Possible parking scenarios for next ski season.
Alta Ski Lifts (ASL) has developed and maintains parking lots within its special use permit with the US Forest Service for ski area customers and operational purposes. Over the years, ASL has allowed use of these parking areas by non-ski area visitors, such as backcountry users, Town of Alta residents, Albion Basin cabin owners, and employees of other businesses in the Town of Alta. This use was minimal and had little impact upon ski area customers, revenues and operations. During the last few years, use of ASL’s parking by non-ski area visitors has grown to the point it is significantly impacting ski area operations and the ability for Alta skiers to secure a parking spot. It is not uncommon for over 200 parking spaces to be used by non-ski area users on days when they are needed for ski area customers.
ASL brought this issue to the attention of the Forest Service during the 2018-19 ski season. During the past year, ASL has been actively working with the Forest Service, Town of Alta and Wasatch Backcountry Alliance to find a solution that would allow ASL to use its parking lots when needed and provide options for non-ski area visitors. In June of 2020, these parties verbally agreed that the least socially disruptive solution would be to allow the ski area to add parking to replace the parking spaces being used by non-ski area visitors within the special use permit. ASL identified modifications to existing parking areas that could be used to replace parking spaces being used by non-ski area visitors. It was recognized this would be a short-term solution for the next 4-5 years until a transportation solution for Little Cottonwood Canyon could be developed and implemented. ASL then developed drawings and conducted the NEPA work for the proposed modifications.
Recently, resistance to adding more parking in the canyon from members of the Alta Town Council and Mayor, coupled with resistance from the Wasatch Backcountry Alliance regarding the proposed location of ASL’s parking modifications have seemed to influence the Forest Service’s support for adding additional parking. The Forest Service has recently withdrawn its support for ASL’s parking modifications and suggested the ski area use other means, such as paid parking to manage their parking areas.
Alta Ski Area stongly believes the best solution for everyone is to modify the existing parking areas to replace the parking being used by non-ski area visitors.
However, without the support of the Forest Service, Town of Alta and Wasatch Backcountry Alliance for the additional parking, it has placed ASL in the position to explore other options to manage its parking areas so they are available for its customers when they are needed.
Alternate Proposed Action
In lieu of adding parking to offset the parking being used by non-ski area visitors, ASL is exploring options to restrict parking in the Grizzly, Albion, and Wildcat parking areas to ski-area customers with a valid lift ticket. The Flagstaff Parking area and HWY 210 parking within ASL’s special use permit will remain open for the general public. Bus service will also still be available for use by non-ski area customers. The details regarding how the restrictions will occur are in design and development.
If you agree with ASL that a more appropriate course of action would be to allow the ski area to replace the parking spaces being used by non-ski area visitors and continue with open parking then we encourage you to share your thoughts with the Town of Alta, Wasatch Backcountry Alliance and the Forest Service. Email addresses for each are provided below for your convenience.
US Forest Service Local Office
Town of Alta
Wasatch Backcountry Alliance
Comments are also welcomed and encouraged within this post.