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Park City considers paid parking for popular Bonanza Flat trailheads

Bloods Lake.
Parker Malatesta
Bloods Lake.

Since Park City purchased the Bonanza Flat open space in 2017, the area has grown in popularity as a summer recreation hub. The city could add paid parking to combat overcrowding.

Park City purchased Bonanza Flat through a $25 million bond in 2017, and established a conservation easement on the property through Utah Open Lands in 2020.

Since then, the natural playground nestled between Park City, Midway and Big Cottonwood Canyon has become the area’s worst kept secret.

To deal with the traffic, the Park City Council could implement a paid parking pilot program in Bonanza Flat at its meeting Thursday. It would involve a $10 flat fee for parking at Bloods Lake, Bonanza Flat and Empire Pass trailheads, according to a staff report.

The report states the $10 fee is consistent with parking prices at nearby Wasatch Mountain State Park. It notes that parking kiosks could be installed as soon as July 15.

The report outlines other considerations like free parking for city residents and waiving fees during off-peak times. The council could also increase Transit 2 Trails service, a free shuttle to Bonanza Flat. A public hearing is scheduled for Thursday’s meeting.

According to data collected by Park City’s Trails and Open Space department in summer 2023, the largest user group is from Salt Lake City, accounting for over 25% of Bonanza Flat visits. Parkites accounted for just 7%. The Blood’s Lake Trailhead sees the most congestion and is consistently full throughout the summer.

It’s estimated that nearly 250,000 people visited Bonanza Flat between July 1 and Sept. 17 last year.

Across three trailheads and the Guardsman Pass overlook, there are 175 total parking spaces in the area; street parking is banned. Utah Open Lands Executive Director Wendy Fisher said there aren't plans to add more parking, an effort to preserve the area.

Thursday’s city council meeting begins at 3:40 p.m. The Bonanza Flat parking fee proposal is the last item on the agenda.

Corrected: June 9, 2024 at 7:17 PM MDT
A previous version of this article incorrectly said the Park City bond is $38 million. It is $25 million.
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