25 a day, with “price sensitivities for different user groups”. According to the memo, this should result in an 11% reduction in demand. Beaver Creek, Colorado, also owned by Vail Resorts and started charging for parking in 2016-17, got the same result for $10/day.

Hogan, the spokesperson for Vail Resorts, said carpooling incentives will be incorporated. Among them, there will be free parking for vehicles with four or more passengers.

“All net proceeds will go to public transit and infrastructure improvements,” she added.

Some skiers and snowboarders, however, say the plan’s underlying motivation is to make more money. Vail Resorts has not publicly announced the reservation system even though its Epic pass the season pass went on sale last month.

“A lot of us like to go there spontaneously. Don’t have the same hours or just go more than others or midweek. So let’s punish those who make it so awkward that they lose interest together,” Diana Kretzschmar of Salt Lake City posted on Ski & Snowboarders Utah’s Facebook page. “Nothing but greed!!!”

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