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Traveling to the Cottonwood Canyons this year has changed via car, bus, or app

Posted at 8:05 PM, Dec 12, 2019
and last updated 2019-12-12 22:05:23-05

People trying to make their way up Big Cottonwood Canyon and Little Cottonwood Canyon might notice a few changes this year.

The biggest changes are at the Utah Transportation Authority's Park & Ride stops at the mouth of each canyon, where skiers can still "park" but cannot "ride."

Both Park & Ride stops are now more of a carpool meetup spot instead of a bus stop, as UTA has changed its routes.

"I was trying to go skiing but the bus service no longer comes here, so I’m probably not going to go anymore," skier Dawson Ellis said. "Parked, got all my gear on, and then noticed the signs... It’s kind of a pain."

Carl Arky, a spokesperson for UTA, said the new route has helped the service district run more buses on schedule. An increasing number of people have decided to buy season passes to a resort, which often gives free UTA bus access.

The next-closest UTA stop to the canyons is on 9400 South and Highland Drive.

"Well as I watch FOX 13’s forecast, I know we’ve got a lot of snow and that means this parking lot’s going to be full!" Arky said. "You’re going to cover the same distance, but you’re just going to do it on a bus."

UberSKI, which is scheduled to launch in 19 new regions across the country, will start back up in Salt Lake City on December 17. People who want to use the ride-sharing service have the option to pay an additional 10 dollars to ensure their driver has a canyon-friendly car and space for their skiing or snowboarding gear.

The surcharge was previously just eight dollars.

"I haven't heard of that," Ellis said. "I mean, it kind of still costs a lot more money than having a free service."

Salt Lake City and Park City were two of the "pilot markets" for UberSKI.

The other pilot markets were…
-Denver/ Rocky Mountains
-Flagstaff, Arizona
-Taos, New Mexico

Another option is Snowbird's "RIDE" app, which launched earlier this year.

Brian Brown, the communications manager for Snowbird, said the app helps people find someone to carpool with.

"You get preferred parking at the resort. It’s a really good way to maybe meet some new friends you can spend the day with on the mountain as well," Brown said. "We also wanted to make sure it was scalable and available for the other resorts in the Cottonwood Canyons, as traffic is certainly a challenge that all the resorts share."

Carpooling is expected to become increasingly popular with new changes requiring all drivers to have four-wheel drive or chains on their vehicles.

"Anything that’s going to cut down on the congestion in the canyons and anything that’s going to improve the air quality and make it a better experience for everybody, we’re in favor of, but we're in favor of the bus most of all!" Arky said. "I don’t think we have to think back all that long to remember how bad the air can be. (The inversion) was just a week ago."

While Solitude will be charging for parking this season, Snowbird does not plan to follow suit.

"Snowbird has no plans this year to charge for day visits with skiers and snowboarders for parking," Brown said.