(ABC4) – It’s here.
Utah’s first winter storm of the season has officially hit, beginning with steady rain overnight and turning to the good stuff – snow – early this morning. With up to two feet of fresh powder expected in the Cottonwood Canyons, this weekend is sure to be a busy one at the resorts.
But locals know that with new snow comes traffic, parking difficulties, and crowded ski areas. Luckily, there are still ways to enjoy the first storm of the season without experiencing any of the inconveniences that come with it. ABC4.com spoke with local experts about ways to prepare before hitting the slopes this weekend.
“With a big snowstorm, everyone will be excited and eager to get to the slopes,” says Alison Palmintere, director of communications for Ski Utah.
Winterize your vehicle
Even though anticipation will be high, Palmintere advises resort visitors to drive safely and prepare their vehicle before heading up to ski. She says that it’s important to make sure you have the correct vehicle to get to the mountain, noting that 4-wheel drive or chains might be required, depending on road conditions.
Palmintere also advises getting your tires inspected. The Utah Department of Transportation provides a limited amount of Cottonwood Canyons sticker passes, enabling holders to bypass the mandatory vehicle inspection at the bottom of the canyons on snowy days. She notes that, while stickers are not required, they will save a lot of time.
Consider carpooling or public transit
Both Palmintere and Sara Huey, communications manager at Solitude Mountain Resort, recommend carpooling to the mountain this weekend. Not only will consolidating vehicles help traffic flow, but it will also free up the scarce parking at many of the resorts.
Huey also points skiers and snowboarders to public transit options, like the UTA ski bus. The bus services Big and Little Cottonwood Canyons, Sundance Resort, Snowbasin, Powder Mountain, and Park City. The Cottonwood Canyons bus will begin service on December 12 and is free with a season pass and Ikon Pass holders.
Be mindful of traffic and parking
We all know that traffic can be a nightmare, especially on a powder day. However, many resorts are taking the guesswork out of it by providing parking and traffic updates in real-time via their social media channels. UDOT also has Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram accounts dedicated solely to reporting traffic in the Cottonwood Canyons.
But sometimes, even when you successfully brave the traffic, there’s no parking to be found at the top of the canyon. Palmintere advises resort guests to plan ahead for parking. Many resorts are requiring visitors to reserve or pay for parking on the weekends, while some are still first-come, first-served.
According to Huey, Solitude has a live webcam of their main Moonbeam parking lot so guests can keep track of parking availability in real-time.
Sometimes, it’s possible to just pick up and go skiing on a whim. Riding after a big storm – especially if it’s the highly anticipated first one of the season – requires a little bit of pre-planning.
Many skiers and snowboarders get up before the crack of dawn to beat traffic and secure parking. Palmintere, however, advises planning for a little bit different approach.
“I personally think that your best bet after a storm is actually the afternoon,” she says. “We’re so fortunate here in Utah to have so much snow in a typical year that you’re able to find the goods hours and hours after first chair.”