Parking Woes Worsen

That’s what it will cost you to park on weekends this season in the preferred lots at Mount Snow Resort. When the resort announced last spring that it was instituting a parking fee ($15 on weekdays/$30 weekends) at its premium Lot A and a $15 fee at half of the rest of its lots, it caused a minor uproar. On top of that, those paid parking spaces sold out the weekend before Christmas.

To make matters worse, at Vail-owned Stowe Mountain Resort, a proposed parking plan to turn an existing smaller parking area and the meadow across from the Toll House lift area into a lot that could accommodate 286 vehicles was denied.  The 36-page denial was issued by the Stowe Development Review board  in December after a number of complaints by neighbors. However, the Stowe DRB did approve the proposed six-pack lift that will be replacing Stowe’s Mountain Triple next season.

For Vail Resorts, paid parking may be the norm. In Vail Village you can park for free if either a) you only plan to stay for 2 hours or b) you arrive between 3 pm and 3 am. You may also buy a season parking pass which starts at $350 and goes up to $3,300 for guaranteed parking at one of the two slopeside parking garages. The other option is a shuttle bus from one of the free lots on the outskirts of town.

When Vail Resorts opted to institute paid parking at California’s Northstar-at-Tahoe resort in 2019, skiers sued the company claiming they had already bought passes and that the paid parking constituted an undisclosed fee.

In 2018, when Colorado’s Eldora Mountain announced it would charge $20 for parking, the backlash was so fierce the ski area rescinded the fee. But this year, Eldora must meet Boulder County regulations which require all single-occupancy vehicles to pay $10 to park on holidays and weekends.

Paid parking is something ski areas around the country are struggling with and Vermont is no exception. Employee parking has been gradually moved farther and farther away from the slopes. Carpooling and public transportation are encouraged as a solution to both the parking and traffic problem, and as a way to reduce carbon footprints.

Still, most mountains are not on board. Magic Mountain responded to Mount Snow’s announcement with this: “Announcing New Premiere Parking in Lot A. It will be a parking experience of a lifetime for our valued guests. The price is a bit steep: it will cost you sleep. Get your ass out of bed early to grab one of these premium spots, baby. That’s all.”

The other solution?

If you don’t want to deal with parking, take the bus. This winter, Southeast Vermont Transit will run a new route, offering its free MOOver service from Manchester to the base of Stratton in six daily roundtrips. The MOOver has operated in the Mount Snow Region for 25 years and has 27 routes in Windham and Windsor Counties. 

In the Mad River Valley, Green Mountain Transit offers the Mad Bus with daily rides between the Valley and Sugarbush’s Lincoln Peak and Mt. Ellen base areas as well as evening service on weekends. During the winter, GMT also runs the Mountain Road Shuttle in Stowe. Most of its buses are electric. You can use the Moovit app with both transit services. 

In central Vermont, The Bus moves people around the Killington base area for free and outside the free fare zone to Rutland on a daily basis ($2). Another route links Rutland and the Rutland Airport to Okemo and the surrounding Rutland County towns to Middlebury. 

Lisa Lynn

Editor of VT SKI + RIDE and Vermont Sports.