Deer Valley, Clarifying Expansion Timeline, Hopes to Lure Cars Out of Cluttered Park City
There is a better way.
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But Brah I have 73-wheel drive, can’t I just park at the top of the lifts?
I’ll start with the fireworks show, a long-awaited phase map of Deer Valley’s incoming trail-and-lift expansion, a 3,700-acre kingdom that will nearly triple the resort’s current 2,026-acre footprint:
The lifts in red are scheduled to open for the 2025-26 ski season. The longest, a 10-passenger gondola, could continue down from Park Peak to the Snow Park Lodge, possibly replacing the existing Silver Lake Express. Here’s Deer Valley’s current trailmap, for context:
And here’s what it will all look like put together (sans the connector gondola down to Snow Park, which the resort announced after releasing this map - which I modified with the red text - in August):
Which is all grand and exciting, and will make Deer Valley, at 5,726 acres, larger than Alta and Snowbird combined (5,114 acres – yes, Canyon Bro, I know it’s not the same caliber of terrain, but most people are not as cool as you, so focus on staying mad at me about the LCC gondola). All that new terrain ought to be welcome in a Wasatch that’s choking on its own popularity.
But a more transformative piece of this project could be a set of massive day-skier lots planned at the base of the new terrain. The 1,200 parking spots, hard by an all-new pedestrian-oriented base village seated off US 40, would help lure skiers away from – and hopefully help to mitigate – the clotted hell of Park City traffic.
“The new base village aims to improve accessibility for the resort and will contribute to the reduction of traffic in the town of Park City,” a resort press release reads. Here’s what skiers driving down from Interstate 80 currently have to navigate to access Deer Valley’s main parking lots, at Snow Park:
That’s a lot of single-lane roads and chokepoints. Here’s how that commute would transform with the new parking lots in your GPS, barreling straight down four-lane US 40:
This streamlined driving alternative, combined with Deer Valley’s plans to cover the Snow Park lots with yet another walkable base village (some parking will remain, underground), could help Park City evolve away from the automobile-centric rush hours that often make it feel more like you’re driving into a suburban outlet mall than an idyllic mountain town.
If this is going to work as a reset button for Park City traffic, however, the new lots will have to offer a better alternative than what already exists. While getting to Snow Park sucks, skiers can walk right up to the Silver Lake and Carpenter lifts from there (or catch a little shuttle if they’re way down). The US-40 lots, tucked along what the resort is now calling “Deer Valley East Village” (rather than “Mayflower”), are separated from phase one lifts by a phalanx of buildings. A future lift will service the parking lots, but how will Deer Valley move skiers to the snow in the meantime? It’s unclear.
The simple answer is probably shuttlebuses, but a complicated psychology underlies the relationship between Americans and parking. The subtext of opposition to a gondola up Little Cottonwood Canyon is a collective disbelief that private vehicles ought to be kept out of certain places, that it may make more sense to leave them eight miles down the road than park them at the base of the Collins chair. But cars don’t belong in Little Cottonwood Canyon, and they don’t belong in Park City – at least not on the scale that we’re cramming them in now.
In some idealized future, most non-resident ski traffic could evaporate from the Wasatch, absorbed by a network of trains and aerial lifts climbing up from Salt Lake City. But in the meantime, there are other ways to manage the auto-hegemony that is bogging down America’s greatest collection of ski areas. Deer Valley, by building a bypass around town to the slopes, will make its hometown more livable and its mountain more accessible. We need more thinking like this all over the West.
Below the paid subscriber jump: why a proposed B.C. ski resort could actually get built, an update on a recently lost ski area, damn it you must visit White Grass, and much more.