The Alta, UT Parking Issue: Discussing Possible Parking Scenarios for Next Ski Season

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Screenshot courtesy Alta Ski Area

This article was originally published by Alta Ski Area


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 The Forest Service has recently withdrawn its support for ASL’s parking modifications and suggested the ski area use other means, such as paid parking to manage their parking areas.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.

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5 thoughts on “The Alta, UT Parking Issue: Discussing Possible Parking Scenarios for Next Ski Season

  1. Alta plows their own parking lots, not the backcountry ones…get your facts straight. Conversely, my tax dollars fund UDOT, which is who plows the backcountry lots.

  2. Hey Alta, hoping for a response. You phrased this as Alta Ski Area parking spaces being taken by non-ski-area users. Looking on the Gaia mapping program, the Grizzly Gulch parking spaces are actually owned by the United States.
    Wouldn’t a more accurate way to phrase this be that non-ski-area users are using this non-ski-area parking area? Why is it a problem that WE need to solve that you want to have more parking but don’t. Your whole post is premised on those parking spots being YOURS. But they’re not yours, right? They’re public spots, so why is it a problem that the public is using them? Trying to understand where you’re coming from, thanks.

  3. Alta doesn’t even own the land that the parking they’re threatening to withhold. That is owned by the United States Forest Service, i.e. it is a publicly-owned parking area used to access publicly-owned land.

    Instead of giving in to Alta’s arm-twisting, email everyone above, copy Alta, and encourage the Forest Service and Town of Alta to do what they can to protect our ability to access (i.e. park at) Grizzly Gulch.

    Wow, Alta is greedy. While you’re at it stop giving them your money until they commit to not taking over beloved backcountry areas.

    1. Alta plows the lots. Backcountry people, as usual, expect to get everything for free. Wow, those people a greedy, selfish, entitled, and arrogant. Clue time. Alta is not taking over backcountry areas. Period. Outright lie. Alta should charge backcountry parkers, only fair to Alta.

      1. Alta absolutely has plans to take over Grizzly Gulch (a backcountry area), they’ve even drawn up where the lift lines will go, new base area, etc. This is public knowledge, and Alta has been open about it. Same goes for the tram. At least be informed and honest about your stance.
        So taxpayers own the lots, but since Alta plows them they can do with them what they please? How about Alta stops plowing them, and taxpayers (including me) take over like other public use areas? It’s not an objection to paying, it’s an objection to Alta threatening to restrict access to public land.

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