OUTDOORS + RECREATION

Brighton, Solitude moving to paid parking reservation system this season

Nov 10, 2023, 7:09 AM | Updated: 7:35 am

Cars load up one of the parking lots at Alta Ski Area on Saturday, Jan. 5, 2019.
(Scott G Winterton...

Cars load up one of the parking lots at Alta Ski Area on Saturday, Jan. 5, 2019. (Scott G Winterton, Deseret News)

(Scott G Winterton, Deseret News)

BIG COTTONWOOD CANYON — Ski season is officially kicking off Friday in Utah, with the early opening of Solitude Mountain Resort — the first ski resort to open this season in Utah and the resort’s earliest opening in a decade.

But getting to some resorts will look different this year as they move to paid parking reservations to curb canyon traffic and clogged parking lots. Brighton Resort and Solitude Mountain Resort are each moving to the same reservation system already used by Alta Ski Area.

At Alta this week, skiers and snowboarders flocked to the mountain for a few pre-season runs. Magnus Peterson and a couple of friends said they spent nearly every afternoon this week at Alta.

“Getting stoked, only like two more weeks,” Peterson said.

For Alta, the countdown is actually just one week for a Nov. 17 opening. And while Peterson was stoked about snow, he wasn’t looking forward to canyon traffic.

“It could be horrible on the wrong day,” he said.

Peterson is a season pass holder at both Alta and Brighton. He’s had to make parking reservations at Alta on the weekends for the past few years, but it’s still been a free-for-all at Brighton.

“Getting up the canyon has been a big problem for a long time now,” he said. Peterson described how it had taken hours to get up to the resort.

That’s why Brighton is taking a cue from resorts like Alta and implementing paid parking reservations.

“It’s just getting busier and busier year after year,” said Jared Winkler, Brighton Resort’s director of marketing. “We definitely saw what other resorts were doing with the parking reservations and pay parking, and we decided it’s time for us to make a change.”

Starting Dec. 1, anyone looking to ride at Brighton will need to make an online reservation if they are heading up to the resort on any day between 7 a.m. and 1 p.m.

Winkler explained that reservations will open up several weeks in advance but will also be available on the day as people cancel their reservations. The cost for parking will be $20, but it will be free for Brighton season pass holders and carpoolers with three or more people in their vehicle.

Next to Brighton, Solitude is also switching to reservations on weekends and holidays beginning Dec. 15. The cost is $35 but free for cars with four or more people. Like with Brighton, parking at Solitude will open to everyone at 1 p.m. as spaces are available.

During other days of the week, Solitude will still charge $35 on-site for non-carpoolers, but will not require reservations.

According to both resorts, Brighton, Solitude, and Ikon season pass holders can ride the UTA bus up the canyon for free. Parking at the mouth of the canyon and riding a UTA bus up remains an option for everyone, regardless of if they have a pass.

“The main goal is to alleviate stress from the canyon, hopefully,” Winkler said. “People get up there, they’ll get to the resort, they’ll have a skiing experience they expect.”

Alta Ski Area has already seen that benefit.

Communications manager Andria Huskinson said this will be the resort’s third season with parking reservations. They require reservations on Fridays, Saturdays, Sundays, holidays, and early morning every day between 6 and 8 a.m.

Huskinson said they’ve been very happy with the reservation system and said it’s been successful.

“It has worked out great. Our skiers like it a lot,” she said. “Everyone’s not rushing to get up the canyon to get a parking spot first thing in the morning.”

Peterson is on board with the expanded parking reservations.

“I just think that the consolidation of people in cars will totally help out with the traffic a whole lot,” he said.

Skiers like him look forward to focusing less on the drive, and more on the turns.

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Brighton, Solitude moving to paid parking reservation system this season