The ski resorts of Big Cottonwood Canyon had one of their earliest openings ever, thanks to significant snowfall. Thursday’s soft openings at both mountains featured awesome conditions, and minimal lift lines. On Friday, massive crowds showed up due to it was a holiday (Veteran’s Day).
Then Saturday came along, and the big crowds remained. Major traffic on the Big Cottonwood Canyon Road (SR-190) led to Solitude and Brighton’s parking lots filling up rapidly. The lift lines matched what was seen on Friday. After the Crest Express opened at Brighton, and Apex Express became operational at Solitude, some of the crowds were alleviated for the rest of Saturday and Sunday.
As this video from Twitter user @utedaddy shows, the Moonbeam Express at Solitude Mountain Resort saw two separate massive lines: one extending throughout the base area, and another (shown below) on the Postcard runout between the Eagle Express and the Moonbeam Express chairlifts.
— ReallyMoreOfARippleDaddy (@utedaddy) November 12, 2022
With full parking lots at Solitude and Brighton, many went to park on the sides of SR-190. Not only did these circumstances cram drivers who were ascending and descending the road, but they also made them squeeze through tight angles while passing pedestrians who walked to the lifts. Many parked illegally, either by parking over the white lines, or placing their cars in no-parking zones. Suffice it to say, the Utah Department Of Transportation was dishing out some hefty fines. At this rate, they won’t need any public funds for the new gondola in Little Cottonwood Canyon.
#RoadUpdate ???? #SR190 travelers! Roadside parking near the resorts is near capacity. Please do not park in “No Parking” zones or on the downhill/north side of the road. If you do park roadside (uphill/south side), please find the white line and park behind it! pic.twitter.com/rdWeKOaU8q
— UDOT Cottonwood Canyons (@UDOTcottonwoods) November 11, 2022
Things will likely improve in Big Cottonwood Canyon this week though, as more open terrain, and the opening of Snowbird and Alta on Friday will bring skiers to powder hunt elsewhere. Additionally, Solitude will be launching a carpool app later this season that will help incentivize drivers to not travel alone. Also, Utah ski crowds tend to chill out during dry spells, which is what is expected for this week.
On the other hand, UTA’s decision to reduce their ski bus service will likely make traffic worse. It’s a great reminder for locals to get up to the mountains early to avoid traffic, or wait until the afternoon to make your move.
Fox 13 Utah gave a descriptive video report from the situation on Saturday, which you can check out below.