Okay, this is gonna be a change from my typical topics, but hey I have other interests.
So, in case you are unaware, Utah has some unbelievable skiing. The best of which are at the 7 resorts centered around the Cottonwood Canyons and Park City. Many people are surprised when they learn that these 7 resorts are almost on top of each other since it can take hours to drive between the base areas.
Given how close the resorts are, and the fact that it is almost impossible to build direct roads, many proposals have been given over the years for tramways or gondolas to be built so that people wouldn’t have to drive all the way around the Wasatch mountains on I-80. Talisker, the owner of Canyons has been behind the latest push. For good reason people are opposed, since Talisker expanded their resort haphazardly into the surrounding mountains. We fear that they’ll take what is left of the undeveloped areas around the resorts and build in them.
I think the resorts in Park City and the Cottonwood Canyons should pretty much be stopped where they are. The Park City area has the infrastructure to handle their crowds. The 4 resorts in the Cottonwood Canyons could put in a mass-transit system of some sort that could allow for the resorts to reach their capacity on bad weather days when few people can make the treacherous drive.
We still ought to consider capacity options beyond infrastructure improvements. For this I think we need to revisit a proposal from the 1970’s and put it into action. The water park Seven Peaks in Provo was supposed to be the start of a year-round base area for a ski resort. They were supposed to build a tram or funicular that would carry skiers over Y-Mountain to ski runs. This never happened for a variety of reasons, but one of the main ones I found was that the developers hadn’t ever built a ski area before and didn’t know what they were doing. I also think that based on observable snow pack they picked an area a wee bit too south.
So here is what I want: a premier winter resort in Utah County on Cascade Peak. It would be a two base resort with one in Provo with a tram & a second in South Fork Provo Canyon. The base area in Provo could be built near the Riverwoods mall (an area begging for a new purpose), and would have the most spectacular tram ride in the continental U.S. It would be an amazing ride all year long, and would be a draw for tourists all in all seasons. It would be most impressive during the weeks in January and February when there is a strong valley inversion. Popping up above the fog into the sun in a tramcar would become one of the most Instragramed experiences in Utah.
The resort on the backside of the mountain would contain some remarkable and varied terrain. Perfect for beginners and experts it would also allow for some of the longest continual runs in all the Utah resorts. Also, during the summer mountain bike trails could be added that would add further justification for running the tram all year long.
I’ll add as a post-script that I have no capital or connections to get this idea off the ground. I just think it would be great. I’m sure that the private land owners along the South Fork Provo River wouldn’t be thrilled by the idea. I also doubt Sundance wants to have such close competition; being the only Utah County resort has surely been nice. Sundance would probably wrap their opposition to the project as environmental protection, but this resort would be no more harmful to the Wasatch wilderness than the resorts we already have. It would simply increase Utah’s influence as one of the world’s ski-meccas.