Snowbird offers new ‘really unique’ outdoor tram experience

Jun 17, 2023, 3:30 PM

Snowbord outdoor tram. Laura Kittila has ridden inside the tram at Snowbird Resort so many times sh...

Members of the media, social media influencers and tourism experts take photos from the outdoor balcony of the Snowbird Tram during a preview Friday evening. (Carter Williams, KSL.com)

(Carter Williams, KSL.com)

LITTLE COTTONWOOD CANYON — Laura Kittila has ridden inside the tram at Snowbird Resort so many times she can’t keep count.

But Friday felt different as Kittila, who has worked as a Snowbird tram operator for six years, climbed up a short ladder to a small balcony for her first ride atop the tram.

Soon after, the tram moved forward. She had a breezy, unobstructed view of a stream of melted snowpack flowing into the nearby Little Cottonwood Canyon. Then the other scenic parts of the snow-filled canyon came into view during the 13-minute ascent to the top of Hidden Peak.

“It was great … a lot smoother than I thought it’d be,” she said, standing at the top of the peak Friday evening after her second time riding on the balcony. “It was … freeing. Like, you can feel the wind, and so it was so freeing.”

Her second time riding the balcony was one of the last tests of the outdoor balcony — a first of its kind in the U.S. — before resort visitors are offered a chance to ride on the tram rooftop themselves for the first time on Saturday. The early reviews have been that many people so far like this ride, said Snowbird spokeswoman Sarah Sherman.

Employees, who were given the first rooftop rides, marveled at the experience, likening it to a convertible with the top down.

“It’s really unique,” Sherman said. “It offers really incredible 360-degree views of Snowbird (and) Little Cottonwood Canyon all the way down to the Salt Lake Valley.”

The rooftop balcony experience is an option that Snowbird officials planned to offer last summer when it announced it would retire its two original trams that were installed in 1972. Sherman explained that resort officials rode on an outdoor balcony tram in Europe while shopping for new trams, and it was an impressive enough experience that they wanted to bring it over to Snowbird.

However, plans to implement the outdoor balcony were delayed after one of the new Doppelmayr/Garaventa trams was destroyed during the installation process. Resort officials decided to wait on offering the rooftop experience until the second tram was ready to go, but that didn’t happen until November. By then, they were in the process of preparing for winter operations, when the rooftop balcony is closed.

They then had to wait to switch to summer operations again before the balcony became available. Saturday marks the beginning of those summer operations, which also include the resort’s outdoor climbing wall, ropes course, Alpine slide and several other non-ski activities.

The outdoor tram is considered an add-on product, so it’s an additional $20 to the normal tram fee. For adults, it would cost $66 for an-day pass that includes the outdoor balcony. Seasonal pass holders don’t have to pay for the tram ride, but they will still have to pay $20 to use the balcony.

Sherman added that people who select this option will be given a time window of when they can ride on the rooftop balcony, as a way to manage crowd lines. That’s because there is a limit of 11 people who can use the balcony at one time.

“It’s so limited, the amount of people we can have per tram ride,” she said.

All of the summer activities, including the new rooftop experience, will continue to be available through the rest of the summer. The outdoor tram experience will come to an end once resort staff closes the tram for their regular fall maintenance before the next ski season.

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Snowbird offers new ‘really unique’ outdoor tram experience