Cutting out the canyon drive saved me 90 miles of mountain driving alone, while all I had to do was sit back and read my book.
Over the past two seasons, I have noticed a level of traffic and pressure on both Big and Little Cottonwood Canyons that I have never seen in my entire life of riding here. With the excitement of powder days and all of the cool new people moving here there is a definite increase in car traffic. Those of you who have gone up either of these two famous canyons, particularly on the weekend, you know what I am talking about.
Long gone are the days of arriving at Brighton at 10:30 AM on a Saturday and being able to find an easy parking spot. Chances are, the canyon will be so packed that you will be turned around due to no parking. Not only does this frustrate the hell out of us with season passes or those of you on vacation, it creates more danger in the canyon and it just isn't good for the ecosystem from where we get all of our potable water.
we simply cannot drive into our canyons with one-car passengers anymore
There is one VIP service however that allows you to bypass the muck for a very nominal fee, or even free, if you are a season pass holder. It is called the UTA Ski Bus. UTA or The Utah Transit Authority has been running bus service up the canyon for years, but in the past couple of seasons, the department has invested heavily in upgraded busses, increased busses per hour and an improved network of routes around the state to help get you to the hill. Check out all of those routes and times. During the morning and afternoon, there will be a bus departing every 15 minutes.
My work schedule is fairly unpredictable, so sometimes I cannot make it up to the resort for first chair, making finding a parking spot a total mission at my home resort of Brighton. I began growing weary of dealing with the hassle of parking and then realized just how stressful it was trying to navigate the mess in the canyon just to ride the chairlifts. Then i thought one step further and realized how wasteful it was that I was just driving myself up the canyon with no one else in my car.
So I decided to put my money where my mouth is, load up my backpack and start taking the bus and see just how easy (or hard) it really was.
With a bus leaving every 15 minutes, catching the bus from the park and ride was much easier than expected. Then to gain entry, all you have to do is scan your season pass, which acts as a UTA bus pass. If you are not a season pass holder, the fare is $4.50, which will be much cheaper than filling up your tank.90 miles, $30, Coffee Time and Other Awesomeness Around Riding the Bus
In my first three rides up to Brighton I took notes on what exactly I was cutting down on by leaving my car at the mouth and riding up the canyon. From the park and ride to the Brighton center, it is 15 miles. Cutting out the canyon drive saved me 90 miles of mountain driving alone, while all I had to do was sit and read my book. By parking Toyota 4Runner at the mouth of the canyon I saved roughly $30 in gas, which keeps money in my pocket and lets me buy a coffee at The Blind Miner Cafe at Brighton. In travel time from the mouth of the canyon to Brighton, I was in the bus for an average of 25 minutes, including a stop at Solitude Mountain Resort. That is roughly the same amount of time that it takes me when I am driving up on my own. Plus, you will not get turned around at the parking lot.
For those of you who are looking for touring options as well, the bus will stop at Spruces campground halfway up the canyon where you will find some of the best touring trailheads in the canyon. I was even able to strike up conversations with fellow backcountry riders about the snowpack and conditions while drinking coffee, something that wouldn't have happened if I was driving by myself.
While there are definite perks to driving up the canyon, like having extra gear, BBQ stuff and friends along for the ride, I know for myself if I just mix it up from time to time and take the bus (especially on busy days), my stress level is massively reduced. In doing so, I also know that I am helping to reduce the pressure on the canyon by just a little bit, which can go a long way. So if you are getting tired of the same things that were bothering me, look into riding the ski bus every once in a while. It is relaxing, easy and cheap, and you just might meet a new riding buddy along the way. Happy riding.
Not feeling the Bus? Then CARPOOL. Many resorts reward you for carpooling: LINK
Snowbird - R.I.D.E. rewards you when you ride with more than 3+ people. Prizes include; water bottles, half-priced lift ticket, early access, and a stay at The Cliff Lodge.
Solitude - R.I.D.E. rewards include a beverage, cookie, or a half-priced lift ticket.
Brighton - R.I.D.E. rewards include a beverage at the Milly Chalet and a half-priced lift ticket.
Snowbasin - Snowbasins reward for carpooling is access to front row parking at the Terrace A lot.
Powder Mountain - Receive $5 off a Night Ticket on Mondays when you have 3 or more people in your car.
(This information will not be shared)