OUTDOORS + RECREATION

Canyons reopen to major traffic jams as powder hounds return

Feb 9, 2020, 11:49 AM

Wasatch Blvd at 7800 South

  • Little and Big Cottonwood Canyons both experienced traffic jams after a major storm this week

  • Parking lots are already full; take public transit to reach Alta or Snowbird

SALT LAKE VALLEY — On the first full day of skiing and snowboarding after a 2.5 day closure of Little Cottonwood Canyon, traffic jams overwhelmed two canyons – Little, and its neighbor to the north, Big Cottonwood Canyon.

A number of powder hounds flocked to Big Cottonwood Canyon to get their powder on while Little Cottonwood was closed.  But the increased volume of cars on SR 190 completely overwhelmed the roadway and forced police to close that canyon for a while on Saturday as well.

The Unified Police Department says there were public safety issues due to the extreme traffic congestion in both canyons.  All traffic was closed at the mouth of Big Cottonwood Canyon at 10 a.m.  Officials initially hoped to open it by noon, but did not until 1 p.m.

Sunday became the first full day Little Cottonwood Canyon was open, after more than two feet of snow fell late Wednesday and Thursday, and three natural avalanches covered SR-210.  And skiers and snowboarders swarmed the resorts when they could finally go back.

Delays were an hour, or more, by 8:30 a.m. on both Wasatch Boulevard and 9400 South leading to the mouth of Little Cottonwood Canyon.  And by 10 a.m., the resorts tweeted their parking lots were full.  Anyone still trying to get to Alta or Snowbird would need to take public transportation.

Congestion into Little Cottonwood Canyon finally cleared out around 10:50 a.m.

Related: 

Sign up for alerts on traffic in Big and Little Cottonwood Canyons

Avalanche danger closes Little Cottonwood Canyon for another day

How does lake effect snow work? A primer

Avalanche in Little Cottonwood Canyon pushes car off road

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Canyons reopen to major traffic jams as powder hounds return