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Car in Salt Lake City Area

post #1 of 27
Thread Starter 
I'm going to be skiing several of the resorts in the SLC area in next week. I'm basically trying to decide between three transportation options: rental car, rental van, and shuttle/taxi service. The car is the cheapest, so that's the direction I'm leaning. Is there any reason I shouldn't do that? Is it unsafe? I don't think I can guarantee that I'll have snow tires. Will that be a problem? I'll be going from the airport to Park City, then from Park City to Snowbird, and then back to the airport. I'm most concerned with the trip from Park City to Snowbird-- is that all highway driving, or is the last bit of it hilly and slippery?

If the car is a deathtrap, should I go with the van, or will that be too dangerous with me behind the wheel, also? I'd prefer that to the shuttle, I think.
Thanks.
post #2 of 27
Seems like you might want to check rates on an SUV. Try www.hotwire.com -- but you'll have to pay in advance.
post #3 of 27
Car from SLC to Park City is no problem in almost any weather. Car from PC to Snowbird is not a problem 80% of the time and it's hfreeway for all but the last 10-12 miles, but if it's snowing heavily in Little Cottonwood Canyon you may be restricted to 4WD or Chains. Occassionaly the canyon is closed due to heavy snow and or avalanche control. Definately skip the van and get a 4WD SUV if you decide to spend the extra money.
post #4 of 27
cheapest rental car is ~usually fine, if it doesn't snow. Don't know what you mean by "death trap", this is US of A afterall. If it snows even moderately, the road to Snowbird will be for 4WD or chains only, and you should heed the advice. You could catch a bus at the bottom or a shuttle from PC. If it hasn't snowed for 2 days, the road will probably be open for all traffic and safe, except don't hurt your neck while looking at the views on the way up, or drive off the road into the canyon. Of course you could shell out $75/day or more and get the 4WD, we usually do, it does snow OFTEN out there.
post #5 of 27
A good front wheel drive car should be fine most of the time. The drive from The SLC Airport to Park City is all Freeway and major Hwy. From Park city to Snowbird is also almost all Freeway and major surface streets. My advice would be to keep an eye on the weather report and Utah Hwy Patrol reports. If the road to Snowbird is closed for Avalanche work why leave PC area? You will be getting turns in while people wait in a long line of cars to get up the Canyon. Besides Powder days at Alta and Snowbird area now like sharks in a feeding frenzy. If you must ski someplace else take the drive over to Snowbasin.
post #6 of 27
I've rented cars there a bunch of times, had to deal with snow a few times but never felt unsafe. If you're comfortable with general winter condition driving and/or you get a front wheel drive car your chances of being stranded or unsafe are pretty minimal.
post #7 of 27
So when I come out ther from Pittsburgh next week my compact rental will be ok then? I'll be driving up from Provo where my buddy lives...
post #8 of 27
Will you be driving from Provo up to The Cottonwood Canyons? or to The Park City area? Maybe both? Don't skip Sundance since it is so close to Provo.
The driving from Provo to The Cottonwood Canyons will be mostly Freeway and the the road up the Canyon. If it is snowing call The UHP fora road report. Provo to Park City is about an hour and for the most part on good roads. It is a pretty nice drive, great scenery in the Provo Canyon. Keep an eye out for Big Horn Sheep The largest herd in the Lower 48 is on Mount Timpanogos. Oh Yeah, Watch for speed traps in Heber.
post #9 of 27
Both, possibly. I absolutely want to go to Alta for at least 2 days, roads willing... and Snowbird for sure, too, for 2 days. That leaves me with 3 or 4 other days to decide from... and maybe even do the freebie day in PC when I land, since I'm arriving around 11 local time. Should I bother with a day at Sundance when there are other places I want to hit, like Solitude, PC, and Brighton? Or should I stick with Alta, Bird, and one other and get to know them some so I can find the tree lines and other things I won't see immediately? Like I said it's my first trip out and I'm feeling like a kid in a candy store!
post #10 of 27
The only reason I suggest Sundance is that it is so close to Provo. Nice little mountain that is fun for a day. Its up to you no matter where you ski you will have a great time. Check Smiths Super market for discounted tickets. By the way there is a backdoor to Deer Valley that will save about 10 mins driving into Park City. It is right off Hwy 40 at the Jordanelle exit.
One other thing. When driving to the Cottonwood Canyons, morning traffic can be a bytch. You will be going with the morning commuter flow. might not be a bad idea to get up early and plan to have breakfast at the Mountain and wait for the lifts to open. Driving toward Park City won't be a problem. just watch out for ice and Deer!
post #11 of 27
Please please please do not drive a car w/o chains or 4wd up Big or Little cottonwood canyons.
Please park it and take the bus.
even if it is fine going up these canyons, they can get feet of snow in a day.
Then you have to drive back down.

Please dont endanger yourself or others.
I have dealt with this in every big storm the last few years.
last week Solitude's parking lot was a mess because of this.

Also not mentioned,is that the County Sherriff will restrict the roads to chains/4wd during or after storms ( for a reason!) they will ticket you.
rental companies do not allow chains on their cars.

Also the last few years the sorms have been coming in warm,
it will be rain or dry @ the bottom of the canyon and a mess at the top.

Pleae take this into consideration.
post #12 of 27

a few more questions before my skiing life goes to the next level!

Thanks for the update, I'm leaving Friday to head out there... still no Bears have responded to my "meet on the hill" request, if anyone would like to, I'd like to meet up for a beer and a few runs...

You say park and take the bus up, so where do I do this, what town or whatever... for Alta and Snowbird, especially... anyone?

And judging by your response, should I assume that driving to Park City is much safer to pull off? Any advice where to park to go to PC or DV? Should I do the same and park and take a bus, or do their parking lots get me close to the ticket counter? Should I get to these places way early to get a jump on things i.e. avoiding the ticket window line, eat breakfast there, etc... (remember, I'm coming from hills in PA where you park 100 yds or less from the slopes no matter where u are)

I appreciate all your help guys, it'll be my first trip out to Utah and I'll be by myself almost every day... so don't worry about me making your lift lines longer! LOL
post #13 of 27
Driving to the Park City resorts is no problem. It is an interstate until you are almost there.

To access Alta/Snowbird/Brighton/Solititude you drive on good roads to the bottom of a canyon, (~14 miles up to resorts)that is where the 4 wheel drive or chains sign will be on if it is snowing, or there can easily be a delayed opening, which will surely cause you confusion on what to do.

Parking and taking the bus up to Alta and Snowbird is not a "no brainer". The bus is sure to be packed and from my own experience it will not be easy for you to park and find the bus, esp with no local knowledge. Tons of "locals" will be doing the same thing. Every year I debate whether to get a 4 wheel drive or not and we usually do, only 4 days, because it such a royal PITA if it snows and you are stuck with cheap compact rental. But then, do you want to pay $60/day extra for that "insurance". Too bad I haven't been able to find the subaru outback the last few years, that was a nice alternative to expensive, SUV.

Those roads get very dicey in a storm with no FWD. Been there!
post #14 of 27
Quote:
Originally Posted by matt_davis View Post
Please please please do not drive a car w/o chains or 4wd up Big or Little cottonwood canyons.
Please park it and take the bus.
even if it is fine going up these canyons, they can get feet of snow in a day.
Then you have to drive back down.

Please dont endanger yourself or others.
I have dealt with this in every big storm the last few years.
last week Solitude's parking lot was a mess because of this.

Also not mentioned,is that the County Sherriff will restrict the roads to chains/4wd during or after storms ( for a reason!) they will ticket you.
rental companies do not allow chains on their cars.

Also the last few years the storms have been coming in warm,
it will be rain or dry @ the bottom of the canyon and a mess at the top.

Pleae take this into consideration.

know this will come up again.
please consider
post #15 of 27
But what does a New Yorker know about driving in snow in the mountains?
post #16 of 27
Even driving over Parleys to Park City can be dicey depending on weather. If there is a snow storm, you plan extra time on 80 and it's definitely not a "no brainer" unless you are used to driving in snow. The big trucks are a pain through there!

I'd agree with the advice on LCC/BCC - use a 4wd and/or chains. The darned road gets backed up ridiculously when cars go off the road and they have to try and fish someone out!

Also for LCC I've noticed it's best to call Snowbird main desk for the latest info. The UTA automated message phone's often have stale info. So in the morning when they're doing control work and there is a question just call em up.

801-933-2100 is the number I have in my phone. I think you can dial 0 to get someone.
post #17 of 27
Quote:
Originally Posted by at_nyc View Post
But what does a New Yorker know about driving in snow in the mountains?
do I know you? if not we should share a drink..

Seeing as i went to high school in UT, learned to drive there, have been going up those two canyons since 1987 and worked full time @ Solitude for 3 years after having an Alta pass for the first 3 years I moved back there from ASpen, a little bit.

What i dont know how to do is hafve a ski life living in the city, even after being here almost 3 years.
Can you help?
see the first line.
i will buy
post #18 of 27
Quote:
Originally Posted by matt_davis View Post
do I know you?
Don't believe we've ever met...

Quote:
if not we should share a drink..

What i dont know how to do is hafve a ski life living in the city, even after being here almost 3 years.
Can you help?
see the first line.
i will buy
Short answer is no, you can't have a ski life living in THIS city.

It's one of the least outdoor'ish city I've lived in (percentage-wise, considering the number of peopel living here) ...

But some of us do continue to ski from time to time, if that's what you want. I don't consider I have a "ski life". I only go skiing when the stars are aligned... (have snow + have time off - can find somewhere not rediculously expensive & crowded ). Granted, that's not nearly as often as I wish I go, and a lot less often than many here. Though some years are better than others...
post #19 of 27
Quote:
Originally Posted by at_nyc View Post
I only go skiing when the stars are aligned... (have snow + have time off - can find somewhere not rediculously expensive & crowded ).
Unfortunately I must say I'm in the same boat. Although recently it seems to be the "have time off" that's getting in the way.

When you do get time do you just go to Hunter, Windham, Belleayre etc, drive up to VT or fly out west? Like many in the city I'm without a car, so I'm at the mercy of the bus/train schedules.

Apologies don't mean to hijack the thread
post #20 of 27
Quote:
When you do get time do you just go to Hunter, Windham, Belleayre etc, drive up to VT or fly out west?
All of the above.

Depending on which one makes sense.

For example, I have to work tomorrow (New Year's Day). But I have the weekend off. So I've been watching the alpinezone site for weather update. I'm debating whether to head up north for the weekend or just do day trips to Hunter. Condition is "usually" better in VT but it's bound to be expensive, and most likely crowded, for this weekend. So if the Catskills got a good dumpage today and Friday, it's a better bet to just day trip there.

Though given I'm heading out west for MLK weekend anyway, maybe I'll just save my money and energy for that trip. The last thing I need before a trip out west is to get hit by a gaper on New Year's weekend skiing ice in VT/NY! Maybe better to do a mid-week day (com-day for tomorrow's shift) when the slopes are empty...

For the MLK weekend, I'm flying out after work and coming back on a redeye. So it only cost me one day off work and I get 4 days skiing out of it. The flights are decently priced, lodging and food similar or lower than going to VT. And I got a ridiculously cheap lift ticket deal, so it works out money-wies.

Quote:
Like many in the city I'm without a car, so I'm at the mercy of the bus/train schedules.
I do have the luxury of having a car. It's a real pain in the butt to keep and bit of a money drain. But as much a "non-hardcore" skier as I am, I keep a car specifically for SKIING!

As "non-outdoor" as this city is, there ARE still people who go skiing. There're actually SEVERAL ski clubs in the city (not all are based in Manhattan but you can still hitch onto their trips). Those are sources of ski buddy, discount tickets & trips, car pools all roll into one!
post #21 of 27
I was just thinking about this same question.

If it's snowing bad to have restrictions into the Canyons, what is the drive like in a car to Snowbasin for someone experienced with winter driving?
post #22 of 27
It is Interstate in the valley until the last about 7 miles. Then it is a moderate grade hte last 7? miles up to Snowbasin. Usually Big C is open.
post #23 of 27
Wanted to pitch in as I just got back from a two-week, first-time trip to Utah. I found a good deal on an SUV and was quite pleased with my choice. Got a few big dumps while there. The driving can get tricky for a first timer even if you are experienced with winter driving.

Only drove once to BCC but my impression was that generally BCC driving is better than LCC driving.

Snowbasin roads seem to be not as well maintained as the Canyon roads. I drove to Snowbasin the Sunday after the Christmas storm. Even the Interstate had a moderate amount of snow. LCC gets cleaned up pretty quickly after snow dumps.

All in all, I'd get an SUV if possible, especially for driving to different mountains. If you want to only ski Alta/Snowbird, you can figure out the bus and get away with a compact car.
post #24 of 27
It's funny that a lot of the responses have been from NYC folk. Let me chime in....

Last Feb (2008), I had the chance to ski Park City resorts and Alta / Bird. The group was mostly New Yorkers and we were the type that was used to daily public transport commute and didn't really like SUVs. Anyway, we changed our Alamo reservations in the SLC airport from medium car to SUV - despite no forecast for snow while we were there.

Our gut instincts were right. While at Alta, two feet of snow fell from 9 AM to 2 PM and the mountain was shut. Had we brought a car, we would have been stuck in Goldminer's parking lot (like many cars) and would have missed our flight back. When in doubt.... get the SUV.
post #25 of 27
Quote:
Originally Posted by SnowbirdDevotee View Post
It is Interstate in the valley until the last about 7 miles. Then it is a moderate grade hte last 7? miles up to Snowbasin. Usually Big C is open.
That doesn't too difficult compared to the last 20 miles or so on the 219 heading in/out of Holiday Valley during a Lake Erie pukefest. Patience is the key! (I'm just trying to gauge costs so I can sell the Utah trip to the buds for next year).
post #26 of 27
Hey Everyone,
The buddies are sold, and we're heading for Utah Friday.  

Sorry if this has been answered before, but I'm just wondering if our mid-size rental car from the SLC Thrifty be equipped with snow tires?  The Snowbird website says they are required.  Do they even check?  Mind you, if it's going to be storming REALLY bad, we'll probably just hit Snowbasin, and head up LCC the next day.  Nonetheless, if they're required, I figure I should know about it.
post #27 of 27
No, your mid-size rental car from the SLC Thrifty will most certainly not be equipped with snow tires (why would they spend the extra money for snow tires?  It only snows in the winter and much less than in the mountains.  And you're responsible for any damage to their car if you get in an accident.)

If a road is marked for chains/4WD you may very well be stopped at a checkpoint and turned around if you don't qualify.  And you'd be foolish to ignore the warnings even if there is no checkpoint.

Quote:
Originally Posted by JoeSchmoe View Post

Hey Everyone,
The buddies are sold, and we're heading for Utah Friday.  

Sorry if this has been answered before, but I'm just wondering if our mid-size rental car from the SLC Thrifty be equipped with snow tires?  The Snowbird website says they are required.  Do they even check?  Mind you, if it's going to be storming REALLY bad, we'll probably just hit Snowbasin, and head up LCC the next day.  Nonetheless, if they're required, I figure I should know about it.
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