Parking Changes in BCC

5 minutes


You may have heard that some changes to parking in BCC began the first of this month. The Town of Brighton, Brighton Ski Area, and Solitude, with support from the USFS and UDOT are implementing roadside parking reservations on SR-190 from Willow Heights to the Brighton Circle, along with resort parking lot reservations required at Brighton and Solitude resorts. These changes are monitored and enforced by Interstate Parking, the same contractor who manages Alta’s parking.

With change sometimes comes frustration and growing pains. However, we also understand that with the explosive growth in winter recreation and overcrowding in the Cottonwood Canyons comes the need for new management policies. No one wants to sit idling in traffic, wondering if they will be able to find a parking spot or not. WBA agrees that measures like paid reservations are an effective tool in managing fleets of personal vehicles in our finite canyons. The Town of Brighton requested feedback from WBA and incorporated some of our thoughts about backcountry parking, which we appreciate. We are still concerned about the potential impact on dispersed users accessing public lands in BCC and will be watching this situation closely to see how it plays out this season. 

Roadside reservations in a nutshell 

  • South side of the highway starting 1/4 mile east/up canyon of the Willow Lake trailhead and ending at Guardsman Pass road (between Willow Heights and the fire station in the Town of Brighton)
  • No parking on the north side
  • Roadside parking is prohibited prior to 6am. Early morning dawn patroller reservations can be booked for parking beginning at 6am in the early morning parking areas only
  • After 7 am, reservations are available for parking anywhere alongside the valid roadside reservation zone. Reservations are not required after 1pm
  • Early morning reservations are valid for the entire day and you do not need a second reservation for regular hours
  • Reservations are required seven days a week
  • Reservations are only required Fri-Sundays and holidays for now, and they may revert to 7 days a week based off congestion
  • Roadside parking is a separate program from the resort’s parking programs
  • There will be no season pass discount for roadside parking. 
  • Cost is $10 per reservation 
  • Park to the right of the white line- get out that shovel and dig for the line if you must to avoid a pricey ticket

Dawn Patrol Parking 

There will be 20 early morning parking spots available: 10 near Solitude Entry 2 (USA Bowl access) and 10 spots Solitude near Entry 1 (Silver Fork access). We have been informed that there will be signage indicating the start and end of the roadside reservations zones, as well as early morning parking locations with reservation. Time will tell if 20 early morning spots will be adequate for backcountry users. Twenty is better than none, which would have been the case if WBA had not provided feedback to the Town of Brighton. While not all of our wishes were granted, we were pleased that early morning parking reservations will begin at 6am. WBA was able to prove the popularity and importance of these zones for backcountry users thanks to our winter Trail Counting Program

Image above is from the NO PARKING Interactive Map.

Early morning and roadside parking reservations will become available on December 15th. We will add the link to reserve parking to this post when it becomes available. 

Guardsman Pass, Beartrap, Butler, Etc

There will not be reservations to park at Guardsman Pass (parking is allowed on the north side of the road between the hairpin turn and the restroom. No parking in the cul-de-sac). Beartrap (roadside parking on the south side of the road) and Butler (dedicated parking area on the north side of the road) will see no changes.  

WBA’s Potential Concerns 

  • 20 early morning spots might not be adequate for backcountry users (this is half as many as in upper LCC)
  • Having so few spots in upper BCC will lead to more crowding and safety concerns in the lower canyon
  • Resort users will take early morning reservations since they are good for the day (and cheaper) and a second reservation during regular hours is not required 
  • Excluding Guardsman is asking for confusion and will worsen congestion in that area
  • Most likely, there will not be any carpool incentives this season due to the difficulty in monitoring the road. Their goal is to have incentives for next season 

Fine Structure 

The fines have increased to discourage illegal parking in both Big and Little. Here are some notes from UDOT & Salt Lake County: 

  • Violation fines range from $75 to $150 (up from $25).
  • The fine for illegally parking on SR-190 (BCC) is $150
  • The person registered to the vehicle will be responsible for the parking violation.
  • Parking violations are considered a civil penalty.

WBA will continue advocating for parking systems that serve backcountry users accessing public lands, and not just paying resort patrons. If you have a question about the parking changes and how they impact backcountry users, contact us and we will do our best to answer or point you in the right direction. 

Visit Ski Utah for more info on resort parking.

Other Parking-related happenings 

We met with UDOT’s ops team to discuss parking and plowing for dawn patrollers, utilization of the gates in White Pine and Spruces lots, and how we can work together to get the roads and parking cleared ASAP. We understand the roads are always priority number one. Keep an eye out for backcountry-specific resources in collaboration with UDOT. Check out UDOT’s resources to refresh on canyon parking policies. Backcountry users might be the biggest challenge for plowing operations (aside from avalanches perhaps), so let’s make sure we are following the rules and not delaying opening or otherwise impacting operations. We all need to do our part to reduce canyon congestion.

In a separate meeting with UDOT, we discussed parking and canyon or backcountry closures. In a nutshell, WBA cannot be added to an internal communications list to know ASAP about road or backcountry closures to share with our followers. The fastest way you can find out is by checking for updates on UDOT Cottonwoods Instagram and Threads. We will do our best to reshare closure information on our account. 

More articles

  • Grief Resources for Mountain Athletes

    Grief Resources for Mountain Athletes

    This past winter, we hosted a community event, Mountain Resilience: Navigating Grief, Long-Term Injury, and Identity Crisis in the Backcountry. Our panel of local mountain…

  • WBA x eqpd GearBuckets

    WBA x eqpd GearBuckets

    We are stoked to introduce the eqpd gear Wasatch Backcountry Alliance GearBucket! Stamped with the Little Cottonwood Canyon topo map, the GearBucket combines the usefulness…

  • 23/24 Season Report

    23/24 Season Report

    Wasatch Backcountry Alliance published our first-ever season report from the 23/24 winter! For the past 10 years, WBA has been run by a volunteer board…