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Moving to Utah [from Colorado, Park City or base of LCC/BCC?]

post #1 of 20
Thread Starter 

My wife and I are moving to Utah(from Colorado) and we are having a hard time deciding where to live, Park City or near the base of the Cottonwood canyons.  I have skied in Park City before, but not the Cottonwoods.  Snowbird and Alta sound like my kind of skiing from what I have read.  I enjoy steeps and they seem to get a good bit more snow than Park City.

 

I work from home and can often get out and ski for awhile on weekdays, as long as I am not gone for too long.  Typically I just ski in the morning, but from time to time the afternoon works better.  How long I have any given day varies a lot, but I need to be confident that when I need to be home by a certain time I can easily plan for what time I need to leave by.  Also, I don't want to ski for 2 hours and spend longer sitting in traffic to get up there and back.

 

I came across information that makes me concerned about the traffic in the Cottonwood canyons, and that it may be an issue sometimes(or even often?) on weekdays.  I am thinking that even though the skiing might be more enjoyable in the Cottonwoods I might not be able to ski very often or on good snow days because of the traffic.  So, perhaps living in Park City would make more sense, or maybe just skiing BCC instead of LCC.

 

There is obviously a more that goes into choosing where we live than just skiing, but this is something that has been hanging over me as we try to decide on what area to live in, and I have not had much luck finding solid information about traffic in the canyons.  I am hoping that locals might be able to share their experience with how often and how much of an issue traffic can be.

 

Moderator Note: info added to thread title

post #2 of 20
Quote:
Originally Posted by alexkirkp View Post
 

My wife and I are moving to Utah(from Colorado) and we are having a hard time deciding where to live, Park City or near the base of the Cottonwood canyons.  I have skied in Park City before, but not the Cottonwoods.  Snowbird and Alta sound like my kind of skiing from what I have read.  I enjoy steeps and they seem to get a good bit more snow than Park City.

 

I work from home and can often get out and ski for awhile on weekdays, as long as I am not gone for too long.  Typically I just ski in the morning, but from time to time the afternoon works better.  How long I have any given day varies a lot, but I need to be confident that when I need to be home by a certain time I can easily plan for what time I need to leave by.  Also, I don't want to ski for 2 hours and spend longer sitting in traffic to get up there and back.

 

I came across information that makes me concerned about the traffic in the Cottonwood canyons, and that it may be an issue sometimes(or even often?) on weekdays.  I am thinking that even though the skiing might be more enjoyable in the Cottonwoods I might not be able to ski very often or on good snow days because of the traffic.  So, perhaps living in Park City would make more sense, or maybe just skiing BCC instead of LCC.

 

There is obviously a more that goes into choosing where we live than just skiing, but this is something that has been hanging over me as we try to decide on what area to live in, and I have not had much luck finding solid information about traffic in the canyons.  I am hoping that locals might be able to share their experience with how often and how much of an issue traffic can be.


Welcome to EpicSki!  The reason you find so many references to traffic going up to LCC is that folks who post online about skiing at Alta/Snowbird are often talking about powder days.  However, those don't happen that often.  Think about how often I-70 gets completely messed up by a major snowstorm.  For travelers who read about those days, they worry a lot that their ski vacation will be messed up if they can't get to their ski resort.  Of course, if you plan on becoming a snow snob who only skis after a powder storm, then probably better to stick with BCC (Solitude or Brighton).

 

As for living in Park City, let's see if @Mr. Crab will stop by.  I don't know how long he's lived in Park City but he seems pretty happy there.

 

Did you find the ongoing Utah thread for 2015-16 yet?

post #3 of 20

The traffic issues traveling up/down LCC are a bit of a dark cloud (pun intended) hanging over the overall magnificent skiing experience there.  However, I think it is manageable in your scenario.  I spent quite a bit of time this winter staying in Cottonwood Heights during three different visits to Utah, each a week or more in length while skiing LCC.  I was there one weekend in late Jan during a sizeable powder dump.  Sat and Sun mornings there was bad traffic back-ups of 75-90 mins when we just sat on Wasatch Blvd waiting for the LCC access road to open causing us to not be able to hit the slopes until mid/late-morning.  On that Sat it had snowed 10" the night before and 10" during the ski day.  We had no delays leaving Snowbird at around 4pm.  On Sunday there was a refresh of just a few inches, but blowing snow had made much of the mtn feel like 20" pow day.  Because the timing of the new snow hit the weekend perfectly the hordes of locals showed up in big numbers.  But that was the only time I had notable trouble.  I was in LCC skiing on a few weekday pow days and did not run into the same volume of traffic or canyon closings for the plows/avi work.  Also, on weekdays, people come for just a few hours and somewhat staggered over the day so there is not such an 8am crush.

If you follow local weather reports you can ensure about 95% of the time that you won't get stuck in an unexpected storm and bad traffic situation going up or down the LCC.  There is always the chance of a surprise 8" dump that triggers some sort of dangerous avi situation that traps you up at the resorts, but that would be the 5% chance.  BCC is somewhat similar, but with perhaps fewer road closings.  I understand it catches quite a bit of volume now too on prime powder days and is not quite as handy for traffic avoidance as it used to be.  Seems like your biggest issue for your job would be to not get caught up in the canyon when they close the road.  That should be avoidable for the most part by not staying too long if there is a big dump while you are actually skiing.

I'll add that the microclimate for snow in the Wasatch is mind-blowing.  This was my first winter observing it close up for extended periods.  I have skied other parts of North America for 50 years.  It was often 55-60 degrees in Cottonwood Heights much of the winter when I was up enjoying great ski conditions in LCC.  Any rain in the valley means snow in the mtns and there are 3" snowfalls often several days per week that nobody even talks about. The airport very rarely gets enough snow to cause flight delays, maybe one day a winter.  I found it fascinating that Utah locals ski world class places like Snowbird and Alta the way the rest of us go to our local gym.  They go for a couple of hours after a bike ride or after Sunday church or before going to work or before doing their Saturday laundry:-)

post #4 of 20

As mentioned, powder days are the only big traffic problems in the Cottonwoods. And Park City traffic can be pretty awful, too, so unless you're slopeside, you won't necessarily have it easier there. All the Wasatch areas are served by two-lane roads, so a traffic accident can definitely make you late, but that's infrequent enough not to be a big worry.

 

The Ogden Basin is worth a look, too, if it works for you and your wife. Mountain Green to Snowbasin is a shorter, more reliable drive than around PC or up from Sandy. And Snowbasin's an awesome mountain for steeps and for mostly morning skiing (it gets a lot of sun exposure, much like PCMR). Farther north, you might be able to live slopeside at Nordic Valley or very near Powder Mountain for prices similar to driving-distance spots in Park City or Sandy. They're much less crowded, so powder lasts a lot longer. But they're not as steep, and driving in to SLC or Park City is a hassle.

post #5 of 20
Thread Starter 

Thanks for the responses everyone!  I feel much better about the idea of living near LCC or BCC.  One more question about the Cottonwood canyons, how is the cell signal up there?  They are popular enough that I assume it is not an issue for skiing, but how about driving?  It isn't a deal breaker if it isn't great, I am just curious.  (I have Verizon if that matters)

 

@marznc That would explain what I have read.  No plans to become a snow snob, although I also wouldn't want to miss good powder days either.  I suppose our first year there might turn into an expensive but fun experiment between the two canyons :)  I just finished going through the Utah thread, it was interesting and did have a few notes about traffic.

 

@Jamesj Thanks for sharing those experiences, that is what I was hoping for.  As long as it is reasonably predictable I can make it work.  I like your comparison with going to the gym, that is exactly how I want to be able treat it :)

 

@New2Utah  That is a good point about Park City.  There might be trouble there as well, but would be able to live closer than is possible with the Cottonwood ski areas so my thought is that when there is traffic it would be less of an issue(can't afford slopeside though!).  Unfortunately living that far North won't work for us.  I do like the sound of Snowbasin and will have to make a few trips up there wherever we end up.

post #6 of 20

A few years ago I rode up with a man who was a retired midwesterner who spent his winters in a condo at the base of LCC.  He alternated between a season pass at Alta and Snowbird every year.  Can always upgrade if there is a compelling reason to go over to the other place on a particular day.

 

Cell coverage in LCC is a lot better than before.  Texts almost always go thru.  Special mini-towers (don't remember the details) were added along the road a year or two ago.

 

With a little planning, it's always possible to take a UTA Ski Bus on a powder day if don't feel like driving.

post #7 of 20
Air is better in PC. If that means anything to you. colleagues in the ski hard goods industry, live in PC, get passes to a resort up there, yet prefer the Bird
post #8 of 20

My 2 cents is PC. I agree that the snow and steeps are better in LCC. But when you're talking about sking a couple of hours on week days when you can, time is of the essence. I windsurf at lunch sometimes here. The reality is that if it eats up too much time I won't go. Too hard to justify a half hour drive each way as then you've already eaten up one of your two hours. The commute to ski in the PC area is nothing compared to driving up either BCC or LCC. On the other hand if your job situation is more relaxed and you can eat 3-4 hours of time for travel and sking, then Cottonwoods may be the call. But if a 2 hour thing, I would go with PC. And good mountain biking and hiking very close by in non ski season as well. 

post #9 of 20

@BobMc  moved to SLC quite a while ago.  The driving time to LCC/BCC doesn't seem to bother him, although he does ski mostly on weekends.

post #10 of 20

I would look at moving to Sandy or somewhere not too far from there. I would think that you could find more affordable housing outside of PC not that that seems like a concern of yours. I don't really know if it's possible but maybe a midweek pass at the Bird and a weekend pass at Solitude would be a good option to get away from the worst of the traffic? 


Edited by raisingarizona - 4/18/16 at 9:45pm
post #11 of 20
Thread Starter 

Now that I know either option will work I agree with @Maui Steve, as far as the skiing goes it is something of a quantity vs quality dilemma.  Perhaps complicated by the fact the LCC isn't that long of a drive from Park City.

 

Yeah, the inversions are a concern, as is the heat in the summer.

 

@raisingarizona We can certainly afford to live in Park City, it is just the two of us so we don't need too much space.  But, without a doubt we can get a lot more for less money elsewhere.  We looked at a few houses in Sandy and Cottonwood Heights, that Dimple Dell park looks pretty awesome and seems like a nice thing to live near.  That is an interesting idea for the passes, sounds like it could work.

 

Thanks again for all the input!

post #12 of 20

Hello, My wife's sister and family lived in Cottonwood Heights for about 20 years even though they didn't ski to amount to much. Snow showers up the road from them at Solitude and Brighton; raking leaves in the yard at home; at least 20 degrees warmer. I echo those with more experience here. Relatively easy to get to Little Cottonwood or Big Cottonwood during weekdays. Plenty of ski shops nearby. Plenty of everyday shopping also. Relatively close to the roads to get you there. More interconnects would probably help traffic problems between the close distance, but long by road, ski areas.

post #13 of 20

Ski quality (both terrain and snow) is like night and day in the Cottonwoods vs. Park City.  If skiing is the top criterion, this is a no-brainer. Housing being cheaper in Sandy/Cottonwood Heights is icing on the cake.

 

You'll have to decide if weather at your home matters enough to override the skiing.

Quote:
Air is better in PC. If that means anything to you.

The inversion smog occurs during dry spells from mid-December to early February.  During the drier seasons 2012-2015 you might get 3 weeks of bad air a year. During a year with a snowy midwinter like this one, there was only one bad week in early February, and even that one might have been less than a whole week.

 

Summers will of course be more comfortable in a mountain town like Park City.  Hottest month in SLC is July, average high 91, average low 63.  With low humidity these are comfortable temperatures, though there will probably be a couple of weeks total over 100F each summer.

post #14 of 20

When I moved to Utah, I was disappointed that Park City didn't work out. A visit to Park City is what convinced me to look into moving. I moved from Steamboat Springs, CO, which I loved, and thought of Park City as a nicer, more convenient option with cheaper cost of living and even more/better skiing - basically a step up in every way. I ended up in the Ogden area because of work and was a little hesitant about moving there at first. I preferred the idea of another cozy ski town over a city with its fair share of problems. Basically I was still excited about the move, but would have been 110 percent ecstatic instead of 95 percent, if it had been PC instead. It only took a year or two to forget that notion and be 110 percent happy that I moved to Ogden instead of PC. 

 

Park City's a cool, little town, but the skiing is the least impressive of the big resorts in UT, it feels claustrophobic and, while it's cheap compared to other ski towns, it's expensive for UT - for less than a PC condo, you can get a nice house elsewhere. It's also a little out of the way, and I don't much like the commute over the pass to SLC (in winter, anyway) - prefer living right in the Wasatch Front and being able to take a train to Salt Lake and the airport. PC is a nice place to visit, but I'm glad I don't live there, and while I'd definitely consider moving to SLC, I would be much reluctant to move to PC. 

post #15 of 20


My story is very similar to JoeUT. 

 

While living in Ohio, our family would take a spring ski trip to Utah each year after my youngest turned 4.  We loved staying in Park City, as it had so much to offer in the way of lodging, food, activities, etc.  Short drives to the other non-PC resorts was no problem.

 

When my job relocated us to Utah in 2007, Park City was on the top of our list.  And even though my job was in the Salt Lake valley, my daily commute on I-80 to/from PC would be no problem.  However, disappointment set in when we started looking into purchasing a home.  It was clear that the price of homes in Park City during the housing bubble was going to make the choice of where we should settle much more difficult.  In addition to Park City, we considered places like Sugar House, the Avenues, Cottonwood Heights, and Sandy.  But In the end, we ended up settling farther north in South Ogden, where driving time to Snowbasin is 15-20 minutes, and only about an hour to PC and the 4 Cottonwood resorts.

 

Looking back, not moving to Park City was a good decision for us.  Don't get me wrong, Park City is a super cool town and we love to spend time there - mostly in the summer.  However, it now has a much different feel to us as Utah residents, than when we would spend a week each year "vacationing" in Park City. 

 

I really like where we live, but if I had to do it all over again, I would seriously consider just a bit farther away from the hustle and bustle, like Mountain Green or Eden .

post #16 of 20
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tony Crocker View Post
 

Ski quality (both terrain and snow) is like night and day in the Cottonwoods vs. Park City.  If skiing is the top criterion, this is a no-brainer. Housing being cheaper in Sandy/Cottonwood Heights is icing on the cake.

 

You'll have to decide if weather at your home matters enough to override the skiing.

The inversion smog occurs during dry spells from mid-December to early February.  During the drier seasons 2012-2015 you might get 3 weeks of bad air a year. During a year with a snowy midwinter like this one, there was only one bad week in early February, and even that one might have been less than a whole week.

 

Summers will of course be more comfortable in a mountain town like Park City.  Hottest month in SLC is July, average high 91, average low 63.  With low humidity these are comfortable temperatures, though there will probably be a couple of weeks total over 100F each summer.


Im just going by what folks that actually live there tell me about air quality that I speak to regularly.  But whatever.  Im sure its a tempest in a teapot.

 

http://fox13now.com/2015/04/29/utah-gets-f-on-air-quality-report-card-check-your-countys-grade-here/

post #17 of 20
Quote:

The inversion smog occurs during dry spells from mid-December to early February.  During the drier seasons 2012-2015 you might get 3 weeks of bad air a year. During a year with a snowy midwinter like this one, there was only one bad week in early February, and even that one might have been less than a whole week.

Quote:

Im just going by what folks that actually live there tell me about air quality that I speak to regularly.  But whatever.  Im sure its a tempest in a teapot.

 

http://fox13now.com/2015/04/29/utah-gets-f-on-air-quality-report-card-check-your-countys-grade-here/

There's accuracy to both perspectives. Tony's coming from the Los Angeles basin, and it's true that there was only one week this winter when the air was worse than LA. Our more typical pollution in the Salt Lake valley is still a problem, but not nearly so bad as during the smog inversions. Based on my experience, the air is almost always clearer up in the Cottonwood Canyons or in Park City than it is down in town.

post #18 of 20
I would not limit your choices to sandy vs pc. If it has to be that, I think park city has some good points in its favor. Living closest to the "Best skiing" is not a good way to pick where to live. Ski season is only 5 months a year. I would not just pick one resort to ski but at least consider spending time at each of the cottonwood canyons and park city areas. I would recommend looking the base of parleys/emigration canyon near the U / avenues area.
post #19 of 20

Adding to TRomano's comment;  about five minutes south of the area he's talking about there is Cottonwood Heights, kind of a bland suburban area, but pretty nice especially the eastern section near the mountains.  Spending time in Cottonwood Heights this winter I can tell you that I215 (unlike I15) is generally free from traffic problems and rush hour back-ups; i.e., it's a reliable road to get to Park City to the east or the airport to the west.  FYI, from the Cottonwoods Heights/Holladay area where Wasatch Blvd meets I215 it's about 20-25 mins to Snowbird, about 30 mins to the free parking lot at the skier's cabriolet lift at the Canyons, and about 20 mins to the airport.  Coming from the Wash DC area I find SLC traffic very tame and real estate dirt cheap, even Park City is not too bad :-o

post #20 of 20

I wouldn't trade my close proximity to the cottonwood canyons for all the mansions in Park city!

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