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Julian Mitkus

Math 1030
Professor Diaz
28 April, 2016
Carpooling's Effects at Alta Ski Resort
For years the topic of carpooling in little cottonwood canyon en route to Alta Ski Resort has
been a main issue of discussion regarding many factors, the biggest of those being the environmental
impact on the mountains we as skiers care to protect for future generations. The environmental impact
from petroleum-powered vehicles is substantial to local flora and fauna, and the main solution that
people have come across in past years is to carpool, the process of transporting more than one person
in each car that drives up the canyon. By simply having two people riding in each car compared to
each person driving themselves in their own personal vehicle, the impact on the environment is cut in
half due to half the amount of emissions being produced.
Carpooling effects many factors other than just the environment, though carbon emissions have
long been the most substantial reasoning to participate in the practice. Access to parking at and around
Alta ski resort has become an increasing issue over the last few years, as the number of skiers has risen
so has the number of cars parked in the parking lots and on the side of little cottonwood canyon road.
As the rate of cars parking at Alta Ski Resort increases, the amount of parking spaces available does not
increase however. This is due to strict laws set in place by the federal government stopping growth of
man-made parking areas and other structures to protect the national forest that surrounds the ski resort.
Trying to find parking at any major Colorado ski resort is like trying to heard cats because of
the insane amount of people visiting these resorts. Many of these resorts now charge ten to twenty
dollars per car to try and find a parking spot in their huge parking lots, and the amount of people in the
lift lines at these resorts reflect these large populations, as some lift lines can take an hour or more to

get to the front of. In Utah however, specifically at Alta, our lift lines are short and often seem
suspiciously empty compared to the exuberant amount of cars in the parking lots. When comparing
these numbers one main issue comes into play, the amount of people carpooling vs the amount of
people who drive themselves solo in their own vehicle.
On weekdays, the parking lots at Alta are not even at half capacity, due to most people having
jobs or other obligations to attend to. When I recorded one hundred cars driving up to Alta on a
weekday, I noticed about 75% of the cars only had one occupant, while only about a quarter of the cars
were carpooling with two or more occupants. These numbers are to be expected, as most people who
are skiing on the weekdays are skiing alone.
During weekends the parking lots are generally packed full of cars, with people parking up to a
half mile away from the lifts and walking because that is their only option. The amount of people
carpooling was a mirror opposite of those during the weekdays however, about 75% of cars had an
occupancy of two or more people while about 25% were riding alone. These statistics are not
surprising either, as skiing is a sport best enjoyed with friends, and weekends are when most people
have time off to get up into the mountains.
In an effort to combat the horrible parking issues that have arisen this past year at Alta, the
resort has begun testing a carpool-only parking lot section, where you are only allowed to park within if
you have at least two people in your car, much like the HOV lanes on highways. This VIP section has
only been tested on the weekends however when parking is at an overflowing capacity and most people
are already carpooling, thus it does not do much to help with the insane amount of cars in the parking
Alta Ski Resort soon realized that their carpool-only lot section was not doing anything to stop
the onslaught of cars, as weekends are when most people already carpool. They continue to urge
people to carpool in order to keep parking levels low and environmental impact at its lowest possible
amount, but the amount of cars is still growing. Ideas have been brought forward within the little

cottonwood canyon alliance to combat the issue, including the idea of charging for parking in order to
scare people into carpooling more, as well as the idea of adding a rail-car system that would carry
skiers up the canyon from the valley and eliminate parking completely. These propositions are in place
currently in Colorado where parking fees continue to sore at ski resorts, yet the amount of cars in the
lots continues to grow. In some towns in the Swiss alps and Italian Dolomites, cars are simply not
allowed near the ski resorts, and skiers must take rail and cable-cars in order to reach the resorts.
These proposed ideas will continue to be deliberated within the skiing community and more
plausible solutions will be brought forward throughout the upcoming seasons, though regardless of the
answer it will take a lot of time to come to a conclusion due to the federal and state laws that are set in
place. Environmental activists will continue to have a large impact on the decision as to what we as a
community do to combat the issue of parking and carpooling at our local ski resorts, and will continue
to be a road block of sorts in the fight to stop overcrowding in the lots. Until the lawyers from all sides
of the issue come together to solve the problem however the problem will continue to exist, as the
driving force behind any decision in a business topic such as this one is and always will be money.