USA 2020-21 plans for limiting capacity

MarzNC

One of Us
Ski Pass
Jun 8, 2017
2,470
4,030
363
Raleigh, NC, USA
over50skifitness.blogspot.com
Headline says it all for those who normally drive to Alta or Snowbird. The idea is to try and avoid people driving all the way up the canyon road, only to have to drive right back down because there is no parking left. There will be monitoring to allow employees, parents picking up kids, and others who don't plan to park to drive up after all the parking lots are declared full. Snowbird is using a parking reservation system. But so far Alta doesn't plan to have any sort of reservation system for local passholders or Ikon.

I have two trips planned to Utah. One in Dec staying at Snowbird and the other in April staying at Alta Lodge.

Nov. 16, The Salt Lake Tribune in Utah (USA)
Officials warn they will close Big and Little Cottonwood canyons this ski season when parking is full

https://www.sltrib.com/news/politics/2020/11/16/officials-warn-they-will/
Well, other than sporadic complaints that things are different, so far the Snowbird parking reservations and the Alta first-come, first-served approaches are both working well enough. Recently stayed at Snowbird (timeshare condo at Iron Blosam) but was taking the UTA bus (free) to ski Alta for five midweek days (Mon-Fri).

On powder days, Alta parking is filling up by 10:00, sometimes full shortly after 9:30. Warnings are given on social media starting the evening before and then about once an hour starting around 7:30am. To get into the Wildcat lot, people have had to get there by 8:30 or so. Lifts start at 9:15. The Supreme lift just opened on Dec. 19. Lines got pretty long first thing in the morning the week before with only 4 lifts running. During the holiday weeks, Alta is running all 6 lifts, including the old Albion double that can help move people from the Albion base up to Supreme and Sugarloaf. That might be normal. Never paid attention to Alta in December before.

What I heard from someone who has worked at Alta for 20 years is that they consider 6000 the usual max. Goal is to keep under 4000 people on the slopes at once for 2020-21. Alta has had RFID since 2008 for all lifts, so has plenty of historical data of lift usage.

Could see people monitoring entry to Snowbird as we took the bus up to Alta. I think new spots open up as Week Of reservations on Mondays. Supposedly spots also open up for the afternoon as people leave. Weekends, Fridays, and holidays are all booked up for advanced reservations. Don't have a sense of how many additional spots are released for Week Of. Terrain was still pretty limited as of last week. Need a few more storm systems to really cover up the rocks off-piste.

Screen Shot 2020-12-25 at 11.59.55 PM.png


Screen Shot 2020-12-26 at 12.00.09 AM.png
Screen Shot 2020-12-26 at 12.01.54 AM.png
 
  • Like
Reactions: Jonathan_P

MarzNC

One of Us
Ski Pass
Jun 8, 2017
2,470
4,030
363
Raleigh, NC, USA
over50skifitness.blogspot.com
Eldora is a ski area less than two hours drive from Denver that mostly caters to locals. It's owned by Powdr so is using parking reservations. It's on Ikon so I'm paying a bit of attention since I might go check it out in February at the start of a Colorado ski safari with my usual ski buddies.

Advanced parking reservations are booked up for weekends in Jan and Feb. Apparently Eldora added parking spaces 48 hours in advance. During Dec, lack of snow has been an issue because terrain was more limited than usual.
 

MarzNC

One of Us
Ski Pass
Jun 8, 2017
2,470
4,030
363
Raleigh, NC, USA
over50skifitness.blogspot.com
Twitter seems to have become a common social media outlet for ski areas/resorts to use for info about parking availability. Probably started a few years ago for road conditions in regions where a big snowstorm always has the potential for major traffic issues because someone doesn't know how to handle driving on a snowy road with limited visibility.

In Utah, there are multiple Twitter accounts related to the Big and Little Cottonwood Canyons for Alta, Snowbird, Brighton, and Solitude. Alta Alerts has parking notifications, which are important on powder days or Saturdays since parking is first-come, first-served.

Eldora is using Twitter to provide updates about parking availability.
 

MarzNC

One of Us
Ski Pass
Jun 8, 2017
2,470
4,030
363
Raleigh, NC, USA
over50skifitness.blogspot.com
While finalizing plans to ski in Colorado in February with my usual ski buddies, learned more about the parking reservations system as it applies to Copper. Copper has a number of parking lots, including quite a few pay lots in addition to a large free lot that's served by large shuttle buses. When you make a reservation for a paid lot, you have to pay up front. Presumably you get a refund if you decide to cancel later.

Apparently on Monday mornings, more spaces are released for the following two weeks. Given that the situation in Colorado for COVID-19 is trending down, the hope of locals is that more parking will be allowed soon. Weekends in Jan and Feb have been full for a while for Advanced reservations. For a Friday in February there are paid spaces let but not in all the pay lots. The pay lots are closer to the base of a lift, but not served by shuttle buses.

I've never been to Copper so am getting info from a local. She's actually hasn't skied Copper yet and may defer her pass to 2021-22. She doesn't want to ride the shuttle bus, and certainly doesn't want to pay $10-30 for a paid lot for midweek skiing driving from Denver. She's old enough for a senior pass to Loveland so may just stick with midweek skiing there this season.
 

MarzNC

One of Us
Ski Pass
Jun 8, 2017
2,470
4,030
363
Raleigh, NC, USA
over50skifitness.blogspot.com
The differences between regions and resorts are starting to show. Not only for snow conditions but also for demand/supply for tickets or reservations.

All the Powdr resorts are on Ikon and using a third-party parking reservation system. However after the upcoming holiday weekend, Killington is not going to require parking reservations Mon-Fri except for the Feb holiday weekend. Copper is not showing any advanced parking reservations for Fri, Sat, Sun until mid-March. Bachelor is booked for Sat, Sun until March. Snowbird is also booked for weekends.

Winter Park decided to implement the Ikon reservation system. It's operated by Alterra (owned by the city of Denver).
 

summit_32

Addicted
Jul 19, 2007
458
106
113
WashingtonDC
Well - i see the Aus Govt (Chief Health Officer Brendan Murphy) has stated that there will be no international travel in 2021. Seems a bit premature to me but the next Nth Hemisphere ski season is looking less likely for most Aussies now. Even if permitted to travel, the 14-day quarantine requirement is likely to stay which will make most ski holidays unworkable.
 

Ozgirl

Part of the Furniture
Ski Pass
Jul 5, 2007
15,577
17,998
813
Sydney/Jindy
A lot of white collar desk workers it could be possible.

Taking my work as an example, they are highly encouraging of people still taking leave. (High net worth people who typically travel OS)

There would have to be a point where companies wont want to take the build up of annual leave liability that will have built up for two years.

And therefore allow people to go OS, come home and ser ve their quarantine at home whilst WFH.
 

sli1

One of Us
Ski Pass
Jun 15, 2001
2,536
2,839
363
50
Brisbane
Of course it would be game changing if people were allowed to serve their quarantine at home, I just don't see any State government willing to take that risk (or be that naïve). My guess would be that to travel freely back to Australia that you would need to demonstrate that you are part of a database showing you have been vaccinated (and that vaccination will need to prove itself over the year as one which stops the spread as opposed to simply preventing the disease) .
 

summit_32

Addicted
Jul 19, 2007
458
106
113
WashingtonDC
Many countries are doing the 'home quarantine' thing, Australia is one of the few with a hotel based system. How efficient & effective home quarantine works is debatable. Interestingly, i have a friend from Perth who travelled with his family to Cairns over the Xmas break for a holiday. They got caught up in the Brisbane COVID scare and are currently in two-weeks forced 'isolation' at home in Perth. The authorities must have been satisfied that home isolation is okay for lower risk exposures.
 

MarzNC

One of Us
Ski Pass
Jun 8, 2017
2,470
4,030
363
Raleigh, NC, USA
over50skifitness.blogspot.com
Back to whether demand is outstripping supply given the limited capacity at all ski areas/resorts in the USA . . .

Here's sampling of Vail Resorts locations in terms of reservations for the Jan & Feb holiday weekends (Monday holidays). By the Feb holiday weekend, most places will have 100% terrain available. All of these location didn't have any days unavailable as of mid-January.

1/18
Hunter, NY Unavail 1/18, 23, 24, 30
Stowe, VT Unavail 1/17, 18, 23, 24
Afton Alps, MN Totally open
Whitetail, PA Unavail thru 1/19
Keystone, CO Unavail 1/17, 23
Park City, UT Totally open
Northstar, CA Totally open

In my home region the Jan holiday weekend was sold out at most ski areas/resorts. The southeast (NC, TN, VA, WV) has a dozen small hills that have been around for decades that are based on 100% snowmaking. The weather patterns that have been lousy for the Rockies have been good for the Appalachian mountains in terms of both cold temps for snowmaking and for natural snow.

Snowshoe in WV is owned by Alterra and on Ikon. Weekends have been pretty busy since no lift access reservations are required. It's a 6-7 hour drive from any major metropolitan areas. But many people are not flying out west so Snowshoe is as good as it gets within driving distance. Especially if they don't want to deal with travel restrictions in place for the northeastern states (PA, NY, VT, etc.).
 

MarzNC

One of Us
Ski Pass
Jun 8, 2017
2,470
4,030
363
Raleigh, NC, USA
over50skifitness.blogspot.com
Well, other than sporadic complaints that things are different, so far the Snowbird parking reservations and the Alta first-come, first-served approaches are both working well enough.
In general, the approach taken by Snowbird and Alta has worked reasonably well. On powder days, people who want to drive up to Alta need to get there by 8:30, if not 8:00. Of course, the recent major dump of 7 feet of now that caused a 60-hour Interlodge and extended closure of the road had nothing to do with the pandemic. During those days, traffic to Brighton and Solitude was heavy, with parking lots filling up there relatively early in the morning.

The continued pressure on parking is clearly going to continue through March. As people are saying for all regions, "Friday is the new weekend." That's a trend that started in recent years. The increased number of people working from home or parents with kids still doing online school has made Fridays even busier on the slopes.

Screen Shot 2021-02-28 at 12.06.04 AM.png
 

MarzNC

One of Us
Ski Pass
Jun 8, 2017
2,470
4,030
363
Raleigh, NC, USA
over50skifitness.blogspot.com
Killington in Vermont is only requiring parking reservations on Saturdays and Sundays now. Not sure when that changed. Vermont ski resorts are probably hoping for more business during late season now that the state is exempting people who have been vaccinated from travel restrictions that required self-quarantine days that made ski trips pretty impractical for most people.

Mt. Bachelor has a few Saturdays with no parking reservations available but seems pretty wide open for late March and into April. Bachelor typically stays open until at least mid-May.

Copper doesn't have parking available on weekends in March at the moment. But Copper seems to release more parking early in the week for the following week. My experience in early February was that the free parking lot wasn't too hard to get midweek, but the paid lots (US$25 or $30) that don't require riding a shuttle bus did fill up. The day I picked up my ski buddy at the Denver airport first thing in the morning, we got to Copper at lunch time. There wasn't even anyone bothering to check for parking reservations at the free lot by then. The buses used are very large and the ride is under 10 minutes, so with limited capacity and required mask usage we were comfortable with the shuttle. However, my other two ski buddies for the trip opted to pay for parking that was easy walking distance to one of the base areas with high speed lifts.
 
  • Like
Reactions: Jacko4650

MarzNC

One of Us
Ski Pass
Jun 8, 2017
2,470
4,030
363
Raleigh, NC, USA
over50skifitness.blogspot.com
As for Epic resorts, only Stowe and Hunter in the northeast don't have any reservations available for the first weekend of March. All the western resorts in the Rockies are open. However, Stevens Pass is unavailable the first two weekends of March.

Crystal serves the same market as Stevens Pass. They are having issues with parking lots filling up. Locals are wishing that Crystal had used a parking reservation system like what Powdr resorts used. Although the added complication is that the lift access reservation system isn't the standard Ikon system and doesn't allow for an immediate check to see if someone actually has a reservation when they arrive. The region got way too much snow recently, which caused road closures due to avalanches and deep snow on the roads that took a few days to clear.
 

MarzNC

One of Us
Ski Pass
Jun 8, 2017
2,470
4,030
363
Raleigh, NC, USA
over50skifitness.blogspot.com
It's fair to say that there are many Americans who are getting on the slopes by buying lift tickets. It's a combination of the people who didn't want to commit to a season pass for a local mountain, people who are total newbies, people who usually fly to ski at big mountains but decided to stay within driving distance, and the usual group of people who usually only ski 3-4 days a season.

Most ski resort websites make it pretty clear what dates are likely to be sold out. For example, Deer Valley has the following:

"Limited Lift Ticket Inventory Dates
Our lift ticket inventory is currently limited March 13-20, 2021. We anticipate selling out during those dates so please purchase your lift tickets in advance. Please note that if you are a Deer Valley Season, Hospitality, or Ikon Pass holder, you are guaranteed access to the resort."

My home hill (2 hours from Washington DC) has been including notes about what days are sold out in the daily Snow Conditions update. Fridays and Saturdays in February were usually sold out by Wednesday. The same has been true for the ski hills in North Carolina since mid-January. The region has had colder than usual temperatures, plus a few snowstorms, so the slopes have been in great condition. Pent up demand for any outdoor activities was obvious even during the late summer in the southeast.

Will be interesting to see if any destination resorts decide to stay open for an extra week or two. Usually the closing dates are based more on lack of paying customers than lack of snow coverage. That could be different in March-April 2021.
 

MarzNC

One of Us
Ski Pass
Jun 8, 2017
2,470
4,030
363
Raleigh, NC, USA
over50skifitness.blogspot.com
Sales of 1-location season passes for 2021-22 in the USA have started. It's a little early, but not by much. The resorts that I've noticed are not limiting access for season passholders. At least a few are allowing new passholders unlimited access for the rest of the 2020-21 season. They are limiting capacity by limiting the number of tickets available. Discounted tickets from outside sources essentially don't exist. Usually can only buy a ticket online in advance. But most smaller places will sell a window ticket if there are any left.
 
Last edited:
  • Like
Reactions: teleroo

summit_32

Addicted
Jul 19, 2007
458
106
113
WashingtonDC
We have secured our preferred dates for Spring Break - seems to be plenty of capacity (at the moment) in Summit County. Lets hope for a snowy March out West.
 
  • Like
Reactions: MarzNC

MarzNC

One of Us
Ski Pass
Jun 8, 2017
2,470
4,030
363
Raleigh, NC, USA
over50skifitness.blogspot.com
Not sure if it's a surprise or not, but some resorts will be limiting the number of people on the slopes during traditionally busy times at next season. COVID-19 isn't really the reason. Perhaps more a reaction to increasing complaints about long lift lines in recent years before 2020 combined with the experience of limiting capacity for 2020-21.

Advanced notice was sent to Epic passholders that lift access reservations will be required, with more info to be announced in late March.

Arapahoe Basin put out this announcement that may be more of a shock to their fans. Although people who have been enjoying the fact that Powder Mountain has been limited season passes and day tickets for several years may not be surprised at all.

March 12, 2021, Arapahoe Basin blog
2021-22 Season - What To Expect
http://arapahoebasin.blogspot.com/2021/03/2021-22-season-what-to-expect.html
". . .
Moving forward to the 2021-22 season, we are taking more major steps to preserve the culture and vibe. COVID forced us to learn in a few months what probably would have taken us five years to learn otherwise. Next season we are going to continue to restrict our pass and ticket visits. While reservations will not be required for our season pass holders, we are going to limit the number of passes that we sell. In fact, we are going to sell 10% fewer unrestricted passes next season than we did this season. On top of that, we will continue to limit the number of lift tickets sold each day and all tickets must be purchased online and in advance. No lift tickets will be sold on site. We anticipate selling out of weekend lift tickets on a regular basis.

So why are we doing this? There are many factors, like a friendly and knowledgeable staff, a spectacular mountain and excellent facilities, that go into to making Arapahoe Basin special. We also think a critical factor for a successful day is keeping crowd size down and skiers and riders spread out. For decades, a key strategy for us was to keep adding more and more skiers. That is no longer the case. We are actively working to reduce the number of skiers on weekends and holidays. We have learned so much since COVID forced us to hit a daily target of skier numbers. Next season we will continue a similar strategy. Our target will be to have a “comfortable” level of skiers each day. Our ticket inventories and pricing will directly reward midweek skiing over weekend skiing. By knowing how many people to expect each day, we can do a better job running the place. We will measure success by reducing parking challenges, keeping lift lines and other service lines short and by observing smiling skier faces.
. . ."
 
Remove ads with a
Ski Pass

Log in

or Log in using
Learn how membership works on these forums
Remove ads with a
Ski Pass